Ward 1 neighbors,
In this newsletter I’m sharing important updates on vaccines, Council business, and community announcements!
We continue to see positive COVID-19 cases reported, and while we do not have any reports of variant strains in the District, it’s important that we don’t let our guard down and continue to take safety precautions to keep our community safe.
We need to continue to educate and inform our community about the vaccine. It will save lives. When you become eligible, register for an appointment to be vaccinated. As of 1/30/21, DC Health is reporting that 62, 219 doses of the vaccine have been administered. We are still short on supply, but the Biden Administration has confirmed the District’s vaccine allocation will increase by 15%.
Groups being vaccinated now:
Vaccines are also being allocated to hospitals and clinics. IF you have been or are a client of the following health providers, you can reach out to them to get vaccinated (if currently eligible):
- Healthcare workers
- Residents of 65 years or older
- Teachers and staff who are or will be working in person for term 3
- Child Care workers
- Fire and EMS Department
- Metropolitan Police Department
- Department of Corrections employees
- Individuals experiencing homelessness
- Residents of long-term care and immediate care facilities
- Continuity of government operations personnel
- Howard University Hospital
- MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
- MedStar Washington Hospital Center
- The George Washington University Hospital
- Sibley Memorial Hospital
- United Medical Center
- Kaiser Permanente
- Mary’s Center
- Community of Hope
- Unity (Upper Cardoza)
- Unity (Brentwood)
- Bread for the City
- La Clinica del Pueblo
- Elaine Ellis
- Providence Health System
I have been working to ensure improvements are made to the online registration portal. Since Councilmembers initially shared concerns from constituents, DC Health has removed several technical barriers to streamline the process (captcha, showing already booked slots, etc.). They have also quadrupled the number of call takers.
I have also been active in oversight efforts with my colleagues. I joined a letter led by Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George to ensure childcare providers were not de-prioritized in the vaccination plan. Childcare workers have been showing up for work in person for months now. The good news is that they became eligible to register for vaccines this week. I also joined a letter led by Councilmember Vincent Gray to make changes to the appointment process, including creating a registration system to replace the current first come, first serve system.
Despite these improvements and pending recommendations, we know it has been challenging for our seniors to register online for vaccination appointments, so our team of 10 has been helping register Ward 1 seniors each time appointments have opened up. If you know a Ward 1 senior who needs help registering or if you’d like to help out, let us know! You can call (202) 724-8181 or email Allie Bobak at email@example.com
Last week, I reintroduced two bills. Both bills were initially introduced last year, but because December marked the end of a Council Period and the bills had not gone through the legislative process, they had to be re-introduced.
The first bill is the Street Vending Decriminalization Amendment Act, to remove criminal penalties for vending, which will minimize unnecessary interactions between police and vendors. Violations would still be enforced through DCRA. The second bill goes hand in hand with decriminalizing street vending. It is the Sidewalk Vending Zones Amendment Act. This bill amends the Vending Regulations Act of 2009 to establish sidewalk vending zones for sidewalk vendors to legally operate, reforms the enforcement response, and launches the first designated zone in Columbia Heights.
This week, I co-introduced the Workplace Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Act, which strengthens protections and rights for District workers during the pandemic. This legislation was introduced by At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman.
The Council voted to override the mayoral veto of the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children Establishment Amendment Act. I introduced this bill to establish an independent legislative agency tasked with improving outcomes for children involved in the child welfare system by holding all agencies that impact these children accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities under the law. The legislation aligns with national best practices as prescribed by the US Ombudsman Association’s model statute.
The three main arguments raised by the Mayor were that it was: (1) legally insufficient because it may, as applied, raise a separation of powers issue (2) the office would be duplicative and (3) it is unnecessarily expensive.
My counterarguments were: (1) My office worked very closely with our General Counsel’s office to ensure it was legally sufficient and that no powers afforded to or duties required of the Ombudsperson would unduly interfere with the executive. (2) The office created by this legislation is not intended to duplicate the existing office, but instead to improve and replace it by prioritizing independence and impartiality to increase its credibility and expanding the office’s scope to provide oversight of systemic issues, including special attention to matters affecting crossover youth - children who interact with both the foster care system and the juvenile justice system. (3) Yes. The expanded scope of the office comes with additional costs but it pales in comparison to the annual costs of paying a court monitor to oversee the agency + not to mention the potential liability and devastating human costs that could be incurred if a child in the District’s care were to be harmed.
The Council also voted to override a mayoral veto for the Department of Buildings Establishment Act, which splits up the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs into two agencies. This bill has been discussed since 2018. It became very clear to Councilmembers that DCRA was too large to be properly managed. Hundreds of residents would testify at DCRA oversight hearings. By splitting up the agency into two, we are hoping to see more focused and effective city services.
The District recently conducted the annual homeless Point-in-Time (PIT) count. The count helps us further understand how we can best serve those most in need. The data will also be crucial for COVID-19 recovery efforts. I want to thank the volunteers and outreach workers that conducted the count, including our office’s Deputy Director of Constituent Services, Allie Bobak!
[pictured: Ann Hoffman and Allie Bobak]
You can read more about the PIT count in an article from DCist here.
Today, the Ward 1 Short-Term Family Housing site was unveiled! Everyone deserves to live in dignified, safe and secure housing. One of the most critical steps we’ve taken toward that goal and to end homelessness is to close DC General and open new short-term family housing sites in all eight wards. Families who need assistance as they transition from emergency shelter to permanent housing will now be able to stay in their communities. The planning process for each site required extensive community engagement. It was important to ensure each site was designed to safely house families while also examining neighborhood context and access to resources and city services. For our Ward 1 families, I’m excited that the site is located near access to public transit, restaurants, amenities, and recreational programming – all which will help families thrive.
I want to thank the members of the steering committee, our ANC commissioners, allies and advocates who worked hard to develop a short-term family housing site that Ward 1 can be proud of! I look forward to ensuring that this family housing is a safe and secure place where our neighbors can live in dignified conditions as they work to find permanent housing.
[pictured: Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and Director of DHS Laura Zeilinger]
Reminder: As we continue to experience cold weather, remember that if you see someone in need of help, you can call the Shelter Hotline at 202-399-7093. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.
Schools welcomed back students for Term 3 on Tuesday. I visited Cardozo Education Campus last week to see the preparations in place before students and teachers returned. I have been in close communication with Ward 1 education leaders and parents and will continue to check in.
[pictured: Principal Arthur Mola and Councilmember Brianne Nadeau]
The DC CARES Assistance program for excluded workers is open. Help us spread the word to folks who may be eligible for these funds. The program provides $1000 in cash assistance. Program eligibility and more here.
Restaurant week continues! If you are able, support a Ward 1 restaurant between now and February 7th.
Ready2Play Citywide Survey
DPR has reopened their Ready2Play citywide survey. If you have suggestions or feedback about the parks and recreation in Ward 1, you can share your thoughts here.
The application period for the Entertainment Bridge Fund Supporting Business Program has reopened to allow more businesses to apply. DMPED also adjusted the eligibility requirements to allow for sole proprietors who had received or been approved for PUA to apply.
Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program
Applications have opened for the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program. Space is limited and applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis through February 27.