Candidate Challenged to Take On Issue of Affordable Housing

They listened as Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood of Brooklyn, cochairman of East Brooklyn Congregations, mounted a wooden platform built under the house's front door and explained why they were there.

"We're here because that once great party and its candidate and the other party and its candidate can't seem to bring themselves to talk about the kinds of concerns that make or break our lives," said Youngblood.

"We're here because this booming economy, this marvel of production and wealth creation, did not solve [our] problems. . . . We're here because the solutions that used to be considered far from radical—decent, affordable homes, living-wage work for hardworking Americans—are now not on the radar screen," said Youngblood.

In Search of a candidate: Activists bring their Nehemiah Home to Madison Avenue.
photo: Ron Antonelli
In Search of a candidate: Activists bring their Nehemiah Home to Madison Avenue.

Despite advance publicity by the organizers that tapped into all the usual outlets, no TV or radio covered the rally. Only a column in the next day's Daily News by Jim Dwyer acknowledged the event. Asked about the IAF's efforts to meet with the candidate, a spokesman at Gore's Nashville headquarters insisted that they knew nothing about it. "We don't have a letter request on file," said spokesman Alejandro Cabrera. "Once we have a full-time campaign staff there in New York, we would be more than happy to have a representative of their organization meet with the campaign. But with all due respect to this organization, I think they've got the wrong guy. Unlike George W. Bush, Al Gore supports making housing more affordable and has shown a real commitment to the issue," he said.

An equal-opportunity organization, IAF will hold its next rally outside the Republican convention in Philadelphia on July 31, its leaders said.

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