Coronavirus Update: 5/5
Greetings Ward 1, today I’m sharing with you the latest Council action and some community updates.
As of yesterday, the daily average of new positives over the last 14 days is about 160 cases. DC Health also identified Columbia Heights as a new hotspot due to the increase rates in infections. We are not yet seeing the decreases in trends that we need in order to return to normal activity. If people do not stay home, we will continue to see community spread cases.
I know that the weather is nice, and fresh air is necessary for our mental health, but if you do go for a walk or run, please maintain a safe distance between other members of our community, and do not congregate in groups. When social distancing is not possible, masks are essential to keeping each other safe and healthy, but they are not a substitute for social distancing. We should all continue to do our part in social distancing and stay home as much as possible!
Foreclosure Moratorium Emergency Amendment Act of 2020
Today, in an effort to pause foreclosures during the ongoing public health emergency and for 60 days after, I introduced the Foreclosure Moratorium Emergency Amendment Act of 2020. The legislation closes the existing gaps by providing explicit and clear language to broaden the protections to all homeowners. By enacting this measure, the District joins 15 other states that have passed similar protections.
We cannot abandon hard-working homeowners during this time of uncertainty, and we should not turn back the clock on the countless initiatives and programs the District has implemented to encourage homeownership, prevent displacement and create opportunities for housing equity.
The legislation is co-introduced by Councilmember Anita Bonds, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, and committee members, At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, At-Large Councilmember Robert White, and Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, Sr. Thank you, to the Legal Aid Society of DC who partnered with us to get this measure passed.
Coronavirus Omnibus Emergency Amendment Act of 2020
The Council passed a third emergency bill to address additional areas of need during the ongoing public health emergency. There are close to 30 sections of the bill, but I’ll highlight some of the key measures here:
Fiscal Year 21 Budget
Mayor Bowser will be presenting her proposed budget to the Council next week, kicking off our annual budget process. The Committee of the Whole Public Briefing on the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2021 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan is scheduled for Wednesday, May 13th at 10:00a.m.
Committee on Human Services Budget Meetings
The Committee will be using a virtual platform to conduct committee hearings. However, the hearings will still be broadcast live on DC Council Channel 13 and streamed live at www.dccouncil.us and entertainment.dc.gov. The full schedule can be found here.
I am deeply committed to ensuring that all those who wish to participate in the public hearing process have the opportunity to testify before the Committee on Human Services. The Committee is strongly encouraging witnesses to submit written testimony in lieu of or in addition to live testimony.
ReOpen DC Task Force
In looking ahead at how the District will reopen for business and get back to normal, Mayor Bowser has announced the ReOpenDC Advisory Group.
The ReOpen DC Advisory Group, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will advise Mayor Bowser and the Council on how we can best emerge from the public health emergency. The Advisory group is comprised of a Steering Committee and 11 Sector Committees.
In my capacity as the Chair of the Committee on Human Services, I presented recommendations to the Human Services, Social Services, and Health Sector Committee. The Committee’s focus is ensuring that the health care system is accessible and that vulnerable communities have access to testing, care, and social supports.
My recommendations to the group included proposals on: ensuring shelters are available and safe, reducing shelter density by procuring more hotel or apartment style placements, increasing rental assistance funds to prevent homelessness, standing up a reliable 2-1-1 system that can help the District assess residents’ needs and connect them to resources, and creating a more resilient workforce.
Howard University Hospital
Recently, Mayor Bowser announced the District has reached an agreement with Howard University to build a new 225-bed hospital on Georgia Avenue NW by the year 2025.
Howard University’s President, Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, has invited me to join the taskforce that will plan for the hospital’s opening. In addition to ensuring the Ward 1 community has a voice in the process, I’ll also be focused on ensuring that healthcare workers and union members have an ally as the hospital maps out the staffing plan.
Stabilizing Early Childcare Providers
In my newsletter on April 7th, I expressed my concern that as a city, we weren’t doing enough to assist early childcare providers to stay afloat. It will be a tough return once DC reopens if families do not have access to childcare. Last week, I discussed this issue with the Washington Post. Read the full article here. I will continue working with my colleagues and our advocacy community to ensure our providers have the supports they need, and that they are prepared when we are ready to reopen DC.
New Short-Term Family Housing Site
I have been a strong advocate for the expansion of housing for families experiencing homelessness, and last week, the District opened a new Short-Term Family Housing site. The new site is called ‘The Brooks’ and it is located in Ward 3. This means wards 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 have Short-Term Family Housing sites. Next up – Ward 1!
Resources & Reminders
Contact Tracing Task Force
Reduce Energy and Save Money
Pepco has launched the Reduce Energy Use DC Initiative. When you take the pledge, you will receive energy-saving tips through Weekly Energy Usage Reports. Take steps to reduce energy use and you’ll have a chance to win a $300 credit on your electric bill in one of 25 random drawings. The initiative will run through August.
To take the pledge and sign up, visit ReduceEnergyUseDC.com, text “SaveMore” to 52886, or call 202-872-2020.
In Need of Diapers?
The Greater DC Diaper Bank has partnered with community organizations to create Diaper Need Hubs that can provide families with diapers and food in one location. Ward 1’s CentroNía is a one of the hub locations and food is served next door at Martha’s Table.
Families can make an appointment on the CentroNía website or call 202-394-4873. They will reach out to families with an appointment date, time and confirmation number.
Voting Has Started!
I received my mail-in ballot yesterday from the DC Board of Elections. If you haven’t requested your mail-in ballot yet, request it today!
If you have already requested your ballot, you can track it here.
I’ve mentioned it a few times – but please fill out the census! The census count determines where billions of dollars in federal funding go to – schools, infrastructure, hospitals. You can respond to the census by phone, online, or mail. More information is available at 2020 census.