Silverman Statement on Removal of Legislative Language to Authorize Cash Assistance for DC Workers Restricted from Unemployment Insurance

Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), chair of the DC Council Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, issued the following statement on the removal of legislative language from an April 7 emergency bill that would authorize the Mayor to set up either individual or community grants for cash assistance to DC residents who are restricted from unemployment insurance:

I am disappointed that legislative language giving Mayor Bowser authority to give cash assistance to DC residents restricted from unemployment insurance was removed from the latest draft of the April 7 emergency bill. These workers have contributed a lot to our city, particularly in the hospitality industry which has been hardest hit in the public health emergency; they are our neighbors; and many are parents of children who sit next to ours in our public schools. We need to do whatever we can to keep these households economically stable during this challenging time so they have an equal shot at recovery.

I spoke to both Mayor Bowser and Chairman Mendelson last night, and both expressed that they want to help these families. I know we all share the same goal, and I told the Mayor I want to work together.

My Committee on Labor and Workforce Development submitted legislative language for the emergency that gave the Mayor two options for cash assistance: the first option authorized the Mayor to create a parallel system to unemployment insurance; the second authorized the Mayor to create cash assistance grants that could either be given out individually or through a community-based organization. Our neighbors in Montgomery County, MD,  just put in place a similar $5 million grant program, which is allocating $3.5 million through its own government and $1.5 million through community organizations to those residents restricted from unemployment insurance.

To be clear the language for the emergency bill authorized the Mayor to create a program and left it up to the Mayor exactly how to implement and fund the program. It did not specify an amount of money. I look forward to working closely with the Mayor, the Chairman, and advocates to help all workers take care of their families during this challenging time.