Council votes on revised shelter plan, DC’s annual budget
Posted on May 17, 2016 at 4:27 PM
Supporting a revised, fiscally responsible plan to close down D.C. General
Today with my support the D.C. Council passed a revised plan to close the District’s crumbling central homeless shelter, D.C. General, and replace it with smaller temporary housing in all eight Wards. The Council’s revised plan responds to residents’ concerns and is much more fiscally responsible than the Mayor’s original plan.
As you may know, I have been supportive of the overall plan to replace D.C. General with smaller shelters, and supportive of the site selected for Ward 1 since it was first proposed. I believe that these neighborhood-based shelters are a giant step forward in changing the lives of the poorest children in our city, and helping their families to access some of the prosperity the District has been enjoying.
Throughout this process I have worked with the administration and my colleagues on the Council to dig deeper into the financing of the project. It was important to me that we moved forward with a clear, well thought out plan that is also fiscally responsible—and I have been confident from the beginning that we could build a workable plan.
Today, by working collaboratively, the Council found additional capital dollars to put toward purchasing the sites in Wards 1 and 4, and building on city-owned land in the other Wards. Purchasing will save millions of tax dollars over the original plan to lease the land and will give the District permanent ownership of each site.
Additionally, I introduced an amendment to today’s legislation that will hold the Ward 1 property owner accountable for any back taxes owed on vacant property that was misclassified. This was a very important issue for several of our nearby constituents, and I’m glad we have been able to address it.
I want to thank everyone in the community who has participated in this process by providing support or expressing concerns. I look forward to welcoming all of the families for whom this shelter will provide stability, safety and an opportunity to achieve the same hopes and dreams we have for all of the children in our communities.
After today’s vote, the next step is for the Mayor to go back to the table with the property owners to close the deal on each site, and we hope that the Council has given her the tools she needs to do so. Community members can continue to be involved in the process as the building design comes before the ANC. I also welcome your feedback as the process moves forward. I’m always available at email@example.com or you can call my office at (202) 724-8181.
Budget includes support for Ward 1 neighborhoods, schools, public safety, affordable housing
Today with my support the D.C. Council voted to approve the District’s budget for the next fiscal year. Overall, I’m very pleased about this year’s budget. There’s a lot for Ward 1 and the District to be happy about.
In Ward 1 we have several new programs that will bring a significant infusion of new resources into some of our major small business corridors.
I have secured funding for a new Main Street program in Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant, which will help keep the neighborhoods attractive to visitors and small businesses. We also have two new clean teams. One is for Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant, and the other is for the Georgia Ave corridor where my goal in the near future is to add an additional Main Street program. There’s also continuing support for a clean team in Adams Morgan.
I’ve also worked with my colleagues to restore the Georgia Avenue Great Streets funding, which provides financial support for small businesses for programs like façade improvement and small business improvement loans. 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 to ensure this budget invests in Ward 1 schools. The Council budget does not cut any modernization funds for Ward 1 schools and there are many which are getting additional funding including Marie Reed, Bancroft, Bruce Monroe, Adams, Tubman, and Banneker.
This budget also invests in public safety, with one major omission I hope we can resolve soon. I strongly supported the innovative data-driven approach of Councilmember McDuffie’s NEAR Act and I look forward to finding funding for it as soon as possible. I am disappointed that it is not funded in this budget because it would bring a proven public health approach to reducing crime.
At the Ward level I am fighting for investments that will make our neighborhoods safer. The programs in Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan and Georgia Avenue will all help improve public safety by keeping the business corridors orderly and well maintained.
The budget also has more funding for youth programs year-round including enhanced funding for programs to support at-risk youth and youth involved with the justice system. We have very successful outcomes-based programs such as the Georgia Avenue Family Support Collaborative, Alternatives to the Court Experience Diversion Program (ACE), and Parent and Adolescent Support Services Program (PASS) that provide support to families and youth to help them navigate out of crisis and avoid behavior that puts them at-risk and I believe those programs need strong support. This budget addresses those needs.
The budget also gives MPD additional resources. It provides funding to move forward the police body camera rollout. It will also increase MPD’s budget to add 60 new officers to the force.
It also addresses street harassment, a public safety issue. At my request the D.C. Council held its first-ever hearing dedicated solely to the subject of street harassment last year. The budget directs the Office of Women’s Policy and Initiatives to collect data on the issue for the first time, an important step towards creating a plan to end street harassment, and will connect to public schools to educate students on the issue.
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. It also funds the Home Purchase Assistance Program, which provides down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers in the District. I’ve also fought to include funding to improve public housing facilities. Many are in desperate need of repair and our $15 million investment next year is a good start
Ward 1 is the most diverse Ward in the District, which is why I fought for language access staff at the Office of African Affairs to provide translation services to our African immigrant communities.
There is one large omission from this budget which I must mention. Since December I have been fighting to ensure our low income families don’t lose TANF support they need. Unfortunately we didn’t win the battle this cycle, but the fight for our families and kids isn’t over. We were, however, able to include funding for nutrition programs that help low-income residents including Joyful Markets, an elementary school-based program to provide 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.
I am also very closely monitoring the closing of the DC Trust, which provides funding to youth programs in the District. I would like to see it replaced with an Office on Youth Outcomes, which would serve as a one-stop resource for funding and technical assistance for youth serving organizations.
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 improve public safety and makes a significant investment in affordable housing.
Upcoming community events
Brianne on Your Block
Join me for informal office hours in the community to chat one-on-one about issues that matter to you. The event is one of my Brianne on Your Block events, which are regular opportunities for Ward 1 community members to meet me at locations across the ward. Participants will sign in as they arrive, and we’ll speak in informal conversations about topics of interest.
Nellies Happy Hour and Trivia Night
I’ll be at Nellies for happy hour and the first round of Nellies Trivia night, ranked the best trivia night in DC. Stop by at 7pm to mingle and chat about issues that matter to you, and test your skill at trivia starting at 8pm.