Issues

Homelessness and Human Services

Where I Stand

I believe that a measure of how well the District is doing is how well we treat our most vulnerable communities. That’s why I’m proud to serve as the Chair of the DC Council’s Committee on Human Services. One of the many areas of focus for our Committee is addressing the issue of homelessness in the District. My goal is to ensure that there is a path to safe and affordable housing for all of the District’s residents.

While we are living in a time of prosperity for the District, far too many of our residents struggle with housing, homelessness, and displacement. Unless we preserve and build new affordable housing, the District’s growth will come at the expense of pushing out low-income families and people of color, particularly the communities that have made Ward 1 so vibrant and resilient. I’m fighting to create new affordable housing and preserve the affordable and family-sized housing we already have with a focus on our lowest income, most vulnerable families.

When I became Chair of the Human Services Committee in 2017, I was determined to tackle pressing challenges, build consensus by listening to a diverse array of voices on each issue, and make progress to ensure District residents have the support they need in times of crisis. Five years later, I am proud of our many accomplishments on matters relating homelessness and housing. Along with reforming homeless services in the District, I have also been a leader in making new investments in housing vouchers for people who are unhoused or on the verge of homelessness in each budget. This includes a historic investment in the FY2022 budget via the “Homes and Hearts Act of 2021.”

I am proud of my work within my Committee, as well as my tenure on the then Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, to ensure that the residents of the District have access to safe and affordable housing no matter their financial standing. I know this work is far from accomplished, and I look forward to continuing being a leader on these issues.

What I've Done

Budget Accomplishments

As Chair of the Committee on Human Services, I lead the Council in investment millions of dollars into housing for the homeless, including Permanent Supportive Housing and Targeted Affordable Housing, to further the goals of Homeward DC, the District’s strategic plan to make homelessness brief, rare, and non-recurring. Below is what I have been able to accomplish in the Council’s recent approved budgets:

Fiscal Year 2023 

  • $13.6M for Targeted Affordable Housing (TAH) vouchers to provide a safe and stable home for 400 families who will time out of the Family Re-Housing Stabilization Program. It builds on an investment we made last year in over 500 units for the DC Flexible Rent Subsidy Program (DC Flex) which extended housing subsidies to families that needed them. The DC Flex pilot will be extended for another five years.

  • $1.8M for 60 additional Local Rent Supplement Plan (LRSP) vouchers: 20 for adults on the DCHA waiting list, 20 LRSP vouchers for LGBTQ+ residents, and 20 LRSP vouchers for returning citizens.

     

  • $120M of new investments in the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) in FY22 and FY23 to provide critical support for District residents facing housing emergencies in the coming year. This, coupled with a $300,000 investment from the DC Council, will anticipate and address housing emergencies for our most vulnerable residents in the coming year.

  • $1.3M for the District’s youth homelessness service providers to get the resources they need to ensure that young people in the District have the services necessary to receive and maintain housing. A special thank you goes to the Budget Office on this — we worked together to identify an extra $215,000 for this priority.

  • Restored $300,000 in reductions made by the Mayor to Project Reconnect, a program that prevents homelessness by providing shelter diversion services that draw on the networks of people who need somewhere to stay.

  • $100,000 in the Close Relative Caregiver Program and $50,000 in the Grandparent Caregiver Program to increase subsidies for low-income kinship caregivers.

  • An additional $1.1 million for long-needed public housing repairs and maintenance.

 

Fiscal Year 2022

·      Introduced the “Homes and Hearts Amendment Act” amendment to impose a modest increase on the marginal tax rate on the wealthiest District residents to fund over $260 million in housing vouchers, subsidies, and support, for the unhoused and those on the verge of homelessness over the financial plan.

o   [Insert “Homes and Hearts] infographic

o   According to approximation at the time of the budget action, this funded vouchers and subsidies for over 2,500 households. Approximate number of units broken down:

Resource

Units

PSH-I

1,012

PSH-F

255

TAH-F

307

LRSP-F

310

LRSP (LGBTQI+)

20

LRSP (Returning Citizens)

40

LRSP (Seniors)

25

LRSP (DV Survivors – Singles)

20

LRSP (DV Survivors – Families)

40

DC Flex

501

 

  • $14M for ERAP (full investment) + STAY DC

  • $325K enhancement for Project Reconnect

  • $2.13M restoration of Street Outreach for Homelessness cut by the Mayor

  • $50 million in the capital budget for public housing repairs and maintenance

  • Voted for $400 million in the Housing Production Trust Fund, which is used to build new affordable housing.

  • Voted for $17.7 million in the Housing Preservation Fund, which helps preserve existing affordable housing.

 

Fiscal Year 2021

  • Repealed the full package of Qualified High Technology Companies (QHTC) tax breaks, which were deemed ineffective and poorly targeted, in order to open up $137.9 million in revenue across the financial plan. This funding used to address a variety of critical programs and services including the funding of homeless services.

  • Individuals

    • $6.3M for 214 new PSH-I units

    • $2M for a replacement for a current shelter hypothermia shelter

  • Families

    • $4M for 96 new PSH-F units

    • $2M for 60 new TAH-F units

    • $12M for family Rapid Re-Housing

    • $7.8M for operating Short-Term Family Housing

    • $2 million for motel rooms used as family shelter

    • $204,000 for prevention

    • $1.7 million for small capital projects at 3 shelters

  • Youth

    • $600K for 14 transitional housing for LGBTQ youth

  • ERAP: $14 million for ERAP

  • $50 million in the capital budget for public housing repairs and maintenance

  • Voted for $100 million in the Housing Production Trust Fund, which is used to build new affordable housing.

  • Voted for $2.07 million in the Housing Preservation Fund, which helps preserve existing affordable housing.

 

Fiscal Year 2020

  • Repealed a part of the of Qualified High Technology Companies (QHTC) tax breaks, which were deemed ineffective and poorly targeted, in order to open up $160 million in revenue across the financial plan. This funding used to address a variety of critical programs and services including the funding of homeless services:

Funding for Individuals

$8.8M for 325 new PSH-I units

$420K for TAH-I

$6.3M for 180 new PSH-F units

Funding for Families

$6.3M for 180 new PSH-F units

$2M for 80 new TAH-F units

$11 million for operating Short-Term Family Housing

$6.8M for Emergency Rental Assistance

Funding for Youth

$513K for 15 PSH spots

$966K for 23 transitional beds·     

  • Fully funded the Solid Foundations plan to end youth homelessness

  • Created a Homelessness Street Outreach Program, with three outreach teams working across the District

  • $24.5 million in the capital budget for public housing repairs

  • Voted for $115.6 million in the Housing Production Trust Fund, which is used to build new affordable housing.

  • Voted for $11.8 million in the Housing Preservation Fund, which helps preserve existing affordable housing.

 

Oversight and Legislative Accomplishments

  • Oversaw the closing of the DC General Shelter and its replacement with new Short Term Family Shelters across the District, including the Ward 1 facility, currently under construction. 

  • Introduced the On-Site Services Act of 2019, which provides services like healthcare, legal services, food and nutrition, childcare, after-school care to multifamily buildings occupied by tenants that receive housing assistance. 

  • Introduced, passed, and legislation to provide clean and dignified public restrooms across the District.

    • Two new public restroom facilities will be installed in the District per year, and a program to incentivize businesses to open their restrooms to the public recently launched. 

  • Faced with a benefits “cliff,” we passed landmark reform of TANF, the District’s cash assistance program for needy families, to ensure no child ever goes without benefits. The aim is to keep families teetering on the edge from falling into homelessness.

  • Reform of the Homeless Services Amendment Act to protect the District’s right to shelter and help the most vulnerable people in our community while working to resolve a crisis in our homelessness services system.

  • Continue to work at the forefront of DC’s homelessness prevention efforts, including passing the Homeless Shelter Replacement Act and attending meetings of the Interagency Council on Homelessness.

  • Passed reform of our disability services to end the practice of involuntary civil commitments, to recognize supported decision-making agreements, and create a formal complaints process for those receiving services through the Department of Disability Services.

  • Expanded eligibility for disability services in the District, to include people with developmental disabilities like adults with autism who were excluded from the system.

  • Engage in year-round oversight over the District’s Human Services agencies:

    • Advisory Committee & Citizen Review Panel on Child Abuse and Neglect

    • Child and Family Services Agency

    • Commission on Persons with Disabilities

    • Department of Human Services

    • Department on Disability Services

    • Developmental Disabilities State Planning Council

    • Interagency Council on Homelessness

    • Office of Disability Rights

    • State Rehabilitation Council

    • Statewide Independent Living Council