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Highlights from the House Us Now! march

Photos by Eleazar Yisrael, Communications Co-Chair

Despite an overcast, rainy Saturday, dozens of supporters turned out May 4 for the House Us Now! march in Chapel Hill.

The march, co-sponsored by a number of local organizations, including the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, aims to bring people in the community together to fight for the housing rights of those who make 30% of the area median income or less.

"We're marching also know that we are here, that we exist," said Yvette Mathews, a community organizer for the Community Empowerment Fund. "We want people to see what we are doing and and be a part of it."

The event kicked off at Peace and Justice Plaza, with Mathews and other speakers rallying the marchers to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable community members who don't meet that income threshold, leaving them under- or un-housed.

"We are protesting for those who don't have a voice to use or not using their voice right now," said Delores Bailey, Executive Director of EmPOWERment, Inc. "It’s so important that you are out here representing folks who do not have a voice that's loud enough, who are not in the right place to be seen. It takes all of us doing it together."

"Imagine you go home and someone takes and put a lock on your door and you can no longer get in," said Katina Welch, Community Services Advocate at Inter-Faith Council for Social Service. "Think about how that would make you feel. You actually would have to come up with a plan to get back into your own house. What does that plan look like? It looks like you would have to organize yourself like we are today. You would have to make phone calls to talk to someone, to get information to find a solution. I really want you guys to think about the lock. People are locked out of having a dignified and decent home. That is what we are out here talking about, making people aware your voice is the key. Information is the key. Actually doing something about it after today is the key."

After hearing from the speakers, the crowd began its march from Peace and Justice Plaza and headed toward the Hargraves Community Center in Northside.

After chanting and singing their way down Franklin Street, the marchers arrived at the Hargraves Center for food, fellowship and more reminders of the need to keep fighting for affordable housing in Chapel Hill.

At Hargraves, speaker Darren Campbell recounted time he spent in a local homeless encampment and how even the people living there were not safe from being relocated by local officials, leaving them nowhere to go.

"We already know what the issue really is," he said. "That people at 30% AMI or below have been red-taped and red-lined out every opportunity that we could possibly have, by every means possible. Those who write the policies and those who enforce the policies aren't the ones who have to live with the damage that [the policies] cause. We need to stand up and tell these people we're not going to take this anymore."

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