Christina Autin
(240) 528-4887
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Kensington, MD. Wednesday, January 9, 2019. On Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County (HOC) held its monthly Commission meeting with a public community forum.

On January 2, 2019, HOC was notified by the Montgomery County Police Department that members of the Macedonia Baptist Church and their supporters would attend HOC’s monthly Commission meeting and made a direct request to be arrested and removed from the meeting by County Police. In keeping with HOC’s support of peaceful protest in the public discourse and as a form of civil disobedience, HOC continued with the scheduled community forum.

During the community forum, twelve individuals spoke in support of the Macedonia Baptist Church extending the community forum to more than one hour of the two hours allotted for the Commission’s full agenda. Chair Simon read a statement requesting community members respect the need to conduct the business of the Commission during the meeting and the parameters of the community forum segment.

Vice Chair Nelson clarified that in the past, HOC had never asked the MCPD to remove anyone from an HOC meeting in response to the ongoing Westbard protests. However, as protesters continued to disrupt the meeting, and in accordance with the Church and its supporters’ requests, the Commission asked that protestors be removed from the room by County Police after completion of the community forum. Upon removal from the meeting, four individuals were cited for trespass and release. No protesters were arrested, instead they were escorted out of the meeting and issued a citation.

In response to statements made this evening by members of the Church and their supporters, HOC would like to clarify the following:

  1. The main purpose of the Commission’s monthly meetings is to conduct the business of the Commission as a public body. Every month HOC staff attend meetings to present and discuss business items with the Board of Commissioners for their consideration and approval. Staff presence is a necessary part of conducting the business of the meeting.
  2. HOC did not use taxpayer funds to purchase Westwood Tower. The property was purchased using HOC’s Line of Credit, which is being repaid using tenant rental revenue. The agency receives approximately five percent of its overall budget from the County, none of which was used to purchase the property in the Westbard neighborhood. All Federal funding is program restricted and cannot be used for Westwood Tower.
  3. HOC believes that the most effective way to move forward with memorialization is to include all necessary parties in the discussion, including the Parks Department whose organizational mission includes preserving and memorializing Montgomery County’s history, has archeological expertise, and will soon take possession of the additional parcel believed to have been part of the Moses Cemetery.
  4. HOC did not have anyone arrested at the previous Commission meeting on December 5, 2018. While HOC staff did call the authorities to request assistance with crowd disruption, the Commission did not ask for anyone to be removed nor were any citations issued at that or any previous HOC meeting.

HOC continues to support efforts to honor and memorialize the site of the former Moses Cemetery. On behalf of the Commission, Chair Jackie Simon noted, “We are encouraged by Macedonia Baptist Church’s desire to work with HOC and discuss memorialization. The Commission is available and willing to engage when a meeting is arranged with all interested stakeholders, including the Parks Department. We welcome County Executive Elrich’s assistance and desire to move this issue forward.”

HOC recognizes that many in the community have unanswered questions about the history and future of the property. To provide clarity, HOC has posted HOC Staff Report: HOC’s Support For Westbard Memorialization” on our website.

We look forward to sitting down in earnest with the Macedonia Baptist Church and other community stakeholders to discuss honoring the rich history of Westbard.



About the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County (HOC)

The mission of the Housing Opportunities Commission is to provide affordable housing and supportive housing services that enhance the lives of low- and moderate-income families and individuals throughout Montgomery County, Maryland so that:

  • No one in Montgomery County lives in substandard housing;
  • We strengthen families and communities as good neighbors;
  • We establish an efficient and productive environment that fosters trust, open communication and mutual respect; and
  • We work with advocates, providers and community members to maintain support for all the work of the Commission.

HOC and its staff accomplish these goals by focusing on three things: getting people housed, keeping people housed, and helping customers reach their fullest potential.