It has been a whirlwind of a week! Only seven days ago, we were able to secure funds that will increase DC residents’ SNAP benefits in less than three months. We also had two critical hearings on bills to address dangerous driving and fake license tags, as well as a hearing on DC’s troubled 911 call center operations. And just today, we had an amazing Ward 4 Senior Jubilee event to celebrate and share resources with our senior citizens. And tomorrow is the annual Open Street Georgia Avenue festival — so make the most of of all the fun activities, but please plan ahead for the road closures and bus detours. Scroll down for all of our Ward 4 updates, resources, events, and local news:
We Are Expanding SNAP Food Assistance!
Great news: we secured $40 million to expand SNAP food assistance for more than 130,000 DC residents on SNAP starting this January! Here is what happened and what you need to know. Earlier this year, DC residents who depend on SNAP were dealt a double blow: rising inflation was making food more expensive than ever, and Congress allowed expanded SNAP benefits to expire. Suddenly, SNAP recipients across our city were receiving fewer benefits, and their benefits afforded them less food than in earlier years. Families that were already struggling to make it were now running out of SNAP benefits halfway through the month, and my office started receiving calls from senior citizens whose SNAP benefits were slashed to pennies. The Council had already passed legislation by my Council colleague Christina Henderson to enhance SNAP benefits late last year, but the bill had a steep cost that needed to be funded before it could take effect.
After exploring several funding sources, I introduced and passed an amendment to the DC budget that would dedicate any future excess revenue to expanding SNAP benefits — a priority in our fight against hunger. Late last week, the CFO released updated revenue estimates that confirmed that DC has the excess revenue needed to fund the bill and make it law! So what should residents on SNAP expect? Starting January 2024, DC residents on SNAP will get a 10% local enhancement to their monthly benefits. The average SNAP recipient will receive an additional $47 in food assistance every month, and many recipients will receive much more based on their family size. SNAP primarily addresses food insecurity, but it also has a proven impact on reducing poverty, improving mental and physical health, and even helping children succeed in school. This program is a lifeline for working families, and I am so grateful that we will be able to expand it later this year. In a city as wealthy as DC, no one should go hungry.
Council Focus: 911 Call Center, Fake Tags, and School Repairs
On Wednesday, I participated in a joint Council hearing on four bills that aim to confront dangerous driving by targeting cars with fake license plates (fake paper tags), suspending licenses for drivers who act negligently, ensuring traffic enforcement cameras are focused on our most dangerous traffic corridors, and empowering the DC Attorney General to sue the most reckless out-of-state drivers in civil court to hold them accountable for repeated traffic offenses. Throughout the hearing, we heard powerful testimony from community members and ANC Commissioners about the danger and damage caused by reckless driving in every corner of our city. Councilmembers, myself included, signaled that the Council will work to advance these bills quickly. At the same time, I emphasized that stepping up enforcement must be paired with continuing to fight for better traffic safety infrastructure across our communities.
Then on Thursday, we held a critical oversight hearing with leadership from the Office of Unified Communications on DC’s 911 call center operations. A well performing and reliable 911 Call Center is foundational for public safety. Yet DC is not meeting that mark and has struggled for years. I continue to hear often from Ward 4 residents about emergency calls being diverted, dropped, or not prioritized. The hearing included heartbreaking testimony about the fear and pain caused by these failures, which echoed the experiences that many of you have shared with me. During the hearing, I raised questions about OUC needing to meet reporting requirements required by law, the agency’s practices to properly triage medical responses, and the continued need to prevent Ward 4 calls from being mistakenly routed to PG County or Montgomery County. I will continue to press for improvements, and the Council is now weighing multiple bills that strengthen oversight over DC’s 911 Call Center to build on the emergency measure passed by Councilmember Pinto earlier this year.
Finally, I want to quickly preview our Facilities hearing next Thursday on the Work Order Integrity Act and school readiness overall. The Work Order Integrity Act is simple but important legislation. It requires DGS to get confirmation from school staff (like a principal or foreman) that an issue was repaired before a work order can be closed. I repeatedly hear from school communities about work orders for requested repairs being marked as complete without the issue being resolved — causing confusion, frustration, and delays to critical maintenance. When our schools need repairs made, they deserve certainty that the work will get done. Our discussion on school readiness will focus on reviewing the start of this school year, preparing for the cold season, and following up on commitments made by DGS for this fiscal year. DGS staff work hard for our schools, and we need to build on that work by continuing to improve how we maintain our facilities year-round.
Open Streets Georgia Avenue This Saturday
On Saturday, October 7 from 9am-3pm DDOT’s Open Streets Festival returns to Georgia Avenue from Barry Place in Ward 1 all the way up to Missouri Avenue in Ward 4. Each year, the festival closes Georgia Avenue to cars for one Saturday and opens it up for people to walk, run, bike, roll, and play. There’s a full slate of free activities lined up for Open Streets, including yoga, dancing, fitness classes, a foam party, bounce houses, bike repairs, giveaways, and a used book sale for Petworth Library. Open Streets is also a great way to enjoy our incredible Ward 4 businesses along Georgia Avenue and hang out with your neighbors. My team and I will be there to connect with neighbors, so please come by and say ‘hi’ if you see us. While Open Streets is a fun and special event, it has a significant impact on traffic. Please plan ahead by reviewing the road closures and detours that will be in effect from 7am-5pm on Saturday, as well as the detour plans of the 62, 64, 70, 79, E4, H2, H4, and H8 MetroBuses. And to Ward 4 residents who remember the Caribbean Carnival and Georgia Avenue Day along the Georgia Avenue corridor, I too would love to have those festivals back someday. Yet for now, Open Streets is our best chance to enjoy Georgia Avenue on foot!
Fall Family Film Screening at Lincoln Cottage
On Friday, October 6 at 5:30pm President Lincoln’s Cottage will host a Fall Family Film Screening of The Lego Movie. There will be STEAM activities, family crafts, DJ music, food vendors, and the firm screening starting at dusk. President Lincoln’s Cottage is on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Security requires visitors to show valid identification at the security gate in order to enter the property. RSVP and be prepared to show your ID.
Takoma Community Cleanup in 4B02
On Saturday, October 7 at 10am 4B02 Commissioner Erin Palmer will host a family-friendly community cleanup starting from Van Buren & Piney Branch Road NW (by the Safeway). They will have supplies on hand or neighbors can bring your own. Check out the flyer!
Manor Park Community Cleanup in 4B06
On Saturday, October 7 at 9am-11am 4B06 Commissioner Tiffani Johnson will host a weekly community cleanup starting from 3rd & Madison NW. Snacks, supplies, and swag will be provided, and students can get volunteer hours. This flyer has info on this and future cleanups!
Flash: Grass DJ Event at The Parks at Walter Reed
On Saturday, October 7 from 3pm-9pm the extended Flash community will host a presentation of daytime music and celebration on the Great Lawn at The Parks at Walter Reed featuring music, a specialty bar, food, vendors, performances, and more rain-or-shine.
Takoma Foundation Beerfest
On Sunday, October 8 from 3pm-7pm the Takoma Foundation will be hosting its annual Beerfest event at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 350 (6420 Orchard Ave, Takoma Park, MD). As always, the event offers suds from local craft breweries and a few tasty bites to go with.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day Cleanup at Piney Branch
On Monday, October 9 from 10am-12pm join neighborhood volunteers for an Indigenous Peoples’ Day Cleanup at Picnic Pavilion 29 next to the Piney Branch Parkway below the Sixteenth Street Bridge. Volunteers will learn about how long ago indigenous peoples once used the Piney Branch valley as a quarry, and about how today volunteers with the Rock Creek Songbirds project and others are helping to restore the wetland and native trees. Pizza will be delivered at 12pm after the cleanup to reward volunteers!
Walk in the Park at Fort Slocum
On Thursday, October 12 at 4pm neighbors can join the Rock Creek Conservancy, National Park Service, and 4B06 Commissioner Tiffani Johnson for a walkthrough of Fort Slocum to discuss planned and proposed amenities for the park.
Down in the Reeds at The Parks at Walter Reed!
On Saturday, October 14 from 3pm-7pm Down in the Reeds Festival returns to The Parks at Walter Reed to present a fall afternoon of live music, family fun, and local food and beverages on the Great Lawn! This year’s celebration will continue to celebrate the power of music to heal across communities and cultures and will feature performances from Leon City Sounds, Black Masala, and Cumbia Heights, along with lawn games, vendors, local food truck favorites, and beverages. Check out the Down in the Reeds website for details!
Check Out Our Ward 4 Farmers Markets
Get your fresh goods, crafts, and dose of community at our Ward 4 Farmers Markets:
- Uptown Farmers Market at 5501 Colorado Ave NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Chevy Chase Farmers Market at Lafayette ES on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Petworth Community Market at 9th & Upshur NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Takoma Park Farmers Market at 6931 Laurel Ave on Sundays from 10am-2pm
- Whittier Farm Stand at 6201 5th St NW on Tuesdays from 3:30pm-5:30pm
Thank You Ward 4 Seniors for a Wonderful Jubilee
I am still feeling the amazing energy from our Ward 4 Senior Jubilee earlier today. I can only begin to express my gratitude to all the seniors who traveled from every part of Ward 4 to pack Lamond Rec Center and be part of the celebration. It was truly a day full of fun, dancing, music, food, prizes, community-building, and togetherness in honor of our seniors! Thank you to our incredible speakers, singers, vendors, agencies, and supporters who made the second Ward 4 Senior Jubilee an even greater success than last year’s event. To our seniors: whether you made it there or not, know that we love you and that we have your back.
Modified DC Services for the Holiday Weekend
DC government is commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day Weekend and shifting some of its core services. Please note that there will be no household trash and recycling collection on Monday, and that collection the rest of the week will ‘slide’ one day later. DPR indoor facilities and pools will be closed on Monday, while outdoor fields and courts will remain open. Find a full rundown of DC services impacted by the holiday at this link, and check out WMATA’s holiday weekend service plans on their website.
You Can Now Apply for Emergency Rental Assistance
After several months with no funding available, applications for emergency rental assistance are back open. Residents can apply through the online portal, call 202-507-6666 for help during weekday business hours, or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Unlike prior years, the portal will be open four times this year and close once it receives 3,500 applications during each period: October 1, January 1, April 1, and June 1. Last year, I worked with my colleagues to reverse a proposed 81% cut to emergency rental assistance. If any Ward 4 residents have difficulty applying please contact my constituent services team for support.
Curbside Composting Pilot to Begin Pickup in Ward 4
We have been eagerly waiting for DPW’s curbside composting pilot to kick off in Ward 4. This week the agency has been distributing starter kits to Ward 4 residents who signed up for the program, and DPW plans to begin picking up food waste next week! However, due to the holiday, food waste collection is supposed to “slide” one day later throughout next week. That means that if you signed up for the program and received your starter kit, please prepare your food waste container for collection one day later than your regular collection day. If it is not picked up, please submit a 311 service request so the agency can schedule a new collection to resolve the error. You can also direct questions about the program to email@example.com or check out the pilot program’s website.
E-Waste Collection Event at Uptown Farmers Market
On October 14 from 9am-1pm DOEE will be hosting an eCYCLE collection event near Uptown Farmers Market on the north end of Colorado Avenue NW. Learn more about the importance of recycling electronics and what electronics are and are not accepted at this event.
Limited Lap Lanes at Takoma Pool This Weekend
Due to a water polo tournament, Takoma Aquatic Center will have limited lap lanes this Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm. In addition, the center will be completely closed on Monday, October 9 for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Normal swimming will resume on Tuesday!
Receive the Ward 4 Newsletter by Text
We have received many requests from neighbors who want to receive the Ward 4 newsletter by text message, so we will make it happen. To sign up, all you need to do is send a text to 202-286-5268 and request to be added to the list. After that, you will receive a text with the newsletter link every Friday. Please share this option with neighbors who may prefer it.
New Mural Unveiled at Whittier Elementary
Next time you walk by Whittier Elementary, please take a moment to appreciate the beautiful new mural that animates its front walkway and entrance. The “Whittier Wonderland” mural was unveiled today as art meant to inspire students to dream big and discover joy. Kudos to the school community for coordinating the project and the artists Colors By M+C, Meich’e Goode of Good Art Fam Public Arts Company, and Courtney Lapenta for creating such a beautiful piece.
Ward 4 in the News
DCist: Latest In A Flurry Of Council Crime Bills Focuses On 911 Response, Crime Lab Staffing, And Violence Interruption
Washington Informer: New Council Bill Aims to Better Protect DC Forestland
Washington Post: ‘Weed Warriors’ attack invasive vines killing DC-area trees
Washington Business Journal: On the Road Walter Reed: Inside the amazing transformation of the former Army medical campus
Petworth News: Honeymoon Chicken addresses facilities issue, engages neighbors
Capital City PCS: Student in Ward 4 Elected as Student Representative on State Board
DCPL: The Return of the Evil Laugh Contest at DC Public Library
Ward 4 Dispatch: Public Safety, School Boundaries, and Emergency Rental Assistance
One of my favorite Ward 4 events of the year is attending Mr. Larry’s Annual Gardening and Harvest Celebration in Takoma! Mr. Larry is a Korean War Veteran, an active and engaged Ward 4 resident, and a founder of the Takoma Community Garden. He recently turned 95 years old. Happy birthday and thank you for all you do for our community, Mr. Larry!
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Communities and organizations across DC are working day in and day out to support survivors and prevent domestic violence in all of its forms. Each of us knows someone who has been impacted by domestic violence, so all of us need to be part of the solution. This month is also when we mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in DC women and has claimed far too many of our neighbors. Let us all raise awareness about life-saving resources and emphasize the importance of regular screenings to keep us safe.
I also want to take a moment to share that all of our Ward 4 Art All Night events last weekend were incredible! From Riggs Park and Manor Park to Petworth, Uptown, and Shepherd Park, we had amazing local artists and small businesses to celebrate. Special shoutout to The Parks Main Street, Petworth Main Street, Uptown Main Street, and Zenith Gallery for making it such a special weekend!
Yours in Community,