Budget season is over and it’s been a pretty exciting ride. This year, the D.C. Council really stepped up and, through restorations and investments, supported many programs relied upon by low-income and no-income D.C. residents.
The Council put $4 million into the tenant-based Local Rent Supplement Program in order to provide permanent affordable housing to about 250 homeless families in the District and open up much-needed space in emergency shelters to accommodate families that are currently in crisis and not able to access shelter. The Council also delayed TANF cuts and added new exemptions to sanctions so that families who are in crisis and cannot currently obtain employment (such as families caring for a child with a disability full-time or families experiencing severe domestic violence) will not be penalized. While the Council did not fill the $7 million gap in homeless services, it did keep this funding as the #1 priority on the Council’s “wish-list.” We remain hopeful that the $7 million will be restored with the next revenue forecast. For a full list of budget wins by the Fair Budget Coalition, see here.
One thing is certain. We would not have accomplished these wins without the hard work and commitment of our partners, our clients, and concerned community members like you who put in the effort to make the calls, send the emails, show up at the D.C. Council, and talk to friends and neighbors about the difficult choices faced by D.C. residents every day.
We want to extend the greatest thanks to the community members who bravely shared their personal stories of struggle on this blog, in testimony before the city council, and at visits with councilmembers and their staff. Any success we’ve had in getting our city leaders to prioritize the needs of D.C. residents is a testament to their compelling advocacy.
Budget season may be over, but there is still much work left to be done. Over the next few months, we will be monitoring the city agencies to ensure that families are moved efficiently into housing, that the TANF redesign is working properly to serve our clients, that shelter capacity for single men and women is not reduced, and that all shelter residents are given the supports they need to return to self-sufficiency. D.C. still has a long way to go to live up to its commitment as a Human Rights City, but if this budget season is any indication, we’re headed in the right direction.
Check this blog all summer to stay informed of ways you can help fight for a more just and inclusive D.C.