TWU Executive Director Speaks at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for Sansè Naja

TWU's Executive Director, Evelin Urrutia, spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony for Sansè Naja, the new apartment and condo building that will be built across the street from TWU's office in Chirilagua/Arlandria. The building will include deeply affordable apartments for families at and below 60% and 40% of the area median income (AMI), something that our community had to fight for. The speech she shared at the event is as follows:

Good Afternoon Mayor Wilson, Housing Alexandria Staff, and everyone present this afternoon.

First, I’d like to thank Housing Alexandria for giving me an opportunity to speak on this historic day. 

My name is Evelin Urrutia, and I am the Executive Director of Tenants and Workers United. For those who may not know, our organization has been in the City of Alexandria and in Arlandria/Chirilagua for almost 40 years. Our organization works with immigrants, working class families, youth, and women in order to improve our communities.

We say that today is a historic day because this project will truly benefit the Arlandria community, those families that we work with, those families that have been marginalized and barred from accessing safe, dignified and deeply committed affordable housing for decades. 

This project not only reflects a lot of work from the Mayor, City Council, City Staff, and Housing Alexandria staff, but this project also reflects the hard work of our community members who have participated in public hearings, meetings with city officials and staff, and have shared their life experiences and their needs for housing.

This project is an example of the type of housing that needs to be created throughout the City, to improve the quality of life for all families. When we talk about equity, equality, embracing diversity, and stopping discriminatory policies and practices in the city, this is a step forward because this project is not only creating new housing but many of these units are going to be reserved for families that earn less than 60% of the area median income and many of those families are already living here in this community. 

We congratulate Housing Alexandria and the City for putting this project together and we hope other developers, including nonprofit developers, can start following this example. 

Thank you so much.

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Tenants to NFL: “Mitchell Morgan is Unfit for Ownership of Washington Commanders”


Contact: Mia Taylor, [email protected], 571-269-8107

Alexandria, Va. - Tenants and Workers United (TWU) and community members have battled for over 4 years to secure safe, clean, and decent living conditions and fair treatment for over 1,300 resident families of Morgan Properties in Alexandria City. The owner of the management company, Mitchell Morgan, is a prospective minority owner of the Washington Commanders. He and his leadership team have been unresponsive to tenants’ concerns and pleas for solutions to rodent and pest infestations, nonfunctioning appliances, poor treatment, and more.

Over the past four years, TWU has worked with tenants at Brookdale, Lynnbrook, Willow Run, Stoneridge, and Bennington Crossings to a) address longstanding and widespread maintenance issues and infestations of pests and rodents; b) address sudden and drastic increases in rent and fees, which far exceed the rate of inflation; c) attempt to meet with Morgan and regional management, without preconditions, to discuss the issues and plan action for solutions, d) end the disrespectful treatment and discriminatory remarks made to tenants by office management and staff, and e) end the retaliation (charging arbitrary fees, etc.) against tenants who have practiced their First Amendment right to organize to improve the health and safety conditions of their homes at Morgan Properties.

Upon learning about Morgan being a potential minority investor, TWU and its members protested his involvement at a press conference outside the Washington Commanders training facility in May of this year. TWU sent letters and emails to Mitchell Morgan, Josh Harris, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. TWU was contacted by NFL internal investigators. They conducted an investigation into Mitchell Morgan and TWU’s allegations against him and have submitted their findings to the NFL.

“Mitchell Morgan is complicit in unethical and discriminatory housing practices. He has failed to meet his moral and ethical obligations, and perhaps legal obligations, to maintain safe, healthy, and dignified housing for the lowest income renters in our region, making him unfit to be involved in the ownership of the Washington Commanders, a team that represents a regional fanbase that is ethically, racially, and economically diverse,” said Evelin Urrutia, Executive Director of TWU. “If the NFL values social justice and racial equity, then it must bar Mitchell Morgan from ownership until he adequately addresses the deplorable conditions of his apartments in Alexandria City and beyond.”

Mari, TWU member and tenant at Morgan Properties, said, “I think that first and foremost, [Mitchell Morgan] should be worried about the residents of Morgan Properties and the housing conditions we are living in.”

Another tenant, Susan, stated, “[Mitchell Morgan] has shown a lack of interest in the maintenance of our housing. They do not meet their responsibilities, they just demand us to pay on time. We hope he begins to show interest in our housing conditions, and if he has money to invest, well, he should invest in better management to come and actually address tenants’ needs.”


Tenants and Workers United (TWU) is a community-based nonprofit organization that has a 35+ year history of organizing low-income communities of color across Northern Virginia to advance social justice and racial equity.

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TWU and AP Joint Statement on Alexandria City School Board 2024 Budget Approval

Advancement Project and Tenants and Workers United React to Alexandria City Public School Board’s Refusal to Fully Fund Holistic Supports for Students


February 21, 2023


Nidya Sarria-King, [email protected]

Ingris Moran, [email protected] 

Washington, DC — On February 16th, 2023, the Alexandria City Public School Board (ACPS) voted to approve a proposed budget for the 2024 school year that includes only minor increases in funding for student mental health supports and restorative practices. At the same time, the Board voted to add funding for security guards and equipment and adopted a recommendation that the city fund school police. This is the latest step to reverse the City Council’s 2021 commitment to permanently remove police from schools.

“Though we are disappointed by this decision, the fight continues,” said Evelin Urrutia, Executive Director of Tenants and Workers United. “Our students have suffered through a global pandemic and need ACPS leadership to be proactive, not reactive, to address their needs.  Young people demanded that the school board fund solutions like necessary mental and emotional supports. While the Alexandria City School Board has added 4.5 additional school psychologists and 1 restorative practices staff member in response to our demands, this is not nearly enough  — especially in light of the increased security funding and the continued presence of police in schools.   We want schools that are safe and welcoming for all students, and this cannot be accomplished without fully funding holistic supports.”

“We stand with our partner, Tenants and Workers United, in calling on the Alexandria City Public School Board to listen to young people.  ACPS must invest in school climates where young people are actually safe and can learn and thrive,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project National Office. “This requires fully funding mental health and restorative practices, not relying on reactive measures like surveillance and policing. ACPS is devoting its limited resources to security and surveillance that criminalize young people, especially Black, Latinx, and other students of color.  The district must do better”

# # # 

Advancement Project National Office is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. Visit to learn more.

Tenants and Workers United builds power in low-income, immigrant communities of color to improve the quality of our lives in Northern Virginia. We organize and support people to be agents of change in their own lives by addressing the issues they care about.

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TWU’s Statement on Police-Free Schools in ACPS

On behalf of our community, Tenants and Workers United wants to make clear that we stand by the original decision to reallocate funding from the School Resource Officer program to school-based mental health resources. We do not believe that armed police officers belong on school grounds. The presence of armed police at schools disproportionately pushes out and criminalizes students of color. There is data to support this, and we believe and trust our youth when they share their personal experiences.

The vote that the Alexandria City Council took last night (October 12, 2021) is simply another example of how power and privilege run this city. Alexandria has yet to live up to its verbal commitment to racial equity and social justice.

It’s deeply disappointing that the communities most impacted by violence and injustice, who know what solutions are needed to best support their communities, are ignored during decision making processes. This is an issue of democracy, racial justice, White Supremacy, and power and privilege. Once again, Alexandria City finds itself on the wrong side of history.

Many low-income students of color have been through a year and a half of severely interrupted schooling, loss and grief, severe poverty, lack of adequate food and resources, housing instability, stress, and even trauma. For these reasons, we have long anticipated a difficult return to school this year, but police are not the answer.

We must focus on moving forward, and better. Removing police from ACPS was a good decision. It is still the right decision. 

We need a holistic approach to education and a clear focus on the root causes of the issues our youth face. We need community circles and restorative practices now more than ever; if implemented with fidelity, they can drastically change our school culture and climate for the better. We know this; there is data to support this.

We, too, want schools that are safe and welcoming for all students all the time. This can be accomplished without armed police officers. Unarmed security guards, a video security system, well-trained staff, and a community-focused school are the best ways to provide safety without fueling the school-to-prison pipeline and further traumatizing students, especially students of color.

It’s difficult for us to understand how it’s acceptable to spend nearly $1 million on armed police instead of spending that money on holistic approaches, supportive programs, and community-building initiatives in our schools. That doesn’t make any sense; we cannot go back to an unaccountable system that has failed students of color for over 20 years.

Alexandria City and ACPS are not putting its resources where they need to be. We cannot fund punitive responses; we must fund restorative solutions. We must prioritize building community among students, teachers, administrators, and staff, and we must prioritize addressing social inequities and racial disparities in our schools, communities, and institutions. This is how we will resolve the issues ACPS is facing.

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2021 People's Agenda for Alexandria City

This agenda was created by leaders and members of Tenants and Workers United (TWU) to outline the priorities of Alexandria’s low-income immigrant communities of color. Our proposals aim to lift up everyone by focusing on sustainable and equitable solutions to long-standing injustices.

We ask our leaders: What type of Alexandria do you envision? A City designed for the wealthy? Or a vibrant, diverse community that is welcoming and inclusive for everyone who calls Alexandria home?


Affordable Housing

Problem: Low-income communities of color have been priced out by unchecked gentrification for decades, forcing families to leave the City they call home. According to data1 from Alexandria’s Office of Housing, among households earning less than $75,000 a year, 74% are either cost-burdened or severely cost-burdened.

Solutions: Require every new development to make at least 30% of all units affordable at and below 40% the area median income (AMI); require affordable units provided for bonus density to be at 40% of AMI; require all future developments seeking special use permits or increased density to provide a displacement analysis; increase the current ½ penny per $1,000 of assessed property value to a full penny reserved for affordable housing; ensure no net loss of affordable units; include state legislation on rent control in City Council’s legislative packet


Equitable and Racially Just Schools 

Problem: ACPS students of color have lower graduation rates2 and are disproportionately suspended and referred to police3 compared to their White peers. When schools reopen, the lingering stress, trauma, and academic slide from COVID-19 -- which has disproportionately impacted4 low-income communities of color -- will require better mental health and holistic resources in schools.

Solutions: Continue to unfund the School Resource Officer (SRO) program; increase funding for more counselors, social workers, psychologists, and support staff to foster a holistic approach to education


Equitable Health Care Access

Problem: The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-income communities of color and immigrants. Low wages, exorbitant rent prices, crowded living conditions out of financial necessity, lack of access to healthcare, and limited eligibility for services and resources due to immigration status made our community more vulnerable to the dual health and economic crisis. Now, we face an inequitable vaccine distribution and a lack of accessible information in languages other than English.

Solutions: A city-wide plan for an equitable distribution of COVID vaccines that prioritizes zip codes with the highest infection rates5; accessible information in various languages and communication modes; a fully-funded health promotion program to (a) conduct COVID-19 education outreach among communities hardest hit by and in greatest need of protection from the virus and (b) provide general preventative health information, education, and support for low-income residents; improved access to testing, treatment, and overall health care for those without health insurance


Transparency and Fairness in Law Enforcement:

Problem: The Alexandria Police Department has not published adequate, complete, disaggregated data on police stops and the demographics of those stopped. This lack of transparency fuels distrust and does not foster public safety. Additionally, the APD’s policies on sharing information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are not clear, and the Alexandria jail still voluntarily collaborates with ICE through internal policies and its Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the U.S. Marshals.

Solutions: Pass a city-wide policy to prohibit all City agencies, including the police department, from voluntarily sharing information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); establish a diverse, independent, and community-led police oversight committee with subpoena and investigatory power; conduct a study to determine the feasibility of shifting a portion of police funding to mental health and social services; have traffic enforcement conducted by unarmed officers or by traffic control specialists; sell or dispose of military hardware; encourage the Sheriff to end all voluntary collaboration with ICE.



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COVID-19 Update from Tenants and Workers United - Actualizacion sobre COVID-19 de Inquilinos y Trabajadores Unidos



(Español abajo) 

We at TWU are wishing you and your loved ones health and comfort during this COVID-19 pandemic. Our staff is working remotely, but our campaigns for working class communities, people of color, immigrants, youth, and women continue. We are communicating with our members via Facebook, Whatsapp, video calls, phone calls, and text messages. 

Now more than ever before, we must ramp up our demands for justice --  healthcare, fair wages, childcare, rent cancellation, jobs, and more -- for our communities.

We call on local and state leaders to:

  • urge property owners to suspend rent, eviction proceedings, & late fees
  • allocate funding for rent assistance
  • improve access to healthcare for everyone
  • make COVID-19 communications accessible to speakers of other languages

As we fight for these demands, we have started a fund to help directly impacted members purchase basic essentials. 

If you have the means, please donate here. If you would like to volunteer from home, please contact Mia Taylor at [email protected].

In solidarity,
Evelin Urrutia
Executive Director
Tenants and Workers United



Nosotros en ITU les deseamos a ustedes y a sus seres queridos la salud y el consuelo durante esta pandemia de COVID-19. Nuestro equipo esta trabajando de lejos, pero nuestras campañas siguen luchando por la clase trabajadora, gente de color, inmigrantes, jovenes, y mujeres. Estamos comunicando con nuestros miembros a través de Facebook, WhatsApp, llamadas de video, llamadas telefónicas, y mensajes de texto.

Ahora más que nunca, debemos elevar nuestras demandas para la justicia -- cuidado de salud, pagos justos, cuidado de niños, suspensión de la renta, y más -- para nuestra comunidad.

Llamamos a nuestros líderes locales y estatales a:

  • instar que los dueños de propiedades suspendan la renta, las evicciones, y los cargos por pagos atrasados
  • alocar fondos para la asistencia de renta
  • expandir acceso al cuidado de salud para todxs
  • publicar actualizaciones del COVID-19 en idiomas distintos al inglés

Mientras luchamos para estas demandas, hemos empezado un fondo para ayudar a personas directamente impactadas con sus necesidades básicas. 

Si puedes, dona aquí. Si te gustaría voluntarear desde casa, por favor contácta a Mia Taylor: [email protected].

En Solidaridad,
Evelin Urrutia
Directora Ejecutiva
Inquilinos Trabajadores Unidos

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Coronavirus Hot Spot in Alexandria Endangers Entire Community At-Large

Alexandria, Va. - Today at 1 p.m., Tenants and Workers United (TWU) along with New Virginia Majority (NVM) will call on Governor Northam via Zoom to provide 10,000 tests over the next ten days to begin to accurately assess and address the spread of the virus, housing solutions to safely isolate, and the medical needs of the Arlandria neighborhood in Alexandria.  

Arlandria is primarily Latino, and as of yesterday 55% of the 572 tests given in Arlandria were positive. This rate of infection in this community of 16,000 is equivalent to global hot spot areas such as Queens, New York, Wuhan, China and Milan, Italy. Only concerted government action will control this outbreak, save lives and prevent even further community spread.

Evelin Urrutia, executive director of TWU said, "in our community, testing a person, finding them sick with coronavirus and then sending them back to a one-bedroom apartment where four other people live is a potential death sentence, and at the [very] least a formula for wider community spread. Arlandria residents need to work to survive...most work in construction, care and service [industries] and this community spread, if not addressed, will surely impact the entire region.”

Jon Liss, co-executive director of NVM, joins TWU in calling for the governor to immediately address what is happening in the Arlandria community. "Before the governor considers reopening the state he needs to leave the governor's mansion and see what is happening here. Without thousands of tests, access to isolated housing, and medical treatment, Arlandria residents face more illness and for some, death," said Liss.

To join the Zoom press conference or speak with staff, contact Debra Freeman at 757-452-1143 or [email protected]


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Alexandria Sheriff Moves to Reduce Collaboration with ICE, But More Is Needed: Alexandria Jail Must Sever Ties With ICE

For Immediate Release: July 10, 2018

Contact: Mia Taylor, [email protected], 571-269-8107
Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, [email protected], 703-720-5605


ALEXANDRIA, VA: Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne’s recent commitment to reduce collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a positive step forward, but more changes are needed in order to live up to the City’s Statement on Inclusiveness.

Sheriff Lawhorne announced yesterday that for immigrants serving a sentence imposed by a judge, his jail will no longer honor ICE requests to hold them past their scheduled release dates.  For immigrants ordered released on bond, or eligible for release after time served, the jail will only hold them for 16 hours for ICE (or up to 24 hours in extenuating circumstances), no matter what day of the week. Sheriff Lawhorne will also institute timekeeping policies and regular weekly audits to make sure no one is held beyond the time allowed under this new policy.

Previously, the jail would honor ICE requests to hold both pretrial and post-conviction immigrant detainees for up to two business days past their scheduled release dates, not including weekends and holidays. In 2017, the Alexandria City Jail turned over 105 people to ICE, up nearly double from 2016.  More than half of those were merely awaiting trial and had not been convicted of a crime. Alexandria also allows ICE to use its jail as a short-term holding facility for immigrants arrested anywhere at all, a practice which will not change after yesterday’s announcement.

“Thank you, Sheriff, for your willingness to engage with the community and revisit your practices. We are encouraged that you describe this as a ‘first step.’ And it is a step in the right direction,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program. “But 16 extra hours in jail for immigrants is still 16 hours too long. Immigrants should be treated no differently than citizens: after they post bail, they should be allowed to walk out the front door.”

“There is no law that compels the jail to transfer people to ICE,” said Mia Taylor, organizer with Tenants and Workers United.  “Local law enforcement should not be enforcing the laws of a broken federal immigration system.”

“We are hearing a tremendous outpouring of concern from our friends and neighbors in Alexandria,” said Jonathan Krall from Grassroots Alexandria. “The jail is one place where we have the power to make a change.”

On June 18, Alexandria’s other jail, the Northern Virginia Regional Juvenile Detention Center, announced that, effective September, it will stop renting beds to the federal government to detain unaccompanied immigrant children.  But with yesterday’s announcement, the Alexandria Adult Detention Center will continue to act as a short-term holding facility for ICE, both for immigrants arrested by local police in Alexandria and for immigrants arrested by ICE anywhere else.

ICE has come under fire for inhumane tactics including racial profiling, warrantless entry into homes, and the breaking up of families. The time has come for Alexandria to entirely sever ties with that agency.

* * *

Tenants and Workers United builds power in low-income, immigrant communities of color to improve the quality of our lives in Northern Virginia. We organize and support people to be agents of change in their own lives by addressing the issues they care about.

Legal Aid Justice Center is a statewide Virginia nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen the voices of low-income communities and root out the inequities that keep people in poverty.  We provide legal support to immigrant communities facing legal crises, and use advocacy and impact litigation to fight back against ICE enforcement and detention abuses.  Our ‘De-ICE Virginia’ campaign seeks to sever the ties between local law enforcement and ICE.

Grassroots Alexandria promotes local, non-partisan, long-term conversations, community education and action towards positive solutions by those who are moved to act on their conscience.

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Alexandria Schools Host Restorative Practices Forum Exploring New Middle School Discipline Data

October 26, 2017

CONTACT: Ingris Moran, [email protected]

Community members call for formal plan to implement expansion of restorative justice programs to middle schools as new data is presented about middle school discipline

ALEXANDRIA, VA – On Wednesday, Tenants and Workers United, (TWU) in partnership with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and the Alexandria Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Advancement Project, hosted a community forum exploring student discipline policies and the implementation of restorative practices in city schools.
During the forum, ACPS leadership explored new discipline data and discussed next steps in reducing suspensions at the middle school level. The event marked the district’s response to community pressure and a multi-year restorative justice campaign, led by Tenants and Workers United and the Alexandria NAACP, highlighting persistent racial discipline disparities between students of color and their white counterparts. The positive impact of restorative justice programming at T.C. Williams High School has spurred advocates to urge the program’s extension into ACPS middle schools where suspension levels remain the highest. Attendees also explored how ACPS can build upon initial progress from school discipline reforms for all students.

 “We have seen a lot of changes ACPS, not only in restorative programming, but also in staffing,” said Evelin Urrutia, executive director of Tenants and Workers United. “While we are really excited to see the progress, we also know there is a long way to go to ensure restorative practices are implemented right. We need a formal plan. At the end of the day, we are serving students. We must work collaboratively to ensure that every student has the same opportunity and show that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what color you are, you will get the education you deserve.’’  

 “The students that are getting suspended more are Black and Hispanic…and just for small reasons,” said Gabriel Palma Moran, a student at George Washington Middle School and a youth member of TWU who was in attendance with his grandmother Dina Martinez. “One concern I have as a student is how much time would it takes us to expand restorative justice in middle school.”

“I have always come to these meetings because I disagree with taking kids out of school,” said Gabriel’s grandmother, Dina Martinez. “When I came to this country, I had a friend, a young girl named Juanita, and Carlitos, now they’re adults, but they kicked them out of George Washington. I love them like my own because I took care of them. They felt really bad because they had been kicked out, and it was hard for them to keep up with their work, but they let them back in, and thank God they passed the grade and graduated.”

Ingris Moran, Lead Organizer for Tenants and Workers United, added: “We are grateful to have had this forum to discuss the very important issue of restorative practices in city schools and the need to expand and formally implement these practices in middle schools.”


Tenants and Workers United builds power of low-income communities of color – primarily immigrants – to create changes that positively impact the quality of our lives in Northern Virginia. We organize and support people to be agents of change in their own lives by addressing the issues they care about.




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