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Ward 4 Dispatch: Budget Updates, ERAP Registration, and a Monumental Sports Deal

Dear Neighbors,

Happy Friday, Ward 4! As April quickly approaches, I hope you are able to find time to relax and spend some time outdoors with loved ones. Here are my updates from the past week and some news on things to come.

DC Budget Release

As was the case last week, we are still on the edge of our seats awaiting a budget release for the Council to review, and I hope to have more updates for you very soon. Once the Mayor’s budget is sent to the Council, we’ll begin to hold oversight hearings, including for the committee I chair, the Committee on Facilities and Family Services. Below, you can see our expected schedule for the Committee’s hearings. Click here to sign up to testify at our April 5, April 25, or May 2 hearing dates! Please keep in mind that it is possible we could still see slight changes in the exact dates. We expect the budget to be sent to the Council on April 3rd. However, we also know this is going to an extremely tight and complicated budget so we are preparing for any more last-minute changes that may come.

On Tuesday, we learned that DCPS will be forced to cut 200 school staff in the Mayor’s proposed budget. These cuts would take a toll on staff throughout our public schools, including our social-emotional educators, who play an integral role in making sure our students receive the educational support they need. I will continue to do everything in my power to protect our DCPS staff and encourage you to voice your support as well. If you’d like to attend next week’s hearing of the Committee of the Whole to give your testimony as the Council begins to review the budget, you can sign up using this link. The experience and testimony of our Ward 4 community members is one of the most important actions that can be taken to make sure our collective voices are heard and taken into account.

The Good and Bad of the 2024 DC Appropriations Bill

Last week, President Biden signed the final FY 2024 DC Appropriations Bill into law, solidifying the federal funding that will come to the city in the upcoming year. Thanks to our Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the bill included many victories for the people of DC, including $40 million for DC’s Tuition Assistance Grant Program, which helps countless DC residents afford the cost of college, and $4 million to help combat HIV/AIDS in DC. The federal funding for these programs, among others, will help DC grow and maintain important services for our community. However, the final text of the bill also includes two provisions that will undermine the progress we have made on our right to self-determination and raise serious concerns. The first would prohibit D.C. from spending local funds on abortion services for women with low incomes. The second would prohibit D.C. from spending its own funds on recreational marijuana commercialization. These two provisions will disproportionately harm people of color in DC and will worsen economic instability and inequality for many of our community members. Actions like these reinforce our resolve about the need to achieve full self-determination for DC. Anything less would deprive our community of our right to govern in the way we see fit and in the best interest of our people.

Monumental Sports Deal

On Wednesday, Monumental Sports signed a deal with the Mayor to keep the Wizards and Capitals in DC after initially announcing plans at the end of last year to relocate to Northern Virginia. Despite having serious concerns about the price tag of the deal, which involves the city paying $515 million to make improvements to Capital One Arena, I ultimately supported this measure and believe it is in the best interest of DC and its residents. The main reason for this is the economic value the deal would protect for DC. Beyond keeping our hometown teams at home and providing a source of fun and relaxation for our community, we depend on the revenue the teams bring to our local economy to fund important social programs for our city. Each year, these teams generate millions of dollars for the city, which can be used to fund services that stabilize families and help us build a more equitable community. At the same time, I was proud to advocate for protections for hundreds of union jobs at Capital One Arena, which are integral to keep in the city.

But even as we invest money into DC’s long-term economic future, we can’t let the urgent challenges facing members of our community get left behind. As we approach budget negotiations, it’s particularly important that the money our city brings in from sports and entertainment go back to the communities whose tax dollars make the teams’ existence possible. Protecting people’s access to services like good-quality public schools and affordable housing will always be at the top of my priority list. And just as we invest in keeping our professional teams in the city, DC must continue to invest in youth sports programs that give our kids a safe, healthy outlet, and make sure that revenue is distributed equitably to both women’s and men’s sports. 

Safety Updates

This week, there were several public safety alerts we were notified of in Ward 4. On Tuesday, we dealt with a gas leak that caused several buildings on Georgia Ave. NW to be evacuated. I’m thankful for the DC Fire and EMS for acting quickly to establish a safety zone and isolate the leak.

On Wednesday, we learned from ANC 4E Commissioner Rubio that a community member was assaulted and robbed by a group of teenagers in front of the Walmart on Georgia Ave. Several of the suspects were arrested, and detectives are focused on apprehending the remaining ones.

On Wednesday night, there was a robbery and shooting at a business in the 5100 block of Georgia Ave. MPD is working on apprehending the suspects involved. Sadly, as we learned Thursday night, the victim later died as a result of his injuries. I want you to know that I remain steadfastly focused on addressing the fears and concerns of the community in the wake of tragedies like these and I will continue to update you as I learn more information.

For news on these and other public safety incidents, please be sure to stay updated with alerts from MPD and DC Fire and EMS. I am immensely grateful to all of the first responders and community members who are working hard to keep their neighbors safe when events like these occur in our neighborhoods.

Community Resources

Applications for Rental Assistance 

On Monday, April 1 at noon, the Department of Human Services will reopen applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). DHS is accepting double the number of applications in this cycle. However, due to high demand, we expect the portal to reach its limit and close to new applications within just a few hours. That means any applicants should make sure you’re ready to submit your full application at noon on April 1. The next application cycle will not be until July 1 with about 4,000 application slots available. Learn more about what you will need to apply on the ERAP website.

  • For those who need assistance submitting their ERAP applications, DHS will be offering an in-person application clinic on April 1. The clinic will be held at Martin Luther King Jr. Library at 901 F Street NW and will run from noon until 5pm, or until 8,500 applications have been submitted. 

DC Curbside Composting Pilot Program

The DC Department of Public Works is offering participants in the Curbside Composting Pilot Program one free 5-pound bag each of finished compost for gardens, potted plants, and landscaping. Participants in the program will automatically receive the compost delivery, but anybody who is not interested can opt out here.

DPW Community Conversation

The Department of Public Works will be holding its second 2024 quarterly Community Conversation on April 24 at 6:30pm. DPW has decided to extend its deadline for submitting questions and concerns that will be addressed at the meeting. If you’d like to submit any comments ahead of the Community Conversation, you can do so here.

Proposed PEPCO Electric Rate Hike Public Hearings
The Public Service Commission will be holding three public hearings on PEPCO’s application to increase rates for electricity. One of the public hearings will be held at the Lillian J. Huff Lamond-Riggs Library at 5:30pm on Wednesday, April 2. Information on how to sign-up to speak at the hearing or request ADA or Language Access accommodations can be found here.

DDOT E-Bike Subsidies for Eligible Residents

From April 1 through April 15, DDOT will be accepting applications for the District E-Bike Incentive Program, which provides up to $2,000 for DC residents to buy electric bicycles (e-bikes) and supports bicycle businesses in the District. The first phase of the program is limited to DC residents on SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, or DC Healthcare Alliance. In the unlikely event funds are still available after this initial phase prioritizing lower-income residents, a second application window will open that any DC resident can apply for. Learn more about the program, application process, and pop-up events on DDOT’s website.

Apply for Tuition Support from DC

Applications opened last week for DC Futures, DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DC TAG), and the Mayor’s Scholars Undergraduate Program. These are three popular tuition support programs for DC residents pursuing higher education. Applications for all three programs were delayed because the federal government delayed releasing this year’s FAFSA to mid-March (instead of January). In response, DC shifted the timeline for applications to DC Futures, DC TAG, and Mayor’s Scholars to accommodate the change. Learn more and apply!

DCPL Solar Shades Giveaway

In anticipation of the April 8th solar eclipse, the DC Public Library will be giving away solar sunglasses to community members starting on April 1. Swing by the Benning Library to snag your solar eclipse kit while supplies last!

Neighborhood Events

First Responders Basketball Game!

Tonight, Friday, March 29 at 6pm, MPD officers and DC firefighters will compete in a First Responders Basketball Game at Riggs-LaSalle Rec Center (501 Riggs Rd NE). The event will feature free food and drinks, games, a live DJ, job recruitment, and a kids game tipping off at 5pm. Special thank you to ANC 4B Chair Alison Brooks for helping coordinate this event alongside ANC 4B. Come cheer on your favorite side and show support for our community!

Rock Creek Park Hike

On Sunday, March 31, the Shepherd Park Weed Warriors, who work in coordination with DOEE and DPR to care for our public green spaces, will be organizing a hike in Rock Creek Park from 2-4pm to see the blooming wildflowers. Meet at the Pine Trail entrance at 16th and Holly St. NW and reach out to with any questions!

DC Water Rate Adjustment Town Halls

Over the next several weeks, DC Water will be holding a series of virtual and in-person town halls to give community members more information about DC Water’s budget and proposed rate adjustment for next year. Virtual meetings will be held on April 4 and April 30 on Microsoft Teams. Learn more about the town halls and sign up here.

Roosevelt High Host Families

From May 28 – June 1, Roosevelt High School will host 16 students and 3 chaperones from Homburg, Germany. Roosevelt High is looking for families who would be interested in hosting students in their homes for the duration of their stay. Responsibilities would include providing dinner during the week and meals on the weekends, taking part in activities on the weekends, and answering questions about DC and the United States in general. For families who are interested, sign up here!

Summer at the City

On Saturday, April 6 from 11am to 2pm, the Office of the Mayor and the Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes will be holding the second annual “Summer in the City,” at Raymond Elementary School. Parents and families of school aged kids are invited to connect with government agencies, nonprofits, and community organizations and learn about the summer programs available to their students for the upcoming months. 

For more local events, check out DPR, DC Public Library, and NPS.

Ward 4 in the News

Street Sense Media: DC affordable housing resources face scrutiny at oversight hearing

WJLA: Fifth District sees 3 arrests after second round of MPD’s drug-free zones expire

Petworth News: The Farmers’ Market is getting ready to open — volunteer, play music and vend!

Petworth News: Councilmember’s Corner: DC programs we should all know

The Washinton Post: ‘This is a drug free zone’: Enforcement of new D.C. law divides neighborhoods

Looking back on the week, and amidst anticipation of the mayor’s upcoming budget release, it was full of good news and great community engagement, as well as hope for the weeks ahead. On Monday and Tuesday, my team attended weekly ANC meetings to update community members on our ongoing legislative and constituent services work. On Wednesday, I was able to meet early childhood educators and activists and was inspired by the tireless work they do every day to help our students succeed. On Thursday, I was thrilled to start my day by spending some time reading to the students at Whittier Elementary School, and even get to appear on their student-led news show to answer questions about my work on the Council and give advice to our ambitious and talented kids. 

On Tuesday, I was heartbroken to see the devastation in Baltimore after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. I’m grateful for the response of first responders to help our neighbors and have been keeping all of those impacted in my thoughts over the past week.

It’s also Easter weekend, a special time of the year for those who celebrate. I will be spending time with loved ones and hope that whatever your weekend may hold, you are able to do the same. 

In the meantime, you can expect next week to be a busy one here at the Council, so stay tuned for much more!

Have a great weekend, Ward 4!

Yours in Community,