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Ward 4 Dispatch: Expanding SNAP, Rent Control, and Fort Totten Transfer Station to Reopen

Dear Neighbors,

Happy June! This week we held our second vote on the DC budget and have one more vote on the Budget Support Act next Tuesday to complete our budget work for the year. In my next newsletter, I will share a breakdown of everything you need to know about the final DC budget, but this week I want to focus on our efforts to expand SNAP benefits, limit rent increases on rent controlled units, and update you on everything happening in Ward 4. Check it all out:

Expanding SNAP Benefits and Excluded Workers

While Congress slashes food assistance and adds barriers to receiving aid, DC is united behind expanding SNAP benefits. This week the Council passed my amendment that would dedicate excess city revenue to expanding SNAP benefits for DC families in need at the start of the year. SNAP is a lifeline for families, seniors, kids, and our neighbors with disabilities. It prevents food insecurity, reduces senior hunger, decreases child poverty, improves educational outcomes, and keeps our communities healthy. Since Congress let expanded SNAP benefits expire earlier this year, my office has been getting calls every week from our Ward 4 neighbors who were running out of food assistance one or two weeks into the month because their benefits were reduced and food prices had skyrocketed due to inflation. This amendment was for them and all other families in need in DC. If DC’s revenues this fall are higher than estimated, DC residents on SNAP will receive a 10% increase to their maximum benefits. The average DC family would receive $47 in additional SNAP benefits each month, and larger households would receive much more. And If excess revenue proves insufficient, I am committed to fighting to expand SNAP benefits for DC residents in next year’s budget. This legislation, the Give SNAP a Raise Act, was introduced by my Council colleague Christina Henderson. Our amendment would also restore the relief funds for excluded workers that the Mayor cut in her proposed budget. Undocumented immigrants, cash economy workers, and returning citizens are vital members of our communities, but they are excluded from many safety net programs (like unemployment benefits) that keep families from falling through the cracks when they fall on hard times. They need and deserve our support.

Working to Prevent Massive Rent Hikes

Earlier this year, I wrote to you about our work to prevent massive scheduled rent hikes of up to 8.9% on DC families in rent controlled units. The first time the Council tried to take action to limit these increases, we were blocked from passing emergency legislation because the Administration refused to allocate the minimal amount necessary to process the additional paperwork. At Tuesday’s legislative session, the Council considered emergency legislation again that would limit those increases to 6.9% for this year and the lesser of 6.9% or 2% plus the inflation rate for next year. While this would provide partial relief to some residents, I consider this too high for the vulnerable tenants who disproportionately depend on rent controlled housing. Rent control largely protects families with low or moderate incomes: 40% of renter households make less than $50,000 a year and 56% make less $75,000. And the vast majority of renters in DC are Black or Latino. Right now, DC is at a turning point. Homelessness is rising in our city and thousands of our neighbors are being displaced. Meanwhile, rental assistance funds are depleted early every year and housing vouchers were cut in the DC budget. We need to get policy decisions like this right, because they will determine whether DC will continue to be a city where working families can afford to live.

For those reasons, I proposed an amendment with Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau and Zachary Parker that would instead limit rent increases to 6% this year. Because the Administration refused to act earlier this year, some tenants will have 8.9% rent hikes before our amendment can take effect. To address this, we also proposed limiting rent increases to a total of 10% over the next two years to protect tenants from two consecutive years of major rent hikes. And because we know that many of our seniors and tenants with disabilities live on fixed incomes and need additional relief, our amendment would also limit their rent increases to a total of 8% over two years (an average of 4% each year). These rent increases are still high to help cover landlords’ increased maintenance costs while also protecting the families that are living paycheck-to-paycheck and cannot afford 7% or 9% rent hikes. The Council voted to delay action on the emergency bill, so we will take it up again this Tuesday at our next legislative meeting. I will keep fighting to ensure that the bill we ultimately pass prevents our neighbors from being displaced and ensures rent controlled housing can remain affordable for all. We cannot center profit over the needs of families on the brink of being pushed out of DC. 

Fort Totten Transfer Station to Reopen on June 6

After a yearlong redesign and new construction, Fort Totten Transfer Station is reopening for our community this Tuesday, June 6. Located at 4900 John McCormack Road NE, the facility will be open on Wednesdays-Fridays from 10am-2pm and Saturdays from 7am-2pm. Fort Totten will handle residential drop-off of trash, recyclables, bulk items, yard waste, metal, tires, and appliances. Meanwhile, Benning Road Transfer Station is closing temporarily for its own upgrades so the new drop-off site for hazardous waste, electronics recycling, and document shredding will relocate to RFK Stadium Lot 3 at 2400 East Capitol St NE. Collection events there will take place twice each month: once on a Saturday and once on a Thursday.

Community Resources

Share Your Thoughts About WMATA’s Better Bus Network

WMATA has designed a Better Bus Framework of redesigned bus routes in our region. Metro says that this is the visionary framework that Metro would implement if it had 35% more funding, although some aspects of the framework may be implemented in the short term. While their entire website is useful, the detailed map of proposed bus routes can be found here. Residents now have until June 18 to weigh in on the proposed network. While I am excited about the possibility of more frequent and more reliable bus service, I have concerns about some Ward 4 areas being underserved. I’m encouraging all Ward 4 residents to review the Better Bus Network and share your thoughts with WMATA on what they should improve!

CitiOpen to Get New Name and Higher Ranking

This week it was announced that the historic CitiOpen Tennis Tournament in Ward 4 will be renamed the Mubadala Citi DC Open starting this year. The DC women’s event will also elevate from a WTA 250 level to a WTA 500 level, making the Mubadala Citi DC Open the only combined ATP-WTA 500 tournament in the world on the tour calendar. This year, the tournament is scheduled to take place on July 29 – August 6 at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Ward 4. Stay tuned for more information on tickets and logistics.

New Whole Foods at The Parks at Walter Reed to Open June 28

Whole Foods just announced that its new location at The Parks at Walter Reed (7130 12th Street NW) will open on Wednesday, June 28 at 8am. The store will feature more than 800 local products, a full-service seafood and meat counter, and a bakery. The store’s hours on opening day will be 8am-10pm with complimentary coffee, breakfast bites, and a free tote bag and Secret Saver coupon for the first 300 customers. Regular store hours will be 7am-10pm.

Last chance to sign up for DPR Summer Camp

If you still hope to sign up your child for DPR Summer Camp, there are some limited slots available for Little Explorers (ages 3-5), Discovery Camp (ages 6-10), Sports Camps (ages 8-13), and Boost Camps (ages 11-13). This is the last chance to sign up before registration opens to non-DC residents on Monday, June 5, so move quickly!

Ward 4 Mutual Aid Cash Assistance Process

Ward 4 Mutual Aid recently updated their process for distributing cash assistance to a limited number of neighbors in need at the start of each month. Check out their website for the details.

Ward 4 Commemorative Project

The DC Office of Planning is developing a commemorative work project to honor a Ward 4 resident or subject, and they’re partnering with Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street to seek community input. This is a Ward 4-wide effort, not just for the Upper Georgia Avenue corridor. Check out the project website to learn more and find out how you can weigh in on the process.

How to Host a Neighborhood Block Party

Last month my team hosted a virtual presentation from DDOT on how to organize a neighborhood block party. We know that the strongest neighborhoods are the ones where neighbors know and care for one another, and a neighborhood block party is a great opportunity to build community and have neighborly fun. You can check out the recording of our great training, as well as this great guide from Greater Greater Washington. My team is available to help sort through any issues, and I’m looking forward to seeing you on your block!

Hosting Exchange Students Visiting Roosevelt 

This fall Roosevelt High School will have the opportunity to host a number of exchange students from France and Poland for a couple of weeks. The students will need to stay with host families during their time in DC. Host families provide dinner during the week and meals on the weekend, take part in weekend activities, and answer questions about DC and the US. Learn more and consider applying to host an exchange student with this form.  

DDOT Releases 2023 DC Bike Map 

DDOT has released its 2023 DC Bike Map, detailing the bike lanes, protected bike lanes, contraflow bike lanes, dedicated bike trails, and Capital Bikeshare stations in DC. It includes the new Metropolitan Branch Trail extension to Fort Totten. Check out the updated map

UDC renames Bertie Backus Campus to Lamond-Riggs Campus 

This week the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) announced that its Bertie Backus Campus has been renamed the University of the District of Columbia Lamond-Riggs Campus. The University Board of Trustees approved the change on April 25 to recognize the historic Lamond Riggs neighborhood while aligning the UDC Campus’s name with the site. 

Georgia Ave Bus Priority Project to Cover Entire Corridor 

DDOT recently announced that it had decided to expand the scope of the Georgia Avenue bus priority projects to include the entire 4.5-mile stretch of Georgia Avenue between Barry Place to Eastern Avenue NW. The purpose of the project is to improve bus service for some of the highest ridership MetroBus routes (the 70 and 79) and make safety improvements along Georgia Avenue, which is a Vision Zero high-crash corridor. DDOT previously planned on addressing one section of Georgia Avenue at a time — starting from Barry Place to Kansas Avenue — but the agency now says that making bus priority improvements at a corridor-wide level will allow for efficiency in planning, design, and implementation. DDOT also believes that this approach will bring bus improvements sooner and allow for more robust community engagement. Check out the project website and weigh in on the project through this survey

Neighborhood Events

Barnard Elementary Yard Sale

On Saturday, June 3 from 9am-1pm the Barnard Elementary PTA will host a Barnard Yard Sale outside of Barnard Elementary (430 Decatur St NW). Come check out all their offerings, which include clothes, electronics, bikes, kids’ toys, and more.

Outdoor Vinyl & Vintage Marketplace at 14th Street Graffiti Museum

On Saturday, June 3 from 10am-3pm 14th Street Graffiti Museum will host an outdoor vinyl and vintage marketplace with hundreds of funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae, and rock LPs available, as well as crafts from local vendors and DJ music. Check it out at 14th & Crittenden NW!

Chacho 2nd Anniversary Party!

On Saturday, June 3 from 2pm-midnight Chacho Distillery and Tasting Room (6031 Kansas Ave NW) in Manor Park will have its two-year anniversary party with drinks, food trucks, live DJs, piñatas, special deals, and more. Neighbors can RSVP to attend on Eventbrite.

Pride Month Story and Craft at Lamond-Riggs Library

On Sunday, June 4 from 2pm-3pm Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library will host Pride Month Story and Craft time to celebrate Pride month and recognize that love and families come in many forms! The event features books celebrating LGBT families and a rainbow-themed craft.

East Rock Creek Village Live Jazz at The Parks

On Sunday, June 4 from 4pm-6pm East Rock Creek Village will host a free live jazz performance at The Parks at Walter Reed Arts Plaza (6310 Cameron Drive NW) featuring students from the Washington Jazz Arts Institute (WJAI) and light refreshments. East Rock Creek Village is a volunteer-led nonprofit organization in upper Ward 4 committed to helping our older neighbors age in place. Please RSVP if you plan to attend the “All That Jazz” show!

Graduating Senior Cookout in Takoma

On Wednesday, June 7 from 4pm-7pm DPR will host a Graduating Senior Cookout at Takoma Community Center (300 Van Buren St NW). College bound or work bound, come celebrate your achievement with food, games, music, and the Class of 2023!

Takoma Station Project Walk

On Wednesday, June 7 from 5pm-6pm Commissioner Evan Yeats and Commissioner Erin Palmer will host a project walk for the Takoma Station Project, a proposed mixed-use building replacing a parking lot next to the Takoma Metro Station with 434 apartments, 17,000 square feet of retail, 1.8 acres of public green space, and improved bus, bike, and pedestrian facilities. To join the walkthrough, meet at the existing Takoma Metro Station parking lot at 5pm.

Jazz, Blues, and R&B Oldies at Fort Stevens

On Thursday, June 8 from 2pm-3pm Fort Stevens Senior Center will host its annual jazz concert for our seniors to groove to the sounds of jazz, blues, and R&B oldies. Join the fun!

Ward 4 CARE Day in Petworth

On Thursday, June 8 from 4pm-7pm I will be hosting our Ward 4 CARE Day for Petworth, starting from Petworth Rec Center (801 Taylor St NW). Come find us for a resource fair with DC agencies, door-to-door outreach to neighbors, constituent services support, and a day of bringing our community closer together. Please RSVP to take part.

Free Paint Recycling Drop-off and Giveaway Event

On Saturday, June 10 from 9am-1pm PaintCare will host a free Paint Recycling Drop-off and Giveaway Event for both households and businesses at Ida B Wells MS (405 Sheridan St NW). Registration is required. Paint in good condition will be made available to the public for free!

First Baptist Church Youth and Young Adult Cookout 

On Saturday, June 10 from 10am-2pm First Baptist Church will host its Youth and Young Adult Cookout at 712 Randolph St NW. Join this family friendly event, which will include a barbecue, children’s games, music, face painting, a bounce house, cotton candy, and more!

Community Pop-Up at Raymond Rec Center

On Saturday, June 10 from 11am-2pm Raymond Rec Center (3725 10th Street NW) will host a community networking event with vendors coming together to share information about childcare, immunizations, and early learning.

Inaugural Uptown Pride Event in Ward 4!

On Saturday, June 10 from 2pm-7pm Ward 4 will have its inaugural Uptown Pride event at 14th & Colorado NW by Moreland’s Tavern to celebrate Pride season in DC and our LGBTQ+ communities. Come out for a fun-filled day with kids activities, a beer garden, drag story time (with Tara Hoot at 2pm), family yoga (with Lighthouse Yoga at 3:30pm), live music from 2 DJs, an LGBTQ+ vendor market, Captain Cookie, and community raffles. RSVP on Facebook.

Summer Jazz in the Parks at Walter Reed

On Saturday, June 10 from 5pm-8pm The Parks at Walter Reed will host its first Jazz in the Parks event for the summer on the Great Lawn featuring Corcoran Holt with the Farafina Kan Percussion Ensemble. Bring your own picnic, blanket, and refreshments — and enjoy popular local food vendors and giveaways as you take in the music. The event will start at 5pm with a children’s performer, and the headliners kick off at 6pm. Be sure to RSVP on Eventbrite.

Pride in the Park at Sherman Circle!

On Sunday, June 11 from 10am-12pm Petworth Peanuts and community groups will host Pride in the Park at Sherman Circle. Join this family-friendly event with music, giveaways, face painting, balloon artistry, and a mini-parade for kids! The best-decorated wagons, bikes, strollers, and scooters will win prizes. Ward 4’s celebrity Drag Queen Tara Hoot will emcee.

Gather Event at SOKIM Salon Studios

On Sunday, June 11 from 11am-3:30pm SOKIM Salon Studios (3901 Georgia Ave NW) will host their “Gather” Spring event of the year, featuring food, arts, culture, jewelry, home decor, artisan crafts, and more. This will be an indoor-outdoor event that will take place rain or shine.

Community Prayer Walk in Petworth

On Wednesday, June 14 at 3pm Ward 4 Faith Leaders will lead a community prayer walk in Petworth to bring neighbors together, show community solidarity, and pray to protect our young people from violence. Neighbors are asked to gather at 3pm at Peoples Congregational Church (4704 13th St NW) and join the prayer walk to Roosevelt, MacFarland, and Petworth Library.

Name That Song Music Night at Petworth Rec

On Friday, June 16 from 5:30pm-7pm Petworth Recreation Center (801 Taylor Street NW) will host a “Guess That Song” Music Night in the multipurpose room with prizes for winners!

Home Rule Music Festival at The Parks at Walter Reed

On Saturday, June 17 from 1pm-9pm Home Rule Music Festival returns to The Parks at Walter Reed to celebrate DC’s rich and vibrant music and culture! This is a free, family-friendly event with an outdoor record fair, food trucks, craft brews, local vendors, and an afternoon of live music from living legends and rising stars. Save your spot for Home Rule Music Festival!

Visit your local Ward 4 Farmers Markets 

Ward 4 has several great Farmers Market options every weekend. Check them out: 

Local News Links

Washington Post: DC Council approves 2024 budget, delays vote to cap rent increases

WTOP: Linda Harllee Harper, DC’s first gun violence prevention director, dies at 58

Washington PostDC opens migrant center as it braces for more border buses

Next Stop… Riggs Park: Fridays at Fort Totten Concert Series Kicks Off on June 2

DPW: DC’s Annual Truck Touch family event on June 3 at RFK Stadium

My School DC: Serve on the DC School Lottery Parent Advisory Council (PAC)

Petworth News: Petworth local turns her passion into a business and helps people travel around the world

Barnard Elementary: Ms. Medley Pays Tribute to the Late Great Tina Turner

Washington Post: Off-leash dog attacks a beaver in Rock Creek Park (leash your dogs)

Washington Informer: Coach Rob Nickens Sets the Standard at Roosevelt High School

PopVille: Sticky Fingers to Bring Sweet and Savory Vegan Delights to Takoma this Fall

Ward 4 Dispatch: Outdoor Pools Open, Roosevelt Roundtable, and Remembering Linda Harllee Harper

It was great to be at the top of Ward 4 yesterday for our CARE Day in Colonial Village and North Portal Estates. I’m grateful to each neighbor who visited us outside the Lowell School or made time to chat on your block. My team will be following up on the issues you shared with the appropriate DC agencies and NPS. Special thanks to Ms. Shirleta Settles and 4A01 Commissioner Paula Edwards for joining us for outreach, and for all you do for our community!

I also want to wish everyone a happy Pride Month! This month and every month, we lift up our vibrant and resilient LGBTQIA+ communities — and we stand strong against those who hate to see them shine. I’m looking forward to celebrating Pride with Ward 4 neighbors next weekend.

June is also Gun Violence Awareness Month, when we wear orange to remember the victims and survivors of gun violence, as well as their loved ones — and redouble our efforts to build peace and save lives. Today I had the chance to join DC’s End Gun Violence Festival and support many of the community organizations on the front lines of gun violence prevention across our city. Additionally, June is Caribbean Heritage Month, so stay tuned for ways to celebrate our Caribbean communities and their culture and traditions here in Ward 4.

Have a great weekend, and stay cool!

Yours in Community,