Newsletter: Two Important Topics – Unemployment Assistance and Voting!
I want to talk about two very important items right up front: Unemployment Assistance and Voting.
My Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will be holding a hearing on DC’s unemployment assistance programs on September 16. Details on how to sign up to testify live or submit written/voicemail testimony can be found on my website. I encourage our workers who have had difficulties with either traditional Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to sign up to testify.
I know many of you read the A1 story in the Washington Post about workers who have struggled to get benefits. It was additionally heartbreaking for me, because the story demonstrated not only how workers struggle to access the safety net, but also that there are benefits available that many do not know about. If you cannot work remotely, but worry that you might expose vulnerable family members to coronavirus by working, you are eligible for up to 12 weeks of federal paid coronavirus sick leave, for example.
Bottom line: We need our safety net to work to keep families and our local economy stable at this challenging time. We also need the federal government to come to an agreement about additional unemployment assistance ASAP.
I also want to let employers and workers know about the Shared Work program. This is a way employers can keep valued employees working at a reduced work schedule and allows those workers to tap into federal unemployment benefits to make up for lost wages. On Tuesday, August 18, I’ll be hosting a Facebook Live Event on how the program works with Zach Herman of the National Conference of State Legislatures. I hope you will join me next week and spread the word to any business owners or workers interested in learning more about the Shared Work program!
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NOVEMBER 3 GENERAL ELECTION
I’ve heard from a number of residents that they are confused about a mailer they recently received from the DC Board of Elections and about the voting process in general. The stakes are too high for any uncertainty, so I want to be clear about how you can vote in the November 3 General Election.
BY MAIL: A ballot will be mailed to every registered voter in DC to the address at which you are registered. This is a change from the primary election; you do not need to request an absentee ballot. You do need, however, to make sure that the Board has your correct address. I know many people who move within an apartment building, or within a neighborhood, and do not bother to change their address with the Board of Elections because they remain in the same voting precinct. If you have moved within the last decade, please check that your address with the Board of Elections is correct. You can do that here.
You have two options to get that ballot back to the Board of Elections:
- Mail the ballot to the Board. There is no need for postage, and you need to get the ballot in the mail by Nov. 3.
- Drop the ballot off in person at a voting center or at one the Board’s secure drop boxes.
VOTE EARLY: I know some of you, especially for this historic election, still want the experience of voting in person. My suggestion: vote early! From October 27 through November 2, the Board will have at least two early voting centers open in every ward. I stood outside a few early voting centers during the primary, and there was never a line. The Board will have safe voting practices in place, including a mask requirement and social distancing policy. Check www.dcboe.org for information on specific sites.
VOTE ON ELECTION DAY: At least 80 voting centers will be open Election Day, November 3. This is a change from the primary, in which we only had 20 voting centers open. Again, safe public health practices will be in place, which means it will take longer to vote. Your regular voting location may not be open, so again, please check www.dcboe.org as the election draws near to make sure you have a plan to vote.
A final plea: We need workers for the precincts! Apply to serve as an election poll worker if you are healthy and able! Interested? Please call 202-741-5283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I’ll be back with more updates in about two weeks. Until then, take care and wear your mask when you go out in public!
- SHARED WORK INFO SESSION
- CORONAVIRUS AND TESTING
- CELEBRATING BLACK BUSINESS MONTH
- ENERGY ASSISTANCE RESOURCES
- DDOT SLOW STREETS
- RESOURCE ROUNDUP
Q. What’s going on with the eviction moratorium?
A. The District’s eviction moratorium extends 60 days after the official end of the coronavirus health pandemic, so DC residents are still protected by our local ban until that time, regardless of what happens on the federal level.
Looking for a way to avoid layoffs AND reduce your payroll burden? Check out DC's Shared Work program! This program uses federal funds to supplement income for employees whose hours have been reduced due to COVID-19. Any DC-based business can apply to be part of the shared work program. The application and more information from the Department of Employment Services can be found here.
If the Shared Work program sounds like the right fit for your business or workplace, be sure to join our Facebook Live event NEXT TUESDAY at 5:00pm!
On Monday, DC Health updated their list of high risk states (which require a 14-day quarantine following travel) to include Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Minnesota. Delaware, Ohio, and Washington were removed from the list. For more details, click here.
Free, walk-up testing and testing by appointment continues to be offered across the District. Click here for a full list of walk-up sites, firehouse locations, and appointment-only sites. Save time at the District's walk-up testing sites by pre-registering at coronavirus.dc.gov/register.
Antibody testing: The District is offering antibody testing until August 15 for residents six-years-old and up at three sites: Canal Park (200 L Street SE), Takoma Recreation Center (300 Van Buren Street NW), and Hillcrest Rec Center (3100 Denver Street SE). Residents should call 1-855-363-0333 to make an appointment at either site.
Lady Clipper barbers. Photo credit: Tyrone Turner, DCist
August is Black Business Month! The coronavirus pandemic has hit Black communities and businesses especially hard, with an estimated 41% drop in Black-owned businesses in operation between February and April of this year alone. Black Business Month is a great way to support our community and increase the visibility of Black-owned businesses in the DMV. To help you find and support Black-owned businesses in the area, I’ve included some resources below:
- WUSA9: Black Owned Businesses in the DMV (includes a handy map)
- DC Black: Directory of Black-owned businesses
- Feed the Malik: Black Owned Restaurants and Food Businesses in the DC Area
- DCist: How 6 Black Owned Businesses are Weathering the Covid-19 Pandemic
It’s August, and it’s hot. Many residents are struggling without proper cooling in their homes, and many more are struggling with energy bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The District has a variety of energy assistance options available for eligible residents (income restrictions may apply) through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP):
LIHEAP Emergency HVAC program: Seniors 60 years and older can receive free window air conditioners and/or can have their Central Air systems repaired through this program.
- Applicants must send a copy of their subcontractor estimate on letterhead stating their current mechanical system(s) and/or window air conditioning unit is inoperable to LaWanda.Jones@dc.gov before applying on the DOEE site. Residents without access to email can text a picture of their subcontractor’s estimate to 202-236-2657 and a DOEE employee will reach out to them with the next steps. Questions and inquiries about this program may be directed to 202-299-3316.
- The Community Solar program can provide eligible PEPCO customers with up to a 50% reduction on their PEPCO bills.
- The Clean River Impervious Area Charge (CRIAC) Residential Relief Program provides relief for low-income DC Water customers. Residents struggling to pay their past due water bills during COVID19 can receive up to $2,000 in emergency relief to DC residents.
Residents can apply online for any of these assistance programs at doee.dc.gov/liheap. The electronic LIHEAP application requires that you upload current copies of the following documents before submitting an application:
- Proof of household income
- Social Security cards for all household members
- Government issued picture ID
- Electric, Gas and DC Water bills (if available)
The District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) “Slow Streets” initiative is underway! DDOT will roll out at least 20 miles of DC Slow Streets across the District between August 10 and September 1, 2020. Residents can use these Slow Streets to practice safe social distancing while walking, biking, and rolling in neighborhoods across the District.
Click here to see all the upcoming Slow Streets locations and to learn more about the Slow Streets program and goals.
See below for a roundup of some of the most recent resources, funding opportunities, and program updates from our office. The newest items will always be on top.
- DC Mortgage Assistance Program (DC MAP) relaunched: DC MAP provides financial relief to District homeowners who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Through DC MAP COVID-19, qualified borrowers can receive a loan of up to $5,000 monthly toward their mortgage for up to six months. Click here to learn more.
- New Database to Lookup Mortgage Deferrals: This new tool will allow anyone to look up whether or not a particular address and landlord has received a deferral. If your landlord has not passed on their deferral to you and you are struggling to negotiate with them, you can contact the DC Pro Bono Center or the Legal Aid Society for assistance.
- Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) Pet Resources: (HRA) continues to operate their Pet Pantry at six different locations every month. They also have excellent tips for keeping your pet safe in this intense heat.
- Summer Meals: The D.C. Summer Meals Program is FREE to all children ages 18 and younger. There is no application, no sign-up, and no ID required to receive a meal. Sites are open through August. Click here for a full list of Summer Meals sites.
- Unemployment Assistance: http://www.elissasilverman.com/coronavirus