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.
The $1 million per year toward public housing repairs in Ward 1, which is recurring funding, was redirected from a $46 million property tax abatement that had been set aside for the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan. Silverman collaborated with her colleague, Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), on holding the hotel’s developers accountable. In order to be eligible for the taxpayer subsidy, the hotel had to meet D.C. resident hiring requirements that were put into law. A recent audit by the Department of Employment Services determined that the hotel did not meet at least two of the seven requirements. A legal opinion by the D.C. Attorney General stated that the agency could not alter or waive those requirements, making the hotel ineligible for the abatement. Silverman and Nadeau decided to put those dollars to the benefit of Ward 1 residents, by using the funds to help with the maintenance of public housing in the Ward 1. The councilmembers plan to work with the D.C. Housing Authority on a workforce program to hire residents to conduct the repair work.
Silverman also worked with Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and Councilmember Trayon White (D-Ward 8) on efforts to ensure patient safety at the only hospital east of the Anacostia River. The Council restored $7 million to continue operations at United Medical Center in Ward 8, following a $25 million proposed cut to the hospital’s budget next year. Although the hospital has said it needs at least $40 million to continue operations while a transition plan for a new hospital is put in place, Councilmember Silverman highlighted the need to restore funding at the hospital and committed to working with her colleagues to find additional funding in next year’s budget.
“There’s a human cost to cutting funds at the only hospital East of the River,” Silverman said.
Silverman also praised the allocation of $15.3 million to address urgent housing needs for District residents at-risk of or currently experiencing homelessness from the Qualified High Technology Company tax incentive program, which was the subject of a critical report by the District’s Chief Financial Officer. The investment adds 200 units of Permanent Supportive Housing and more transitional housing support staff available next year. The funding also enables lead service line replacements, expands school-based mental health services, and expands the Birth-to-Three early childhood education initiative.
The D.C. Council will take a second and final vote on the legislative language supporting yesterday’s appropriations, known as the Budget Support Act, next month.