What's in the Council's New Budget - Office of Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau
New Council Budget works to end homelessness, bring recreation and green space to Ward 1. This week the DC Council took the first of two votes on next year’s District budget and it contains some significant wins for Ward 1 and on my priorities of addressing homelessness, supporting small businesses, building affordable housing, and strengthening education. Let’s dive in.
In Ward 1, I have been working over the past year with constituents and members of the 11th and Bark community group to help them establish a permanent home for the dog park at 11thand Park Rd NW. Currently the land is owned by WMATA. I’m happy to report that I secured $1.5 million towards the purchase of 11th and Park to make it a permanent dog park and pay for needed upgrades and beautification.
Almost two years ago, the District underwent a major renovation of the Marie Reed Community Center in Adams Morgan and since its reopening, the hours at the aquatic center have been reduced. I secured funding to open the new Marie Reed pool on weekends, when most families and community members are able to use it. The budget also includes funding for morning pool hours next summer at Banneker Recreation Center and Park View Community Center.
The budget also includes expanded funding for the Ward 1 Clean Team to help keep our major commercial corridors cleaner while providing jobs to returning citizens. This adds to the Clean Team funding I secured in other budgets for Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant, and Georgia Avenue. New funding will unify U Street with the MidCity Clean Team in Ward 2, bringing continuity to our efforts, and better utilizing the resources we have across Ward 1.
I also secured funding for improvements at the small park at Lamont and 19th St NW and an additional $1 million for street repair in Ward 1. In total, we’ve allocated $5.3 million towards Ward 1 streets in this year alone. To that end, DDOT recently released their 2018 paving plan – I pushed to make sure that Ward 1 streets in need of repair were included, like Columbia Road, 11th Street, and Piney Branch Parkway. Another $10 million in funding will go towards sidewalk repair, and $16.5 million for alley reconstruction.
In addition, I’ve listened to the community’s wishes to have services returned to Harrison Recreation Center and I’ve pushed for DPR to hire and bring in a site coordinator so that the center can be re-opened as soon as possible in summer 2018. Though DPR is currently working to repair recent vandalism at the field house, they have committed to returning a full time employee to the Harrison Recreation Center starting June 1.
Ward 1-serving schools are also slated to get capital improvement funding for renovations over the next five years, including Tubman Elementary, Banneker High School, and Raymond Elementary School.
Across the District
My Street Harassment Prevention Act of 2018 is included in the budget. It will comprehensively target and eradicate street harassment through education, culture change, and by gathering data on the problem that will help us focus our resources. Our goal is to ensure that anyone walking home at night or going about their business or visiting our communities can do so without fear of harassment. We will educate and train thousands of District employees who interact with the public about how they can safely intervene and be part of a solution.
I am working with the Chairman to ensure my Access to Justice for Immigrants Act is included in the final budget. It creates a permanent fund for immigrant legal services to the District’s underserved and low-income documented and undocumented residents. Every day we learn that large parts of our community from Haitians, Hondurans, Salvadorans and others are being stripped of their rights to be in the city and country they have called home for years
The Council also invested in education by increasing per pupil education funding by 3.9%, and funding a new law that limits the use of exclusionary discipline practices such as out of school suspensions that disproportionately target students of color. The Council also increased funding by $1.25 million for Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes (for a total of $20 million), a new office I created with Councilmember Grosso to focus our District resources for youth after-school programs.
The budget also funds the new Fair Elections Act, a bill I co-sponsored that reduces the influence of special interests in District politics by matching small-dollar donations from residents with public funding.
On affordable housing, we’re investing $100 million into the Housing Production Trust Fund, which funds affordable housing construction. We also added $1.5 million for 75 new tenant-based LRSP vouchers, and $3.25 million for project-sponsor based LRSP vouchers. The programs provide rental subsidies and make housing affordable and more accessible to the lowest income residents who face the toughest housing challenges. And because the federal government keeps cutting funding for public housing, we included $3.25 million for public housing repairs across the District.
We’re also supporting small businesses with a new $5,000 tax credit, and providing dedicated funding to Metro and District arts and humanities.
Human Services Committee
As Chair of the Human Services Committee, which oversees the District’s social services agencies and much of its homelessness services, I built off the successes of last year including TANF reform that prevents homelessness by ensuring no child loses benefits, as well as increased investments in the District’s strategic plan to end homelessness.
This year the committee funded an increase of Permanent Supportive Housing and Targeted Affordable Housing and fully restored a proposed reduction in funding of Emergency Rental Assistance. The full Council expanded this commitment for a total of 957 additional units of permanent and transitional housing vouchers and subsidies. This includes 287 additional units of Targeted Affordable Housing, 227 units of Permanent Supportive Housing, and $624,000 in additional Emergency Rental Assistance funding.
The committee was especially focused on the needs of our youth experiencing homelessness and in fulfilling the District’s Youth Plan to end youth homelessness. The committee funded youth wraparound services at the Drop-In Center and additional transitional housing and Permanent Supportive Housing. The full Council enhanced these funding levels for a total of 19 additional Transitional Housing units and 12 Permanent Supportive Housing units specifically for youth.
The committee also added $1 million to the Interim Disability Assistance program, which helps District residents while they wait for Social Security and Disability claims to be processed by the federal government, and we increased burial assistance from $800 to $1,000 for families.
The committee also resisted attempts to cut Safe Shores funding, a child advocacy center designed to help abused children and their families, and the budget includes $250,000 for the center. We also funded a reporting requirement for the Alliance program that will give us more information as we try to make it easier for new and undocumented residents to get medical services.