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Ward 4 Dispatch: Black History Month, Safety News, and Two More Listening Sessions

Dear Neighbors,

We have quite a bit to unpack this week! Check out my updates on the Council, our community, Ward 4 events, our last two listening sessions, and DC services below.

Celebrating Black History Month

Happy Black History Month! This February and throughout this year, we reflect on the profound impact of Black history and culture on our city and our nation — and we draw on that history to effectuate change. We proudly remember that Black history is American history, and that Black history is also DC history. There is no shortage of ways to engage Black History Month this year across the District. DC Public Library has a whole host of Black history book events, screenings, resources, and curated books on its website for people of all ages. Additionally, the Office of Planning launched an interactive map featuring 300 important Black history DC landmarks with the people and events that shaped DC history and culture. There are Ward 4 art events focused on Black History Month, too, like Uptown Kickin’ It in Sixteenth Street Heights, Zenith Gallery’s Awareness exhibit in Shepherd Park, and a classic performance by Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble at Rhizome DC in Takoma. And more events are being coordinated by DPR, including the 37th Annual Black History Invitational Swim Meet at Takoma Aquatic Center.

Council Hearings: DCPL, DPW, DDOT, MPD

This was an action-packed week of Council performance oversight. I joined our hearings with DACL to press for improved services for our seniors; with MOLA to advocate for recruiting more Latino educators and culturally competent violence prevention workers; and with HSEMA to ensure we are safeguarding our schools and houses of worship from hate-fueled security risks. I was also proud to hear powerful testimony for our community in support of a public library on Kennedy Street at the DMPED hearing. Please check out the full performance oversight hearing schedule for February and sign up to speak at the hearing that matters most to you. Even if you cannot make it to a live hearing, you can still submit written comments by selecting “Submit Testimony” and then choosing “Record Testimony” (it only takes 5-10 minutes). Key upcoming hearings include:

Ward 4 Safety Updates and Secure DC

I also wanted to share some important public safety updates for our community.

  • MPD is seeking neighbors’ support with gathering video of a robbery and shooting at approximately 7:40pm on Thursday night at 16th and Upshur NW. Two masked individuals attempted to rob an individual traveling on 16th Street and shot his leg as he attempted to flee. Thankfully, the victim of this brazen attack was released from the hospital after being treated for their injuries. If you have any footage or information to help identify the perpetrators, please call 202-727-9099 or text 50411.
  • I also wanted to update our community about a tragic domestic violence incident on Tuesday night in a residential building on the 300 block of Cedar Street NW. A male suspect fired at a woman inside a unit in the building and then chased her outside before stopping and shooting himself. The man was pronounced dead, while the woman is in serious condition but is expected to survive. This was a painful reminder of the horrific violence that women face in our society and the urgent need to get guns off our streets.
  • This past Wednesday, MPD successfully arrested two teenagers accused of three carjackings, including a Monday carjacking outside the Petworth Safeway in Ward 4.

Next week, the Council will vote on Secure DC — sweeping legislation that draws from a dozen public safety bills and includes more than 100 interventions aimed at driving down crime. Over the past few days, Councilmembers have been discussing what changes are needed in the bill based on the input we have been receiving from DC residents. Councilmember Pinto is expected to release an updated version of the bill on Monday afternoon that reflects some of these changes. Then on Tuesday, the full Council will vote on the updated bill after debate and the opportunity for Councilmembers to offer amendments. As currently written, the legislation can help DC confront crime in several ways: strengthening our laws to make it easier to prosecute violent crime, adding investigation tools to help MPD close cases, and improving oversight and coordination across DC government. The bill also has some provisions that do little to improve safety and that I hope we can remove — like rolling back police transparency measures when it comes to officer misconduct. Thank you to every neighbor who has been weighing in with me about this legislation. Next week, I will update you about the final version of the bill and how it will impact public safety in the District.

Community Resources

Leaf Collection Begins in Section 4D on Monday

The final round of leaf collection in Section 4D starts next week — the week of February 5. If you live in Brightwood Park or Petworth (east of Georgia Avenue), please rake your leaves to your curb, tree box, or easement by Sunday, February 4 for DPW to collect. Neighbors can monitor progress on DPW’s online leaf tracker and report missed leaf collection via 311.

Review DPR’s Summer Camp Offerings

DPR has now released its summer camp offerings for Summer 2024! Please visit DPR’s dedicated website to check out the full list of summer camps and locations. Summer camp lottery applications will be open from February 12-26, and parents will be notified via email of lottery selection by March 1. This year, the DPR Summer Camp Lottery is happening earlier to provide families a two-week window to explore camp options and make their selections.

Apply for the Summer Youth Employment Program

Applications are now open for the Mayor Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program for DC youth ages 14-24! This is a great way for young people in the District to earn pay, gain valuable experience, and contribute to the work of our agencies, local businesses, and community organizations. Youth can apply for SYEP through March 6 and organizations can also apply to host SYEP participants.

DC TAG Applications Delayed to March 11

The DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DC TAG) program announced this week that it will begin accepting applications on March 11 — not February 1 as originally planned. That is because the US Department of Education will not make FAFSA information available until mid-March, and DC TAG relies on that information to determine student eligibility. DC TAG, which is also known as the DC OneApp, is a program that subsidizes the cost of eligible DC residents to attend out-of-state public universities, private colleges in DC, or private HBCUs nationwide.

Free Income Tax Help at DC Libraries for Seniors

The AARP Foundation is providing free income tax filing assistance for eligible seniors at libraries across the District until April 15. In Ward 4, the income tax help is offered at Petworth Library on Mondays and Fridays from 11am-4pm, and residents must make an appointment ahead of time by contacting 202-656-1341 or Review the list of participating libraries and the list of documents seniors should bring on DCPL’s website.

Other Helpful Tax Resources for DC Residents

With tax season upon us, I want to ensure you are aware of these additional resources:

Thanks to the Homes and Hearts Amendment we passed, the DC EITC gives DC residents 70% of their Federal EITC amount for 2023 — one of the highest match rates in the US.

District Government Winter Hiring Fair

DC government will host a winter hiring fair on Tuesday, February 13 from 10am-4pm at MLK Library (901 G St NW) with nearly 30 agencies and businesses participating. Candidates are required to register in advance. Check out all the employers and openings on DCHR’s website.

New DOES Unemployment Benefits System

DOES is set to launch a new unemployment insurance system on Monday, February 5 that aims to make it easier to apply for benefits and reduce fraud through a new identity verification component. Residents will now have a centralized portal where they can submit and request documents, file new claims or check the status of pending claims, and communicate with DOES staff. DOES is urging residents to verify their identifies through the DOES portal before February 5 to ensure they continue to receive benefits.

Become an Election Worker for $250 or Service Hours 

The DC Board of Elections is recruiting DC residents ages 16 and older to serve as election workers for the 2024 election. Election workers can earn up to $250 or 16 hours of community service hours, while also supporting our local democracy! Apply on the BOE website

Consumer Alert on Rental Fees and Protections 

Looking for a new place to rent? If you are, the Office of the DC Attorney General issued an important consumer alert on rental fees. Under DC law, landlords cannot charge more than $52 for an application fee, and junk fees or excessive fees after a lease is signed are prohibited. Additionally, late fees for late payment of rent cannot exceed 5% of your monthly rent and cannot be imposed until 5 days after the rent is due. Check out the full consumer alert for more. 

DDOT Is Now Ticketing Cars in Dedicated Bus Lanes 

DDOT announced that this week it started ticketing cars illegally driving, parking, standing, or stopping in dedicated bus lanes (typically marked by red paint and signs) with automated traffic cameras mounted on MetroBuses. In November, the agency started ticketing cars that park or idle in front of bus stops through the Clear Lanes program, and now it will apply the same enforcement to bus lanes — so please steer clear of the bus stops and bus lanes to avoid being ticketed. Each photo from traffic cameras is sent to DDOT to verify whether there was a violation before a ticket is issued, and tickets can be appealed. You can find a full list of current and future dedicated bus lanes on DDOT’s website, which also has a helpful FAQ. The Clear Lanes program aims to improve bus service and reliability — and to ensure that our bus stops are fully accessible (especially for seniors and riders with disabilities).

Neighborhood Events

Weekly Chevy Chase Farmers Market   

On Saturday, February 3 from 9am-1pm and every Saturday year-round, the Chevy Chase Farmers Market takes place at Lafayette Elementary (5701 Broad Branch Rd NW) and brings fresh, local food and goods to Chevy Chase neighbors. 

Monthly Takoma Community Cleanup

On Saturday, February 3 at 10am join 4B02 Commissioner Erin Palmer and neighbors for a Takoma Community Cleanup starting from Van Buren & Piney Branch NW (by Safeway). They will have supplies on hand, or you can bring your own. Kids are always welcome and service hours are available!

Summer Camp Expo and Health and Wellness Fair

On Saturday, February 3 from 1pm-4pm the 6th annual Summer Camp Expo and Health and Wellness Fair will take place at Shepherd Elementary (7800 14th St NW). Come check out some great local summer camps and health providers for your child! The event will be held in the school’s multipurpose room, and neighbors should enter through the blue doors on Jonquil Street. Check out this page for a full list of camps and vendors that will be present!

Listening Session for Lamond Riggs/South Manor Park

On Saturday, February 3 from 2pm-4pm I will host our community listening session for neighbors in Lamond, Riggs Park, and South Manor Park at Lamond-Riggs Lillian Huff Library (5401 South Dakota Ave NE). Sign up to join this event or our virtual event on February 7.

Artist Reception at Zenith Gallery for “AWARENESS”

On Saturday, February 3 from 2pm-6pm Zenith Gallery (1429 Iris St NW) will host a Meet the Artist Reception for its new exhibit celebrating Black History Month, AWARENESS: Through an African American Lens. The exhibit features the work of 11 separate artists, and this weekend’s opening reception will be followed by a series of artists talks every Saturday in February.

Ward 4 Youth Out Loud Poetry Slam (Cash Prizes)

On Saturday, February 3 from 5pm-7pm Day Eight will host a Ward 4 Youth Out Loud Poetry Slam open mic with cash prizes for middle and high school students at the Takoma Busboys and Poets. Following the slam, selected middle and high school students will be invited to participate in workshops with slam champion Regie Cabico to hone vocal, writing, and performance skills. Learn more and sign up to participate in the slam on Day Eight’s website.

Uptown Kickin’ It at Treehouse on 14th Street

On Sunday, February 4 from 12pm-3pm the new Treehouse space at 4722 14th St NW will host a free Uptown Kickin’ It community event featuring a free breakdancing workshop, arts and crafts workshops, and musical performances. Come be in community and mark the start of Black History Month. Thank you to Uptown Main Street for supporting the event!

Rock Creek Fungi Hike with the Weed Warriors

On Sunday, February 4 from 2pm-4pm the Shepherd Park Weed Warriors will host a special hike to learn about and celebrate the fungi in Rock Creek Park. Meet them at the Pine Trail entrance at 16th & Holly NW. Don’t forget to bring sturdy shoes in case the trail is muddy!

Ward 4 Listen As We Climb Virtual Listening Session

On Wednesday, February 7 from 6:30pm-8:30pm I will host a virtual community listening session for Ward 4 neighbors on Zoom. This will be our final Listen As We Climb event for the year — one more opportunity to share your priorities and ideas so it can drive my work on the Council and in our community. Sign up to receive the Zoom link for the event!

ANC 4B Crime Prevention Training and Resource Fair

On Saturday, February 10 from 10am-12pm ANC 4B’s Executive Committee will host a crime prevention training and resource fair at Friendship Ideal Academy PCS (6200 Kansas Ave NE). Neighbors are invited to learn practical self-defense and bystander intervention skills, get valuable information, and access safety resources. The training will include ANC Commissioners, DC agencies, MPD, and our Council office. Sign up to attend at this link.

Lamond Community Cleanup at Milligan Point 

On Saturday, February 10 from 10am-12pm newly sworn-in 4B10 Commissioner Jinin Berry will host a Lamond community cleanup at Milligan Point (Sligo Mill & Rittenhouse NE). If you live in the area, please come lend a hand in cleaning up the neighborhood! 

Emery Heights Hand Dance Valentine’s Party 

On Saturday, February 10 from 12pm-4pm DPR will host a Valentine’s Day Hand Dancing Party at Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW). Come celebrate love, friendship, and admiration by sending messages of love and having a Hand Dance party! 

Ward 4 in the News

Washington Post: DC Student Activists Are Pushing for Greener Schools

Greater Greater Washington: Curbside Composting Is Working in DC. But Don’t Knot Those Bags!

Petworth News: Porchfest is Coming on April 27 — Volunteer your Porch or Your Time!

Chevy Chase News and Notes: February 2024 Issue on Bioretention Beds, Chevy Chase Civic Core RFP, New Northwest Neighbors Village Director, and More

Washington Post: Shooting Hoops, Changing Perceptions: Roosevelt Students Face Off vs. FBI

Next Stop… Riggs Park: A Great List of Neighborhood Food Pantries Near Riggs Park

WMATA: Northern Bus Garage Project Winter Community Meeting on February 6

Washington Post: DC’s Most Significant Black Landmarks, According to Its Black Leaders

DCist: Despite Congressional Opposition, Non-Citizens In DC Celebrate Right To Vote

Washington Informer: Norton’s New Bill Exempts Those 70 and Older from DC Jury Duty

Post Opinion: The DC Court System is Breaking. Biden and the Senate Must Fix It.

DCist: Workers At A José Andrés Restaurant In DC Win Union Recognition

City Paper: Mysterious Author of a Crime-Focused Blog Has Upended DC Crime Debate

Washington City Paper: DC Housing Authority’s ‘Rent Reasonableness’ Tool Is Susceptible to Fake Online Ads, Leading to Inflated Voucher Payments 

Post: HUD Investigates Whether DC Landlords Overcharge for Voucher Units

Channel 9: Yes, DC Neighbors Are Using the New 211 Warmline

Channel 7: Petworth Resident Builds Incredible Lego Model of Dulles Airport

Ward 4 Dispatch: Come Testify, Ward 4 Listening Sessions, and Public Safety Updates

Sometimes the little things make a big difference… This gate at the playground at Takoma Rec Center was missing for years. My team and I made a point to set aside funds for this in the DC budget and coordinated with DGS to implement the overdue repairs. Good as new!

It means so much to me that neighbors are taking time to come to our Ward 4 listening sessions and share their priorities with me so it can drive my work as your Councilmember. Thank you to everyone who joined us, and don’t forget that we have two more events lined up in case you haven’t been able to make it yet.

Being part of Roosevelt High School’s Notable Natives panel discussion today was such a powerful way to start Black History Month. You cannot tell the story of DC’s Black history without celebrating our culture, our unity, and our empowerment. I am always honored to share a stage with these community leaders and to be in dialogue with our Ward 4 students. My message to them was simply a reminder that you are never too young to harness your power and your voice to bring about change.

Wishing you all a great and inspiring February!

Yours in Community,