Committee on Human Services Budget Update
Posted on May 19, 2017 at 4:05 PM
This week marks a milestone in the Council’s annual budget process. Each committee holds a budget markup, which is when the committee makes its official budget recommendation for the following year.
This year I became Chair of the Human Services Committee where I help combat homelessness, improve programs for our youth that prepare them to succeed, and help residents with disabilities and those who find themselves in need of the District’s social safety net.
The committee’s budget recommendations will be considered and finalized by the Chairman, and then the full Council will take the first of two votes to pass the budget on Tuesday, May 30.
Highlights of the Human Services Committee budget blueprint are below. I’ll highlight some of the budget wins for Ward 1 in a future newsletter:
Major TANF reform – I found funding and incorporated a bill I introduced that will prevent families from losing TANF benefits, a program which provides assistance to families in need. The new policy protects children, preserving their benefit no matter what and allows parents to earn additional benefits.
Housing residents experiencing homelessness – I worked to fund 144 additional units of Permanent Supportive Housing and 100 additional units of Targeted Affordable Housing. The committee also allocated additional funds to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
Supporting our youth – We funded the first year of the area’s new Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness including 10 additional shelter beds for youth under the age 18; 2 additional shelter beds for youth ages 18-24; 5 additional slots for transitional housing; 6 additional units of Permanent Supportive Housing for youth experiencing homelessness; and 42 additional slots of Aftercare for youth reunifying with their families after running away or experiencing homelessness. I also allocated 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.
Adding resources for domestic violence survivors – The Virginia Williams Family Resource Center is the District’s entry point for homelessness services. Currently it has only one Domestic Violence Community Housing Coordinator on-site, and the demand for services exceeds current staffing levels. The budget allocates an additional coordinator.
Improving 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 an annual process that can happen over the phone or at various locations around the District, just like Medicaid. The budget adds funding for three new eligibility determination employees.
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