WIN Annual Reports April 2019 Midyear Report | Page 17

2 0 1 9 M I D YE AR RE P O RT 16 top leader profile: SABRENA TURNER Sabrena Turner Former resident ofTemple Courts apartments From testifying at DC Council hearings to organizing former residents ofTemple Courts, Sabrena Turner has played a key role in the fight to rebuild Temple Courts and bring former residents back home. When Sabrena Turner was three years old, she and her mother moved into the Temple Courts apartments in the neighborhood now called NoMa. “It was an amazing place to live,” she says. “We were all one big family—everyone knew each other.” She pulls up a photograph of the Temple Courts building where she grew up and points out her old bedroom window on the tenth floor. The building in that photograph no longer exists. A decade ago, the city tore down Temple Courts, scattering its residents throughout the DMV. In its place is a nine-dollar-a- day parking lot. Sabrena has been a key leader in WIN’s effort to rebuild Temple Courts and to give the residents who were pushed out all those years ago the chance to come back. The most challenging part of the Temple Courts campaign for Sabrena was getting former residents involved in the community again. “It’s been a task,” she says. “People were in disbelief. It’s been ten years of unfulfilled promises, and people didn’t believe it would get rebuilt, or if it did, they didn’t believe they would be the ones to actually benefit from it.” But Sabrena gave them hope. “This is for you,” she told them. Although she couldn’t do it by herself, she said, “I can fight with you.” One of Sabrena’s most memorable moments of this campaign was when she and other WIN leaders held a meeting with DC’s mayor to talk about rebuilding Temple Courts. “What I’ve learned from WIN,” she says, “is how to be an agitator. I used to think that in order to convince the government to do what the community needs, you had to befriend them.” Instead, she learned that there is power in being outside the system and in bringing people together to hold the government accountable. “With the people, for the people, by the people—that’s what WIN means to me.” The DC Council unanimously approved rebuilding 518 affordable housing units at the Temple Courts site, including 211 replacement units for former residents to come back home. As we celebrate this exciting victory, Sabrena is already thinking to what’s ahead. “Working with WIN has opened my eyes across the city in a bigger way. It’s not just about Temple Courts but all the people who have been displaced from this city,” she says. She also cares deeply about homelessness in DC, shuddering when she mentions “that appalling shelter” that was DC General. “That’s what keeps me up at night,” she says. “That’s the next big fight.”