The Council is officially back from recess and we’ve got lots of legislative updates to share with you. We also resumed our CARE Day activities yesterday and had great conversations with Riggs Park and South Manor Park neighbors and the Maple Heights community. And though it is wonderful to be back in the full swing of things with in-person community meetings and activities resuming, unacceptable violence continues to weigh heavy in our community. I’ve got updates to share with you on how my office is working to promote safety in the Ward. Read on with my latest dispatch:
Ward 4 News
Recess is Over: Upcoming Legislative Highlights!
The Council’s summer recess ended yesterday so hearings, votes, and legislative meetings are back in full force. I filed the Requirement to Provide Notice of Intent to Remove Public Litter Containers Amendment Act of 2022 yesterday to establish a community-driven and transparent process for the removal of public trash cans after so many neighbors saw bins mysteriously disappearing this summer. For this Tuesday’s legislative meetings, I plan to file bills relating to school work orders, weekend access to school-based pools, transit support for schools undergoing modernizations, and paving plans for paper alleys.
On Tuesday’s agenda for the Council’s legislative meeting, my DCPS Technology Equity Act will receive its second and final vote – I proposed this bill last year to expand access to technology for students and educators in our schools. We will also vote on legislation to authorize the Mayor to provide services such as temporary shelter and health care to migrants arriving in the District, revisions to District traffic laws intended to enhance safety, and an expansion of paid leave benefits for District government workers, among many other measures.
As hearings resume for the fall, mark your calendars for these September hearings that may be of interest – hearing witness RSVP instructions are included in the linked hearing notices:
- September 22: Condominium Warranty Claims Clarification Amendment Act of 2022
- September 28: 9– 1-1 Operations at the Office of Unified Communications (roundtable)
- September 30: Protecting Adjacent and Adjoining Property Owners from Construction Damage Amendment Act of 2022
- SVAE THE DATE – November 17: Green New Deal for Housing Amendment Act of 2022
Responding to Gun Violence
Over the past few weeks there have been multiple shootings at (or nearby) 7th and Kennedy, the Petworth Metro, and 14th and Spring. Like you, I’m disheartened, enraged, and exhausted by the continued gun violence hurting our communities day after day. I grew up on Kennedy Street, born and raised, so my passion for its growth and prosperity are personal. Everyone deserves to be safe where they live, where they socialize, and when they commute. That starts with prioritizing areas where resources and attention are lacking.
I held a Public Safety Strategy meeting at the start of the summer to bring our government agencies directly to the Ward so you could learn about their efforts and better understand how the government is structured to support neighborhoods’ needs. It was also an opportunity for the community to provide constructive feedback to our agencies and safety partners to improve their effectiveness. The meeting was recorded and posted here.
I have also been hosting neighborhood Community Access, Resource & Engagement (CARE) Days since early spring to build community connections after two years of isolation and to bring government agencies out to our Ward to see first-hand some of the challenges that need sustained government attention and investment. Our Petworth and Brightwood Park CARE Days are coming up in October so I hope you’ll join me to check in on neighbors and get our community connected to resources.
But let me get more specific about my efforts to promote safety in our communities:
- I have worked with the Office of the Attorney General to issue a nuisance property citation of the 5th and Kennedy strip mall at the center of much of the gun violence; the property has been required to enhance security measures and the OAG is currently pursuing litigation to bring them into compliance. (learn more)
- I secured funding in last year’s budget for a new violence intervention team (through Cure the Streets) to work in Brightwood Park and Petworth.
- I have engaged DC Health, DPW, and DCRA to do more regular sweeps of the corridor to ensure businesses and homes are up to code, and cars are not abandoned or loitering and becoming havens for illicit activity.
- I have worked with the MPD 4th District commander to press for more community foot patrols and secured funding in this budget to bring more CCTV cameras to 4D.
- I hosted a job fair last summer on Kennedy Street to bring local employers and our Department of Employment Services directly to the community
- I wrote to the Mayor last September to plead for additional services and a “Building Blocks” style approach to the violence on Kennedy Street.
- I have requested more lights, cameras, and security presences of WMATA at and around the metro entrance
- I have encouraged the OAG to file a nuisance complaint against the neighboring market
- Based on overwhelming community feedback at the June safety meeting, I have urged MPD’s presence at Petworth to be visible on foot and bike patrol versus only relying on car-based strategies
- As above, I secured funding for security cameras and a violence intervention team and I have called on the teams serving Petworth to broker a cease fire with feuding crews both to the north (in Ward 4) and south (in Ward 1)
14th & Spring
- I regularly work with DCRA to abate, clean, and board up the vacant Carolina restaurant lot and continue to notify the agency any time I see there are access points to property. The lot continues to face penalizing tax rates for remaining vacant and blighted.
- I have requested DCRA and MPD to investigate known slumlords in the neighborhood whose properties are harboring illegal guns and drugs
- I have engaged DBH to have a more regular presence in this area to engage neighbors facing addiction and involved in drug deals.
- I have called on DPW to more regularly sweep alleyways in this area; clean, well-lit alleyways can discourage problematic loitering behavior.
I am far too familiar with the challenges facing these high-violence areas in our Ward as I try to make personal visits to a victim’s family and impacted neighbors after major traumatic events. It never gets easier, but the mission gets clearer about the types of interventions and services we must bring to our neighborhoods.
As a member of the Legislative Branch of government, I rely on our Executive Branch (the Mayor and government agencies) and Judicial Branch to bring those comprehensive sets of safety services to our community; I also rely on them to respond with urgency when a safety-related concern is brought to their attention. And that is why I continue to organize community building events that bring our agencies together in the Ward to collectively problem solve to improve public safety. This is the work I will continue to do and I ask that you collaborate with me whether its by filing 311 requests, emailing agencies when their attention is needed or when a service is sought for a family member or neighbor in need, and by hosting and participating in community building events in our Ward.
Deadline this TUESDAY, September 20: $10k-$14k Early Childhood Educator Payments
Last summer I co-led the Council in passing the Homes and Hearts budget amendment, which included major pay increases for early childhood educators and applications are now open for those pay supplements, worth $10,000-$14,000 per worker. Visit osse.dc.gov/ecepayequity to learn and get your application in no later than 5pm on September 20.
Additionally, just this week, the DC Health Benefit Exchange announced that they will be partnering with OSSE licensed child development centers to provide free or low-premium health care beginning January 1. The HealthCare4ChildCareinitiative is able to be funded through the same revenue raised by the Homes and Hearts amendment. Now is a great time to pursue a career as an early educator!
Apply ASAP for Homeowner Assistance Funds
If you fell behind on mortgage payments, condo fees, property taxes, utility bills, or other housing costs during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for federal homeowner assistance. The Homeowner Assistance Fund(HAF) can cover up to $120,000 in homeowner debts (per household), including debts incurred pre-pandemic! Please don’t wait to get the help you need; you must complete your application for homeowner assistance by September 30th to prevent any form of foreclosure from moving forward. Learn more and apply today at www.HAF.dc.gov
Hispanic Heritage Month
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your family by picking up a craft kit at Takoma Park Library this weekend. The kit will include a Papel Picado craft, Ojo de Dios Craft, Crossword Puzzle, and more! They will be available at the Library’s front desk, while supplies last – kit is recommended for ages 8 and older.
Grants for DC Social and Racial Justice Organizations
The Diversity City Fund is a grantmaking organization dedicated to transforming systems and sparking social change for racial justice and liberation in DC. They are currently accepting grant applications from local organizations and coalitions for fall grants of $5,000-$15,000. Deadline is September 30th.
$10,000 Small Business Grants
Beginning October 1, Comcast RISE Investment Fund will be accepting applications for small business grants to support locally-owned businesses owned by people of color and women. 100 DC businesses will win these funds so help spread the word in our Ward 4 community to give a boost to our small and local business community!
Chevy Chase Day
Find fun for all ages at Chevy Chase Day tomorrow, Saturday, September 17 from 1-4pm at the Chevy Chase Civic Plaza on Connecticut Avenue. Festivities include zumba dancing, face painting, chair yoga, bounce houses, a zydeco band, and more – all free!
No Debts, No Doubts Legal Aid Clinic
Head to the Petworth Library on Saturday, September 17th 11am-12:30pm for a free legal clinic hosted by Tzedek DCon managing aggressive debt collectors, consumer lawsuits, and credit report problems. Meet with a pro bono lawyer by signing up at the library to discuss your unique questions or situation during clinic hours.
Racial Equity in Zoning Training
Join EmpowerDC for two online learning session on applying a racial equity lens to zoning and development. Sessions areSeptember 17 (1-2:30pm) and September 20 (10-11am). Learn more at tinyurl.com/RacialEquityInZoning.
Art of Noize Exhibit Opening
Check out the opening of “Spirit Force: Keeping the Peace” at Art of Noize in Petworth this Saturday afternoon,September 17 from 3-6pm. Mixed media artist George “Shomari” Smith will feature recent works over light refreshments. This free event is family friendly.
Come on out this Sunday, September 18 from 11am – 5pm for this fun and free neighborhood festival organized by and for the residents of Petworth — see you at 9th and Upshur to celebrate the creativity, diversity, culture, and people of Petworth and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Sherman Circle Clean Up
Join neighbors at Sherman Circle Park at 9am Sunday, September 18 for a community organized clean up of the circle. Clean up supplies will be provided by National Pak Service.
Crestwood Jazz at the Triangle Event
On Sunday, September 18 from 5pm-7pm the Crestwood Citizens Association will host an outdoor jazz concertfeaturing trumpeter Brandon Woody at Triangle Park (Argyle & 18th NW). Seating will be limited, so bring your own picnic blankets, folding chairs, or camping chairs.
North Portal Estates/Colonial Village CARE Day
RSVP to join me in knocking doors Thursday, September 22 from 4-7pm to connect with neighbors in Colonial Village and North Portal Estates to share resources, problem solve with DC agencies, and bring our community closer together. Meet up location will be at the corner of Kalmia Road and E Beach Drive (1735 Kalmia Rd).
Save the Date: Ward 4 Art All Night!
Presented by the Department of Small and Local Business Development and DC Main Streets, Art All Night is back for 2022! Enjoy a smorgasbord of free live music, art installations, cultural experiences, fashion and crafty vendors all evening Friday, September 23. Petworth events will run 5-11 pm. Riggs and Manor Park (“The Parks”) and Upper Georgia Avenue events will run 7-11 pm (volunteer withUpper Georgia Ave Main Street). Uptown events will run 5 pm – 12 am. More events happening citywide!
I had a great time visiting Ida B. Wells Middle School this week to hear how the start of school was going. Principal Lyles and I discussed everything from academics to sports to traffic to teacher retention – it’s great to have such an inspiring educator leading our newest middle school! Looking forward to cheering on the Well Wolves at a game soon.
I look forward to seeing everyone this weekend at Chevy Chase Day, Lincoln-Thomas Day, and Celebrate Petworth this weekend! I pray for a safe and joy-filled weekend for everyone in our city.
Yours in Service,