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Ward 4 Dispatch: Traffic Safety, Rental Assistance, Medicaid Renewal, and Ward 4 Events

Dear Neighbors,

There’s a lot to cover this week! DC School Lottery results. Renewing your Medicaid coverage. Deadline to apply for DPR summer camps. COVID Centers closing. Ward 4 traffic safety improvements. Great community events, including Spring Carnival at Petworth Library. New legislation on emergency rental assistance. And more Congressional meddling in DC affairs.

Most of my time was dedicated to budget oversight hearings lifting up community issues. I pressed the Department of Buildings about addressing blighted properties in Ward 4, inspecting tenant buildings for housing violations, and the questionable quality of companies that do “third party inspections” of residential construction and renovation. I also questioned the Department of Human Services about continuing its services for immigrants who arrive in DC, accessibility at DHS Service Centers, and the need to better manage our rental assistance programs. And I chaired a hearing with DDS, ODR, and MODDHH focused on what support each agency needs to make DC government more inclusive for residents with disabilities.

Traffic Safety Improvements in Ward 4

My team and I are continuing to work with ANC Commissioners, neighbors, and DDOT to secure traffic safety improvements to our local streets and intersections:

  • The dangerous intersection of Varnum & Iowa & Georgia Avenue NW in Petworth (near Roosevelt HS and MacFarland MS) will benefit from a full new traffic light.
  • full traffic light is also coming to 16th & Blagden NW in Crestwood and Sixteenth Street Heights. Down the road, we also improved safety with a new all-way stop at Beach Drive & Blagden NW.
  • In the Kennedy Street area, Longfellow & Georgia NW will get a full new traffic light and we will have streetscape upgrades as part of the Kennedy Street Rehabilitation Project II, which is starting soon now that utility work in the area is finishing.
  • In Lamond, the intersection of Sligo Avenue & Eastern Ave & Sheridan NE will soon have a traffic light as an early installation from the Eastern Avenue Rehabilitation Project.
  • We have new all-way stops installed at 13th & Hamilton NW15th & Crittenden NW5th & Farragut NW (pictured above), and Arkansas & Farragut NW. Also, Georgia & Farragut NW has been approved for a full traffic light and a pedestrian HAWK signal is already being installed at Georgia & Hamilton NW to improve pedestrian safety.
  • In Sixteenth Street Heights, we secured important safety improvements at Iowa & Arkansas NW. DDOT will install a centerline median to prevent left-hand turns or moving straight across the intersection from Iowa Avenue — eliminating the traffic pattern that caused multiple major crashes. DDOT will also install two pedestrian islands to improve pedestrian safety here and slow down cars by narrowing the travel lane.
  • West of Rock Creek Park, a new raised crosswalk has been approved at the intersection of Broad Branch & Patterson NW to improve safety around Lafayette-Pointer. DDOT has also proposed closing the 32nd Street slip lane connecting Utah Ave NW and Tennyson St NW, as well as making other upgrades to the intersection.
  • Between Takoma and Shepherd Park, Georgia & Juniper NW will get a HAWK signal to make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross Georgia Avenue.
  • Rock Creek Church Road in Petworth is receiving important traffic calming measures, including an all-way stop at Rock Creek & Varnum NW, two speed tables on the unit block, one speed table on the 100 block, and reduced speed limit along the corridor.
  • In Brightwood Park and Petworth, DDOT finally closed the 8th Street slip lane between Emerson & Illinois NW to vehicular traffic, and I requested an all-way stop here as well.
  • DDOT has installed or plans to install speed bumps or speed tables across Ward 4, including the 6600 block of 2nd Street NW; the 5700 block of 8th Street NW; the 5100 block of 8th Street NW; the 5400 Block of 7th Street NW; the 500, 5300 and 5400 blocks of Illinois Avenue NW; the unit block of Hamilton Street NW; the 500 block of Varnum Street NW; and the 1600 block of Webster Street NW.

We are making important progress in improving traffic safety in our neighborhoods, but there are still many streets and intersections that need improvements. One simple step any neighbor can take is to submit a Traffic Safety Input (TSI) request on the 311 website. Next week, DDOT will choose 200 new TSI requests from across DC to prioritize for investigation next quarter. You can track submitted TSIs on DDOT’s interactive map.

New Bill: Emergency Rental Assistance

On March 8, the DC Department of Human Services announced that it would shut down applications for emergency rental assistance (ERAP) only two days later — sending DC residents scrambling to apply and community groups to get the word out to families in need. Today I introduced a new bill that would prevent this critical program from suddenly shutting down in the future. The legislation, which was co-introduced with eight other Councilmembers, requires a one-month notice before DC stops accepting rental assistance applications, monthly reports on the status of the program, and tracking requests after the application portal closes so we can assess the full need in our community. ERAP is a critical program that keeps our neighbors housed. This year, DC ran out of ERAP funds only 5 months into the fiscal year. Next year, the Mayor’s proposed budget cuts ERAP funding by more than 80%. I will fight to reverse these devastating cuts in the DC budget.

Speak at a Budget Oversight Hearing

Budget oversight hearings are our best opportunity to shape the DC budget so it can meet our community’s needs. Last week I shared my early analysis of the Mayor’s proposed budget and areas where we need greater investments. This week I am highlighting some important upcoming budget oversight hearings where community members can come speak about the change they want to see. You can find the full schedule and sign-up instructions on the Council’s website, and please contact me or my team if you need support signing up:

  • Wednesday, April 5 at 12pm-3pm: Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR)
  • Wednesday, April 5 at 9am-6pm: DCPS, DC PCS, OSSE, and all education agencies
  • Wednesday, April 5 at 12pm-6pm: Department of Employment Services (DOES)
  • Thursday, April 6 at 9am-12pm: Department of General Services (DGS)
  • Monday, April 10 at 9am-6pm: DC Housing Authority (DCHA)
  • Monday, April 10 at 9am-6pm: Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), Green Green Bank, and DC Water

Community Resources

Important: 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. While some DC residents will be automatically renewed through information DHCF already has, most DC residents will then need to complete a renewal application online, by mail, or by visiting one of the District’s Service Centers. 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.

Deadline on Wednesday: DPR Summer Camp Lottery

Parents have until Wednesday, April 5 to sign up for DPR’s new lottery sign-up system for 2023 summer camps. Once the sign-up window has closed, the system will randomly select participants and announce camp placements on April 18 so parents can make their payment and lock in their registration. DPR has added about new 5,000 summer camp slots this year.

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.

700 Next-Generation E-Bikes Capital Bikeshare  

This week DDOT added 700 next-generation e-bikes to their Capital Bikeshare fleet. The new e-bikes have a larger battery with a 60-mile range, are more visible at night, can better accommodate tall riders, and feature new sensors that can self-report maintenance problems. 

Homestead Deduction, Senior Citizen, and Disability Property Tax Relief 

At the peak of tax season, I want to remind every eligible resident to submit your application for a homestead, senior citizen, or disability property tax deduction. Residents can apply online or use a paper form that’s accessible by calling 202-727-4829. If a properly completed and approved application is filed by March 31, the home will get the benefit for the entire tax year. 

Convert Your Tax Lot to a Lot of Record 

The Department of Buildings (DOB) is temporarily offering a substantially reduced fee of $100 for homeowners who want to convert their tax lot to a lot of record. Why is this important? A tax lot designation limits homeowners from being issued permits for home improvement projects. How do you find out if your property is recorded as a tax lot or lot of record? Review your deed or consult this database. Learn more about this process and get started on DOB’s website

Expanded Hours at Emery Heights and Ward 4 Rec Centers  

Starting Monday, March 27, Emery Heights Community Center in Ward 4 will expanded its operating hours to 6am-9pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on Saturdays — adding 39 extra hours of recreation each week! The same change was made at eight centers citywide, including Columbia Heights Community Center and Turkey Thicket. Then, later in April, other Ward 4 rec centers will also have their hours extended, too. 

New 311 Request: Request Installation of Public Litter Cans 

Did a public litter get removed from your neighborhood? Or is there an area with frequent littering that would benefit from a new public litter can? You can now request a public litter can to be installed on the 311 website311 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.

DC COVID Centers Permanently Closed

DC’s COVID Centers officially closed today as federal pandemic funding lapses. Thank you to the incredible DC Health staff at our Ward 4 COVID Center for supporting our community, and thank you to Peoples Congregational UCC for hosting this invaluable resource in their facility. My team visited our Ward 4 COVID Center today and dropped off donuts to show our appreciation.

Neighborhood Events

Petworth Library Spring Carnival

On Saturday, April 1 at 10:30am-3pm the Petworth Library will host a Spring Carnival and Used Book Sale featuring a used book sale, merchandise, face painting, arts and crafts, and more! Come have fun with your neighbors and support our Petworth Library.

Mini-Oasis Restoration at Fort Slocum 

On Saturday, April 1 at 10am-12pm the Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service will host an invasive plant removal restoration event in Rock Creek Park. Invasive plants are a major threat to our fragile forests, and stopping their spread helps allow for a thriving native understory. Register here

Kangaroo Bounce Fitness with DC Paid Family Leave

On Sunday, April 2 at 11am, 12pm, and 1pm DC Paid Family Leave and JamzFit will host three free 30-minute Kangaroo Bounce classes, giveaways, and info about paid family leave benefits for workers in DC at The Dance Loft. RSVP for a fun health and wellness experience!

Palm Sunday Pony Rides at Simpson-Hamline UMC

On Sunday, April 2 at 3pm-5pm Simpson-Hamline UMC (4501 16th St. NW) will host Palm Sunday Pony Rides for children to come ride a pony around the Church’s lawn and enjoy some time of fellowship and games. Children under 18 must come with an adult and everyone needs a signed waiver to participate (waivers will also be available on site).

Grand Opening: Zion Mobile Market on Kennedy Street

On Thursday, April 6 from 12pm-4pm Zion Baptist Church will host the grand opening for its Mobile Market, which provides free fresh produce to families in need. The event will take place at City Blossoms’s backyard garden (516 Kennedy St NW). Stop by and spread the word!

Upcoming DPR Events for Ward 4
DPR is hosting several great events for Ward 4 families:

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!

Extreme Rock Creek Cleanups

From April 1 through April 22, the Rock Creek Conservancy and National Park Service are hosting more than a dozen clean up events across DC and Ward 4, including events in Rock Creek, Piney Branch, Fort Slocum, Carter Barron, and Fort Totten. Join an event near you!

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), and lunch will be provided! If you’re an employer, please reach out to participate. Residents can register to attend on Eventbrite. Please spread the word with this flyer!

Please note that tomorrow’s South Manor Park Neighborhood Association Cleanup has been postponed to a later date due to inclement weather.

Local News Links

UrbanTurfNew Renderings Show Retail Plaza, Park at Takoma Metro Development

Washington PostToo few students finish college. Coolidge program aims to change

Sticky Fingers: Vegan Bakery Coming to Takoma in former Soupergirl location

Lost Sock Roasters: Pop-Up Coming to Kennedy Street at ANXO Cider location

Washington PostChicatana offers a front-row seat to sublime Mexican cooking in DC

Petworth NewsWard 4 literacy gets a boost and a lot of books from local non-profit

Channel 9: Bill seeks to create public safety director at all DC high schools

The Parks at Walter Reed12th Street sidewalk to the future Marketplace Plaza now open

Washington PostThe 15 best concert venues in DC to see a band (featuring Rhizome)

Open Streets Georgia Avenue: Save the Day for Saturday, October 7 from 9am-3pm

Last Ward 4 Dispatch: Proposed DC Budget, Budget Season, and The Welcome Table

This week the US House held an “oversight hearing” on the state of the District of Columbia. In reality, the mistakes, confusion, and plain old ignorance about DC that we saw from many Members of Congress made a very compelling case for why the people of DC deserve Statehood and self governance. The ugliest moment was when an Alabama Congressman denigrated DC students in a racist and dehumanizing way that does not bear repeating. As a proud DCPS graduate and someone who visits our schools all the time, I want to be clear that we are incredibly proud of our Ward 4 scholars and the parents and educators who support them. Our students are brilliant, gifted, and beautiful human beings. Our community and our city unequivocally has their back. They deserve a Congress that will do the same.

For those in our community observing Lent, I hope this is a peaceful Holy Week for you and your loved ones. I also want to extend wishes for a joyous Passover and love-filled Seders to our Jewish neighbors in Ward 4 and across DC.

Let’s all enjoy our first weekend in April and what is left of our beautiful cherry blossoms!

Yours in Community,