I can't believe the holidays are just around the corner! Of course, this is great news because it means it's time for the 11th annual Ward 6 Brickie Awards! Save the date for Wednesday, December 6, at The Wharf! RSVP here. I hope you can join me on the Southwest Waterfront for a fun night with neighbors overlooking the Washington Channel! I've been working hard for Ward 6 and I'm excited to share a number of updates, so let's jump right in:
Walking in the Boots of our Fire & EMS Responders: It was a hard, and at times very hot, experience as well as very educational to spend a day at Fire Ops 101 learning how District fire fighters work to protect and serve our great city. I walked away with a greater appreciation for and understanding of their work. Under their guidance, I ran into a burning building to put out a fire, rappelled off a 5-story building, and had a chance to try out the equipment that keeps them safe. As Chair of the Council's Committee that oversees the department's budget and operations, I felt it was important to witness and experience firsthand how the decisions we make impact their ability to do the job. I wrote up a longer note on the experience on my Facebook page.
Are You or Do You Know a First Responder Looking to Own a Home in DC? This spring, the Council passed my bill into law that provided up to $45,000 in down payment assistance for our police, firefighters, EMTs, and corrections officers toward the purchase of their first home in the District. Only about 20 percent of our first responders live in DC, and the number one barrier I hear from them is the cost of housing. I believe it is very important that more of our first responders are able to call the communities they keep safe home. I learned just last week that the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) - the agency tasked with getting the funds to the first responders -- was not ready to launch the program when the new fiscal year began on October 1. Even worse, they wouldn't be ready until January -- a quarter of the way through the fiscal year -- to start distributing the $1.8 million in the budget. I wrote a letter to DHCD asking why they were so behind in launching a program that passed into law in July, and urged them to communicate more clearly about the program. To help move things along, I introduced emergency legislation last Tuesday that would make it possible for first responders currently shopping for a home to apply to have those funds retroactively applied to their down payment. The reason I'm including this item here is to ask if you know a first responder who is considering home ownership, let them know they can contact any of these nonprofits that will administer the fund or call my office at 202-724-8072. Bureaucracy shouldn't stand in the way of our first responders making the District their home.
Seriously, the 11th Annual Brickie Awards Are On December 6: It's the event of the year! I mentioned this above, but the Brickie Awards are coming to The Wharf on Wednesday, December 6. You can nominate community members and Ward 6 businesses for special recognition and RSVP to attend here. This is always a really fun evening that brings neighbors together over some delicious food and drinks while giving out awards to the people, organizations, and businesses that make Ward 6 great.
Books From Birth Keeps Growing: Books From Birth continues to be a national leader and model for improving early childhood literacy and exposure to reading from very young ages - this NPR story, which has a great headline, does a deep dive into DC's program and others around the country. Books From Birth was my first legislative initiative on the Council, and I am proud to say that enrollment stands today at 26,753 kids -- 57% of the eligible population and now has more than 4,400 "graduates" of the program (that includes my daughter, who received her last Books From Birth mailing earlier this year and decided to read it to her baby brother, also enrolled).
There's a Mid-Block Crosswalk in Mt. Vernon Triangle: It’s not every day we cut the ribbon on a crosswalk, but that’s how important the new mid-block crossing is at 4 1/2 K Street, NW. Before, neighbors had a hard time getting to businesses and residences on both sides of the 400 block of K Street, a very long block on a very busy street. Now it should be safer and easier. I'm proud to have helped get this done - but a big thanks goes to ANC Commissioner Alex Marriott, the Mt. Vernon Triangle Community BID (especially Kenyattah Robinson and Leon Johnson), and of course our DC Department of Transportation.
Pennsylvania Avenue Vision Summit was a Great Conversation: I want to thank the more than 75 neighbors who joined me at the Hill Center a few weeks ago for a broad discussion of the many projects taking place on or near Pennsylvania Avenue between Seward Square and Barney Circle. The evening was a great opportunity for residents to ask questions of leaders from DDOT, the National Park Service, local developers, and myself, and get a better understanding of everything that's planned. I am already working on follow-up items from the discussion and will be back in touch soon on how we can work together toward a shared vision. My thanks to ANC 6B and all the neighbors who joined the conversation. More to come!
Kojo Nnamdi Show On Youth Rehabilitation and Public Safety: Following a great public hearing on our bill to reform the Youth Rehabilitation Act, I joined WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi recently to discuss what the bill means for public safety. If you missed it and want to learn more, check out the link for the 20-minute segment on this important topic (available as a podcast as well).
Rediscovering that DC is a city on the water: Between Yards Park and The Wharf, I really believe that DC is both remembering and rediscovering that we are a city on the water. That means more access to our incredible waterfronts, but also more activity on the rivers. From boating and sailing to paddle boarding, kayaking, and more, our water is about to become much more active (and crowded). To help take a bird's eye view of how the water is being managed and cared for, I've introduced legislation to create a new office in the District tasked with creating a management plan for our rivers' needs surrounding transportation, environment, recreation, and safety. You can follow the bill here and WTOP broke down the bill's goals here.
DC Water Fees are Hitting Churches, Cemeteries, and Nonprofits Hard: If you are a DC Water customer, there's a fee tacked on to every month's bill that helps pay for a massive infrastructure upgrade to the city's sewer systems to handle the capacity of 2017, not 1917. The fee is based on the amount of impermeable ground surface on the property -- such as pavement for roads or parking lots. Recently, I introduced the Nonprofit Stormwater Infrastructure Incentive Amendment Act, which would allow tax-exempt organizations to earn money in the city's stormwater credit market by installing green infrastructure upgrades that retain storm water. Early estimates show some organizations might save tens of thousands of dollars per year. We've shared more about the bill and the issue on my Facebook page.
Community Office Hours: My website has every community office hours dates on the calendar from now until the end of the year. Save the date and RSVP for the next one in your neighborhood. On Friday, I'll be at Radici near Eastern Market from 8am - 9:30am. Hope to see you there!
Is Your Organization Putting on a Holiday Market or Public Holiday Celebration? Let my office know -- we'll be putting together a Ward 6 Holiday Guide to share broadly. Email Erik Salmi with the details and any related web links.
Thanks as always!
Community Office Hours at Radici - Eastern Market: Friday, Nov 17, 8 am
Small Business Saturday: Shop Small, Local, & Made In DC on Saturday, Nov 25
Capitol Hill Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: Saturday, Nov 25, 5:30 pm
Community Office Hours in Shaw: Friday, Dec 1, 8 am
Canal Park Ice Rink Holiday Tree Lighting, Friday, Dec 1, 7pm
The District's Holiday Boat Parade: Saturday, Dec 2, 4-10pm
Holiday Sip & Shop on Capitol Hill, Monday, Dec 4, 6-8pm
THE WARD 6 BRICKIE AWARDS: Wednesday, Dec 6, 6-8pm
Capitol Hill Community Menorah Lighting: Wednesday, Dec 13, 5pm
Nog Fest at the Wharf: Saturday, Dec 16, 1-4pm