Ward 6 Update: COVID-19, Voting, Census!

I hope you’re doing well and staying safe. The last few weeks have been incredibly busy around Ward 6, as well as at home with our two kids starting their virtual school year, and at the Council as it ramps up for its fall legislative session. In addition, I’ve also been working with local leaders as we continue to respond to, and work to prevent, the persistent gun violence in some parts of our city. This is a multi-faceted challenge, but something we must bring the full weight of government to combat. I’ve seen how we can mobilize government to respond to the public health emergency of COVID-19, and I believe we can and should do the same to respond to the public health emergency of gun violence. I believe that response must be more than a call for “law and order“ -- it must be an effort that leverages the resources, talents, and capacity of every part of government. Gun violence doesn’t just come out of nowhere. It is often the product of trauma and violence, a loss of hope for the future, personal conflict that should be resolved peacefully, challenges with mental health or substance use, and much more. Our Office on Neighborhood Safety and Engagement is engaged in that work and we need to act strategically and with urgency. That’s also why I’ve created, working with anti-gun violence advocates like Moms Demand Action and others, a new Gun Violence Prevention Director position within the highest levels of DC government. Their job will be to focus solely on stopping gun violence and to bring all the resources -- cutting across all DC government agencies -- needed to meet this challenge. This isn’t the only way we will work to end gun violence, but it’s another step we need to take in a comprehensive response to save lives. If you’d like to read more about the many efforts underway to address violence, support survivors and victims, and work on root causes, check out the recent report from the Council on how we’re enhancing funding and initiatives through the District’s budget.

9/11 Day of Remembrance in DC

Marking September 11th: On Friday, I joined Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson, Councilmember Pinto, and first responders to solemnly mark the 19th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. On that day 19 years ago, first responders from the District raced to the Pentagon to save lives and help rescue people trapped in the attack. And at the same time, we mourned the loss of so many, including DC Public School students and teachers on the flight that day. It’s important that we never forget the bravery of that day, and I’m proud to be have been a part of this important marker.

Don't forget to get a flu shot! This year more than ever, getting a flu shot is an important way to stay well and keep your family safe, and help prevent our hospitals and testing sites from being overburdened while they continue to battle COVID infections. Experts recommend flu shots for nearly everyone 6 months of age and older. Visit vaccinefinder.org to find one nearby. 

Unemployment Insurance: As many of you have probably seen, the District has been approved for a grant under the federal Lost Wages Assistance Program—allowing many District residents who are still looking for work to get an additional $300 per week. This is a replacement for the additional $600 in unemployment benefits that many had been receiving, until that program ran out at the end of July. Under the new program, which is funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), anyone who is getting at least $100 per week in unemployment benefits will be eligible for the new $300 payment. So if you are currently receiving any unemployment benefits at all, be sure to continue to fill out weekly reports. I also want to flag that once you reach 26 weeks of any unemployment benefits, you may have to reapply. For those who have been receiving benefits since March, 26 weeks may be coming soon. More details can be found on my Facebook page.

Public Schools and Distance Learning: Now that we're a couple of weeks into the school year, my family is getting into a routine for learning from home, and I hope yours is, too. But it is not without its struggles. Thanks to everyone - especially students, teachers, and parents - for their patience and perseverance. Technology (both devices and reliable online connections) remains a top concern.  I’ve worked with several of our charter schools as they navigate the new school year for their students and their needs. If you’re looking for more information on individual charter schools’ efforts, you can you find more here. And while DCPS has distributed over 23,000 student devices so far, we know too many are still waiting. To request a device, contact your student's school or for DCPS, complete this form. For tech support with DCPS devices or DCPS online learning programs, please call 202-442-5885. To increase internet access, DC Government is reaching out to 25,000 eligible low-income students and families to help them enroll in no-cost broadband programs. More information at techtogetherdc.com/internetforall

2020 Census Ends September 30: We are running out of time to get every DC resident counted in the US Census. The District's response rate is currently 62.2%, 3.5% behind the national rate and if we don't catch up quickly, we're at serious risk of losing out on a lot of federal funding moving forward. If you haven't completed the Census, you can do so right now online and in just 10 minutes. Click here: https://my2020census.gov/

The response window for the Census has been cut short by one month, ending September 30 now instead of October 31. Census workers are in the process of going door-to-door. We're about 20,000 households behind where we were in 2010 at this point. If you haven't responded yet, we really need you. If you have already responded, remind your friends and neighbors to do the same - post a link in any neighborhood listservs and groups you're part of. Here's the link again: https://my2020census.gov/

Here's What You Need to Know About Voting in the General Election: In the middle of a global pandemic, the US and the District of Columbia will still need to hold our general election on Tuesday, November 3. Recognizing how important it will be to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus while still giving District residents as much access to voting as possible. I've put all of the information Ward 6 residents need to either vote by mail or vote in person safely in the General Election on my website.

COVID testing in SWTesting: There is free, public testing for COVID-19 available in Ward 6 or across the District nearly every day. Keep in mind most testing sites are outdoors and are subject to closure during bad weather. It seems like testing results are getting turned around much faster the longer this pandemic goes on, but let me know if you're finding otherwise. On Tuesday, testing will be available 10am-4pm at King-Greenleaf Rec Center in Southwest for everyone ages 6 and older. As a reminder, here are the other testing sites in or near Ward 6 each week: 

Fire Station Engine 8: 1520 C St., NE
Thursdays and Fridays, 4-8 pm
Saturdays, 12-4 pm

Fire Station Engine 10: 1342 Florida Ave, NE
Thursdays and Fridays, 4-8 pm
Saturdays, 12-4 pm

Of course, you can find a site open most days in the District here if you'd like to get tested sooner.

Free Student/Kid Meal Sites As Of Sept 1: Click here to see the updated list of school meals being provided as we begin the 2020-2021 school year. Please note, students can get a meal from any school. Here's a link to meal sites based on bus lines.

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.

Help For Tenants: 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. The Landlord Tenant Legal Assistance Network is providing free legal help to both unrepresented tenants and unrepresented small landlords who have residential housing disputes. Call 202-780-2575 for more information.

DC Relaunches Mortgage Assistance: If you're a home owner in the District of Columbia whose income has been hurt by the pandemic, you could be eligible for mortgage assistance through DC's Housing Finance Agency. Get the information here!

Here's Who To Support Financially or By Volunteering During COVID: 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:

  • 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

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