It is springtime in Washington: hypothermia shelters have closed for the season; the cherry blossoms have come and gone; oak pollen has sent allergy sufferers into great misery; and we at WLCH are frantically advocating with the DC Council members to protect vital safety net programs.
While by some measures it appears that the country is climbing out of tough economic times, a close look at the FY 2012 budget proposal that Mayor Gray has submitted to the DC Council would suggest otherwise. To close a projected $330 million budget gap, the mayor has proposed a combination of revenue enhancements and program cuts. As has been the case historically, the cuts fall disproportionately on the programs upon which low- and no-income District residents rely: homeless services; supportive housing; rent supplements; TANF; child care; Interim Disability Assistance (IDA)…and more. Challenging times are far from over, and our clients stand to suffer greatly.
The grim details….
The Mayor’s proposal hides a 20% shortfall in funding for homeless services, which, if approved as is, will result in severe reductions in critical services for District residents who are homeless. We already are seeing the potentially life-threatening result of these cuts, as the Department of Human Services (DHS), in anticipation of funding shortfalls next year, has begun to deny shelter to families whose only alternative is the street, a bus station or a building stairwell. If the Mayor’s proposal is approved, DHS will continue to deny families access to shelter except on the coldest winter nights and may be forced to completely close down shelters for single men and women except in hypothermia season. This will put over 300 District families and 1200 District single men and women on the streets, endangering the lives of children and vulnerable adults and increasing costs to the District in terms of emergency room visits, police or Child and Family Services involvement, and other government services. All this at a time when resources supporting permanent affordable housing are also in jeopardy.
But that’s not all. The proposal now before the Council eliminates IDA, which provides temporary cash benefits to adults with disabilities who have applied for federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and are awaiting an eligibility determination, which can take more than one year. As many as 2,900 DC residents received IDA in recent years, and 1,500 were receiving benefits at the start of 2011, but all recipients would be cut off as of October 1st under the pending proposal.
Cuts to TANF will jeopardize the well-being of thousands of children and their parents who have had difficulty securing employment, and cuts to child care will make obtaining and retaining a job all the more difficult.
What you can do…
We urge you to raise your voice and call upon the DC Council to increase FY 2012 spending for homeless services by $20.5 million, so all shelter programs stay open. Let the council know that our community will not stand by to watch those few remaining threads of the District’s safety net be shredded.
Call or send the email message below to the DC Council on Thursday, May 5 from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. (See below for council member emails and phone numbers) Urge all of your networks to do the same!
No child should have to live (or perhaps die) homeless on the streets of our nation’s capital. Only with your partnership and support can we avert such a tragedy.
Thank you for standing with us in this important effort.
For more information about the Mayor’s proposed budget for FY 2012 and its impact on critical homeless services and other programs, click here or contact the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless at 202-328-5500.
Email Message for City Council Members
Subject: Don’t Decimate Homeless Services!
Body of email:
I am asking that the D.C. Council increase the Mayor’s proposal for homeless services spending by $20.5 million in order to maintain the current level of homeless services and avoid life-endangering cuts.
If the D.C. Council enacts the Mayor’s proposed budget as is, the Department of Human Services (DHS) will likely be forced to close all shelters for single men and women except during hypothermia season. While some family shelters will remain open, DHS will be unable to place any newly homeless families in shelter except during hypothermia season. This will put over 300 District families and 1200 District single men and women on the streets, endangering the lives of children and vulnerable adults and increasing costs to the District in terms of emergency room visits, police and Child and Family Services involvement, and other government services.
This is simply unacceptable. Please increase the Mayor’s proposal for homeless services spending by $20.5 million (without cutting other life-saving programs) so that the current level of services for our neighbors facing a housing crisis can be maintained.
Your Name and Address
Kwame Brown (Chairman) 724-8032 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Vincent Orange (soon to be at-large) 529-1962 or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
David Catania (at-large) 724-7772 or email@example.com
Phil Mendelson (at-large) 724-8064 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Brown (at-large) 724-8105 or email@example.com
Jim Graham (Ward 1) 724-8181 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Evans (Ward 2) 724-8058 or Jackevans@dccouncil.us
Mary Cheh (Ward 3) 724-8062 or email@example.com
Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) 724-8052 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Thomas, Jr. (Ward 5) 724-8028 or email@example.com
Tommy Wells (Ward 6) 724-8072 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Yvette Alexander (Ward 7) 724-8068 or email@example.com
Marion Barry (Ward 8 ) 724-8045 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Budoff, Council Budget Director 724-8139 or email@example.com
To facilitate your group email, please cut and paste the addresses below:
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Jackevans@dccouncil.us; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; jsaucedo@DCCOUNCIL.US; nstreeter@DCCOUNCIL.US; AMAIER@DCCOUNCIL.US; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Jholland@dccouncil.us; CMcPherson@DCCOUNCIL.US; firstname.lastname@example.org; JPittman@DCCOUNCIL.US; NRodgers@DCCOUNCIL.US; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com