This week I am sharing an important update on arrests made in connection to the deadly shooting on Longfellow Street last month. This month we also have important changes to the hours and services offered at Fort Totten Transfer Station. Sadly, we are starting to see evictions return to our community, so I included a detailed update on tenant protections. Meanwhile, the next two weeks include key Council hearings on education governance, my legislation to address abandoned vehicles, police accountability bills, a student vaccine mandate, and more. Be sure to sign up or submit written comments to make your voice heard!
And this weekend, like all others in Ward 4, includes plenty to do! We have a community cleanup in Petworth, as well as an outdoor movie screening (weather permitting) and concert at newly-redone Lorenzo Allen Park! I also want to encourage everyone to stop by your local Farmers’ Market this weekend before they wrap up for the season. I’ll be at Chevy Chase Farmers’ Market myself early tomorrow to chat with neighbors. And if you’re eligible, be sure to get your COVID vaccine booster and flu shot to help keep our community healthy!
Ward 4 News
Arrests Made in Connection to the Shooting on Longfellow Street
I have an important update to share related to the tragic shooting on Longfellow Street that claimed the lives of three of our neighbors. Two of the individuals suspected of last month’s mass shooting on Longfellow Street have been arrested and were arraigned yesterday at DC Superior Court. Both individuals were charged with First-Degree Murder. More arrests are expected to be made. We are grateful for the efforts of MPD, federal agencies, and community members to identify those responsible. Accountability is important for our community to heal from this tragedy and send a clear message that these senseless acts will not be accepted.
Violence is never the answer. It robs young people of their future, leaves families mourning their loved ones, and traumatizes entire communities. And it only incites more cycles of violence that devastate everyone in their path. We all deserve safe communities that allow all of us to thrive. If we only focus on responding to shootings after the fact, we will fail to end gun violence. Everything we do as a community must be about changing the conditions, unmet needs, and brokenness that fuel violence — to stop people from picking up a gun in the first place. Let us keep marching together towards lasting peace through transformative change.
Brightwood Park was recently announced as a focus area for the Fall Crime Prevention Initiative, which is bringing more public safety resources to the neighborhood. This comes after I wrote to the Mayor last month asking for DC agencies to support our community with several issues – and after every At-Large Councilmember requested for Kennedy Street to be made part of the Building Blocks gun violence prevention initiative. For a comprehensive look at how we are responding to gun violence with short-term and long-term strategies – and how you can help – please look at the graphic above and read my community safety update from September 10. We continue to share our condolences with the loved ones of Keenan, Donnetta, and Johnny, and we remain a resource to their family and friends.
New Hours and Service Changes at Fort Totten Transfer Station
As of this month, Fort Totten Transfer Station has shifted its residential drop-off hours to Mondays through Fridays from 10am-2pm and Saturdays from 7am-2pm. In addition, Fort Totten Transfer Station is no longer accepting household hazardous waste and electronics recycling. Residents can instead bring hazard waste and electronics to Benning Road Transfer Station, which is located at 3200 Benning Rd NE, on Saturdays from 7am-2pm. Document shredding will take place only at the Benning Road Transfer Station on the first Saturday of every month between 7am-2pm, starting on November 6, 2022. For more information, please check out DC DPW’s website. My office has been in touch with DPW to encourage them to disseminate this information more widely to residents who will be affected, and to ask for expanded hours for hazardous waste and electronics recycling.
Movies and Live Music Coming to Lorenzo “Larry” Allen Park!
After cutting the ribbon on a revamped and rededicated Lorenzo “Larry” Allen Memorial Park, I’m excited that the park will host two great events this weekend that are open to our entire community! On Saturday, October 16 at 6:30pm there will be an outdoor movie screening of Disney and Pixar’s film Soul. Keep an eye of the forecast for Saturday since the event will be postponed if there is inclement weather and right now there’s a chance of rain in the forecast. Meanwhile on Sunday, October 17 from 1pm-6:30pm Larry “Larry” Allen Memorial Park will host a free Fall concert featuring three great local bands: The Treads, American Nomad and the Mongrels. Safeway Pharmacy will be offering free COVID and flu shots at the event. And Engine Company 24 “Pride of Petworth” will be stopping by with one of their fire trucks! Lorenzo “Larry” Allen Memorial Park is located at between Illinois Avenue, Gallatin Street, and 9th Street. Thank you to Commissioner Zach Israel, ANC 4D, and DPR for their efforts to plan these two great events!
Evictions Return to DC. STAY DC Funds Running Out So Apply Now!
This has been a particularly hard week for our community because we have been seeing evictions restart in Ward 4. My team has been rushing to homes to stave off evictions and secure more time for residents. After the Mayor ended the public health emergency that included DC’s freeze on evictions, the Council instituted a phased set of tenant protections. Those protections are now starting to lapse. Last month evictions that were scheduled to begin prior to the pandemic were allowed to resume. Starting this week, landlords can now file to start the process for new evictions over nonpayment of rent, which could have a devastating effect given how hard this crisis has impacted many of our neighbors.
As a starting point, I wanted to share some important rights and resources that tenants have.
- A landlord must submit a STAY DC application for rent assistance on behalf of their tenant and must provide a proper Notice to Vacate before filing for an eviction over nonpayment of rent.
- A landlord can only file for eviction over nonpayment of rent if the rent owed is at least $600.
- Landlords cannot increase rent in DC until after December 31, 2021. Since landlords need to provide a minimum 30-day notice before a rent increase can occur, higher rent cannot be charged until February 2022.
- Tenants who want legal advice or representation about eviction issues should call the Landlord Tenant Legal Assistance Network at 202-780-2575. They offer free intakes on Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm. For tenants with scheduled eviction dates, an attorney can connect you to rental assistance and help delay your eviction until the money comes through.
- You can also reach out to the Office of the DC Tenant Advocate with questions about your rights.
- Utility shutoffs can only take place if you owe more than $600, the company has reached out to you about your options, and you are ineligible for utility assistance and other benefits programs like SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, or DC Alliance.
- Tenants can have their eviction cases over nonpayment of rent dismissed if they apply for rental assistance through STAY DC.
However, last night we found out that STAY DC is running out of funds and will stop accepting applications on October 27. While DC is applying for additional rent relief funds from the federal government, there’s no guarantee that we will receive it. That’s why it’s very important for everyone who is behind on rent, can’t cover future rent payments, or owes water, gas, electricity, and internet utility bills to apply for STAY DC before the October 27 deadline. Please spread the word to your friends and neighbors who may be out of work or struggling to make the bills. Because so many of our tenant protections hinge on STAY DC, the Mayor and the Council must consider how to respond to the reality that rental assistance funds are running out.
I’m also putting out an open call for volunteers to do outreach to tenants in our community who are at risk of eviction. If you have some time to spare to help prevent our neighbors from eviction with our office or housing organizations, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking into the DCPS Clearance Backlog and a Promising Update
Earlier today along with nine of my colleagues on the Council, I sent a letter to DCPS Chancellor Ferebee about a reported backlog in the clearance process for staff and volunteers. We support DCPS doing its due diligence to vet its employees and outside staff and volunteers who work with children, but the process shouldn’t take weeks and months to complete. One Ward 4 school was unable to onboard all of its teachers by the first day of school, and many others have had to limit their afterschool and tutoring programs because of these delays. I asked for an explanation for the backlog, a list of schools awaiting staff clearances, and further description on how DCPS is streamlining the process moving forward.
Later in the day we received some good news: DCPS is contracting a new vendor to address its clearance issues! The new vendor is expected to start their work in November 1. I’m hopeful that this change will improve process times, and I will continue to monitor timeliness so our Ward 4 schools can have the staff and volunteers that they need.
Council Hearings Soon: Abandoned Vehicles, Education, and More
With Council back from recess, there are some key hearings coming up on important legislation. Check out the link provided for each hearing to see how you can testify or submit written comments for the record. I look forward to hearing from Ward 4 residents!
- Thursday, October 21: Judiciary Committee hearing on police accountability legislation
- Tuesday, October 26: Committee of the Whole hearing on our legislation to make the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) an independent agency and education governance changes
- Tuesday, October 26: Committee on Transportation hearing on our legislation to improve DC’s handling of abandoned vehicles and the confirmation hearing for DDOT Director Everett Lott
- Wednesday, October 27: Committee of the Whole hearing on legislation to create a vaccine mandate for DC students
- Thursday, October 28: Subcommittee on Redistricting hearing on redistricting in Ward 4
Petworth Neighborhood Cleanup. On Saturday, October 16 at 10am, Commissioner Paul Johnson (4C07) and Clean City DC are teaming up for neighborhood cleanup! Meet them at Triangle Park (Kansas Ave & Taylor St NW) as they clean the park and the surrounding network of alleys. Bags, gloves, pickers, rakes, brooms, and shovels will be provided!
Petworth Movie Night at Lorenzo Allen Memorial Park! On Saturday, October 16 at 6:30pm the recently refreshed Lorenzo Allen Memorial Park will host a free movie night featuring the film “SOUL.” The movie night is brought to you by Commissioner Zach Israel and DPR’s Roving Leaders. RSVP at this link!
Live at Larry Allen Memorial Park! On Sunday, October 17 at 1pm-6:30pm Lorenzo Allen Memorial Park will also host a free concert featuring three bands: American Nomad, The Mongrels, and The Treads. Come enjoy some great tunes as a way to celebrate our community! They’ll also have COVID vaccines and flu shots available at the show. The concert is presented by ANC Commission 4D. RSVP here!
Fall Festival at First United Church, The Church of Champions. On Saturday, October 23 from 10am-4pm First United Church, The Church of Champions (7901 16th Street, NW) will host their annual Fall Festival! Several local entrepreneurs will be present with custom and handmade items just in time for the holiday season. In addition, they are partnering with Safeway to administer the Pfizer vaccine to area residents. Learn more on their website.
Takoma Community Cleanup: Spooky Edition. On Sunday, October 24 at 4pm Commissioner Erin Palmer (4B02) will host a costumed community cleanup starting at the intersection of Van Buren St & Piney Branch Rd NW. Community service, costumes, and roasting marshmallows all rolled into one!
Council Hearing on Redistricting in Ward 4. On Thursday, October 28 at 10am the Council Subcommittee on Redistricting will hold a virtual public hearing dedicated to redistricting Ward 4. Sign up to testify at this link by 5pm on October 26. Find more details about the hearing here. Make your voice heard! For more info on the redistricting process, check out this piece in Petworth News.
4th Annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration in Petworth! On Saturday, October 30 from 9am-1pm join the Petworth Arts Collaborative at the Petworth Farmers Market (9th & Upshur St NW) for a spectacular day of Altar Making Workshops, Calavera face painting, live performances, and more! Our community will gather to remember lives lost, to celebrate life lived, and honor our loved ones. Thank you to Eddie Suarez of Compass Realty for sponsoring the event, Laurie Bailer of Bailer Design and Maria Mandle of Creativecouch Designs for organizing and producing, The Petworth Community Market for hosting, and District Bridges for supporting!
Ward 4 Weekly Farmer’s Markets. We have:
- Tuesdays at 11am-2pm: Produce Stand at The Parks at 6922 Georgia Ave NW
- Saturdays at 9am-1pm: Petworth Community Market at Upshur St & 9th Street
- Saturdays at 9am-1pm: Uptown Market at 5500 Colorado Ave NW
- Saturdays at 9am-1pm: Chevy Chase Farmers Markets at Lafayette Elementary
- Sundays at 10am-2pm: Farmers Market at the Parks at 6922 Georgia Ave NW
New Dialing Procedure for Customers with the 202 Area Code begins October 9! All customers with the 202 area code should prepare for mandatory ten-digit dialing on October 9, 2021. All local calls made within the DC 202 area code must be placed using ten digits (area code + the seven-digit telephone number). On and after this date, calls placed using seven digits will not be completed. That’s because DC residents are getting an additional area code with the digits 771. Find more details here.
DC Health Advises Eligible Residents to Receive Their Booster Shot! DC Health has issued a press release encouraging eligible residents to get their third COVID vaccine booster shot. The CDC had already recommended that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system) receive three doses of a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The updated guidance now advises additional following groups to get their booster shot too. Details here.
The Parks at Walter Reed Neighborhood History Project. The Parks at Walter Reed is partnering with the DC History Center on a history-gathering project in fall 2021 to uncover historical facts and stories from the people and neighborhoods surrounding the former historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Specific focus will be placed on stories from the historically Black communities surrounding the campus in the neighborhoods of Shepherd Park, Colonial Village, Brightwood, North Portal Estates, Takoma, and environs.
Do you have stories to tell? Know a neighbor or friend who does? Please get out your photo albums and come to one of three community meetings this fall:
- Saturday, October 16 at 9-11am
- Wednesday, October 27 at 7:30 to 9:30pm
- Thursday, November 4 at 7:30 to 9:30pm
To receive updates on the process, fill out this brief form. Info about the project will be kept up-to-date on the website. Questions or suggestions on who we should talk to? Contact Rachel Davis at email@example.com.
This past weekend was a reminder of the incredible faith communities we have in Ward 4 and the vital role they play in bringing us together. I gathered with the good people of Mount Zion Baptist Church to celebrate the incredible life of Pastor John Davis, a beloved spiritual leader, veteran of World War II and the Vietnam War, and caring friend to those on the margins of our society. Then I joined St. Paul AME Church as they celebrated 165 years of nurturing faith, furthering education, and work in the pursuit of justice.
Finally, I wanted to thank everyone who helped make Down in the Reeds Festival such a beautiful day full of music, community, and art! Word has it that the attendance tripled compared to the inaugural festival in 2019 with close to 3000 attendees throughout the day. Shoutout to all the artists, vendors, sponsors, and everyone who came out to be part it. And special thank you to Chris Naoum and his team for their vision and hard work to plan this amazing festival.
Yours in Community,