We have an action-packed weekend coming up with back-to-school giveaways, Emery Heights Community Day, an outdoor jazz concert at The Parks, a kickball game in honor of Linda Harllee Harper, and Councilmember office hours at Petworth Community Market. I also report back on how DC government is responding to the unsafe living conditions in some apartment buildings and what more needs to be done. We also have a new ANC Commissioner in Riggs Park and DPR Fall Program registration starting next week!
Back-to-School Giveaway at Emery Heights Community Day
This Saturday, August 12 all roads lead to Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW) for the Ward 4 Back-to-School Giveaway and Emery Heights Community Day! The giveaway will feature free backpacks, books, and school supplies for children who need them (while supplies last). I am grateful to be partnering with Coach Lou, the Friends of Emery, our Ward 4 State Board of Education Rep Frazier O’Leary, and several community partners on this event for our Ward 4 scholars. In addition, Emery Heights Community Day is one of the great traditions of Ward 4 and is not an event to miss! Bring your lawn chairs and small canopy tents to enjoy entertainment for all ages, including performances from the DMV’s top live bands, an outdoor fitness exercise led by Gowgo Fitness, games and activities for kids, and live wrestling by C3W Wrestling. Let’s bring our community closer together and ensure all of our Ward 4 scholars have everything they need to hit the ground running. See you there!
Confronting Dangerous Housing Conditions
A recent Washington Post story shined a powerful light on what many Ward 4 residents already knew: residents in some apartment buildings in our community and across the District face dangerous, undignified housing conditions every day. These conditions are the outcome of a multifaceted failure by DC government to properly monitor and protect the housing that some of our most vulnerable residents depend on. The issues at these properties were partly fueled by DCHA’s past policy to overpay landlords to house voucher holders — as much as $2,648 a month for a small apartment in Petworth or $2,520 a month for a 350-square-foot unit in Sixteenth Street Heights. These rates were not even close to market rent, and they incentivized landlords to take over and gut existing affordable housing in our community — including rent-controlled apartments — then lease most or all units to voucher holders to make big profits even as building conditions decayed and residents suffered.
The article details how residents at these properties face inadequate security, broken doors, drug dealing and human trafficking, overdoses, assaults, and non-residents coming and going into the building as they please. These security breaches violate residents’ fundamental right to live in safe and dignified homes. The residents at these properties who I met are rightfully frustrated and desperate for conditions to improve. There is no doubt that our neighbors need stronger action from across DC government to address these issues.
I want to outline the interventions that are needed to make a difference at these buildings and others in similar situations. I described some of these in my letter to the DC Housing Authority (DCHA), the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Buildings (DOB), and the Office of the DC Attorney General (OAG).
- Ending excessive overpayments to landlords that fuel this crisis. After a major HUD report, investigative reporting, and legislation we co-introduced at the Council, DCHA updated its policy to pay reasonable rents for units instead of overpaying. The new policy went into effect in July but only applies to newly-leased units. Currently-leased units will keep their existing rates until a new resident moves in. So while the change will be gradual, the new policy will ultimately undermine the current business model of filling buildings with voucher holders, profiting at their expense, and neglecting their needs.
- Holding landlords accountable for security and housing conditions. If you profit from our community, you have an obligation to fix broken doors, ensure residents are safe in their own homes, and provide dignified housing. That’s non-negotiable. DOB has been stepping up enforcement at these properties, including inspecting both 13th Street properties this week, citing the landlord for violations, and committing to hold the landlord accountable if they are not resolved within a specific timeframe.
- Addressing units that undermine the safety and wellbeing of other residents. Residents and their families should not have to fear drug dealing, overdoses, threats, and assaults in their own apartment building. While a landlord can pursue eviction proceedings for residents who violate their leases by committing criminal acts, DCHA can also use the same evidence of criminal behavior to take action to address these incidents when the unit in question benefits from a housing subsidy. DC needs to fairly and effectively enforce the rules it has to place to safeguard the safety of residents.
- Facilitating improved services to meet residents’ needs. Some residents at these properties need more consistent wraparound services than they have been receiving. I am asking DHS and DCHA to work together to ensure all eligible residents are receiving the case management and support services they need. It is critical that we meet all of our neighbors’ needs, including those that go beyond housing.
- Use DC’s nuisance property statute to require improvements. For nearly a year, I have been working with the Office of the DC Attorney General to investigate some of these properties as nuisance properties, including coordinating an in-person visit so OAG officials could see these conditions first hand and hear directly from residents. While OAG’s engagement has yielded some positive commitments, conditions overall have continued to worsen and crime has escalated on the property. I am urging OAG to take the next step and file a nuisance lawsuit as an important lever to force the improvements that are desperately needed.
- Continued patrols and enforcement from MPD. MPD has been conducting enforcement actions to address criminal activity in the building and will continue to do so. I have also briefed the new Fourth District Commander about the importance of continued patrols around these properties to mitigate public safety issues.
Safe and stable housing is essential. Right now, residents in these buildings are being failed by our city. And that failure is exacerbating the public safety crisis, overdose crisis, and housing crisis that DC faces. We need stronger action from all of DC government to make this right.
New 4B09 Commissioner in Riggs Park
This week I had the honor of swearing in Derrick Thompson as our new ANC Commissioner in Riggs Park — filling a recent vacancy in Single Member District 4B09. Derrick can be reached at 4B09@anc.dc.gov, and his Single Member District includes the Riggs Park Walmart, LaSalle-Backus Elementary, and Riggs-LaSalle Rec Center. Thank you for stepping up to serve our community, Commissioner Thompson!
DPR Fall Program Registration Starts Next Week
Interested in DPR programs for the fall? Registration kicks off next week at 12pm on Tuesday, August 15 for aquatic programs and 12pm on Wednesday, August 16 for fitness, tennis, after-school programs, and more. Set your alarm to grab a seat in your favorite program before slots fill up. Reduced Rate Applications are also available, and families can receive up to 75% off all fee-based programs. Check out DPR’s website for more information and to register.
Special ANC 4C Meeting on Proposed Medical Cannabis Cultivation Center
On Wednesday, August 16 at 6pm-7:30pm ANC 4C will host a virtual special meeting to consider the license application for a Medical Cannabis Cultivation Center at 821 Upshur Street NW. At the meeting, Commissioners will be able to hear directly from the applicant, Mr. Anthony Woodland, about his plans for the property and ask questions. If a quorum of ANC Commissioners are present, a vote on whether or not to protest the application from the position of the ANC will be taken at the end of the meeting. The location of the proposed facility is a vacant basement warehouse space at the rear of 821 Upshur Street NW — not the Upshur Street-facing retail space currently occupied by Petworth Social Bar & Grill. If approved, the center will cultivate medical cannabis indoors, but it will not be open to the public. Learn more from ABCA’s protest notices on page 6. Be sure to RSVP to receive the Zoom link for the meeting. ANC 4C has also released a community survey for neighbors to weigh in.
Vote on a Ward 4 Commemorative Project
Residents can now cast their vote to decide which Ward 4 individual, event, or organization will be commemorated as part of the Ward 4 Commemorative Project. The nominations were submitted by Ward 4 residents earlier this year, and they include the DC Caribbean Carnival on Georgia Avenue, the Highway Revolts, Neighbors Inc, United Blacks Against Discrimination, the Founding of DC Youth Orchestra, Ms. Vanilla Beane, and Mr. Stephen Whatley. The winner will be commemorated on public space in Ward 4. Visit the DC Office of Planning’s website to learn more about each nomination, the potential locations, and to cast your vote.
Dismissing Parking Tickets from Citi Open
After a successful Mubadala Citi DC Open last week, I want to again thank our Ward 4 neighbors for your patience and hospitality, the Ward 4 MOCRs and my team for supporting with neighborhood logistics, and all the amazing players, organizers, volunteers, and tournament staff. If you were mistakenly ticketed for parking in restricted zones during Citi Open, send the ticket information to Sophia and Derek so they can have it dismissed: Sophia.Tekola@dc.gov and Derek.Johnson@dc.gov.
Weigh In on the 14th Street Bus Project Concept Design
DDOT has released its initial concept design for the 14th Street Bus Priority Project (from Newton Street to Arkansas Avenue NW). DDOT chose between three potential concept designs based on the community input it received and the design’s ability to meet the project’s goals, which include improving the reliability of bus service and improving traffic safety along 14th Street for all roadway users. You can review the entire concept design on this map, and you can find DDOT’s latest presentation on the project at this link. Neighbors can provide feedback or ask questions by filling out this feedback form (be sure to specify which project you’re commenting on) or by emailing email@example.com.
Free Dental Services Available for Seniors
One of the most important investments we made in the DC budget was providing free dental services for seniors in DC through Community of Hope. Seniors aged 65 and older who have no dental insurance coverage are eligible for all services — including crowns and dentures! Seniors with Medicare coverage or private insurance that does not include dental coverage may also be eligible for free dental services depending on their income. Interested seniors can review the flyer or call 202-540-9857 to get more information or book your appointment.
Don’t Forget Pediatric Immunizations for the New School Year
DC Health is reminding parents and caregivers across DC to ensure their children obtain the necessary immunizations that are required for school. The best place for families to get required childhood immunizations is through their medical provider. However, DC Health has expanded access to vaccination services to include: school-based health centers (for students ages 3 and older), District mobile medical units at various locations, and pediatric immunization clinics throughout the city. All pediatric immunization clinics are free, but insured families should bring their insurance cards to their immunization appointments.
Councilmember Office Hours at Petworth Community Market
On Saturday, August 12 from 9am-10:30am my team and I will be at our Petworth Community Market at 9th & Upshur NW hosting community office hours. I’m looking forward to hearing from neighbors on their ideas, concerns, and constituent services requests before heading to the Kickball Game at Raymond Rec Center and our Back-to-School event at Emery Heights Community Day. I hope you get the chance to come by and say ‘hello’!
First Baptist Church School Supply Giveaway
On Saturday, August 12 from 10am-2pm First Baptist Church (712 Randolph St NW) will host a school supply giveaway event to distribute school supplies for children in our community who need them. Just be sure to get there before they run out of supplies! Thank you to First Baptist Church for giving back to our community in this and so many other ways. Check out the flyer.
Final Summer Saturdays with City Blossoms on Kennedy
On Saturday, August 12 from 10am-12pm City Blossoms will host a final Summer Saturdays event in their studio garden at 516 Kennedy St NW (accessible through the alley on 5th Street). This is a free, kid-driven, community event with nature play, reading, recipe-making, garden art, plant care, and more summer activities. Check out all the details on the event’s flyer.
Black Mamas Wellness Community Day
On Saturday, August 12 from 10am-1pm Councilmember Christina Henderson and the Arika Trim Foundation will host a Black Mamas Wellness Community Day at Bard High School Early College (1351 Alabama Avenue SE). This is a free event open to women at every stage of motherhood and their families. Resources will include doulas and lactation support, pre- and post-natal yoga, mom support groups, mental and physical health, and back-to-school readiness for children ages 3-18. Thank you to our At Large Councilmember and Ward 4 neighbor Christina Henderson for hosting this great event. Be sure to RSVP online.
Ice Cream Making Demonstration at Peirce Mill
On Saturday, August 12 from 11am-12pm the Friends of Peirce Mill will host an Ice-Cream Making Demonstration at Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park. “Watch the ingredients being poured into the dasher, learn about the brine that freezes the cream, and take a turn cranking the handle to make old fashioned ice cream.” A historic recipe by Thomas Jefferson with modern adaptation will be available, and there will be ice cream treats for kids after the demonstration.
“Kicking Gun Violence to the Curb” Kickball Game
On Saturday, August 12 from 11am-3pm Mute the Violence and several other organizations, including my office, will host a peaceful kickball game at Raymond Rec Center (3725 10th Street NW) in honor of the late great Linda Harllee Harper. In addition to the kickball game, the event will also feature music, food, drinks, raffles, and more.
Zenith “The Three Graces” Meet the Artists Reception
On Saturday, August 12 from 2pm-6pm Zenith Gallery (1429 Iris St NW) will host a meet-the-artist reception for The Three Graces, Zenith’s new exhibit that runs through September 2 and features the extraordinary work of Mitzi Bernard, Marija Djakovic, and Barbara Baron Rubin. Please RSVP for the meet-the-artist reception on Eventbrite, and visit the exhibit on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday from noon to 6pm (or by appointment).
Jazz in the Parks at Walter Reed
On Saturday, August 12 from 5pm-8pm the Parks at Walter Reed will host their next Jazz in the Parks outdoor concert on the Great Lawn, this time featuring Washington Bach Consort and Amy K. Bormet’s Washington Women in Jazz as the main act. Bring your own picnic, blanket and refreshments, and enjoy local food vendors and giveaways. RSVP via Eventbrite.
Northern Bus Garage Project Summer Meeting
On Monday, August 14 from 6pm-7pm WMATA will host its Northern Bus Garage Reconstruction Project Summer Community Meeting at Petworth Library (4200 Kansas Ave NW) to share updates on construction and field questions from neighbors. RSVP online.
Traffic Safety Walkthrough with DDOT
On Tuesday, August 15 from 4:30pm-6pm I will be visiting four intersections to assess traffic safety improvements with DDOT: 14th & Longfellow NW at 4:30pm, 14th & Delafield NW at 4:50pm, Illinois & Emerson NW at 5:20pm, and the 1300 block of Quincy Street NW at 5:40pm. The times listed are estimates depending on how quickly we move through each stop. If you live nearby, join us any of these stops to share your insights on how to improve safety.
Ward 4 CARE Community Day in Brightwood
On Wednesday, August 16 from 4pm-7pm I will be hosting our Ward 4 CARE Day for Brightwood, starting at Fort Stevens Rec Center (1327 Van Buren St NW). Come find us there for resources from DC agencies, door-to-door outreach to neighbors, constituent services support, and a day of bringing our community closer together. RSVP if you plan to join us.
Summer in the Parks at Fort Slocum Mini Oasis
On Thursday, August 17 from 6pm-8pm the Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service will host a Summer in the Parks event at Fort Slocum with picnics, music, games, and other activities. These Fort Slocum events will take place every Thursday in August, so stop by.
Farmers Markets in Our Ward 4 Community
Get your fresh goods and crafty products at our Ward 4 Farmers Markets:
- Uptown Farmers Market at 5501 Colorado Ave NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Chevy Chase Farmers Market at Lafayette ES on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Petworth Community Market at 9th & Upshur NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Takoma Park Farmers Market at 6931 Laurel Ave on Sundays from 10am-2pm
- Whittier Farm Stand at 6201 5th St NW on Tuesdays from 3:30pm-5:30pm
Ward 4 in the News
Washington Informer: Boxing Coach Shows Support for Conflict Resolution Legislation
DCist: Here’s How DC Restaurants Are Supposed To Disclose Service Fees
Washington Post: As DC Opens Sobering Centers, Advocates Push Bolder Action on Opioids
City Paper: Child Care Workers Say They’re Getting Shortchanged by DC on Salaries
El Tiempo Latino: Mount Pleasant, en Washington DC, tendrá un parque con nombre latino
New Yorker: The War on Cities
DDOT: Question-and-Answer Document on MBT Fort Totten to Takoma Extension
NCCF: Zion Baptist Church Awarded Humanitarian Spirit Award for Volunteerism
Petworth News: Groovy Record Store with Coffee Shop, Bar, and Food coming to the 200 Block of Upshur
PopVille: La Coop Coffee Shop moving to 500 Kennedy Street, NW
Washingtonian: DC Best “Hidden Gem” Restaurants, Featuring Chacho in Ward 4
DC News Now: Countdown to Kickoff: Coolidge Colts Football Team
DDOT Traffic Advisory: Temporary Closures on Rittenhouse Street NW for DC PLUG
DC Public Library: DCPL Offering Free Citizenship Classes at MLK Library
Ward 4 Dispatch: 14th Street Bus Project, Petworth Jazz, Takoma Gym, and Citi Open Finale
After a busy week, today I had the chance to visit some of our Ward 4 scholars participating in a Zine workshop hosted by the Gard Lab at our Lamond-Riggs Lillian J. Huff Library. I know that our future is bright when we have creative and talented students like these at the forefront.
I want to thank all the Brightwood Park neighbors who made time to be part of our Ward 4 CARE Day this week at Lorenzo “Larry” Allen Memorial Park and the surrounding neighborhood. I really enjoyed chatting with you about everything from lead pipe replacement and STEM education programs to public safety and improving city services. Special thank you to our agencies and to Commissioner Chrysanthe Courniotes and Commissioner Aman George from the mighty ANC 4D for being part of it all.
I also want to remind everyone that August is National Black Business Month. Ward 4 is blessed with many amazing Black-owned businesses that we can go out and support. Which Black-owned business in our community is your favorite?
I am excited to see many neighbors on Saturday at Petworth Community Market, the Kickball Game at Raymond Rec Center, and Emery Heights Community Day. Whether you stop by any of our events or not, have a fun and relaxing weekend!
Yours in Community,