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Ward 4 Dispatch: Foreclosure Prevention, School Updates, and Down in the Reeds!

Dear Neighbors,

It’s been a very active week with Council back from recess. We held our first legislative hearing where we passed emergency legislation to make DC school operations safer, extended DC’s moratorium on foreclosures, ensured green energy expertise on the Public Service Commission, and passed ceremonial resolutions to honor the 21st anniversary of Paul Public Charter School operating in our community, 50 years of outstanding principals at School Without Walls, and the 165th anniversary of St Paul AME Church in Ward 4.

This weekend coming up is no different than any other in our community: there’s so much to do! From a community planting day at Friendship Public Charter, to a 165th anniversary picnic at St. Paul AME Church, to the Takoma Foundation Beerfest for a good cause, and Ward 4 music festival Down in the Reeds at the Parks – I hope you can set aside some time for community fun this weekend!


Ward 4 News and Legislative Updates

Down in the Reeds: Music Festival in Ward 4! (Free for All Ages)

The day has finally come! Tomorrow (Saturday, October 9 from 11am-7pm) Down in the Reeds festival will be returning to Ward 4 to bring three stages of live music, music healing workshops, an instrument exploration station, live art, lawn games, scavenger hunt, qigong, book swaps, vendors, food, drinks, and more! It’ll take place at the Parks at Walter Reed with the main festival entrance at Georgia Ave & Butternut St NW. Check out a full schedule of activities, including an after party and jam session at Rhizome DC. Here’s the breakdown of the performances and activities of kids!

Attendees are encouraged to take rideshare, public transit, bike, or walk. The nearest Metro stop is Takoma Park Station, which is about half a mile from the festival. There is limited public parking on site off of 16th Street at Abrams Hall that costs $20, as well as some limited neighborhood parking. Masks are required for anyone not actively eating or drinking, and attendees must either be vaccinated or have a negative COVID test 48 hours before the festival. More information can be found in the festival’s Frequently Asked Questions guide. Don’t miss the largest music festival in Ward 4!

Extending the Foreclosure Moratorium to Save Homes

DC’s foreclosure moratorium was set to expire on November 5, less than a month from now before any financial aid had gone out to homeowners. At our first legislative since recess, I introduced and passed an amendment that extends the eviction moratorium to February 4, 2022. There are nearly 7,000 DC homeowners who are behind on their mortgage or other housing bills (and that’s a conservative estimate). Nearly 95% of these homeowners are Black or Brown. The good news is that the District is receiving $50 million in federal funds to prevent foreclosures, but the program to disburse these funds has not started yet. My amendment will give time to the city to get people the help they need to prevent them losing their home. DC Council was already planning to extend the foreclosure moratorium to the end of December, but that timeline was likely still too short, and would have allowed foreclosures to resume during the holidays when legal service providers are short-staffed. My team and I will closely monitor DC’s distribution of foreclosure prevention aid and whether DC’s foreclosure moratorium will need to be extended again.

Emergency Legislation Passed for a Safer School Operations

On Tuesday, the Council also passed emergency school legislation to expand the virtual option for medically vulnerable DC families and improve health and safety protocols this fall. I want to lay out the provisions included in the legislation, which was updated from what I shared in my update to you last week. Our emergency bill will:

  • Expand the virtual option to students under the age of 12 who either (a) have someone in their household at high risk of severe illness from COVID, or (b) receive a recommendation from their doctor by 350 additional slots. This is a far less restrictive standard from what we have had so far, which is that only a doctor requiring that a student avoid in-person learning is enough to provide access to the virtual option. The previous standard also completely neglects to account for vulnerable family members. 350 additional slots in DCPS’ virtual academy was the maximum Council could add without triggering a fiscal impact (cost) that would have blocked the legislation.
  • Increase asymptomatic COVID testing to 20% of students at each school every week by November 15. DC is currently aiming to test between 10% and 20% of students each week. A higher testing standard will improve safety in our schools by detecting COVID cases sooner and more often, especially given the small percentage of DC students who are fully vaccinated. This is a provision that my team and I pushed to include in this bill.
  • Add reporting requirements to include more details on testing by school, DGS reporting on HVAC issues, and unfulfilled requests for outdoor learning equipment. This is a measure to bring more transparency and accountability to issues where school reopening has clearly missed the mark. We also need to ensure remaining HVAC issues are addressed before winter comes. 
  • Broaden the definition of “excused absences” to include several circumstances related to COVID, and require that CFSA referrals must include information on COVID concerns. Under this legislation, if a member of a student’s household tests positive for COVID then that student’s absence is excused. It also gives schools more discretion to excuse absences so they can account for the challenges that COVID poses to families. And if you qualify for virtual learning based on the new conditions laid out above (see my first bullet) then your past absences will be retroactively excused.
  • Require charter schools to offer a virtual option for students who need it. However, charter LEAs may limit the total number of virtual learners so long as the limit is no less than 3% of their student body.

In addition to ensuring implementation of these changes, I will keep working on preventing the unnecessary disenrollment of some students who are unable to attend in-person school during the pandemic, continue to unpack issues with DCPS’s virtual academy, and closely monitor OSSE’s school-based testing program.

Highlight from our small business walkthrough on Upper Georgia Avenue this week. Our small businesses in Ward 4 reflect the vibrancy and diversity of our community!

Neighborhood Events

A Music Festival in Ward 4: Down in the Reeds. On Saturday, October 9 from 11am-7pm Down in the Reeds Festival is back in Ward 4 hosted by The Parks at Walter Reed! It’s a free all-day festival celebrating the power of music to heal across communities and cultures. Check out the website for ways to plug in and follow them on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram for updates.

St. Paul AME Church 165th Anniversary Celebration. On Saturday, October 9 from 10am-4pm historic St. Paul AME Church (14th & Emerson NW) will host a gathering to celebrate its 165th celebration with St. Paul members, family and friends, and community members. The event will include activities for the entire family, food, drinks, games, music, health screenings, and vendors. I will be there myself to present St. Paul’s with a ceremonial resolution the DC Council passed honoring their 165th anniversary and legacy of service to our community.  

Community Planting Day at Friendship Public Charter School. On Saturday, October 9 from 10am-1pm Friendship Public Charter School will host a community planting day at their campus between Kansas Ave & Chillum Place NE. Neighbors are invited to join them, meet the leadership team, and support the students. They’ll also celebrate the completion of site improvements in partnership with the City Blossoms which will help beautify the campus and the neighborhood.

POSTPONED: Ward 4 Community Cleanup in Brightwood. My office and a group of energized students are planning a community cleanup in Brightwood at the intersection of Georgia Ave & Rittenhouse St NW. While this was scheduled for tomorrow morning, a conflict came up so we will host it at a later date.

Takoma Foundation Community Beerfest. On Saturday, October 9 from 4pm-7pm Takoma Foundation will host its annual community beerfest at Takoma Station Tavern at 6914 4th Street NW. Tickets run for $45 and include two drinks, an appetizer and fries, and a tip for wait staff. Ticket proceeds help the Foundation in supporting organizations doing social justice work in our community!

STAY DC Rent Assistance and Free Pfizer Vaccines at Peoples Congregational UCC. On Tuesday, October 12 from 1pm-4pm neighbors can stop by Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ (4704 13th St NW) to get a vaccine shot, rent and utility assistance, or both! No appointment is necessary, and the event will take place in partnership with several health and housing organizations. Find out more details in the flyer below.

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.

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.

Ward 4 Weekly Farmer’s Markets. We have: 


Community Resources

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.

Free McDonalds Breakfast for Teachers and School Staff on October 11-15. McDonalds is offering a free ‘Thank You’ breakfast to teachers, administrators and school staff next week between October 11-15. Just show up to  McDonald’s during breakfast hours, show a valid work ID, and pick up your free meal. There will be sandwich options that include an Egg McMuffin, a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit or a Sausage Biscuit, and the beverage can be a medium McCafé hot or iced coffee or a medium soft drink. Ward 4 has McDonalds locations at 7425 Georgia Ave NW (Takoma and Shepherd Park) as well as 5948 Georgia Ave NW (Brightwood). Let the educator in your life know!

DC Ticket Amnesty Program Extended to the End of the Year. This week the Mayor extended the ticket amnesty program, which forgives all late penalties and fees from parking and traffic tickets as long as you pay the original principal amount of the ticket, to December 31, 2021. The program has helped more than 32,000 drivers clear their debt to the District for a total of $44 million in revenue, most of which comes from Maryland and Virginia drivers. Take advantage of the program while you can!

New Hours at Fort Totten Transfer Station!  DPW recently announced that Fort Totten Transfer Stations hours have changed! Resident hours will now be Monday through Friday from 10am-2pm and Saturdays from 7am-2pm. For more information, check out their website.

DC Health Advises Eligible Residents to Receive Their Booster Shot! Today DC Health 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 info@theparksdc.com.

DPR Facilities Will Be Closed on Monday, October 11 and Friday, October 15. Just want to make sure residents know that DPR facilities will be closed October 11 and October 15 as DPR staff observe Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday and hold an all-staff training meeting on Friday.

Speaking of community resources, we are very fortunate to have Food & Friends in our community right off Riggs Road. Food & Friends is a nonprofit which has been serving our neighbors with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses for more than three decades. They prepare and deliver nutritional meals to our ill neighbors with dignity and compassion. I was honored to join them this week as they were awarded a $20,000 gift from Coca-Cola to further their work.


As we prepare to observe Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, I want to ensure we all remember that our own communities are built on Native land. A powerful reminder of this truth is Piney Branch Wetlands beneath the 16th Street Bridge in Rock Creek Park. This site served as a historical site that used to be a quarry for Native Americans in our area.

I’ll end with a big thank you to everyone who worked or participated in Open Streets DC on Georgia Avenue last weekend! I loved seeing so many of our neighbors walking, running, skating, rollerblading, scootering, and biking on a wide-open, car-free Georgia Avenue. Already counting the days ’till we get to do it again next year!

Yours in Community,
—Janeese