FY23 Budget Request Letter to Chairman Mendelson
April 13, 2022
The Honorable Phil Mendelson
Chairman, Council of the District of Columbia
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Dear Chairman Mendelson:
As a follow up to our previous discussion, I am sharing my budget requests for Fiscal Year 2023 following the Committee on Human Services’ budget report and recommendations markup. The following items are of the utmost importance to me and to my constituents and remain unfunded through the Mayor’s proposed budget as well as committee markups. While the priorities have the support of my colleagues, we were unable to secure necessary funds.
Committee on Human Services
Office of the Ombudsperson for Children: $370,000 in FY22; $935,000 in FY23-26
In 2020, the Council overcame a Mayoral veto to pass legislation establishing the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children. The Ombudsperson is accountable to the Council and tasked with improving outcomes for District children by holding agencies accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities to children under the law. This independent and impartial Office has three primary responsibilities: (1) helping to resolve regular administrative concerns affecting CFSA youth; (2) investigating broader systemic issues affecting children; and (3) making policy recommendations.
Last year, with your support, the Council fully funded the Office at $935,000 recurring, and the Council has already spent over $52,000 of its own money to recruit the first Ombudsperson for Children this fiscal year. In her proposed budget, however, the Mayor unilaterally reversed the Council’s efforts by eliminating all funding for the Office in FY22 and for the duration of the financial plan.
This is an all-hands moment for the Council as an institution. If the Mayor can eliminate entire agencies at will, our system of checks and balances is in dire jeopardy. Especially in light of your past support of this legislation, I request that you do all you can to ensure that all children receive the level of protection and oversight that they deserve.
Ending Chronic Homelessness for Families: $45 million ($27.7 million for TAH-F)
Since I became Chair of the Committee on Human Services, I have said that this Council could be the one to end chronic homelessness. It is imperative that we move people from the streets, shelters, and encampments to housing and stability. We know this population is in the most urgent need. I know that you share these concerns, which is why I am asking that you help house some of our most vulnerable residents. There are several programs that can help end chronic adult homelessness.
Permanent Supportive Housing (“PSH”) provides housing, case management, and a full suite of vital wrap around support services necessary for the health and safety of an individual. Combined with the Council’s historic investment in PSH in the previous budget cycle, the Mayor has funded PSH vouchers to meet the existing need. For this reason, I do not request any additional PSH units. However, the Mayor failed to include any additional funding for Targeted Affordable Housing (“TAH”) or other tenant-based housing choice vouchers like the Local Rent Supplement Program (“LRSP”). In order to address this critical need, and to ensure there are enough housing resources in place to meet the needs of families who have timed out of their participation in the Family Re-Housing Stabilization Program, it is imperative that the Council increase investments in TAH and LRSP.
I ask that you help bring the District’s total investment in TAH for FY23 to $27.7 million, funding a total 1040 units. I also ask that you bring the District’s total investment in LRSP Tenant Vouchers to $17.3 million, funding a total of 500 units.
Emergency Rental Assistance Program (“ERAP”)
ERAP helps income eligible District residents facing housing emergencies. The program provides funding for overdue rent, if a qualified household is facing eviction. The program also supports security deposits and first month’s rent for residents moving into new apartments. ERAP serves income eligible District households withchildren, elderly households, and people with disabilities. The Mayor’s budget includes a $120 million dollar investment in emergency rental and utilities assistances over FY22 and FY23, of which only $42.7 million is dedicated for FY23.
While the data on the exact need is unclear, we know the Mayor’s investment will not meet the demand for the upcoming fiscal year. A combination of individuals timing out of other housing subsidy programs and looming evictions are likely to keep the need for emergency rental assistance high. We have heard from some that the need may be closer to $187 million. I ask that you provide a substantial enhance for ERAP in the FY23 budget.
Youth Homelessness: $4.65 million
The Mayor’s FY23 budget revealed several important priorities relating to youth homelessness that remain unfunded. For the past two years, youth homelessness contracts with the District have been level funded. Service providers have been forced to raise outside funds in order to keep the same services and maintain staffing. This is an unsustainable strategy and at some point, a reduction in services will become unavoidable. There is a need to increase grant funding by $3.15 million for youth homelessness service providers, in order to prevent a reduction of services in the near future.
Additionally, service providers in the youth homelessness space have expressed the need for a new workforce programming that will allow youth who are moving off the streets into jobs that will allow them to join the workforce and take steps towards building a sustainable future for themselves. The funding need for this workforce program is $1 million. Finally, the service providers have also requested $500,000 for a mobile behavioral health unit. This would allow service providers to meet homeless youth where they are to address their behavioral health needs. I request your assistance in fully funding these youth homelessness needs at a total of $4.65 million.
Project Reconnect: $479,000
Project Reconnect is a shelter diversion and rapid exit program for unaccompanied individuals. By working with clients in an open and strengths-focused conversation, diversion experts at one of the District’s daytime services centers help individuals on the verge of falling into homeless avoid and/or reduce their utilization of emergency shelter. It is also important as a more flexible eviction prevention tool, and can be a part of the solution to mitigate an eviction crisis. The program was funded in the Mayor’s budget at $321,000. This is well below the full need of $700,000. I request that you help find $479,000 to properly fund this important program.
Grandparent and Close Relative Caregiver Programs: $760,000
The Grandparent and Close Relative Caregiver Programs, which provide subsidies to low-income kinship caregivers, have been rousing success stories. In CY21, none of the children benefitting from these Programs entered foster care. In recognition of that success, the Council unanimously passed, and Mayor Bowser signed, the “Grandparent and Close Relative Caregivers Program Amendment Act of 2022”, which expands eligibility for these Programs and eliminates the waiting periods previously associated with them. Demand, then, will almost certainly increase, and leading community stakeholders, including the President of the District branch of the NAACP, have called for increased funding to avoid the waitlists and reprogrammings that have been prominent features of these Programs’ histories, including as recently as FY 21. Enhancements of $641,000 to the GCP and $119,000 to the CRCP are necessary to ensure access to these critical supports.
DSP Payments/and BSA Subtitle V.B
After two years without funding for Bill 24-0214, the “Direct Support Professional Payment Rate Act of 2019”, the Mayor’s proposed FY23 budget includes funding across the financial plan to increase the payment rates for this essential workforce to the target Council set of 117.6% of the minimum or living wage, whichever is higher.
The proposed Budget Support Act includes an associated subtitle, the “Direct Care Professional Payment Rate Act of 2022”. With limited differences, this subtitle would have the same effect as B24-0214, which is still subject to appropriations. In order to preserve a more complete legislative record, I am recommending that the standalone language in the Mayor’s subtitle be replaced with amendatory language for B24-0214, and that the BSA should repeal the subject to appropriations for that bill instead.
Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA) Personnel: $425,000
Due to continued efforts to increase the District’s transparency and ethical standards, BEGA is in need of four additional FTEs. The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and The Office of Open Government (OOG) both require two legal fellows at $80,000.
OOG’s legal fellow will address a niche legal practice area with FOIA statutes and help OOG become more involved in social justice issues, assist in drafting advisory opinions and investigate OMA violations. Without this FTE, OOG will not have the capacity to track and monitor its impact on social justice in the District. OOG’s current staff is not robust enough to take on this type of project without compromising the execution of OOG’s primary mission. Government transparency is tied to social justice issues, especially as it relates to fair access to government records. Tracking OOG’s progress and impact in this area would help to better guide our program development to better meet the community’s needs.
OGE is responsible for providing ethics advice and training to the District government’s 34,000 employees and public officials. However, OGE’s legal staff is thinly stretched with three Attorney Advisors, Supervisory Attorney, Senior Attorney, and General Counsel to fulfill this task. A Legal Fellow is needed to assist the office in fulfilling its operational goals by conducting research on various ethics topics, assisting OGE Attorneys with providing ethics advice and conducting trainings; drafting advisory opinions and inter-office policies; and assisting with other legal matters. OGE does not have a staff person to conduct legal research on the federal ethics rules (from which the District’s ethics rules are modeled), and ethics laws in various other jurisdictions. Nor is there anyone to assist the Attorneys with researching and drafting advisory opinions.
Additionally, OGE needs a Supervisory Investigator ($160,000) and a Public Information Officer ($105,000). The Supervisory Investigator will be the lead investigator for all ethics complaints and supervise the three current investigators. OGE has also experienced a strain in meeting its 120-day case disposition policy, which requires that a case is dismissed, settled or notice of violation is reached within that time period. While the Investigators have managed to comply with the policy for some cases, due to the increase in investigations and the lack of investigative supervision, other matters have not reached a disposition in a timely manner. Without the addition of a Supervisory Investigator, OGE’s Investigations Unit will continue to be void of direct supervision, which effects the accountability and accuracy of the matters that the office investigates.
The Public Information Officer will manage and oversee inquiries and information requests received by the agency. BEGA often receives inquiries concerning investigations, fines, and financial disclosure and lobbying matters. Because the agency lacks a Public Information Officer, the public is not fully aware of the agency’s mission and functions and, as a result, BEGA has not been able to fully establish a relationship with stakeholders and members of the community.
Ward 1 Priorities
Ensuring Appropriate Funding for Amigos Park in Mount Pleasant
I was thankful that the Mayor included $500,000 in funding to establish and improve Amigos Park in Mount Pleasant, which we supported with a Sense of the Council resolution in 2021. The corner of Mount Pleasant and Kenyon Streets NW has been an important communal space for DC’s Central American community, and the “esquineros” have long advocated to give the space more legitimacy and amenities for those who already use it, an effort I have been strongly supported.
The funding allocated in the Mayor’s budget was appropriated under DPR’s “Small Parks” master capital project. However, there are complications with site control (it is about 50 percent private); I am working with DGS, DPR, and MOLA to coordinate negotiation with 7-11, the adjacent property owner. Council may need to reallocate those funds, as MOLA may be the ultimate client agency for DGS, and, depending on the outcome of negotiations with 7-11, the project may not be capital-eligible.
My office has engaged with the Mayor’s Budget Director and the relevant agencies to ensure that the right form of funding is allocated in the right place to be able to successfully execute this shared priority. My team will keep you informed of any moves that may be necessary if they are not included in an errata letter.
Clean Team Expansion and Cost-of-living Adjustments: $27,000 for COLAs; $150,000 for Expansion
Ward 1 is the densest Ward, with many commercial corridors, and as a result, we rely heavily on, and are grateful for, the services of the Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights/Mt. Pleasant (“Ward 1”), Mid-City, Shaw, and Lower Georgia Avenue Clean Teams. They have worked hard throughout the pandemic, supporting not only clean streets, but also stability for their employees, who are often returning citizens. In light of rising inflation, I urge you to fund 2.5% cost of living adjustments for all four Ward 1 Clean Teams, totaling $27,000. Similar cost-of-living adjustments are also warranted for all of the Clean Teams in the District that have worked hard to keep our streets clean.
Additionally, there is currently a “dirt desert” of nine blocks between the jurisdictions of the Ward 1 and Mid-City Clean Teams along 14th Street. This gap arbitrarily excludes a major portion of a commercial corridor from cleaning, and I ask that you invest an additional $150,000 a year to support expanding the reach of the Ward 1 Clean Team to meet the northern boundary of the Mid-City Clean Team’s jurisdiction.
LeDroit Park; $100,000
Over the last several fiscal years, the Council has invested in wonderful improvements to the Park @ LeDroit, including new play and shade structures and a new splash pad. However, these improvements have come in a piecemeal fashion, meaning that other areas of the park, including the dog park and pathways, have fallen into disrepair. No more than $100,000 in capital funds should be sufficient to keep this community asset well-maintained.
16th Street Crossroads Public Realm Planning; $450,000
The 2017 Crosstown Multimodal Transportation Study completed by DDOT made strong recommendations for improving crosstown travel between 16th Street NW and South Dakota Avenue NE – routes that are still highly-congested with unsafe conditions and unreliable transit options.
One of the near-term recommended projects in the study is a comprehensive intersection improvement to 16th Street, Columbia Road, Harvard Street, and Mount Pleasant Street NW. DDOT identified $450,000 as the needed funding to “determine a constructible design solution for this complex intersection that will address needs for all travel modes.”
This intersection is the meeting point of Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, and Columbia Heights – three of the District’s densest and most pedestrian-intensive neighborhoods. Instead of being a safe and welcoming gathering point for these three prominent neighborhoods, it remains dangerous, inefficient, and disconnected, with multiple park spaces stranded from each other and underutilized.
The Crosstown study set 2021 as the target start date for this work; the Council’s amended Comprehensive Plan also identified the public spaces in this intersection as in need of improvement. It is time for those public space and traffic management improvements to begin in earnest.
Additional Budget Priorities
First Right to Purchase Program (“FRPP”): $20 million
The First Right Purchase Program is a rolling acquisition loan fund and historically has been the primary facilitator for utilizing the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Assistance (“TOPA”) to preserve affordable rental housing in the District and to create Limited Equity Cooperatives. According to the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development (“CNHED”), an updated version of the FRPP would fit the recommendation of the Mayor’s Saving DC's Rental Housing Market Strike Force to develop “a new program or increase the capacity within an existing program to support the acquisition of small multi-family buildings (under 50 units) by tenant organizations and developers exercising TOPA or DOPA rights to create or preserve affordable rental or ownership housing protected by long-term covenants.” The Mayor’s budget funds this priority at about $10 million. Based on CNHED’s analysis, there is a $30 million need for this program. I request that you enhance this program’s budget by an additional $20 million.
Housing Preservation Fund (“HPF”): $20 million
The Housing Preservation Fund is a public-private source for acquisition and critical repairs financing. The HPF leverages public investments 3:1 with private investments, so a $1 in District investment leverages $3 in private investment for a total of $4 available for affordable housing projects. The HPF has become a critical source of acquisition and critical repairs financing for tenant organizations exercising their TOPA rights. The Mayor’s budget includes no new funding for the HPF in FY23. The Mayor’s budget office indicated that it believes that with repayment starting to happen the HPF is now self-reliant. CNHED has raised concerns that assumptions that the HPF have reached self-sufficiency might be premature. Given the Mayor’s proposed investment of $500 million in HPTF in FY23, I believe that $20 million should be appropriated for the HPF in FY23 to provide acquisition and critical repairs funding to keep the affordable housing pipeline active. I request your help identifying and allocating this funding.
Home Purchase Assistance Program (“HPAP”): $5.2 million
HPAP provides interest-free loans and closing cost assistance for residents purchasing single-family houses, condominiums, or cooperative units. Down payment assistance is a critical tool to help first-time buyers purchase homes during a time when wealth-building is essential for long-term financial stability. The Mayor’s budget invests $18.8 million dollars for HPAP. Based on an assessment completed by CNHED, I ask that you held identify an additional $5.2 million for this program to bring total allocation to $24 million.
Immigrant Justice Legal Services (“ILJS”) Grant Program: $1.5 million
The ILJS Grant Program provides grants to community-based organizations, private organizations, and law firms that use skilled immigration attorneys and legal professionals to provide immigrant justice legal services. The Mayor’s FY 2023 proposed budget included a continued investment of $3.5 million for the IJLS Grant Program. Based on my conversation with community organizations that participate in the program the need outweighs the resources available. I am requesting that you allocate an additional $1.5 million for this program.
Financial Relief for Excluded Workers
The financial constraints of the global pandemic have been felt by all District residents. The District responded to this by providing relief to residents in need. However, it was slow in providing relief to our undocumented residents, who are excluded from receiving assistance through traditional means. Instead, the District set up a fund at Events DC to provide financial relief for excluded workers. I was disappointed to see that the Mayor did not make any additional investments in this fund. Considering this is one of the few direct cash assistance programs in the District that helps this vulnerable population, I urge you to allocate any additional funding for this priority.
Outdoor Learning and Food nutrition programs: $6.5 million
Outdoor learning and food programs have been crucial for children and families in the District. We’ve heard from educators about the importance of outdoor learning and equity of access to outdoor space in DC. Advocates have stated that outdoor education is not only a response to the pandemic but also improves student mental health and academic performance. Furthermore, many children and families across the city do not have equal access to safe outdoor spaces. The Mayor’s proposed budget removed outdoor learning funding and I’m asking that you restore $5 million to the FY23 budget, which includes $2.5 million in funds for 20-25 schools to be able to hire outdoor and experiential learning partners and $2.5 million for 20-25 charter schools to be able to also hire outdoor and experiential learning partners. Additionally, I am asking that you fund $1.5 million to FoodPrints. FoodPrints is a program that integrates gardening and nutritional education into a child’s curriculum. FoodPrints is currently in 19 DC Public Schools and reaches 7,000 elementary school children. The $1.5 million is needed to sustain the current level of funding.
Hygiene Kits: $90,000
Youth and families experiencing homelessness have a need access to laundry facilities and hygiene products. We should be able to provide more support to our youth that do not have access to hygiene products like soap and toothpaste, and do so through schools in order to reach the most children and families. This $90,000 would go to the DCPS Connected Schools Program, which can then distribute the funds to 11 designated schools already within their program. The Connected Schools Program takes a whole child, whole school, whole community approach by making schools spaces that support not only a student’s academic development, but a family's overall wellbeing through access to resources related to health, employment, housing, and more. This model builds on the full-service community school model and is grounded in national research and educational best practices.
School-based Mental Health: $2.7 million
During the pandemic, ER visits for attempted suicide increased 51 percent for adolescent girls. Here in the District, a third of our high school students report symptoms of depression, and one out of six of our high school students attempts suicide each year. That’s why it was so important that we worked to make the investments in school-based behavioral health that funded putting a clinician in every District public school. Now, that investment is at risk. Fewer than a quarter of the schools in the final expansion cohort requiring clinicians have been able to hire providers. And the $70,000 per clinician grant contemplated by the Mayor’s budget simply will not allow community-based organizations to cover the cost of assigning a provider to a school. With workforce shortages driving increases in provider salaries, Medicaid reimbursements within schools proving inconsistent, and costs for providers steadily increasing, the Mayor’s $10,000 per provider cut must be reversed, and grants must be restored to the level of $80,000 per clinician. I ask that you ensure the long-term stability of the Council’s investment in children, both by reversing the disinvestment in the proposed budget and by supporting a $300,000 rate study to ascertain what it will cost to sustain our investment in the years to come.
Social Work and LPC Licensing Specialists at D.C. Health: $380,000
Relatedly, investments in school-based mental health will not be effective if clinicians cannot get licensed in the District. DC Health does not currently have the capacity to timely process Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Professional Counselor applications, and applicants typically experience delays of several months during which licensing specialists are unresponsive. The current allocation of two FTEs each to social work and licensed professional counseling simply cannot address the number of outstanding applications, and it does not allow the few licensing specialists there are to help applicants resolve errors with imperfect applications. I therefore ask that you support our children by supporting our future clinicians, giving DC Health the funds it needs to hire two more licensing specialists each for social work and licensed professional counseling.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners at UMC: $50,000
In the District, survivors of sexual assault can only be seen by a qualified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (“SANE”) at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. At MedStar, nurse examiners work with advocates to provide care in a safe, comfortable environment, documenting and photographing injuries, collecting physical evidence, and providing medication to address sexually transmitted infections, HIV prophylaxis, and pregnancy prevention. Just as importantly, SANE nurses ensure that all evidence is transferred to law enforcement, maintaining a proper chain of custody. SANE exams are not only a best practice for survivors, but necessary for holding offenders accountable. Because they are currently available at only one hospital, however, almost all survivors have to be admitted to two different, crowded emergency departments over the course of several hours, traveling between distant locations to receive the care they need. I ask that you add $50,000 to UMC’s budget this year to allow them to train five nurses to provide SANE exams, purchase any materials and medications they need to treat patients and secure and preserve evidence, and account for any costs not covered by patients’ insurance to ensure that no one presenting for an exam at the District’s only public hospital receives a bill for this necessary care.
Home Visiting: $370,000
The home visiting programs supported by DC Health, especially the Nurse-Family Partnership at Mary’s Center, are critical to infant and parent health and have an outstanding track record of positive outcomes. Home visiting reduces child abuse and neglect, ER visits for accidents and poisoning, language delays, and future arrests of mothers and children. The success of these programs is threatened, however, by the challenges they face attracting and retaining staff. An enhancement is necessary to adjust for inflation for the first time since 2019, to enable programs to adapt to the increased demands on their workforce, and to provide more resources to support families during this pandemic.
Healthy Steps: $300,000
Healthy Steps is an evidence-based pediatric primary care program that provides infants and toddlers with social-emotional and developmental support by integrating child development specialists into primary care. The program provides specialists at each pediatric primary care visit to support the mental health of children and parents and to make any necessary referrals to families who need additional services. The “Birth-to-Three for All Act of 2018” contemplated Healthy Steps sites in Wards 5, 7, and 8, but there are currently only three sites served by this program, and none of them are in Ward 5. I ask that you provide Healthy Steps the necessary recurring funding to open additional sites as envisioned by Birth-to-Three.
Healthy Futures: $700,000
The Department of Behavioral Health’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Project, Healthy Futures, provides consultation services to child development centers and home care providers, as well as direct services to children ages birth to five and families. This program implements a nationally recognized model in which mental health professionals work with providers and family members to promote social-emotional development, prevent the escalation of challenging behaviors, and provide appropriate referrals and services. Program data has consistently shown positive results, including expulsion rates lower than the national average and improved self-regulation in children with challenging behaviors.
Continuing to expand the capacity of Healthy Futures is essential to achieving the underlying goal laid out in the “Birth-to-Three for All Act of 2018”, which is for Healthy Futures to reach all subsidy-participating CDCs and home providers in the District. To that end, I ask you to commit $700,000 in additional recurring dollars to Healthy Futures. This will allow DBH to expand the program from 25 to 35 child development centers and home providers in FY2023 alone and continue to meet this critical need for the District’s children and families.
Food and Friends Grant Funding: $205,000
Food and Friends provides healthful food to DC residents living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-threatening and life-changing illnesses. Food and Friends provided 617,391 meals to 2,080 District residents in FY2021, and, over the past five years, the number of medically tailored meals they have delivered to residents has increased more than 50 percent. In past fiscal years, their grant was funded at $825,000. To continue to meet demand, however, Food and Friends had to request an additional $200,000 in this year’s budget, bringing it to a total of $1,025,000. Despite increased demand for a service for which there is no substitute, the Mayor’s proposed budget reduced funding for Food and Friends by $5,000. I ask that you help restore and enhance this critical funding for supports that serve some of the District’s most medically vulnerable residents.
Healthy Corners: $250,000
Healthy Corners is a pioneering venture that sustainably expands healthy food access in the District’s food deserts. Through this program, D.C. Central Kitchen delivers fresh produce and healthy snacks to corner stores in low-income communities, giving corner stores the opportunity to purchase these foods at wholesale prices and in smaller quantities than they would be able to purchase them from a conventional distributor. The stores then sell the produce at below-market prices. The Mayor’s budget reduced funding for this important program by $250,000, and I ask that you restore that support.
Joseph’s House: $400,000
Joseph’s House in Adams Morgan has been offering compassionate care to homeless men and women with HIV and cancer since 1990. As, thankfully, more of its patients go on to survive and leave the organization’s care, the role of Joseph’s House has changed, with the organization taking on extended respite care and permanent supportive housing roles. Part of that transition is Joseph’s House coming to rely more on Medicaid and local supportive housing funding to support its mission. Because the organization lost its federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding, however, it needs at least a year of local support to provide the runway it needs to continue its work and move on to new sources of revenue.
Lead Service Line Removal
Our effort to remove all lead from the District’s water service lines is anticipated to cost $1 billion to complete. Even with funding from ARPA, the federal infrastructure bill, and DC Water’s own capital budget, we are likely still looking at a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars. As I have requested in previous years, the Council should prioritize allocating capital dollars towards filling this gap in funds required to make the District completely lead-free.
LGBTQ+ Housing: Vouchers, Housing Coordinator, Housing Capacity Grants
The Mayor’s budget included 46 vouchers allocated for the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ advocates have told us that this not meet the existing need, as this community is experiencing increased rates of housing instability. First, I request your help in identifying funds to allocate an additional 54 vouchers for the LGBTQ+ community to match the growing needs. Second, based on recommendation from LGBTQ+ advocates, I also request your assistance in allocating $90,000 for one FTE at the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs to serve as a Housing Coordinator. This FTE would help remove many of the administrative barriers that prevent community members from finding safe/affirming housing in a timely manner.
Finally, I request your assistance in finding and allocating $500,000 for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs for the Washington AIDS Partnership (“WAP”) to pilot a housing-first public-private LGBTQ+ health initiative. WAP would partner with MOLGBTQA and use the requested funding, in conjunction with funding from private funders, to identify LGBTQ community-based organizations best suited to pilot the housing-first health initiative, administer grants, monitor performance, convene CBOs to connect interagency resources and policy advocacy, provide technical assistance, and coordinate an external evaluation of the CBO’s efficacy.
LGBTQ+ Health Initiatives: HIV/AIDS Prevention, Harm Reduction Center, Overdose Reduction: $2.45 million
First, I ask for your assistance in restoring $700,000 to the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (“HAHSTA”) Grants and Contracts to be equitably distributed across the community organizations that partner with HAHSTA through grants and contracts. These resources should be used by these community organizations in evidence-informed and innovative ways to address the barriers and gaps that they see in their work.
Second, I request your help in funding a $1.5 million, 3-year pilot program that will establish a 24-hour harm reduction services center through the already culturally competent harm reduction services occurring at community-based organizations like HIPS. This will fund drop-in center services, mobile services, harm reduction drug treatment and counseling, syringe exchange and community clean-up services, overdose prevention training, and case management services for homeless LGBTQ populations. This would include 3 FTE center management staff, occupancy costs for the space, security, peer support services and community health workers.
Finally, we must continue the District’s investments in overdose prevention. The District has had the second highest overdose death rate during the opioid crisis that has affected our nation. In 2020, the overdose rate jumped 46% from 281 deaths in 2019, to 411 deaths in 2020, and we're on track for an even higher rate in 2021. The LGBTQ+ community, already suffering with higher rates of addiction issues, has been put at increased risk as fentanyl has become more prevalent in the opioid supply. Harm reduction, treatment and recovery resources tailored for the LGBTQ community are extremely scarce. I ask for your assist in allocating $250,000 to the Department of Behavioral Health to ensure continuity of services between the end of one federal opioid grant (SOR2) and the beginning of the next federal opioid grant (SOR3).
Tax Abatement for LGBTQ+ Resource & Community Center: $10 million
Existing concerns regarding space constraints are exacerbated by the upcoming closure of the Reeves Center, which currently houses The DC Center and the Capital Pride Alliance. The DC Center will soon begin its process to relocate to a new location. The District should show its continued commitment to a LGBTQ+ shared community center with a $10 million tax abatement to ensure that our communities get the services they need. This will allow for the opportunity for multiple LGBTQ+ organizations and service providers to co-locate in a shared community center, which will improve service delivery and community connectivity.
Domestic Violence Prevention Core Services: $15.44 million
DV core services are split among residential programs and non-residential programs. Residential programs primarily provide housing to survivors fleeing domestic and non-residential programs primarily provide legal, advocacy, counseling, case management and culturally specific services.
Culturally specific service providers are in need of $2 million to respond to intersectional issues within their client base, raise awareness about gender-based violence in different communities, support for language justice, staff training, covering the transportation needs of survivors, operating costs, outreach and communication efforts. $2 million of recurring funds are also needed to meet the mental health needs of survivors. The increased level of trauma experienced by survivors during the pandemic has caused for the need in all domestic violence service providers to support and expand mental health counseling across their programs. Lastly, domestic violence service providers across service areas need $2 million to support the sustainability of existing and new staff to adequately respond to the demand for services.
Additionally, in order to level set against consistent flat funding from DC government agencies and maintain and expand current operations—including the coverage of mortgage expenses—housing providers need $9.44 million of recurring funds for operations and staffing support.
Creation of New Domestic Violence Survivor Housing Inventory: $12.49 million
Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness, yet there is not enough housing dedicated to survivors. There are only 283 DV-units for survivors in the District. $12.49 million of recurring funds would support the creation of 80 new housing units for survivors and their families: 65 units for transitional housing support and 15 units for affordable housing units for survivors of domestic violence.
High-quality Care Coordination for Violence Intervention: $17.5 million
Investments in violence interruption are necessary to meet the current moment of increases in violent crime, but those resources also require coordination to be effective. This funding would provide life coaches, tutors, case managers, social workers, and wrap-around care for 500 individuals identified as at-risk. The $17.5 million breaks down to about $15,000 per person and includes funding for stipends related to therapy, mentorship, education, and substance use.
Legislation to Fund or Policy Change
“Eviction Record Sealing Authority and Fairness in Renting Amendment Act of 2022”
The “Eviction Record Sealing Authority and Fairness in Renting Amendment Act of 2022” protects housing applicants and tenants from denials of housing based on old eviction history and other unjust/discriminatory reasons & strengthens the protections against voucher discrimination. It was passed by the Council, signed by the Mayor, and has been transmitted to Congress with a projected law date of June 8, 2022. However, because it was not funded, the law remains subject to appropriations. I request your assistance allocating the amount needed to fully fund and implement this law upon enactment.
“Human Rights Enhancement Amendment Act of 2022”
The “Human Rights Enhancement Amendment Act of 2022” protects individuals experiencing homelessness from discrimination, provides training to law enforcement on the impact of enforcement decisions on people experiencing homelessness and the protections against discrimination provided by this bill, and prohibits employment discrimination against contractors and enhances protections against workplace harassment. This bill received a public hearing before the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities on October 6, 2021. I request your assistance in moving this measure through the FY23 Budget Support Act, and allocating the amount needed to fully fund and implement this law upon enactment.
“Non-Profit Fair Compensation Act”
The “Nonprofit Fair Compensation Act of 2020” became effective March 16, 2021, and accordingly, the District will be required to reimburse indirect costs for all contracts under $1 million starting in Fiscal Year 2022. However, upon talking to agencies under the purview of the Committee on Human Services, no steps have been taken to account for this law in negotiating or renegotiating contracts for FY2023. I request your help in ensuring that the District’s FY2023 approved budget account for the implementation of this law.
I know that you have many important priorities for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget and that you will be weighing input from many stakeholders. I appreciate your consideration of the above listed priorities and I am happy to discuss any of these items in more detail with you. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Brianne K. Nadeau
Councilmember, Ward 1
Chairperson, Committee on Human Services