Council Budget supports paid family leave, strengthens social safety net, and expands education funding
Posted on May 30, 2017 at 5:17 PM
Today, with my support, the D.C. Council voted to approve the District’s budget for the next fiscal year. We will vote one more time before the budget is final. The new fiscal year begins in October.
The Council worked hard to enhance the Mayor’s budget, and as the new chair of the Committee on Human Services I’m proud of the work I did to prevent homelessness and support those experiencing homelessness. There are also great victories for Ward 1.
In Ward 1 we have several new programs that will bring a significant infusion of resources into some of our major small business corridors.
I have secured funding for a new Main Street program along Georgia Avenue, which will help keep the neighborhoods attractive to visitors and small businesses. We have added two additional staff to expand the Ward 1 Clean Team. There’s continuing support for Clean Teams in Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant, U Street and Georgia Avenue.
Taken together, these programs will keep the areas cleaner, safer and provide support to small business owners who create jobs in the ward.
I’ve also fought for this budget to ensure that Ward 1 school modernizations continue on pace at Marie Reed, Bancroft, Garrison, Bruce Monroe @ Park View, Banneker and Raymond.
The budget includes funding that will remediate the Park at LeDroit, which has been an ongoing issue for the community since the park was created.
Although I fought hard for additional funding so that more family-sized units will be included in the redevelopment of Park Morton public housing in the Park View neighborhood, we did not receive that funding. Likewise, my request to fully fund the maintenance of the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza and Public Realm was not addressed. I will continue working with the Mayor’s team to fully implement the vision for those public spaces within the confines of the existing budget.
Across the District – Support for Families and Additional Affordable Housing
I am a strong supporter of Universal Paid Family Leave, which received crucial funding in this budget so that it can move forward. It gives District workers eight weeks of paid leave to care for a new child, six weeks to care for an ailing family member, and two weeks for personal medical care.
The Council worked together to establish a 3 percent increase in per pupil funding in our public schools, an issue that impacts children all across the District.
The budget includes funding for my bill to give the Office of the Tenant Advocate more power to go after landlords who don’t maintain their properties. If you had to go to a hotel or rent a temporary room due to poor maintenance of your unit, OTA could go after your landlord for those temporary relocation costs.
The budget support act includes my bill that increases fines for shoddy home repairs, poor construction, condemnation, and vacant properties. The bill is a response to what we’re hearing from constituents and news reports about outdated fines that are too low to deter bad behavior by unscrupulous contractors and developers. Some fines haven’t been updated in over 20 years.
I also supported a tax reduction for first-time homebuyers to make it a little easier to move from being a renter to a homeowner, helping residents build equity and remain in the communities they love.
I am proud that we are delivering on affordable housing. This budget includes $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund, which is used to support affordable housing construction.
Many Ward 1 residents wrote to me regarding the estate tax and the business franchise tax (with a threshold that would target big businesses). I supported amendments to postpone these, but they did not have enough votes to pass with the budget.
As a member of the Health Committee, I worked to include funding for school-based nutrition programs that help low-income residents, including Joyful Markets, an elementary school-based program that provides produce and other food to families east of the Anacostia, and Produce Plus, which increases access to farmer’s markets for residents on food assistance programs.
Human Services Committee
I was proud to have made key revisions through the committee process resulting in a new and improved Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The new policy protects children, preserving their benefit no matter what, and allows parents to earn additional benefits. This is an issue I’ve been working on since I joined the Council and as chair of the committee I’m pleased to have built consensus on this issue, and to have found funding for its full implementation.
In my committee, I funded 112 additional units of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for individuals and 84 additional units of Targeted Affordable Housing (TAH) for individuals. The full Council enhanced my efforts by funding an additional 230 slots of project- and sponsor-based vouchers; 37 additional units of PSH for families and 101 additional units of TAH for families.
These are significant enhancements to the Council’s budget. I am concerned, however, that the PSH and TAH family units, at a cost of $3 million, were funded at the expense of the District’s Rapid Rehousing program. Rapid Rehousing is a necessary tool which allows for an assessment and tailoring of services for families—with housing as a platform. The committee also allocated additional funds to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
My committee budget also supports our youth. I funded the first year of the new Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness and an additional $250,000 to Safe Shores, which is the District’s only children’s advocacy center and facilitates compliance with the District’s law on child abuse investigations.
Ward 1 is the most diverse ward in the District, which is why it was important to me that my committee also improve health care access for immigrant residents. The DC Healthcare Alliance is a locally funded program to provide medical assistance for residents who are not eligible for Medicaid. Currently, residents need to recertify in person every 6 months to receive the service, leading to extremely long waits, lost days at work and other problems. I introduced a bill to make recertification a process that can happen over the phone or at various locations around the District, just like Medicaid. The budget adds funding for three new employees to help determine eligibility.
Overall, there is a lot in the budget for Ward 1 to feel good about. The budget brings an infusion of resources into Ward 1’s small business corridors, modernizes its schools, will help youth and families, and makes a significant investment in affordable housing.
I’m always available at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call my office at (202) 724-8181.
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