Today is a big day for the District of Columbia. My DC Council colleagues and I voted to set funding for the District’s fiscal year 2022 budget.
Here are some of our victories.
Quality Education for All Children
Large achievement gaps put many of our children of color at a disadvantage, even before they sling a backpack over their shoulder for the first time and take their first step into a classroom. A child’s education from ages 0-3 impacts the full trajectory of their future lives, including how well they do in school, whether they drop out of school, and how much money they’ll earn over a lifetime.
That’s why my first major bill as a Councilmember with a brand-new baby was to make sure every child has high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education. I’m proud that we fought for:
- $54 million for educators in childcare facilities, a big piece of the Birth-to-Three for All DC Act we passed in 2018 that guarantees high-quality childcare for all children;
- $8 million to expand the School Based Mental Health Program in FY2022 to all DCPS and DC public charter schools. We know that our students will need these critical services as we continue to recover together as a city;
- A $5 million investment in out-of-school time grants. Out-of-School Time programming is extremely important to families and students to supplement what is happening inside the classroom and give our youth productive things to do after school; and
- More funding for schools. We increased student funding by 3.6%
Protecting Housing for Everyday People
You deserve the right to an affordable place to live. Too many members of my own family have been forced out of the city because they could not afford housing. In that respect, my family is like so many other families in the District. Despite many city investments, housing that everyday people can afford is getting nearly impossible to find. Year after year, possibilities have shrunk. That’s why I keep looking for new ways to protect the housing we have and to create more. I’m proud that we fought for:
- $5 million for my new housing bill, the Generating Affordability in Neighborhoods (GAIN) Act, which immediately makes affordable housing available to residents by using property covenants to convert unaffordable rental units into affordable units;
- $50 million for public housing repairs;
- 510 housing vouchers for communities in need, which includes 40 for seniors, 20 for LGBTQ seniors, 20 for LGBTQ residents, 60 for returning citizens, 20 for single survivors of domestic violence, and 40 for families that have survived domestic violence in addition to 310 for families who are on the DC Housing Authority waitlist for public housing;
- Restored funding for transitional housing for youth experiencing homelessness; and
- $400 million to the Housing Production Trust Fund, the major tool used to produce and preserve affordable housing in the District.
Training Tomorrow’s Workforce Today
I ran for office in part because I believe that we can do more to bridge the gap between those who are benefiting from the District’s economic resurgence and those who are being left behind.
We must continue breaking barriers for adults engaged in workforce development programs. We can coordinate with the business community to ensure the city is preparing residents with the skills our economy demands today and will demand in the future. I’m proud that we fought for:
- $8 million to expand IT training opportunities for District residents at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and through community training providers;
- Funding to help UDC and community training providers train District residents as certified nursing assistants, home healthcare aides, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses;
- $500,000 for the Jobs First DC Pilot Program to help residents with significant barriers to employment find, keep, and flourish in their careers; and
- Funding to make permanent the successful pilot of the School Year Internship Program. The program is designed to provide District high school students ages 14-21 with work-based learning opportunities during the school year.
Helping Returning Citizens Come Home
Returning citizens have paid their debts. Now, they need stable housing and good paying jobs just like the rest of us. But they face extra barriers because of their criminal records and often long periods of time away paying their debts in prison. I’m proud that we fought for:
- Commissioning a study to move to a system of smaller halfway houses in each Ward. This will improve re-entry for our returning citizens, instead of the single large-halfway-house model we currently use;
- $532,000 for my Restore the Vote bill, which restores voting rights for incarcerated residents;
- $150,000 to provide re-entry services for transgender returning citizens; and
- $100,000 in grants to supportorganizations that offer re-entryhousing for returning citizens.
The LGBTQ Community
We must continue protecting LGBTQ residents in the District from hate crimes and giving them access to resources such as safe housing and mental health support. With this year’s budget, we secured:
- $1 million for an LGBTQ Community Center that District advocates have been working hard to develop;
- $196,000 for an LGBTQ Coordinator in the Office of Veterans’ Affairs, which will help LGTBQ veterans navigate veterans’ services. LGBTQ veterans are an undercounted and underserved constituency within Veterans Affairs;
- $150,000 to study how to strengthen LGBTQ businesses. Restaurants, bars, bookstores, and other businesses play a special role for many LGBTQ people, helping them form communities and movements outside their families of origin. But so many of them have closed over the past few years. This effort will assess our government’s support to keep these institutions vibrant and inclusive; and
- $50,000 to support local LGBTQ programs to ensure that pandemic recovery efforts don’t leave LGBTQ communities behind.
I fought to make the FY2022 budget a tool for social justice that responds to the most fundamental needs of our residents. In many ways, we did that.
I would like to thank my staff, Chairman Mendelson, my colleagues, and the Mayor and her staff for their hard work.