Ward 6 Update 7_2_20

Happy July! Originally, I was going to focus an update on my proposed budget for public safety agencies, but there's a lot of other important information to share, so please forgive the length of this newsletter.

 

And as we head into our July 4th Holiday Weekend, I hope you have plans for a restful weekend. No doubt about it, it’s going to be different this year than in the past. That goes for me, too! For the first time in almost 15 years, I won’t be at Barracks Row for our annual Independence Day Parade (although, look for us online!) and I’m going to miss seeing so many friends and neighbors! No matter how you’re celebrating, I hope you have a safe and fun holiday.

Quick Links: DC Statehood!! | Reinvesting MPD Budget in Community | Paid Family Leave | Minimum Wage Up to $15 | Fireworks | COVID-19 Update | DCPS School Re-Opening | Care for DC Creatives | Summer Student Meals | Rent $ Help | How to Give Back | Free Diapers | Free Groceries 

US House of Representatives Passes DC Statehood: I know there's a lot happening right now in the world and in our community, but we have to start with what happened last Friday afternoon. A LAW THAT WOULD GRANT DC STATEHOOD PASSED THE US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES!!!! This is a major step forward in a decades long fight for equal treatment and full rights for DC residents as US citizens. As DCist chronicles, don't take this moment as a given. Years of hard work have gone into this movement by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the folks at DC Vote, the Free DC Movement, community activists, neighbors like Josh Burch at United for Statehood, and more to build momentum, get more and more representatives signed on, and more. While the prospects don't look great in the Senate or the White House, you cannot deny the milestone we achieved last Friday. 

Reinvesting From the MPD Budget Into Community: Last week, the Council took a big step in crafting the District's budget for FY21, which begins on Oct. 1, 2020. And due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, the District is facing a cumulative $1.5 billion budget shortfall. Our full budget vote is next week, but first, each committee must pass a recommended proposal. As Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, I led the process to determine funding for the 39 agencies, boards, and commissions that fall under the committee's oversight. The Council will take a first vote on the entire budget package this coming Tuesday, July 7.

Clearly, with the historic protests calling for an end to racial injustice over the past month, particularly around policing, the budget of the Metropolitan Police Department drew much of the attention. I explained how MPD's budget works, and where we decided to make reductions, in a long post on Facebook and in a Twitter thread. In total, MPD will have a budget of $568 million for next year, which is a reduction of $33 million from what they have been operating with this year. My Committee reinvested $15 million and before that, the Mayor reduced MPD's budget by $22.9 million. The budget does not force any officers to lose their job, but it does put the agency in a hiring freeze.

I want to emphasize, we made reductions in order to invest in programs that still improve public safety beyond policing. These are ways to improve the lives of residents who have been living in neighborhoods that have been historically underinvested in except for police presence. Below are a number of the investments that will make a big difference (with links below for the full list):

  • Restores and expands Violence Interruption Work: In total, our budget restores all cuts and adds $3.65 million in new funding for violence interruption work for both the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and Cure the Streets program in the Office of the Attorney General. 

    • Want to prevent shootings? Give people at-risk a pathway: A critical part of our violence interruption work is the ONSE’s Pathways Program, a transitional wrap-around employment and anti-violence program that gets young folks most at-risk of committing a crime or being victim to one a way out. This is a paid program, and after lobbying from previous participants, we are funding an increase in the pay.

  • Invests in Restorative Justice: Restorative Justice offers the potential to transform how we handle justice. In this budget, we create a new Restorative Justice Collaborative in one of our violence interruption programs to coordinate and foster restorative justice programming and practices within the District government and with community-based organizations, with a focus on the 18-to-35-year old population. 

    • I'm particularly excited about creating four “Restorative Justice Fellows”, which the Committee intends the agency to fill with residents returning home under the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act. These are District residents coming home after having served many years for committing a serious crime as a young person. Now they can offer young people their perspective and serve as leaders in reaching young people before they make a serious mistake. I want to take a moment to point you in the direction to learn more about Restorative Justice. Give this interview on the Ezra Klein Podcast with sujatha baliga a listen, which is a great primer to understand Restorative Justice in this moment in history. 

  • Building a New Shelter for Domestic Violence Survivors, Funding Community Orgs: Part of our re-investment helped find the $3 million needed to complete plans to build a new shelter for survivors and victims of domestic violence. We also restored cuts and expanded funding by millions of dollars for funding to community organizations who work with victims of crime and marginalized communities who are often left behind. 
  • Investments in Housing: With this budget, we funded $250,000 to repair existing affordable housing. We transferred $250,000 to emergency rental assistance. We added $1 million for a new reentry housing program. And funded $4.5 million to provide free legal assistance to tenants facing eviction, a program I helped create in 2017.

  • For Those Who Really Want to Dig In: I've posted the full highlights of everything our budget funded. If you really want to get wonky here's a link to the full Committee Report (read pages 12-23 if you want the narrative on our approach).

Paid Family Leave is Live in DC! Finally, after years and years of hard work, the District of Columbia is officially offering paid family leave starting yesterday, July 1. DC residents can apply for up to 8 weeks of paid time off from their job for several life events, including the birth or adoption of a new child, the care for a family member who is ill, or a medical condition that has left you unable to perform your duties at work. This is a big, big deal and it makes it DC a great place for workers. Learn more about eligibility here.

DC Raises Minimum Wage to $15: Also on July 1, the District completed a multi-year incremental approach to get our minimum wage to $15 an hour -- a change that will provide an immediate boost to an estimated 65,000 District residents. I still remember standing on the steps of the Wilson Building years ago calling for a fair wage in DC, and it’s exciting to see this milestone achieved.

Fireworks 'Go Teams' Ready to Help: I've heard from a lot of Ward 6 neighbors struggling with unauthorized late night fireworks in the neighborhood. I've been working with the Chief of the Fire Department on ways we can respond. In response to our conversations, he worked with the Fire Marshal to come up with some new plans and yesterday, Mayor Bowser announced the creation of Go Teams. These combine the Fire Marshall and DC government employees who can respond in real-time to complaints about fireworks to provide education and work with neighbors. If you need a Go Team to visit your neighborhood, call (202) 727-1614 or email fems.fireprevention@dc.gov. 

I think this is a good solution and a great example of a problem where we need more than just a traditional police response for public safety. If you use this service, please let me know if it helps. I appreciate the quick thinking and creativity of the Fire Chief, Mayor, and her team on this one.

COVID-19 Update - No Big Spike After Month of Mask-Empowered Protests: The data on the District of Columbia's response to COVID-19 continues to look good and show improvements, though as I mentioned in my last newsletter, be extra cautious about indoor dining or worship services which are re-opened. And please, wear a mask. But we're safely past any major spike we might have seen from thousands of residents taking to the streets to call for an end to racial injustice. A lot of that should be credited to wide-spread mask usage by protestors. It's pretty great news that demonstrating while wearing a mask makes a big difference in protecting yourself and others.

And testing is available for residents without needing a doctor's note or symptoms. Visit NeedATestGetATest.com to see all of the options. Testing sites will be closed July 3 & 4 for the Fourth of July holiday. As a reminder, the District launched ongoing daily testing at different firehouses around the city. Here's the schedule (these locations are subject to weather-related closure, check DC Health Twitter before you go if the forecast is dicey). And keep in mind testing sites will not be open Friday, July 3 or Saturday, July 4:

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday: 4-8 pm

  • Engine 4 (2531 Sherman Ave. NW)
  • Engine 11 (3420 14th St. NW)
  • Engine 24 (5101 Georgia Ave. NW)
  • Engine 31 (4930 Connecticut Ave. NW)

Thursday and Friday: 4-8 pm, Saturday: 12-4 pm

  • Engine 8 (1520 C St. SE)
  • Engine 10 (1342 Florida Ave. NE)
  • Engine 30 (50 49th St. NE)
  • Engine 33 (101 Atlantic St. SE)

Teachers Raise Concerns About DCPS and DCPCS Back To School Plans: I know there are many questions, and maybe like you, I’m eagerly waiting for DCPS and Public Charter Schools to make decisions about the start of school again next month. As soon as we have firm information, I’ll share that broadly. And stay tuned on this front, because I’ll want to create an online discussion as well to hear from parents, teachers, and more to talk through ideas and feedback as we prepare for an upcoming school year that will be like none other. I did want to flag one concern I have though as we think about the educators we depend on in our classrooms. You may have read about concerns from our DCPS teachers in the Washington Post, and I share the desire to see our educators (many of whom are parents and caregivers themselves) fully engaged in the planning process to ensure we have safe classrooms for both students and staff.  

Mental Health Care for DC Creatives: It's a stressful time for many of us, including the District's talented class of artists, musicians, performers, and other creatives where shows and exhibits have been cancelled or postponed and most of our markets and stores are operating at a fraction of capacity, if that. I'm glad to pass on this announcement that the DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment is partnering with George Washington University to provide pay-what-you-can clinical therapy. To receive care from #CareForCreativesDC, please email CCSCFoggyBottom@gwu.edu and the Care For Creatives team will follow up with more information. You will be asked a couple of questions and then be paired with a clinician.  

Ward 2 has a New Councilmember: Last weekend I joined several of my colleagues as Brook Pinto was sworn-in as the new Ward 2 Councilmember. She won the Special Election in Ward 2 to immediately fill the seat left by Jack Evans. I was glad to welcome Councilmember Pinto to the Council and I look forward to working with her immediately as we finalize the FY21 Budget this month. Photos borrowed from Council of DC's official Twitter account

Free Student/Kid Meal Sites As Of June 1: Click here to see the updated list of school meals being provided over the summer here. As the city transitions to the summer meal program, many new Rec Center feeding sites have been added. Use this handy mapping tool to find the site nearest you.

If Your Child Receives a Free School Meal, There's Extra Help For You: During the pandemic, families with one or more children receiving free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program, you can sign-up here for extra support with food during the pandemic. Learn more and enroll with DC's Department of Human Services, and share this information in your neighborhood.

Extra Rental Assistance Available: If you are behind in your rent, there might be support available. Additional funding from the federal government will be available to assist District residents. More information here.

Here's Who To Support Financially or By Volunteering: At this point, we've been living physical distancing for more than 100 days. The initial burn to do something may have faded, but these organizations are still doing great work to help our neighbors and they're worth your support. If you find yourself with a lot of time and you are healthy and able to volunteer, these are groups that can put you to work. I cannot emphasize enough, however, that if you are not feeling well at all, please do not volunteer. And if you are fortunate enough to be in a position to make donations, these are organizations helping put food on the table and meet other needs for your neighbors right here in Ward 6 and across the District:

  • Table Church DC (via Ward 6 neighbors): Started by Ward 6 neighbor Allison McGill, this is a great effort pairing volunteers with residents who need help with a range of needs, including just someone to run to the store for them.

  • Ward 6 Mutual Aid Network: Started by Ward 6 neighbor Maurice Cook and Serve Your City, this is a group collecting and redistributing food and other essential items for neighbors. 

  • World Central KitchenChef José Andres' nonprofit kitchen has set up shop at Nationals Park and has been serving up hundreds of meals to Ward 6 seniors. If you can chip in to keep their work going, know it is helping your neighbors.

  • DC Medical Reserve Corps: Organized by the DC Government, here's a way to help out as our medical response scales up.

  • DC Public Schools: In need of volunteers to help keep running their many meal sites for kids in DC during school closures! Please fill out the linked survey.

  • Capital Area Food Bank: In critical need of volunteers to help sort and pack food in their warehouse and assist at their offsite food distributions.

  • Food and Friends DC: In urgent need of extra volunteers throughout the coming weeks. There are two volunteer opportunities, food preparation and packaging and meal and grocery delivery.

  • Food Rescue US: Volunteers with vehicles needed to pick up and deliver food from businesses to DC residents in need.

  • Grace’s Table: Looking for volunteers to help feed the homeless each Saturday.

  • Martha’s Table: Volunteers needed to help prepare and bag food for their emergency food sites across the city.

  • We Are Family: Volunteer to deliver groceries to seniors. 

  • Food for All DC: Volunteer to drive groceries to seniors, immunocompromised, and other DC neighbors who are homebound. Volunteer here.

  • Aunt Bertha: Aunt Bertha’s network connects people seeking help and verified social care providers that serve them by zip code. Contact your local shelter to see what help and/or items may be needed.

Free diapers: 

Free groceries for residents: 

  • Ten DC School Sites Distributing Free Groceries Each Week: I mentioned this above, but sharing here as well. Ten DCPS meal locations are now distributing groceries as well as student meals. Every Monday is Eastern High School's day to distribute in Ward.

  • Martha's Table: Daily grocery distribution at 2nd and H Street, from 5:15-5:45 pm. Donate here to support their work: https://marthastable.networkforgood.com/projects/95536-martha-s-table-martha-s-table-expanded-programs-covid-19 

  • Capital Area Food Bank: Behind many good nonprofits is the CAFB, supplying many groceries from bulk purchasing to food pantries across the region. Help them today: https://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/donate/

  • Father McKenna Center Grocery Pantry Now Open: One of the programs partnering with the Capital Area Food Bank is the Father McKenna Center at 900 North Capitol St., NW. Information on how to support or receive groceries here.

  • H Street Food Drive for Ward 5-6 Neighbors: Contactless food/groceries available for neighbors who need some extra assistance. They also offer contactless food delivery for anyone in the area that needs it, especially elderly, single parents, those with special needs. Drop off or Send Non-Perishable Food Deliveries To: @maketto1351 | Attention: H ST. NE FOOD DRIVE | 1351 H ST. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. Send all monetary donations To: PayPal: PayPal.me/CHRiSCARDi | Venmo: @ChrisCardi
    • Pick up at Maketto: 1351 H Street, NE
      Monday – Saturday: 7:30am – 9:30pm
      Sunday: 7:30am -5pm
    • If in need of delivery assistance text 202-681-3532

Ward 2 Has a New Councilmember: Last Saturday, I joined the Council’s newest member, Brooke Pinto, as she was sworn in. The voters of Ward 2 elected her to serve out the remainder of former Councilmember Jack Evans’ term and I’m looking forward to working with her as we seek to lead the city through this challenging times.

Thanks as always and I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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