We made it to the weekend! My update this week centers on key takeaways from our budget oversight work, a recap of the Council’s legislative meeting, and important community resources you should know. Also, Ward 4 is not letting the warm weather go to waste: we have more than 30 events lined up, including many Egg Hunt events and community clean ups.
DGS Budget Oversight Hearing
This week I chaired the Council’s annual budget hearing on the Department of General Services (DGS). We started the day with public witness testimony, including Tischa Cockrell of the Friends of Riggs-LaSalle Rec Center and others who underlined the maintenance issues in our public facilities, schools, and parks. Others spoke out on specific projects like the upcoming DC Archives, investments in public restrooms, and the Eastern Market building. We also heard from several performing arts students at Jackson-Reed High School — including their award-winning teacher, Mr. Iwaniec — advocating for repairs to be made to their auditorium. Then we welcomed newly-appointed Acting Director Delano Hunter (formerly of DPR) and his team to testify on behalf of DGS. Director Hunter shared details about the Mayor’s proposed $431 million FY24 budget for DGS, including an increase in school maintenance funds and a targeted “work order reduction” initiative that the agency is launching this fall. Overall, I am encouraged about investments DC is making to do more preventative maintenance next year. I will work with Director Hunter to reduce response times for all work order requests, and I will use the committee mark-up process to make more improvements to DGS’ budget. DC has some excellent facilities, but it is critical that we step up our game when it comes to repairs and maintenance. Our students and our residents deserve nothing less.
Last Week of Budget Oversight Hearings
Next week marks the last week of budget oversight hearings at the DC Council, and there is still time to sign up for some important hearings focused on public safety, victims’ services, our DC Public Library system, and a hearing focused on the DC budget as a whole. Check out the full schedule and sign-up instructions on the Council’s website, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help signing up. Please make your voice heard, Ward 4!
- Wednesday, April 12 at 9am-12pm: Deputy Mayor for Public Safety & Justice (DMPSJ), Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONSE), and Office of the Attorney General (OAG)
- Thursday, April 13 at 9am-6pm: Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG) and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC)
- Thursday, April 13 at 12pm-3pm: DC Public Library
- Friday, April 14 at 9:30am-3pm: Committee of the Whole on the DC Budget as a whole
DC Council Legislative Recap
On Tuesday the Council had its monthly legislative session. Because it’s still early in the Council term, few bills have made it through the legislative process, but I wanted to update on some of the measures that we voted on:
- Together with Councilmember Robert White, I introduced and passed emergency legislation to ensure that recently-arrived migrant families in DC have safe and healthy living conditions, access to baby formula, and can receive support with relocation services if they choose to stay in the District. The emergency bill also prevents longtime immigrant DC residents from being wrongfully denied homelessness services.
- The Council passed a bill that decriminalizes street vending and lifts barriers to licensing so street vendors can safely sell their goods without fearing arrest or huge fines. This also frees up MPD resources to focus on violent crime. Many street vendors are our Ward 4 neighbors, and they make our communities more vibrant and inclusive.
- We also passed many resolutions, including my resolution designating April 2023 as Child Abuse Prevention Month to emphasize the need to ensure every child in DC has a safe and supportive environment free from violence, abuse, and neglect. This is a critical part of my work as chair of the Facilities and Family Services Committee.
The Council also tried to pass emergency legislation to limit next month’s massive rent increases of up to 8.9% for more than 80,000 DC residents living in rent-controlled apartments — but the Administration blocked the measure using a budget technicality. In DC, the Council can only pass emergency legislation if it doesn’t have a fiscal cost for District government, or if the Executive branch agrees to absorb the cost within its existing budget. In this case, the cost was negligible: $30,000 for one temporary employee to process some extra paperwork. DHCD is an agency with more than 170 full-time employees in a government with more than 30,000 employees. But the Administration was unwilling to set aside even one temporary employee to limit these steep rent hikes on the senior citizens, lower-income families, and Black and Brown residents who disproportionately live in rent-controlled buildings. So the measure was blocked.
We will need to make better decisions as a city to prevent even more of our neighbors from being displaced. I am frustrated by this outcome, but we do not have time to rest. We now need to fight to reverse proposed cuts to emergency rental assistance and other housing programs in the DC budget. We also need to pass transformational legislation like the Green New Deal for Social Housing Act that delivers truly affordable housing for the people of DC.
Expanded Hours at More Ward 4 Rec Centers
DPR is expanding hours at several more Ward 4 rec centers after Emery Heights Community Center added 39 more operating hours each week. Starting Monday, April 10, our rec centers at Raymond, Chevy Chase, and Riggs LaSalle will be open 9am-9pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on Saturdays — and Shepherd Park will be open 12pm-8pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on Saturdays. Meanwhile, starting April 24, Upshur, Petworth, Takoma, and Lafayette-Pointer will also have expanded hours from 12pm-8pm on weekdays. At our oversight hearing with DPR this week, I called attention to the urgent need to also reopen the Youth Side of Fort Stevens Rec Center, which plays a critical role in supporting our young people in Brightwood but was left off of DPR’s initial announcement. I am grateful that DPR committed during the hearing to reopen Fort Stevens this spring.
Tax Reminders for Tax Season
As we get closer to April 18, I want to remind neighbors who are eligible to apply for the Senior Citizen Property Tax Deduction to reduce property taxes for our seniors, as well as the Homestead and Disability Property Tax deductions under the same program. This is a really important year for lower-income families to file their taxes because in January DC will start providing eligible families a new monthly cash payment program by doubling the District’s local match to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefit. I co-led the Council in passing this program through the Homes and Hearts Amendment, and you can learn more about it this dedicated website. Also, Ward 4 residents can receive free income tax prep assistance from the AARP Foundation at Petworth Library on Mondays and Fridays from 12pm-4pm by appointment only. Visit this link or call 202-656-1341 to book an appointment.
Public Litter Cans Being Reinstalled in Ward 4
Following up on legislation I introduced and strong advocacy from our ANC Commissioners, DPW has started reinstalling public litter cans that were removed from Ward 4. Is there a public litter can that was removed from your neighborhood and should be reinstalled? You can now request a public litter can to be installed on the 311 website, 311 mobile app, or 311 call center under Public Space Litter Can Installation. Let your ANC Commissioner know you’re submitting the request because they will be asked to weigh in on the request by DPW.
Shepherd Playground to Close for Repairs
On Tuesday, April 11 Shepherd Playground will close for surfacing repairs and is set to reopen later this spring. DPR will alert the community once repairs are done, and residents can also sign up for DPR Alerts by texting DCDPR to 888777.
No Pets Allowed on Roosevelt Field
Our school communities are reminding neighbors that pets are not permitted on Roosevelt field on Iowa Avenue. Please keep in mind that this field is primarily used by our Ward 4 students, who deserve a clean and hygienic field to exercise and play. We have other great parks!
Ward 4 Mutual Aid Grocery Distribution
Ward 4 Mutual Aid continues to step up for our community. They will be providing free gift cards, diapers, food, and other items at Brightwood Park United Methodist Church (744 Jefferson St NW) to the first 100 families that arrive on the following dates: Wednesday, April 19 at 5pm; Saturday, April 22 at 12pm; Saturday, May 20 at noon; and Saturday, June 24 at noon.
WMATA’s Yellow Line to Reopen on May 7
After eight months of extensive rehabilitation work, the Yellow Line will reopen on May 7. Initially, Yellow line trains will run every 8 minutes on weekdays and every 12 minutes after 9:30pm and during weekends. WMATA’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024 controversially brings back the Yellow Line turn back at Mt Vernon Square, but increases MetroRail service substantially on the Green Line to providing trains every 6 minutes to counteract that.
My School DC Lottery Results Available Now
My School DC Lottery Results are now available. Log into your My School DC account to see your results. If your student received a match, you have until May 1 to enroll. If you missed the deadline or want to add schools to your child’s existing application, you can submit a post-lottery application. Remember that all of our Ward 4 schools are incredible, that our Ward 4 feeder pattern is strong, and that many schools still have open house events for you to visit.
DC Residents Need to Renew Their Medicaid
One critical update that I want every Ward 4 resident to know and share is that for the first time since before the pandemic, DC residents will need to renew their Medicaid coverage from April 1, 2023 to June 1, 2024. The first step DC residents should take is to visit DistrictDirect on their computer or mobile app and update their contact information. Learn more about the renewal process on DHCF’s website, and please contact my constituent services team if you need support with renewing your coverage.
Hippity Hoppity Easter Egg Hunt at Emery Heights
On Saturday, April 8 at 12pm Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW) will host an Easter Egg Hunt. Youth in the community will dye eggs and build their own Easter baskets followed by the grand finale Easter Egg Hunt. Join in on the fun!
Neighborhood Easter Party at Petworth Rec Center
On Saturday, April 8 at 11am-1pm Grace Meridian Hill will host a Neighborhood Easter Party at Petworth Rec Center featuring egg hunts, face painting, a photo booth, games, and crafts.
Crestwood Easter Egg Hunt
On Saturday, April 8 at 2pm the Crestwood Citizens Association will have its annual Easter Egg Hunt starting at 18th & Shepherd NW. Come early to decorate your own egg. The hunt will start promptly at 2:10. Thank you to neighbors for planning this great event!
Friends Of Carter Barron Presents The Temptations
On Monday, April 10 at 7pm the Friends of Carter Barron Foundation will host the Legendary Temptations at the historic Howard Theatre for a Black-Tie Public Awareness and Awards Affair. Paid tickets are available through the Howard Theatre and are first come, first served seating.
DC Social Studies Standards Info Session
On Tuesday, April 11 from 6pm-7:30pm the DC State Board of Education will host a community information session at Petworth Library to update educators, families, students, and neighbors about the process for revising DC’s social studies standards, share the most recent draft of the standards, and receive feedback on areas of improvement. RSVP online.
World Premiere of “Our Verse in Time to Come” at Shepherd Park Library
On Wednesday, April 12 from 7pm-8:30pm Shepherd Park Library will host the world premiere of Our Verse in Time to Come, a brand-new play inspired by the works and words of Shakespeare that incorporates original music, a live DJ, rap performances, and interactive collaboration with the audience. Learn more about the event and its health protocols.
Intergenerational Easter Egg Hunt in Chevy Chase
On Friday, April 14 from 10am-12pm the Senior Division and Co-op of the Chevy Chase Community Center will join together for a day of Easter-themed fun featuring an Easter Egg Hunt, book-reading, and refreshments at the Community Center (5601 Connecticut Ave NW).
Friday Game Night at Petworth Rec Center
On Friday, April 14 from 5:30pm-7:30pm Petworth Rec Center will host a Friday Game Night at Petworth Rec Center for families in Petworth and the surrounding area.
Extreme Rock Creek Cleanups in Ward 4
From April 15 through April 22, the Rock Creek Conservancy and National Park Service are hosting clean up events across Ward 4, including events in Rock Creek, Pinehurst Branch, Peirce Mill, Piney Branch, Fort Slocum, Carter Barron, and Fort Totten. Join an event near you!
ANC 4B Spring Clean Up Week
From April 15 through April 22 ANC 4B will host a series of community clean ups, which will also include tutorials on submitting 311 requests and support for local businesses. Supplies and snacks will be provided, and neighbors are encouraged to join with their family:
- Saturday, April 15 at 9am: Kevin Gilligan, 4B05; 9th & Quackenbos NW
- Sunday, April 16 at 10am: Jenna Cevasco, neighbor; Takoma Elementary School (7010 Piney Branch Road, NW); free “I <3 Takoma” t-shirts for the first 15 kids who participate
- Monday, April 17 at 9 am: Erin Palmer, 4B02; Van Buren & Piney Branch NW; Donut Run donuts provided
- Tuesday, April 18 at 5pm: Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street; 8th & Missouri NW; with Taco Tuesday at J&J Mex-Taqueria afterward (6231 Georgia Ave NW)
- Wednesday, April 19 at 4pm: Main Street Takoma; 4th & Cedar Street & Blair NW; with happy hour at Takoma Station afterward (6914 4th St NW)
- Thursday, April 20 at 9am: Alison Horn, ANC 4B Housing Justice Committee Member; 5th & Tuckerman NW; with support from the Ida B Wells Adopt-a-Block team
- Friday, April 21 at 9am: Jim Nichols, Adopt-a-Block neighbor; 5th & Aspen NW
- Saturday, April 22 at 10am; Alison Brooks, 4B08, Chair of ANC 4B; 1st & Riggs NE
Health and Wellness Fair at Emory Fellowship
On Saturday, April 15 from 10am-12pm Emory Fellowship’s Health Ministry will host a Health and Wellness Fair. The fair will feature interactive sessions like Yoga, Zumba, Kids Fitness, and Exercise for Seniors — as well as medical experts for neighbors to check in with.
Legal Help and Financial Counseling Clinic
On Saturday, April 15 from 10:30am-12:30pm Tzedek DC will host a Legal Help and Financial Counseling Drop-In Clinic for residents with questions or concerns regarding debt collectors or credit report problems. Lawyers and financial counselors will be present to help!
Spring Celebration and Egg Roll at the Parks at Walter Reed
On Saturday, April 15 from 3pm-5pm the Parks at Walter Reed will host a Spring Celebration and Egg Roll on the Great Lawn. The event will feature happy hour time, a DJ, a moonbounce, beverages to purchase, and amazing local food trucks. Come prepared to hunt for eggs and get moving with games, relay races, yoga, and more! RSVP on The Parks website.
Blueprint for Wellness and Pharmacy Clinic
On Sunday, April 16 from 11am-3pm Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (4606 16th St NW) will host a Blueprint for Wellness event and simultaneous Giant Pharmacy Clinic where residents can get vital information about their metabolic, weight, and coronary indicators — as well as COVID vaccines, boosters, flu shots, and shingles shots. This is a free event but registration is required, so please call or text 410-804-9325 to reserve your spot.
4B06 Emancipation Day Clean Up at Fort Slocum
On Monday, April 17 from 10am-12pm Commissioner Tiffani Johnson will host an Emancipation Day Community Clean Up at Fort Slocum, starting from Fort Slocum Pavilion.
Takoma Easter Egg Block Party
On Friday, April 21 from 2pm-7pm Takoma Community Center and DPR will host a Takoma Easter Egg Block Party, featuring an egg celebration and hunt for kids in the neighborhood.
Petworth Porchfest Returns on April 22!
On Saturday, April 22 from 2pm-6pm Petworth Porchfest returns to porches across Greater Petworth! Join your Ward 4 neighbors as we enjoy nearly 200 bands performing across 80 stages, with plenty of local businesses and community sponsors taking part too. Learn more!
Ward 4 Community Jobs Fair at Coolidge
On Saturday, April 22 from 11am-3pm I will co-host a Ward 4 Jobs Fair with the DC Business Gun Violence Prevention Coalition and ANC 4B at Coolidge (6315 5th St NW) with lunch provided! Residents can register on Eventbrite. Spread the word with this flyer!
Local News Links
DCist: DC Kicks Off Once-A-Decade Process To Redraw School Boundaries
Washington Post: Housing fund falls short of requirement to aid lowest-income renters
DCist: Mayor’s Budget Proposal Calls For Repurposing Camera Ticket Money
Petworth News: Petworth is doing a clean up day on April 29, and you’re invited to help!
UrbanTurf: The 10 Projects in the Works in Takoma/Georgia Avenue Pipeline
Channel 9: Bruce Johnson Scholarship Fund established
Sticky Fingers: Vegan Bakery Coming to Takoma in former Soupergirl location
Petworth News: Qualia closes in Petworth where it first started
Lost Sock Roasters: Pop-Up Coming to Kennedy Street at ANXO Cider location
Previous Ward 4 Dispatch: Traffic Safety, Rental Assistance, and Medicaid Renewal
On Saturday I had a great time joining the Shepherd Elementary PTO at their Annual Spring Gala and Auction. Thank you for all you do to support our Ward 4 scholars! An added bonus of attending the event was getting to explore the new Black Feminist DC exhibit last night at MLK Library, where the event was held. The entire exhibit is moving and highlights dynamic Black women like Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Pauli Murray, who inspired me to attend Howard Law School. The exhibit is a must-see, and it will be at MLK Library through September 2024.
As we reach the end of Holy Week, I share Easter wishes of peace and renewal for our Ward 4 community. And I hope that the concurrent observation of Ramadan, Passover, and Easter this year brings our community closer and deepens our commitment to caring for one another.
Yours in Community,