My staff and I focus each day on serving all residents. You’ll find our key priorities below – and the legislation we’ve introduced to follow through on these commitments. Read my 2022 Annual Report to learn what we accomplished for District residents!
Protecting Housing for Everyday People
Everyone deserves a dignified place to live. This challenge is personal for me. Too many members of my own family have been forced out of the city as housing costs have increased beyond reach.
Unfortunately, this story is not unique. Despite many city investments, housing that everyday people can afford is becoming increasingly impossible to find. I will continue striving to develop creative and inclusive solutions to protect the housing we have and to build more.
The DC Council unanimously passed my bill to push down rent increases on rent-controlled units for two years. DC must balance the impact of staggering inflation costs on renters with landlords’ rising costs of providing housing. After many discussions with renters, tenant advocates and attorneys, landlords, agencies, and Council colleagues, I worked with Councilmembers Pinto and Lewis George to craft the bill that we landed on, with the help of Councilmembers Frumin, Parker, and Nadeau. Here’s what this means for residents: Starting July 1, 2023 for anyone living in rent-controlled units, your rent cannot be increased more than 6% this year (and no more than 12% over two years). For seniors and residents who are disabled, your rent cannot be increased more than 4% this year (and no more than 8% over two years). For anyone living in a rent-controlled unit who has already faced increases higher than 6% or 4% this year, the two-year cap will cover you to even out the increases over time.
This bill significantly reforms what the city does with public land it no longer uses. My goal with this bill is to use public lands to create more affordable housing, build more multi-bedroom units for families, and increase community input so that development is driven by the needs of communities more than the desire of developers. I hear from residents all the time who have a justified perception that the District is giving away land. This is the answer to that concern.
Creates transparency and accountability for the money DC spends on economic development projects. In particular, this bill provides residents with a comprehensive public report on new affordable housing units, jobs, and new revenue to the city for every project that gets public funds.
Residents deserve to know where their tax dollars are going.
Creates affordable housing quickly by purchasing housing that already exists — and lowering the rents residents would pay.
This is a faster and more affordable process for creating affordable housing than our traditional method of building new affordable housing. Under this bill, we can get residents into homes much faster, and spread affordable housing more equitably across the city.
Accelerates repair of housing code violations, ensures that more money from fines on bad landlords goes toward fixing housing code violations, prevents the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) from delaying enforcement of housing code violations, requires DCRA to report bad landlords to the Office of the Attorney General for legal action, and increases fines for housing code violations that landlords have left unfixed for more than six months.
No one in our city should have to experience the horrors that come with a bad landlord. This legislation cracks down on blatant abuses of tenants.
Addresses the great need for housing for seniors by paying senior citizen homeowners $300 a month as an incentive for them to rent rooms at low cost to other seniors. It also provides homeowners a $2,500 stipend to make home modifications. Our residents should have companionship as they age – and we can help make that a reality.
Creates centralized support for the small non-profits the Council funds to help residents find or stay in affordable housing. It also allows these organizations to focus their limited resources on residents instead of employee training, onboarding, and other personnel needs.
It should be much easier for our residents to find and stay in affordable homes.
Quality Education for All Children
Large opportunity gaps put many of our children of color at a disadvantage, even before they make it to their first day of elementary school. This is unacceptable to me, as both a father and a legislator. We need to level the playing field and provide our most vulnerable children with care and compassion, teach them lifelong learning skills for them to flourish, and make sure they are protected while at school.
Councilmember Allen and I jointly introduced the Seizure-Safe Schools Act, which would ensure that DC students with epilepsy and other seizure disorders are guaranteed safe and supportive learning environments and have access to necessary care and medication in school settings. This bill would train staff at every school in DC to know how to recognize and assist when a student has a seizure and ensure students with seizure disorders have access to needed care. This bill was brought to the Council by Oliver, a 16-year old DC resident and advocate, with the support of State Board of Education Representative Brandon Best.
DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) released data showing that 30% of teachers left their schools last year. This is up from 26% the year before and 19% the year before that. My Educator Retention for Student Success Act would put into law what educators have said they need to avoid burning out and leaving the profession they love–from paid mental health days to flexible scheduling. I’m proud that the Council approved funding for a flexible scheduling pilot program, starting October 1, 2023.
Puts the District of Columbia on the path to universal early childhood education. This bill creates programs to support healthy infant and toddler development; increases funding for early childhood development providers; increases salaries for child development educators; and creates new government positions to help providers obtain or renew their licenses and permits.
Birth to Three was the first major issue I took up when I was a brand new Councilmember – putting in plenty of sleepless nights thanks to a brand new baby. It made me recognize the work involved in raising a toddler. We should lend a helping hand to our educators to ensure our kids are properly resourced throughout this period of critical development.
Creates an elective course for 11th and 12th grade students to learn about topics like saving, credit, budgeting, and taxes.
We don’t teach financial basics in our schools. That needs to change. One of the ways we can most effectively prepare our young people to succeed is to make sure they have the tools and knowledge they need to develop a stronger understanding of their financial health.
Requires the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to report information about incidents of sexual misconduct in schools. OSSE must also develop a model policy for how schools report criminal investigation of sexual misconduct involving school staff in a timely manner.
Sexual assault has no place in the District, let alone our schools. Our students must feel safe.
The Dignity of a Job
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 aren’t.
Our office supports unemployed and underemployed residents by advancing workforce development programs and working with the business community. Our goal is to ensure the city is preparing residents with the skills our economy demands today and will demand in the future.
Creates financial incentives for government contractors that register and administer apprenticeship programs so that our residents can begin training for new jobs.
Let’s get our residents trained so they have a diverse skillset for them to be competitive in the ever-changing job market.
Matches the federal tax credit of up to $2,400 for employers that hire a District resident who has been unemployed for more than 27 consecutive weeks, is an unemployed veteran, has a disability, is a convicted felon, receives assistance or supplemental security income benefits. Unlike the federal tax credit, the bill creates a local tax credit for employers who hire senior citizens.
Being unemployed for 27 weeks can feel like a lifetime. I’m committed to providing the help people need to get back on their feet.
Helping Returning Citizens Come Home
Returning citizens need stable housing and good paying jobs just like the rest of us, but they face additional barriers due to their criminal records and often long periods of incarceration. Since joining the Council in 2016, I have prioritized the well-being of returning citizens, as they are some of our most valuable partners in stabilizing communities and families. We must do everything we can to ensure their return is a smooth one.
Keeps criminal history providers from reporting criminal history information related to records that the courts have sealed, expunged, or set aside, and records related to infractions that did not result in a conviction.
Allows returning citizens to have greater participation in the cannabis industry by establishing and implementing a program that provides an application fee waiver, technical assistance with the application, and assistance with applying for any required license for applicants seeking a dispensary, cultivation center, and/or testing laboratory registration.
For those who have been convicted—especially for petty marijuana crimes—there is no sensible reason why they should not be able to participate in the District’s growing marijuana economy.
Ensures that the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs begins contacting returning citizens at least six months before they return from federal prison to create transition plans, gives returning citizens free access to District identification cards and birth certificates using their Federal Bureau of Prisons identification, and provides a three-month transportation stipend after they return home to help find jobs and housing.
Our government is essential in helping returning citizens come home. Let’s keep our returning citizens informed – and provide them with a welcoming hand.
Restores voting rights for all incarcerated District residents. We can be proud that DC is the first jurisdiction in the country to do so.
In a democracy, everyone should have the right to vote.
Creating Safer Communities
Growing up in DC during one of the most violent times in our city’s history, I understand that we all want to be safe. I am committed to addressing the very serious impact that violent crime has on our communities, our public spaces, and our economy. In order to ensure safe streets, I believe we have an obligation to address the underlying and systemic causes of crime while simultaneously addressing the daily safety we all deserve.
I introduced the Whole Government Response to Crime Act to get at the heart of why DC is continuing to see crime and violence escalate: our broken public safety system. Too many residents have recounted horror stories of calling 911 and getting no response or having first responders dispatched to the wrong location. In 2022, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute more than half of the people arrested in the District. There are too many guns flooding our neighborhoods and we don’t know where they’re coming from. My bill tackles these gaps in our public safety system to make residents safer faster by fixing our 911 center, recruiting and retaining the forensic personnel needed to collect evidence and hold those committing the violence accountable in court, and tracking where guns are coming from and where they’re being recovered in DC.
Requires the Attorney General of DC to conduct a study to examine bias—conscious or unconscious—in the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) threat assessments. The study would collect statistics about civilian injuries, arrests, fatalities, and the number of officers deployed for assemblies that took place between January 2017 and January 2021. The data will be used to analyze the extent to which bias played a role in MPD’s assessments of threats and inform the District’s vulnerability to future attacks by homegrown extremists.
We all saw how law enforcement adopted a posture of going to war during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests – contrasted with their minimal presence during the attempted coup on January 6, 2021. I believe that unconscious bias impacted our response on January 6, 2021 and left us vulnerable to domestic terrorists.
Youth often unknowingly waive their Miranda rights and consent to searches under pressure resulting in wrongful convictions and/or false confessions. The bill bans these searches, require officers to explain their rights in an age-appropriate way and provides the opportunity to meet with a lawyer before statements are admissible.
Kids make mistakes. That doesn’t mean their lives need to be ruined because they don’t understand their rights.
Supporting Our LGBTQ+ Neighbors
The District must be an open, affirming, and loving place for all people. We must continue to protect LGBTQ+ residents in the District from hate crimes, discrimination, and harassment in public spaces, and give them access to resources like safe housing and mental health support. Also, we must do all we can to protect our transgender and non-binary communities, some of our most vulnerable residents. DC should be a safe place everyone is proud to call home.
Creates a special purpose fund to support the work of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs (OLGBTQA) and directs the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to offer a new line of Pride license plates, with fees from the new plates going towards the OLGBTQA fund. OLGBTQA, which offers community programming, grants, and individual housing and employment supports, will use the fund to support programs that promote the welfare of the District’s LGBTQ community.
Requires the Mayor to study the employment of transgender and non-binary people in District agencies and District agencies’ employment practices as they relate to people who identify as transgender or non-binary with the goal of hiring more transgender and non-binary people and serving as a model for other employers.
We have an obligation to help our trans and non-binary residents secure employment – and enable them to meet their full potential as leaders.
Ensures that the District has the tools to understand the health needs of our LGBTQ+ residents by requiring annual monitoring and public reporting on health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among the LGBTQ+ community.
A Sustainable and Healthy City
As a world class city, we must use every lever available to us to ensure that we are at the forefront of the fight for climate justice and building a sustainable city for future generations.
The District must use the safest materials for our playgrounds, schools, facilities, and other government buildings, so that residents don’t have to worry about harmful exposure to lead or other toxins in public places.
Requires all major new or substantially improved government buildings to comply with net zero energy design principles. Each building project will be designed to generate at least as much energy from renewable sources as it consumes each year. This legislation also directs the Department of General Services (DGS) to train employees in relevant green technologies and open those trainings up to the local construction industry, ensuring the District has the skilled labor needed to achieve this effort, and empowering builders to deliver more net zero energy projects to interested private customers.
Requires the Department of General Services (DGS) to mitigate reduce environmental hazards that impact our health—and our children’s health—on playground surface materials and in District-owned buildings. It also requires that there be community outreach regarding the replacement of playground and field surfaces so our communities can remain informed.
There are many playgrounds and buildings in the District that are not safe. Until we retrofit or replace these spaces, we must do everything we can to protect our residents, especially our kids.
Requires the DC government to use its properties for renewable energy production through solar panels and small wind turbines on-site at every government-owned facility.
Energy efficiency is a win for our residents, our economy, and the planet.
A Transparent, Diverse, and Just Government
Government should be accountable to its citizens, transparent in its processes and dealings, and reflective of the many communities it represents. My office works to ensure that our city’s government functions according to these principles.
Requires the city to hire more racial minorities, women, and people with disabilities to invest our money. At least 20% of most pension fund managers and at least 20% of investment consultants the city uses would be diverse.
Diverse investment manager teams generate better returns on investments. A lack of diversity is costing all of us money — with a disproportionate impact on District workers like teachers and first responders. We need to fix that.
Adds homelessness as a protected class to the Human Rights Act. This legislation would protect people experiencing homelessness from discrimination in housing, employment, and schools, while directing the DC Office of Human Rights to train law enforcement on these protections. It will also protect independent contractors from workplace harassment and discrimination.
Aligns procurement practices of the Office of Contracting and Procurement and the DGS. It also requires DGS to share annual acquisition plans so businesses can plan ahead for opportunities.
Requires all DC agencies to report every complaint of harassment by and against District employees, and the outcomes of those complaints.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable. The District government, one of the largest employers in the city, must be transparent and accountable on this front.