It has been a very heavy week for our city. I am dedicating this newsletter to updating you on the tragic loss of a student in Ward 4 and to describing the important changes we made in the DC budget and how they impact our lives. We also have many upcoming local events: a family-friendly Petworth Arts Fest, Takoma Flea Market, our CARE Day in Chevy Chase, and more.
Responding to Tragedy in Our Community
Our community is heartbroken and outraged by the senseless killing of 17-year-old Roosevelt High School student Jefferson Luna-Pérez, who was shot outside the school on Wednesday. MacFarland and Roosevelt entered lockdown immediately and accounted for the safety of all other students as MPD, DC FEMS, the School Resource Officer, and school security staff responded to the incident. Then, after the area was secured, the schools and law enforcement coordinated a staggered dismissal of students. MPD officers, Safe Passage workers, and violence interrupters from the Office of the Neighborhood Safety all responded to the scene and are maintaining a presence in the area to ensure the safety of students arriving and departing from school. I also worked with DC Public Schools to ensure their Crisis Response Team provided mental health support and counseling to students and school staff after this tragic incident. My team and I were on scene shortly after the shooting and returned throughout the week to provide support to the school, parents, and nearby neighbors. Our deepest condolences are with Jefferson’s family and loved ones, as well as our entire Roosevelt school community. We cannot tolerate any degree of gun violence in our city, especially near our schools. When our children go to school, they deserve to come home.
Every agency and every community needs to be mobilized to keep our children safe. First, the individuals responsible for this horrific act need to be brought to justice. MPD has asked for the public’s assistance in identifying those responsible, so residents with information or video related to the shooting should report it to law enforcement by calling 202-727-9099 or texting 50411. The likelihood of someone being apprehended and quickly prosecuted is one of the most effective deterrents of crime, so we need more residents to come forward, investigators to close more cases, and prosecutors to consistently follow through on charges against those who perpetrate violence. At the same time, we also need to focus on taking action before a gun is fired. There need to be more interventions in the lives of young people before they make decisions that put their lives at risk. This week we secured funds in the DC budget to bring a ONSE Leadership Academy to MacFarland Middle School, which will promote positive youth development and divert at-risk students from community violence through mentorship and school-based services. Our budget also includes increased funding for social workers, mental health counselors, school nurses, after-school programs, school security infrastructure, and victim services to support students and their families.
I have had the opportunity to be with our MacFarland and Roosevelt school communities many times. They have incredibly dedicated educators and staff, and their students are bright, talented, and kind. So much learning and achievement happens at MacFarland and Roosevelt every single day. Now more than ever, our students need our community to keep supporting them. In addition to making our schools safe, our young people also need to feel seen, heard, and loved. We will keep showing up at their sports games, graduations, performances, science fairs, and events. And we will keep fighting for the resources that they need to thrive.
Major Progress Made in the DC Budget
In March, we received a proposed budget that decimated funding for rental assistance, legal aid, housing vouchers, public transit, traffic safety, services for domestic violence survivors and other crime victims, and many of our schools. This week we made major progress in the DC budget to address the unmet needs of our communities and restore critical programs that DC residents depend on. Your messages, your testimony at hearings, and our conversations throughout the past year have shaped my work on the budget, so I want to report on several areas where we made progress this week by working with Chairman Mendelson on his revised budget and the first Council budget vote.
- Preventing homelessness and displacement. The Mayor’s proposed budget only had $8 million for emergency rental assistance — an 81% cut from last year and barely enough funding to last one month. This is the primary program that prevents families in DC from losing their home when they are on the brink of eviction. The Council fully restored rental assistance funding to $43 million. We also added 230 permanent supportive housing vouchers to end homelessness for 150 individuals and 80 families in the District — up from zero in the proposed budget.
- Fully funding legal aid. Civil legal services prevent disaster in the lives of thousands of DC families — whether they’re facing eviction, being denied benefits they need, or experiencing domestic violence. These programs are very impactful. For example, legal aid attorneys successfully prevented evictions for about 70% of DC residents they supported. But the Mayor’s budget proposed cutting legal aid by 60%. Our budget fully restores funds for legal aid through the Access to Justice initiative.
- Reversing cuts to victim services. DC is already struggling to meet the overwhelming need for support for domestic violence survivors and other crime victims. The deep cuts to these services that were proposed would have denied survivors life-saving interventions when they need them most. Our budget restores victim services funding.
- Preventing cuts to Ward 4 schools. Many of our schools in Ward 4 and across DC were facing significant cuts in the Mayor’s proposed budget — despite having the same projected enrollment or even increased enrollment compared to the previous year. In other words, our schools would be losing invaluable educators and support staff despite having the same number or a greater number of students to care for. I criticized these cuts, which also violate the Schools First in Budgeting Act the Council passed last year. I am grateful that Chairman Mendelson and our Council added funding to ensure no school sees a cut next year. Schools like Barnard, Dorothy Height, Lafayette, LaSalle-Backus, MacFarland, Powell, Raymond, Truesdell, and Takoma will each have more than $400,000 in additional funding in their budget next year as a result. You can see how much additional funding each school received on pages 9-12 of the updated budget. The Council also added $15 million more to raise pay for educators at public charter schools, as well as $3.9 million for a flexible scheduling pilot in DC schools to help prevent teacher turnover.
- Funding traffic safety around all DC schools. Last year, we passed the Safe Routes to School Act to require major traffic safety upgrades and expanded school zones around all public schools in DC. The Council dedicated future traffic camera revenue to funding this bill and other important traffic safety legislation — under the principle that traffic camera revenue should be reinvested back into our communities for safer streets. The Mayor diverted that revenue into the city’s general fund instead, but I worked with Councilmember Charles Allen and secured $58 million to fund the Safe Routes to School Act and bring upgrades like speed bumps and raised crosswalks around all our schools.
- Launching overnight MetroBus service. 24-hour bus service is coming to DC! While the proposal to make MetroBuses free in the District has been postponed after it was left unfunded in the proposed budget and WMATA asked to delay it, our budget includes funding to run 13 of the most popular MetroBus routes 24 hours a day. The routes that will now run overnight include the 70, S2, 52, and 80 routes that serve many Ward 4 residents. The Council also restored all the DC Circulator routes that were set to be cut.
My update today focuses only on changes made to the DC budget this week. If there’s something missing, you’ll likely read about it in my full DC budget recap two weeks from now after the Council’s second budget vote. I’m particularly proud that the DC budget retains all the investments I made in our Committee on Facilities and Family Services, including more funding for school repairs, funding the School Security and Transparency Act, funding the Greener Government Buildings Act, fully funding the Safe Shores program, and raising pay for Home Visiting workers. Still, our work on the budget is not done. I’ll keep working with my colleagues until the final vote to further strengthen this budget and meet more community needs.
Takoma Music in the Park and Food Truck Friday
On Friday, May 19 from 6pm-8pm join Takoma Main Street at the Takoma Pollinator Garden (across from 6914 4th St NW) for Music in the Park with jazz singer Alison Crockett and Food Truck Friday with Takoma Station Wingery and Rocky Ice Cream. There are several great restaurants nearby to grab dinner, and Ms Kiki will be there with face painting for the kids!
Manor Park Community Cleanup
On Saturday, May 20 from 9am-10am 4B05 Commissioner Kevin Gilligan will host a community cleanup starting from 9th & Sheridan NW and focusing on surrounding streets. Bags, gloves, grabbers, and snacks will be provided. This is a family-friendly cleanup!
Petworth Arts Fest and Teddy Bear Picnic
On Saturday, May 20 at 10am-1pm Petworth Peanuts and the Petworth Arts Collaborative are teaming up for a Petworth Arts Fest and Teddy Bear Picnic at Sherman Circle. They will transform Sherman Circle into an engaging art space with live music, art demonstrations, and interactive art activities for all ages, including painting and nature crafts. RSVP on Facebook. Please also consider signing up to volunteer for an hour to help make this great event happen!
Takoma Flea Market This Saturday
On Saturday, May 20 from 10am-4pm Takoma Flea Market will take place on Grant Avenue in Takoma Park with an outdoor market of clothing, jewelry, housewares, furniture, records, and more — as well as great food options. Find event details on the Takoma Main Street website. This event was originally supposed to take place on May 13, but was postponed due to rain.
Local Authors Reading at Petworth Library
On Saturday, May 20 from 12pm-3:30pm Petworth Neighborhood Library will host a reading with three local authors and their recent works: Claudette Cox’s Love Knows No Boundaries, Robert J. Dantzler’s Grandma’s Hand Me Downs, and Itta’s Abscess in Her Left Breast by IZR Galmore. Book sales will take place in the parking lot after the event. Check out the flyer!
Meet the Artist Reception at Zenith Gallery
On Saturday, May 20 from 2pm-6pm Zenith Gallery (1429 Iris Street NW) will host a Meet the Artist Reception with Joan Konkel and her new exhibit Dimensional Dialogue running at Zenith through June 10. Joan Konkel uses aluminum sheet metal and finely woven mesh to form abstract works that interact with light. There will also be an earlier reception on Friday evening.
Sixteenth Street Heights Cleanup
On Sunday, May 21 at 12pm the Carter Barron East Neighborhood Association will host a neighborhood block cleanup of the 1200-1400 blocks of Madison Street NW. The event will kick off at Madison & 13th NW, and will be followed by lunch and drinks at Moreland’s Tavern.
Mental Health Awareness Movie in Shepherd Park
On Sunday, May 21 from 2pm-4pm Juanita E. Thornton Shepherd Park Library will host a family-friendly movie screening of “Inside Out” as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. Each family member will also receive a take-home craft. Bring your blankets and snacks!
CARE Day in Chevy Chase, Hawthorne, and Barnaby Woods
On Wednesday, May 24 from 4pm-7pm I will be hosting our Ward 4 CARE Day for Chevy Chase, Hawthorne, and Barnaby Woods, starting from Lafayette-Pointer Rec Center (5900 33rd St NW). Come join us for a resource fair with agencies, outreach to neighbors, constituent services support, and a day of bringing our community closer together. Please RSVP online.
Roosevelt High School Poetry Slam 2023
On Wednesday, May 24 from 6pm-8pm Roosevelt has its 3rd Annual Poetry Slam, Blooming Voices: Petals and Poets, at Lincoln’s Cottage (140 Rock Creek Rd NW). Come celebrate and support the Roosevelt community, culture, and pride with music, art, and poetry! They’ll have a DJ, food vendors and prizes. Please bring a blanket or chair, and get your tickets on Eventbrite.
Race, History, and Rock Creek: History of Jazz at the Carter Barron
On Thursday, May 25 from 5:30pm-7pm the Rock Creek Conservancy will host a virtual panel discussion exploring the history of jazz at Carter Barron Amphitheater. Local musicians and community leaders will discuss how the Carter Barron helped shape the local jazz community and explore what it meant for performers to play at the iconic venue. RSVP online.
Merry Pin Meet and Greet and Craft Night
On Thursday, May 25 from 6pm-8pm a group of neighbors working to bring a new craft store, community space, and coffee shop to Upper Georgia Avenue is hosting a free craft night (bring a craft you’re working on) and Q&A at Juanita Thornton Shepherd Park Library to bring people together, share crafting advice, enjoy snacks, and talk business. Optional RSVP on Facebook.
How to Organize a Neighborhood Block Party
On Thursday, May 25 from 6pm-7pm my office is coordinating a virtual presentation from DDOT on how to organize a neighborhood block party. With summer almost here, check out this great opportunity to build community and have neighborly fun. A Zoom link will be shared with those who RSVP. If you can’t make the training but still want to host a block party, Greater Greater Washington prepared this great guide. I’m looking forward to seeing you on your block!
Takoma Pride Community Cleanup
On Sunday, May 28 at 9am Commissioners Erin Palmer and Evan Yeats will host a community cleanup at Takoma Elementary to show some Takoma Pride. Join them as they pick up litter and submit 311 requests. Supplies, snacks, water, and donuts will be provided.
Visit your local Ward 4 Farmers Markets
Ward 4 has several great Farmers Market options every weekend. Check them out:
- 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
Grounds Maintenance Requests Can Now Be Made on 311
DGS shared this week that DC residents can now submit grounds maintenance requests via 311 for DC-owned facilities and green spaces like DPR parks and rec centers. Requests can include trimming bushes, removing fallen branches, and removing weeds. Residents can also check out DGS’ mowing map to track DGS’ progress on mowing DC land. In my Committee mark up last month, I advanced legislation requiring DGS to integrate grounds maintenance requests (and other services) into the 311 system so they can be more accessible to residents.
Lamond-Riggs Library Closed on May 20
Lamond-Riggs/Lilian J. Huff Library will be temporarily closed on Saturday, May 20 to allow for the installation of outdoor concrete benches. The work is expected to only last a day, with the library likely reopening on Sunday, May 21. There will be minor road closures and parking restrictions in the neighborhood during this work, as detailed by DDOT’s traffic control plan.
Updated Dates for Mutual Aid Grocery Distribution
Ward 4 Mutual Aid will be providing free gift cards, diapers, and other items at Brightwood Park UMC (744 Jefferson St NW) to the first 100 families that arrive on the following dates: Saturday, May 20 at noon; and Saturday, June 24 at noon. Thank you to everyone involved with Ward 4 Mutual Aid for your work supporting our community.
Uptown Pride 2023 Seeking Volunteers
Uptown Pride 2023 is coming to Ward 4 on Saturday, June 10 at Colorado Triangle (5500 Colorado Ave NW) and they are seeking volunteers for a variety of roles, including planning, organizing, coordinating with vendors, and assisting the day of the festival. All volunteers will receive a free inaugural 2023 Uptown Pride t-shirt and contribute to an amazing event.
Part of Fort Totten Park Remains Closed for Safety
Rock Creek Park NPS announced that a section of Fort Totten Park will remain closed after an NPS employee found two WWI-era military munitions in mounds of soil last month. The park will be temporarily closed east of Fort Totten Drive, south of Gallatin Street/Metropolitan Branch Trail, and north of Brookland Ave NE/Farragut Street with “No Trespassing” signs and fences installed around the area where the munitions were found. A majority of Fort Totten Park is still open for recreation, but visitors should stay on the Metropolitan Branch Trail and the grassy areas of the fort itself. NPS says it is implementing a partial closure out of an abundance of caution and while the US Army completes its investigation and determines the next steps.
Introducing the Ombudsperson for Children
An incredible resource we have in the District is the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children (OFC). OFC is an independent and impartial agency established by the DC Council to help youth, birth parents, foster parents, and other individuals resolve concerns with services provided to children currently or previously involved with CFSA. Their goal is to foster improved outcomes for CFSA children and families. Check out their website, online complaint form, and flyer — or reach out to them direct by emailing email@example.com.
Senior Citizen, Homestead, and Disability Property Tax Relief
I want to remind every eligible resident about DC’s homestead, senior citizen, or disability property tax deductions. Residents can apply online or use a paper form that’s accessible by calling 202-727-4829. Seniors over the age of 65 with household income below $149,400 can claim a 50% reduction in their property taxes!
Two Ward 4 Spray Parks Now Open
Some DC spray parks opened early this season to help keep families cool as temperatures rise. Our Ward 4 spray parks at Petworth Rec Center (801 Taylor Street, NW) and Lafayette-Pointer Rec Center (5900 33rd Street NW) are now open daily from 12pm-4pm. Here’s the citywide list of spray park openings. Other spray parks should open after Memorial Day!
Local News Links
DCist: DC Council Gives Initial Approval To 2024 Budget Amid Financial Challenges
City Paper: Proposed Budget Zeros Out $10 Million Program to Replace Lead Pipes
GGW: Block parties are the best of neighborhood life. Here’s how to throw yours in DC.
Next Stop… Riggs Park: Metro authorizes solicitation for Fort Totten joint development
Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street: Check out the traffic box art by San Miguel students
Petworth News: Enjoy a great music-filled event at Bourbon & Bluegrass on May 20-21
Washington Informer: Campaign for Public Library on Kennedy Street Enters New Stage
Channel 4: Migrants Bused From Texas Arrive at VP’s Residence as Title 42 Ends
Petworth News: Home Rule Music Festival returns to Walter Reed bigger and better
Washingtonian: 8 Must-Try Restaurants in DC’s Mini Mexico Corridor (Mostly in Ward 4)
DPW: DC’s Annual Truck Touch family event on June 3 at RFK Stadium
Ward 4 Dispatch: Small Businesses, Safety Updates, CARE Days, and Mother’s Day!
Our first Ward 4 CARE Day is officially on the books! Thank you to Manor Park neighbors, our amazing DC and federal agencies, and Commissioners Kevin Gilligan, Michael Cohen, and Tiffani Johnson for taking part in a day full of resources and community. Whether you stopped by our resource fair at Fort Slocum or met up with us at your doorstep, we enjoyed connecting with you and hearing about what’s top of mind for you. Our next CARE Day will be next Wednesday in Chevy Chase, Hawthorne, and Barnaby Woods. Ward 4 residents can sign up to take part in any CARE Day on my website. See you in the neighborhood!
Yours in Community,