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Ward 4 Dispatch: Spring Cleanups, Budget Markups, and Community Events!

Dear Neighbors,

Happy Friday! This weekend we are honoring Earth Day with no less than eight community cleanups across Ward 4 – find the one nearest to you and join. On Saturday, we also have a great community health fair in Petworth, a huge spring celebration and egg hunt at the Parks at Walter Reed, and the grand re-opening of Midtown Youth Academy on Georgia Avenue. I’m also excited to share that I am hiring to expand our team, so please spread the word. And in this first section, I report on changes made to the budget in the committee markup process and lay out why I’m supporting the proposed Dance Loft project in Sixteenth Street Heights.

Ward 4 News and Legislative Updates

Council Initiates Budget Changes Through Budget Markups

This week Council Committees began making changes to the Mayor’s proposed budget through the budget markup process. Committee lay out the changes they made and why they made them in their committee markup reports, which can be found online under “Committee Documents.” Here are just a few highlights of enhancements made, including several changes that I requested and worked with my fellow Councilmembers to secure:

Committee on Labor and Workforce Development:

  • Full expansion of DC’s private sector paid leave program to 12 weeks for all leave types on October 1, including allowing retroactive benefits to be paid in October for leave taken July-September; and reducing the contribution tax rate to .27% for businesses starting in July.
  • Creation of a new two-week paid medical leave for DC government workers.
  • A permanent expansion of the School Year Internship Program that provides employment to 1,000 DC students.

Committee on Transportation and the Environment:

  • Expands staffing for DDOT’s Safe Routes to School division and invests $18 million over four years to nearly double the number of schools that undergo traffic safety assessments each year (from 18 to 30) and more funding to implement these upgrades. This is a major down payment in improving traffic safety around schools as we work to pass the Safe Routes to School Act.
  • Added an additional four full-time employees to DPW’s boot crew so they can better enforce DC’s traffic laws, particularly with out-of-state drivers who collect thousands of dollars in tickets from reckless driving.

Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety

  • A nearly $4 million increase to victim service grants for survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence, as well as hospital-based violence interruption programs.
  • A $3 million additional investment in eviction diversion, a pilot effort this past year that successfully prevented 70% of evictions eligible for diversion support.
  • Maintains substantial incentives to recruit and retain more MPD officers while enhancing stop-and-frisk data reporting and requiring more budget transparency from the agency.
  • Enhances staffing at the Office of the DC Attorney General to defend worker rights.

Other DC Council Committees:

  • Our Human Services Committee restored funding for the CFSA Office of the Ombudsperson for Children, which was proposed to be defunded by the Mayor.
  • The Health Committee added $1.5 million to the proposed budget to ensure nurses are properly staffing DCPS and PCS schools..
  • The Facilities and Government Operations Committee required a comprehensive public-facing work order dashboard to keep communities informed about critical repairs to schools and recreation facilities.
  • And in response to the issues I raised in last week’s newsletter around increased scams targeting seniors, the Housing Committee included $250,000 in funds to support older adults in preventing fraud and exploitation.

Why I Support the Dance Loft Affordable Housing Project

Over the past several months, hundreds of neighbors have written to me about the proposed Dance Loft project to build affordable housing and a community performance arts space. Today I shared in Petworth News why I believe this project is essential for confronting our dire affordable housing crisis. I grew up in a neighborhood where working-class families like mine could afford to live, but affordability has been rapidly diminishing across the District. The core DC value of being a welcoming city is undermined by housing prices that systematically push people out and keep people out. We can be a city where working families can afford to live again, but it requires projects and policies that move the needle on affordable housing – especially the deeply affordable and multi-bedroom units that DC desperately needs.

I understand neighbors’ concerns and I respect the neighbors who have voiced them. But the alternative of shrinking or redesigning the building would ultimately yield less affordable housing – by producing fewer market-rate apartments to subsidize affordability, or making the building uncompetitive for public funding, or forcing a far costlier construction method. We need all of the proposed affordable housing units at Dance Loft because each unit will prevent a neighbor of ours from facing displacement, a severe rent burden, or even homelessness. Our Sixteenth Street Heights community has worked hard over decades to make improvements to the neighborhood. All of these benefits should be shared by everyone – not just those who can afford to remain in the neighborhood. Read my full perspective in Petworth News.

Community Resources

Join Our Team as an Administrative Assistant or Constituent Services Coordinator!

I’m in the process of hiring an administrative assistant and an additional constituent services coordinator for our office serving Ward 4! You would be joining a dedicated, values-driven team working in a rewarding, fast-paced environment at the DC Council and in our community. Please consider applying or helping me recruit a great person for each position by sharing these openings with people who would make a good match.

Community Survey on the Public Art on 5th and Kennedy Streets NW  

ANC 4D has developed a community survey to solicit feedback regarding the public art installation currently located at the southeast corner of 5th and Kennedy Streets NW. Please share your thoughts by 5pm on April 30.

Support for Our Community and Small Businesses

Here are some important opportunities for financial support in Ward 4. The Lamond Riggs Citizens Association is offering scholarships to graduating seniors from the Lamond Riggs community. Apply by May 9. Meanwhile, small businesses on the Upper Georgia Ave corridor can apply for grants between $3,000-$5,000. Apply by April 29. In addition, Uptown Main Street and Petworth Main Street will soon be issuing grants for small businesses along 14th Street, Kennedy Street, Upshur Street, and the middle part of Georgie Ave, so stay tuned!

Help Locate Bruno and Reunite Him with His Owner

A 1-year-old French Bulldog named Bruno was stolen from his owner in Brightwood Park last week and his owner is asking for the community’s help to locate him. You can see a photo of Bruno in this flyer. Please call 213-200-7137 or text 50411 if you see him. There’s a monetary award for safe return.

A Birdseye View of The Parks at Walter Reed

Lastly, if you’re interested in seeing construction progress on the Walter Reed development, this interactive website features regularly-updated panorama photographs of the site!

Neighborhood Events

Petworth Spring Community Health Fair

On Saturday, April 23 from 10am-12pm Petworth Get Wise is hosting a community health fair at Petworth Rec Center (801 Taylor St NW). They’ll offer COVID vaccines, free COVID rapid tests, HIV screening, breast cancer information, blood pressure screening, a martial arts class at 11am, and a yoga class at 12:30pm (bring your own mat)! They’ll also have plenty of community partners there, so it’s bound to be a great event!

Spring Celebration & Egg Roll at the Parks at Walter Reed

On Saturday, April 23 from 10am-12pm the Parks at Walter Reed will host their spring celebration on the Great Lawn. Watch out for the Easter bunny, enjoy fresh donuts, hunt for eggs (bring your baskets), and get moving with games, relay races, yoga, and more! All are welcome to this free event, but remember to RSVP so they have enough supplies and eggs. There will also be a community yoga class at 9am on the Arts Plaza next to the dog park (6310 Cameron Drive NW). Please register for the free class. See you there!

Earth Day Community Cleanups Across Ward 4

As we celebrate Earth Day, our communities are holding several community cleanups across Ward 4. Join your local clean up to lend a hand!

  • Saturday, April 23 from 9am-11am in Lamond Riggs: Community cleanup, weekend, and planting at Milligan Point (Rittenhouse St & Sligo Mill Rd NE) with the Lamond Community Action Group. Please wear a mask and bring gloves! 
  • Saturday, April 23 from 9am-11am in Lamond Riggs: Community cleanup at Riggs-LaSalle Rec Center (501 Riggs Road NE) with the Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association.
  • Saturday, April 23 from 9am-11am in Petworth: Trash removal at Raymond Educational Campus (915 Spring Road NW) with the Mayor’s Office of African Affairs.
  • Saturday, April 23 from 10am-12pm in Sixteenth Street Heights: Cleanup at Carter Barron Picnic Grove #24 with the Rock Creek Conservancy and National Park Service.
  • Saturday, April 23 from 10:30am-12:30pm in Brightwood: Community cleanup on the 1200 block of Tuckerman St NW (near St. John United Baptist Church). Bags, gloves, and limited tools will be provided!
  • Saturday, April 23 from 10am-12pm in Manor Park: Trash removal at Fort Slocum Park with the Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service.
  • Saturday, April 23 from 2pm-3:30pm in Brightwood Park: Planting summer annuals and some weeding at Lorenzo Allen Park (9th & Gallatin NW) with Petworth Blooms.
  • Sunday, April 24 from 10am-11am in Petworth: Painting the benches and planting flowers in the three giant pots in Grant Circle Playground with Petworth Blooms.

Midtown Youth Academy Grand Opening

On Saturday, April 23 at 1pmMidtown Youth Academy will hold a ribbon cutting and grand opening at 5332 Georgia Ave NW! MYA is an afterschool program for youth ages 9-17 that provides tutoring and specialty programs.. The organization is most known for its Boxing component and will be marking the 85th birthday of its founder, Eugene Hughes.

Cheer on Takoma Elementary Students As They Take PARCC Tests

On Monday, April 25 at 8:10am-8:50am and Monday, May 2 at 8:10am-8:50am parents and community volunteers will line the walkway from Piney Branch Road to the doors of Takoma Elementary School to cheer on students as they kick off their PARCC testing. April 25 is the testing date for 3rd graders and May 2 is the testing date for 4th and 5th graders. Volunteers are encouraged to wear blue and yellow. Sign up to be part of the community hype squad!

Join Ward 4 CARE Day in Takoma

On Thursday, April 28 from 4pm-7pm my team and I and community volunteers will be bringing Ward 4 CARE Day to Takoma starting from Takoma Neighborhood Library (416 Cedar St NW). RSVP to join as we check in on neighbors, share resources, problem solve with DC agencies, and bring our community closer together.

Roosevelt High School “Ride the Verse” Poetry Slam

On Thursday, April 28 from 6pm-8pm Roosevelt HS is hosting its second annual poetry slam at Lincoln’s Cottage (140 Rock Creek Church Road NW)! Join them to celebrate the Roosevelt community, culture, diversity, and pride through music, art, and poetry. There will be a DJ, food vendors, prizes and more. Please bring your own blanket or chair. Get your tickets here!

Ward 4, Mark Your Calendars:

  • Petworth PorchFest returns on Saturday, April 30 from 2pm-6pm (sign up to volunteerperform, or host a band on your porch).
  • The 16th Street Neighborhood Association’s Spring Fling is coming up next Saturday, April 30 from 11am-1pm at the Varnum Green Space with food, games, and an egg hunt for kids.
  • Crestwood’s second annual plant swap will be held on Sunday, May 1 to share your extra seedlings, thinned non-invasive perennials, or excess house plants and cuttings.   
  • The annual Shepherd Park Citizens Association Garden Tour will be back and bigger than ever on Sunday, May 22.
  • Home Rule Music Fest will be coming to Ward 4 at The Parks at Walter Reed on Saturday, June 11 from 3pm-9:30pm.
  • The Kennedy Street Festival will return this summer (tentatively on June 25) and is looking for volunteers! Fill out this form to help bring back this amazing festival.
  • NEW: The Celebrate Petworth Festival will also be back this year on Saturday, September 24 from 11am-5pm! You can help make it happen by volunteering.

On another note, thank you to all the families who joined our Ward 4 Family Egg Hunt and Basket Giveaway at Emery Rec Center on Monday. Special thank you to Coach Lou, Friends of Emery, DPR, and AmeriHealth for making the event possible. The kids had a blast!

In closing, a word of thanks to Sixteenth Street Heights neighbors who took time to chat or check out the material we left behind during our latest Ward 4 CARE Day this week! It was a great day checking in on our fellow community members, sharing DC services, addressing blighted properties, and admiring how beautiful the neighborhood is in full bloom. Join us next Thursday in Takoma or another future Ward 4 CARE Day near you.

Yours in Community,