Council budget includes funding for:
Recreation, education, and library facilities in Ward 5
Support for tenants & affordable housing and more inspectors at DCRA
A public health approach to public safety in the NEAR Act
And investments to improve the environment for CBEs & Small Businesses
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the Council of the District of Columbia took its first vote on the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. Councilmember McDuffie’s Ward 5 and District-wide budget priorities received overwhelming support.
“I want to thank my colleagues on the Council for supporting my priorities as the Councilmember for Ward 5 and Chair of the Committee on Business and Economic Development,” said McDuffie. “This budget demonstrates the Council’s commitment to support Education, public safety, Affordable Housing, CBE capacity building, and significant capital project financing.”
Some of the highlights of the Council’s Budget include:
Ward 5 Priorities
- $13.18 million for the Theodore Hagans Cultural Center, and $4 million for Fort Lincoln Park. Theodore Hagans Cultural Center and Fort Lincoln Park serve six senior-living buildings, and thousands of residents in the Fort Lincoln and Dakota Crossing communities. Unfortunately, neither can be adequately programmed to serve residents’ needs because of deficiencies in space and design. The initial budget proposal included $5 million for Fort Lincoln Park in Fiscal Year 2018 and Fiscal Year 2019, but funding for Theodore Hagans was delayed until Fiscal Year 2023. Councilmember McDuffie worked to accelerate the funding for Theodore Hagans ensuring that both the projects will begin in Fiscal Year 2018, so that this growing community can finally enjoy the amenities they sorely need.
- $20 million for the Lamond Riggs Library. Ward 5 has only two out of the District’s 26 libraries. For that reason, Councilmember McDuffie has been stressing the importance of modernizing the Lamond Riggs Library. Finally, residents in Ward 5 can now expect to see progress on that front with the full funding in Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 for a new facility at its current location.
- $7.2 million to modernize the Arboretum Recreation Center. This budget maintains funding for renovation of the Arboretum Recreation Center set to begin in Fiscal Year 2018.
- $5 million for the Langdon Recreation Center. Long overdue for renovation, Langdon Recreation Center is located within a popular park, but the facility is inadequately sized and designed for the residents it serves.
- Funding to support Pedestrian Safety. Pedestrian safety is an important priority and there are two pedestrian areas in Ward 5 that can benefit from rapid flashing beacons, i.e., flashing crosswalks which notify drivers when a pedestrian is crossing. The circle at Brentwood Rd and 13th Street, and the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Perry Street are both areas that are traversed daily by seniors and young people, who will now have an additional layer of pedestrian safety through this budget.
- Two additional Building Code Inspectors and an additional Permitting Reviewer in DCRA. The District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is the District agency tasked with issuing construction permits and enforcing illegal construction. Many Ward 5 residents have expressed concern with the length of time it takes for DCRA to respond to complaints about potential violations occurring with construction in their neighborhoods. At the same time, there are perennial delays in DCRA’s permit review process. Adding additional staff to DCRA for these purposes should help alleviate the backlogs for both of these essential DCRA services.
- An increase in Funding for the Transport DC program. The Transport DC program is a vital program that provides transportation for seniors and disabled residents. Councilmember McDuffie engaged in several meetings with seniors across the Ward, and the number one concern listed for most was transportation. Increasing funding to this program will allow the Department of For-Hire Vehicles to contract with additional vendors to provide these important transportation services.
- $5 million for the modernization of Browne Education Campus. Browne, which primarily serves residents in the Carver and Langston neighborhoods, has asked its faculty and students to make the best out of a poor facility while campuses across the District have been modernized. The Council’s budget finally gets Browne back on track for a modernization so its students and teachers can continue their International Baccalaureate curriculum without the hindrance of an insufficient and outdated facility.
- 3% increase in the Universal Per Student Funding Formula. Public Schools and Public Charter Schools are funded through a universal funding formula. Under the Mayor’s proposal, the funding formula which typically is increased by 2% each year, was only increased by 1.5%. The Council’s budget increases funding for schools by 3%, providing them with the resources to ensure that students can receive the instruction, books and services they need to succeed.
- Funding for the Expanding Access to Justice Act, making DC a leader in the national “Civil Gideon” movement. This important measure is the result of months of work by Councilmember McDuffie in 2016, including a public roundtable at UDC and Council hearing. With this funding, the District will provide lawyers for low-income tenants, addressing the vast disparity in legal representation in landlord-tenant court, one of the busiest dockets in Superior Court. Currently, approximately 90% of tenants go to Court without a lawyer, contrasted with 10% of landlords who do. Providing tenants with legal representation will help ensure that tenants’ rights are protected, that they have the same negotiating power as landlords, and can increase the overall efficiency of the Court system. Moreover, it may assist in providing more stability in housing for our most marginalized citizens and can help keep District residents in their homes.
- Funding for the Fair Criminal Records Screening for Housing Act, also known as the “Ban the Box for Housing Bill.” Councilmember McDuffie introduced this important measure after months of work with stakeholders and community members throughout 2016, including a public roundtable at UDC David A. Clarke School of Law and a Council hearing. Funding this bill will go a long way to ensuring that our returning citizens can secure stable, affordable housing, one of the most important components to re-integration and reducing recidivism.
- Funding for a Large family Affordable Dwelling Unit Assessment. First proposed in the Family Unit Amendment Act of 2017, introduced earlier this year by Councilmember McDuffie, this assessment will study the universe of, and need for large family size affordable dwelling units. Understanding how many family-size affordable dwelling units are currently in the District’s inventory, and how many units we will need into the foreseeable future is critical to ensuring that our policies are in line to create and preserve the affordable housing that our residents need.
- A $3.4 million Increase for Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) Vouchers for Extremely Low Income and Very Low Income Residents. LRSP vouchers are an important tool for assisting low income and extremely low income residents in securing stable housing. Councilmember McDuffie and the Council’s support of this program will assist families who otherwise would not be able to afford adequate housing.
- Funding for the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act (NEAR Act). The Council’s budget includes funding for the some of the previously un-funded portions of Councilmember McDuffie’s NEAR Act, an innovative, public health-based preventative approach to crime reduction. In the Council’s budget, the new Office on Neighborhood Safety and Engagement is funded, as well as a pilot program to embed staff from the Department of Behavioral Health in MPD. By funding and implementing the NEAR Act, the District of Columbia can be a national leader in criminal justice policy, while moving away from outdated concepts of policing that have proven ineffective.
CBE and Small Business Support
- Funding for an expansion of one of DSLBD’s most impactful programs, Clean Teams. The funding includes an expansion of the Wards 1, 5, and 8 clean teams – Including an expanded Clean Team along New York Avenue in Ward 5 — and the creation of a new Ward 4 clean team, as recommended by the Committee on Business and Economic Development.
- Funding for an Important Study on CBE Capacity, the DC Anchor Partnership. This study will examine CBE’s current capacity as it pertains to contracting with the District’s anchor institutions, hospitals and universities, and should lead to additional contracting opportunities with these institutions.
- Increased funding for Small and Local Business Opportunities in Wards 7 and 8. Specifically, the Council allocated funds as recommended by Councilmember McDuffie’s Committee on Business and Economic Development to create and support the Wards 7 and 8 Entrepreneur Microgrant pilot program. This program will provide grants to entrepreneurs in communities that often do not have access to capital.