Silverman Applauds New FY20 Funds for Public Housing Repairs, Affordable Housing, and Healthcare Needs in Ward 8
In Tuesday’s second and final vote on next year’s budget appropriations, D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) championed the redirection of $1 million to public housing repairs in Ward 1, the restoration of over $7 million to United Medical Center in Ward 8, and the allocation of $15.3 million to support early education and affordable housing needs across the District. These investments were largely part of a series of amendments wrapped into the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, which passed unanimously.
Attorney General Racine Says Line Hotel Needed to Meet All Legislated D.C. Hiring Targets for $46 Million Tax Abatement
In response to a request from two D.C. Council members, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has issued a legal opinion concluding that the Bowser Administration does not have authority to waive specific D.C. hiring requirements put in law in order for the Line Hotel to qualify for a taxpayer subsidy worth up to $46 million. Earlier this month, the Department of Employment Services (DOES) found that the hotel had not met two of seven specific requirements legislated by the Council but said the agency had the ability to create an alternative compliance plan.
On Tuesday, the D.C. Council will take the first of two votes on the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, which will begin this October. This will determine much of the direction for our government resources next year. As a reminder, both the specific money allocations and any enabling legislation supporting that funding require second votes, which will happen in late May and early June.
I have heard from many of you this budget season. Thank you for your emails, your calls, and visits to the Wilson Building. It’s no surprise that your top concerns were equitable funding for our public schools, additional money to preserve and build affordable housing, resources toward preventing homelessness, and continued support for innovative approaches to public safety. Transportation-related advocacy, including support for Vision Zero efforts, has picked up in these last several weeks. Budget season is a good reminder of the breadth of programs and services our government funds, from health care to business corridor grants to parks and recreation.
Silverman, Nadeau Request Attorney General’s Opinion on $46 Million Tax Abatement for Line Hotel After D.C. Hiring Requirements Not Met
D.C. Councilmembers Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) sent a letter earlier this week asking D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine to give his legal opinion on whether the executive branch has authority to waive District resident hiring requirements put into law as conditions for the Line Hotel receiving a $46 million tax abatement. The D.C. Council passed special legislation in 2011 requiring the hotel to meet specific hiring targets beyond the District’s First Source hiring law in order to receive the subsidy. The Line Hotel opened last year in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Ward 1 and is still in the process of being deemed eligible for the tax abatement.
Committee on Labor and Workforce Development Prioritizes Funding Programs that Advance Residents on Path to Employment in Fiscal Year 2020
In a unanimous vote yesterday, the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, chaired by Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), approved budget and policy recommendations for upcoming Fiscal Year 2020 that put an emphasis on investing in programs that have data-driven track records of putting D.C. residents on paths to work. In statements supporting the decisions, each Committee member stressed how critical agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction are to ensuring all residents, especially returning citizens, benefit from the city’s prosperity. Agencies under the Committee’s purview include the D.C. Department of Employment Services, the Workforce Investment Council, and the D.C. Department of Human Resources.
“We have designed programs to help residents get work, particularly in our high-demand industries, yet the numbers don’t point to success. Data has been either unclear or in some cases unavailable to the Committee,” Silverman said. “However, anecdotal evidence from residents who testified at hearings was straightforward: Many of our high-profile workforce programs are not delivering what was promised to get our residents into jobs and put them on paths to long-term career success. The status-quo of spending lots of money on programs that don’t help our residents can’t continue.”
This morning, I bike commuted. I did it because of Dave Salovesh, who lost his life last Friday while doing the very same thing on Florida Avenue NE in our city.
I could have been Dave.
Or Malik Habib, who died while cycling on the 300 block of H Street NE just two blocks from my house. I pass his white ghost bike almost every day, and every time I think that I really could have been Malik. I have a permanent scar on my right knee because my bike tire got caught in the streetcar track just like Malik’s did, but I was lucky that after I flipped over my bike and lay on the street there were no oncoming cars or buses.
Budget season is in full swing! These are your taxpayer dollars, so please check the budget hearing schedule and budget office website to see when agencies and issues you care about will come before the Council. If you cannot make a hearing in-person and want to share your thoughts with me, please feel free to call my office or email me directly. Either way, remember that this is your time to let me and my colleagues know what investments matter most to you.
It’s officially spring! Sure, there’s the spring equinox yesterday and the soon-to-be-blooming cherry blossoms, but at the Wilson Building spring means budget season! In fact, Mayor Muriel Bowser released her proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget yesterday, which officially kicks off the Council's budget discussions over the next two months. Thank you to the many residents who offered testimony at the Council’s performance oversight hearings in February and March. Your insights and recommendations help shape our priorities for the budget next year.
If you didn’t get a chance to share your input at performance oversight hearings—and even if you did—I have good news! You get another bite at the apple during budget hearings throughout the rest of March and into April. Make sure to look at the budget hearing schedule and new budget office website to see when committees will be reviewing agency budgets and taking a closer look at whether funding is being put to its best use. These are your tax dollars. Tell us how you think they should be spent.
D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) applauded the launch this month of a new assistance program for District seniors who are at risk of foreclosure due to unpaid property taxes after taking out a reverse mortgage. The program was created out of the Reverse Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2017, a bill that Councilmember Silverman introduced last council period and worked to fund in this year’s budget.
“This program means that a senior is no longer at risk of losing their longtime home simply because they were unaware or unable due to declining health to pay property taxes and other home related expenses,” said Silverman.
I am amazed we are already in mid-February!
This year, our office is celebrating Black History Month both at the Wilson Building and in the community! I hope you’ll join us for one or both events. On Friday, Feb. 22, from 2:15-3:15pm, the Council will host its annual program at the Wilson Building. Then on Sunday, Feb. 24, from 2:00-3:30pm, I invite you to join me at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum for a docent-led tour of the museum’s latest exhibit, A Right to the City. The exhibit takes an in-depth look at how Washingtonians have shaped and reshaped six neighborhoods over the last five decades, with a special lens on the African-American experience. The tour will be followed by a reception and a DC Strings performance of notable works composed by African-American writers. It’s a great way to celebrate Black History Month, learn more about our city, and build community while enjoying music and munchies. I hope you will make plans to join us!