Remember to Vote!
Domestic worker rights, housing, and the remaining weeks of Council Period 24
NEWSLETTER — NOVEMBER 4, 2022
Five Days Left to Vote!
Election Day is this Tuesday, November. 8! It is going to be a consequential election for the District of Columbia, both in terms of national and local results. WAMU aired a good story on how elections across the country, impacting the balance of power in Congress, can have consequences on our local governance and Home Rule.
If you are a registered voter in DC, you should have received your ballot in the mail. Remember to turn it over, so you can vote on Initiative 82, the tipped wage ballot issue.
You have four options to vote:
- Put your completed ballot in the mail by November 8! You do not need postage.
- Drop your completed ballot in a drop-box! Locations are here.
- Vote in-person at an early vote site till Sunday, November 6! Locations are here.
- Vote in-person on Election Day, November 8! This is the last day to vote. You can vote at any vote center across the city. Locations are here.
Two Months Left In Council Period 24!
We are in the final legislative frenzy of the year! There are only three more legislative meetings before Council Period 24 comes to a close. That means we’ll see a lot of bills on the agenda to get them over the finish line by Christmas.
I’m pushing hard on my Domestic Workers Employment Rights Act and a few other bills. As well, I remain focused on reform of the D.C. Housing Authority. Earlier this week, I joined the Washington Interfaith Network for a press conference/roundtable where public housing residents presented their vision for changes in public housing in the District and with the D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA).
For years, residents who live in DCHA communities have been testifying before the Board and before the Council saying that the authority isn’t doing its job. I have met frequently with and heard from residents while touring public housing units. The stories are troubling — unsafe and unhealthy conditions, lack of responsiveness to calls for repairs, pest control, mold, and more. And residents have provided solid insight and recommendations for how to improve conditions in public housing, and to improve DCHA itself.
Still, the audit from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development served an important role as a wakeup call, to be sure. And already, we are seeing new action:
- Two weeks ago, the Council unanimously passed my emergency legislation that requires DCHA board members and the executive director to get trained up fast in the basics of public housing so they can do their jobs.
- My staff and I are preparing a comprehensive DCHA reform bill, something we started well before the audit came out. Other Councilmembers are talking about serious action on housing, from reform to financial oversight.
The issue of DCHA reform issue is not new for me, and I’m glad to see it finally getting the attention it deserves. Seven years ago, I boosted funds for repairs so that DCHA could address its quality problems and reduce the number of vacant units. I have tried to improve board independence and expertise by adding subject matter experts to the board and reducing the mayor’s majority on the board. And I authorized the Inspector General to investigate serious allegations of impropriety at DCHA.
On a related note, another agency critical to building affordable housing in our city was the subject of discussion at this week’s legislative meeting: the D.C. Housing Finance Agency. DCHFA, as it is known, uses the city’s bond authority to fund projects and provide other financing. What was at issue is why the five member board governing DCHFA seem to be involved in so many projects that seek funding before DCHFA.
I’m encouraged that five of my fellow councilmembers joined me in questioning clear conflicts of interest at DCHFA. To wit: Of the last 40 projects voted on by HFA board members, at least 26 times at least one member had to recuse him/herself because he/she was involved in the deal. To be clear, members properly recused themselves but the incredible frequency creates a perception that there is an insider culture in getting access to DCHFA funding.
There’s a pretty simple way to address this conflict of interest: Put in law that board members cannot have projects seeking financing during their term. Other states have this rule in place for similar agencies, and I have a bill to do this in DC. It won’t make it through the legislative process this council period, but I look forward to reintroducing it next year. As we roll out additional legislation, you can be sure that my staff and I will continue to put residents at the center of our comprehensive reform of public housing in the District.
One Week to Veterans Day
Veterans Day is this Friday, November 11. It is a federal and District holiday, and DC government offices, including my Council offices, will be closed. Thank you to our veterans, who serve our country both here and abroad.
And don't miss...
Virtual Hiring Fair
On Monday, November 14, the DC Department of Buildings will hold a virtual hiring fair. Candidates will be able to claim additional preference for District residency, military service, and foster care as applicable in any other hiring event. View open positions and apply early as the Department is scheduling qualified applicants for virtual interviews on Nov. 14.