I hope you had a restful Memorial Day weekend. Sometimes I feel like it’s hard enough to distinguish a weekend from a weekday, but a holiday almost seems hard to recognize. But Memorial Day is incredibly important to ensure we remember the sacrifice and selflessness of men and women across our country and right here at home in defense of our country. Of course, with powerful reminders like the New York Times front page this weekend, it’s not hard to see the parallels of loss and sacrifice happening right here and now as well.
Faced with these steep losses, and what feels like an endless drumbeat of bad news, I wanted to ask if you’d share a story of hope or resilience in these difficult times. I know much of what’s in these newsletter updates is often sobering or a painful reminder of loss, but I’d like to start adding a new feature - a story from one of you about something good that’s happened, a sliver of hope that you see, or a way a neighbor or family member has been resilient in the face of adversity. Maybe it’s the high school or college senior who found a way to have a special graduation, maybe it’s a neighborhood kid who left inspiring sidewalk messages written in chalk, or maybe it’s the neighbor who began the phone tree to check in with folks living alone in the building or on the block. The floor is yours, and I’ll share these messages with others so that we can all take comfort in the hope these acts play in our lives.
And before we jump into the updates, I want to make sure you know today is the last day to request your Vote By Mail ballot for the June 2nd primary. Ward 6, I’m proud to let you know that we’re leading all other wards in the number of Vote By Mail requests - over 12,000! Remember, there will only be 3 voting centers open in Ward 6 (and 20 around the city) from now through the June 2nd Election Day. So avoid any lines, any wait, and #VoteSafeDC by getting your request in today. Seriously folks, do it now. You can request it through an app on your phone, you can pick that same phone up and call the Board of Elections, or heck, you can even fax in a form (yes, they still do that). Click Here for everything you need to know - but take action today because you won’t be able to tomorrow.
Quick Links: ReOpen DC Recommendations | FY21 Proposed Budget Released | Pushing For More Open Spaces | Summer Announcements | Ward 6 Budget Town Hall | COVID-19 Testing in Southwest | Judiciary & Public Safety Budget Hearings | How to Vote By Mail | Ward 6 Hits 57.3% in Census | Curbside Retail Pilots Launch | Florida/New York Ave Intersection | Metro Station Closings | More Food Assistance | Free Counseling "Warm Line" | | Volunteer With Neighborhood Groups | Diapers Help | Groceries Help
ReOpen DC Recommendations Announced On Friday, Mayor Bowser announced the recommendations made by the ReOpen DC Advisory Group Steering Committee in support of the city's phased reopening from coronavirus-related closures. Also announced by the Mayor was specific guidance for restaurants and retailers on how to plan to reopen -- you can find reopening checklists here. You can view the specific recommendations by visiting the ReOpen DC page on coronavirus.dc.gov. We expect Mayor Bowser to share an update on the reopening timeline later today, so stay tuned.
Mayor Bowser Releases Budget Proposal While Facing Steep Revenue Drop Last week, Mayor Bowser released her proposed FY2021 budget. Not much about the last three months has felt normal and the budget process is no different. Usually, the budget proposal is sent to the Council near the end of March and we’d be voting soon to approve next year’s budget (after the public’s and Council’s review and changes). But instead, after this crisis has put about a $1.5 billion hole in the District’s fiscal outlook, we gave the Mayor more time to re-evaluate and re-write the city’s budget accordingly. Almost overnight, we’ve seen huge drops in revenue to the city and huge increases in needed expenditures to help those hurting most. Over the next several weeks, we’ll hold hearings on the budget and expect to vote this summer. As with any budget, there are things we’ll like, and things we won’t. There are some people being asked to make sacrifices, although I’m concerned that’s being done very unevenly - especially among our frontline workers and those most impacted by this crisis. I’ll be holding a Ward 6 Budget Town Hall on June 4th (online via Facebook Live) where I’ll walk through what’s in the budget - with both a focus on Ward 6 priorities, and issues across the city that we all care about. Please join me, engage with this important process, and let me know where you think our tough decisions will be. To be sure, there will be difficult decisions and cuts to be made. But I also don’t believe we should simply look to an austerity-style budget to address the shortfall. In the coming weeks, we’ll have to work together to meet this challenge, especially to support those that are being hit so hard by the impacts of this pandemic.
DC Needs To Do More With Our Public Spaces About a week ago, Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, and I sent a letter and proposal to Mayor Bowser and the Department of Transportation pushing on the need to open up more of our public spaces for residents and the people of our city during this public health emergency. Everyday, I see children and seniors forced into the street alongside cars to maintain our physical distance requirements on sidewalks. We need the city to move faster to identify residential blocks that could transition to open spaces that allow people to safely walk, bike, or have the kids ride a scooter. We need to move faster to identify commercial corridors where crowded sidewalks with people waiting patiently in line to buy essential goods need more space. And we need to be thinking and planning now about how we should use our sidewalk space to add outdoor capacity once we eventually get to a safe, phased reopening of some of our businesses. I’ve been encouraged by how many of you have agreed and we’ll keep pushing. You can read the full letter by clicking here.
Schools Announcements. PLUS... Pools, Camps, and MBSYEP For parents of school-aged kids out there, I know there remain a lot of questions. Trust me, Jordi and I have the same questions you do. But first, to the 2020 graduating class, plans are underway to celebrate your accomplishments. I am very proud of you for powering through this public health emergency. You’ve been asked to sacrifice many of the traditions the spring of your senior year would hold. All of us know this isn’t the way your graduation was supposed to go. But I have a hunch you’re going to be stronger for it and more resilient in the face of challenges ahead. You’re being called to overcome and lead through something most will only experience once in a lifetime. I know you’re up to the task, and your family, neighbors, and community are proud of you.
In other school news, the big announcement last week was that the 2020-2021 school year will begin August 31st. What wasn’t announced was whether that will be in-person, virtually, or a combination of both. DCPS will also be creating a virtual summer school to begin on June 22nd for K-8th grade students that need academic assistance, need to make up class credit, or need assistance with English language. And, DCPS will be creating an optional two-week course for rising 3rd, 6th, and 9th grade students in August prior to the academic year starting. Stay tuned for more details and specifics on these initial decisions in the weeks to come.
In summer camp news, the Mayor announced that the Department of Parks and Recreation will not offer in-person camp to begin the summer (and likely for all of summer). DPR will offer a “Camp-at-Home” at no cost for District families including a range of activities. And, the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program is going virtual! MBSYEP will work to place young people doing work such as literacy support for young learners, tech/IT, and occupational skills training. Organizations that would like to partner with the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program can go to http://summerjobs.dc.gov.
FY21 Ward 6 Budget Town Hall: Rescheduled for Thursday, June 4, 7:30pm Our annual Ward 6 Budget Town Hall has been rescheduled for Thursday, June 4, at 7:30pm. Due to the public health emergency, we won't be able to gather in person so we'll be broadcasting on Facebook Live instead. Before the Council votes on the budget, I'll walk you through what's in the Mayor's proposed budget for Ward 6, where I'm focused in the budget debate, and what comes next in budget decisions. The Town Hall is also a great opportunity to ask your budget questions and share your own priorities before the votes are cast. If you're not able to log on that night but want to share your priorities or questions, you can leave budget feedback here for me and my team.
Free COVID-19 Testing in Southwest on Tuesday In response to concerns about potential community spread of the virus, DC Department of Health will be in Southwest on Tuesday at the King-Greenleaf Recreation Center (between the tennis courts and Greenleaf Senior) from 10am to 2pm to provide free COVID-19 testing. No appointments are needed -- free walk-up testing is available to anyone 18 years or older, with priority access for seniors. Bring your ID and contact information for an emergency contact.
Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety Hearings Due to COVID-19, this year’s Council budget oversight hearings will be conducted virtually on Zoom and livestreamed on the Council’s website. The full schedule of Council hearings on the Fiscal Year 2021 proposed budget can be found here. The Committee’s two budget hearings will be held on June 1 and June 9. For a full list of the Committee's agencies, click here. And due to the changes in this year's budget process that mean we can't gather in person, we're also expanding the many ways you can provide public testimony on the budget. Send us a video! Leave us a voicemail! Submit questions for our hearings! Find all the details here: http://www.charlesallenward6.com/committee. To watch last week's Virtual Town Hall on the budget, click here.
Tuesday is the Deadline To Request Mail-In Ballots. Have you Requested Yours? The District has a Presidential and Local Primary Election coming up on June 2. We've dramatically shifted how DC residents can still vote. Over 73,000 voters have already requested their ballot by mail. Have you? You can request a mail-in ballot and vote from your couch!
You can still request a mail-in ballot, but the DEADLINE TO REQUEST A MAIL-IN BALLOT is this TUESDAY, MAY 26! If you submit your request by mail, your application must be post-marked on May 26, 2020. (NOTE: this applies to your ballot request, you do NOT have to return your mail-in ballot by May 26)
To request a mail-in ballot online, click here: https://dcboe.org/Request-Your-Ballot-by-Mail
There have been a few glitches that the Board of Elections is working to fix, but I'll flag them here so you know:
Ward 6 Is Now at 57.3% Census Response (but our goal this week was 58%!): This is good news, but we need everyone to participate. Ward 6 still has four census tracts under 51%, so take a minute to respond if you haven't already and make sure you're counted. Here's how you can fill out the Census -- it's quick, easy, important, and you can do it from home.
Pilot Program Launches to Bring Curbside Retail to Some Ward 6 Local Businesses Last week the city announced a limited pilot program to let some local retail shops begin curbside, no-contact pick-ups. Businesses had to apply and several in Ward 6 were approved. The businesses are part of a pilot program to test out how phased reopening might occur and ensure safe pick-up of pre-ordered items by customers. I know each of these are beloved small businesses in our community - and you’ve probably been trying to find ways to support them already. So here’s one more way! Each store will have details on how they’ll work out customer pick-ups, so you’ll need to contact these shops directly. You can check out more details and get the full listing of approved businesses by clicking here.
Participating Ward 6 businesses include:
Metro To Close Stations For Capital Work With the public health emergency significantly impacting ridership on Metrobus and Metrorail, WMATA plans to make the most of the historically low ridership to complete capital projects at several Metrorail stations. During the months of June and July, they are planning to perform work at some stations in Ward 6, with short localized shutdowns to execute capital work around the clock. Shuttle buses will be provided across the closure areas.
June 14-20 | Stations closed: Waterfront and Navy Yard-Ballpark
June 21-27 | Stations closed: Mt.Vernon Square, Gallery Place (lower level) and Archives
June 28-July 11 | Stations closed: Georgia Avenue-Petworth and Columbia Heights
Need Help Affording Food? Here Are New Ways To Get Help To support social distancing and give vulnerable residents more ways to shop from home, DC Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients can now order groceries online using their EBT card. Families can visit Amazon, Amazon Fresh, and Amazon Pantry to order. To apply for SNAP benefits, visit dcbenefits.dhs.dc.gov. If you're new to the program, my staff is glad to help you out.
Does your child normally receive free or reduced-price school meals? Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) will provide food benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card to help out. If you currently receive SNAP or TANF, P-EBT benefits will be automatically loaded onto your existing EBT card. If you're not already on SNAP or TANF, you will automatically receive an EBT card in the mail. More information is available here.
Feeling Stressed, Anxious, And Need to Talk? Talk with a clinician anytime in DC by calling 1-888-7WE-HELP (1-888-793-4397). It's hard right now. Even if you're staying in and working, it's hard. If you've lost a loved one or a friend or a job, it's hard. Talking it out helps. Here's information on how you can reach someone. This is a free service, considered a "warm line," meaning it's available just to help with stuff that might not rise to the level of an emergency, but it's certainly bothering you. It's okay to call and talk with someone who can offer a sympathetic ear and sound advice.
COVID-19 Resources in Ward 6: My staff and I are keeping a running list of resources available for Ward 6 residents on my website. That includes information on free daily meals for students and senior residents, free groceries and diapers, how to volunteer, how to get tested if you are symptomatic, and more. If there's something you'd like to see added or corrected, reach out to Laura Marks on my team ([email protected]): http://www.charlesallenward6.com/covid_19_info
Here's Who To Support Financially or By Volunteering: I know many folks are looking for ways to be helpful during these hard times. 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:
Free groceries for residents: