DC for Democracy is a leading unaligned progressive group of activists, community leaders and everyday voters in the District of Columbia working for positive change in our local government and statehood for the residents of Washington, DC. We are the Washington, D.C. local group of Democracy for America (DFA).

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Our next meeting is Wednesday, June 14 at 6:30pm. Venue TBD.

DC for Democracy offers the following FY18 Budget Recommendations, based on the budget resolution passed by our members at the May 9th meetup, as a tool for our members and the broader DC public. The budget will only reflect our priorities IF we actively advocate for them. Use this information to engage with Councilmembers via email, phone and social media. Our main target right now is Chairman Phil Mendelson. He can be reached at pmendelson@dccouncil.us, @ChmnMendelson, and (202) 724-8032.

Transparency
The Council Chairman should publish the revised budget, along with summaries abiding by language access laws, to allow at least 7 business days for the public to review the budget before the first Council vote.

Affordable Housing
The Council should take the following minimal steps to address the crisis of affordable housing in DC, with the understanding that these are band-aids, rather than long-term solutions:

    1) Expand the commitment to fund public housing: acquire additional public housing and provide $25 million a year for public housing repairs;

    2) Invest $150 million a year for the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF), part of which should fully fund the recommendations of Housing Preservation Strike Force to preserve affordable housing; furthermore, increase to 50% (from 40%) the amount of HPTF money targeted to benefit DC residents earning less than 30% of the Area Median Income;

    3) Address homelessness by funding $30 million in rental assistance for people experiencing homelessness and $12.2 million a year for permanent supportive housing for singles and families, and

    4) Hold slumlords accountable by including in the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) budget: (1) additional funding for the Nuisance Abatement Fund to fix housing code violations in vacant/abandoned units that pose serious risks to neighbors; (2) funding for additional full-time DCRA housing inspector positions; and (3) funding for increased DCRA enforcement to refer serious housing code violations to the Office of Attorney General for legal action.

Criminal Justice
NEAR (Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results) Act: Fully fund and implement the NEAR Act to reflect both the letter and the spirit of the law, and establish a new relationship between the community and the police. In particular, the budget must include $6 million in recurring funds for the Office of Neighborhood Engagement & Safety to work with high-risk individuals, use public health methods to interrupt and reduce violence, and collect better data on these vital issues of community health and well-being.

Paid Family Leave
Fund the additional $20 million required to fully fund the start-up costs for the Paid Family Leave program the Council enacted last year. After two years of debating the bill, the Council should stand by its own law and not allow the Big Business lobby to exercise veto power.

Revenue

    1) Support Councilmember David Grosso’s Reserve Fund Improvement Amendment Act to align calculation of the local cash reserve funds with the federal reserve funds. By providing an additional $90 million in FY18 for the Housing Production Trust Fund and school modernization, the capital budget can more easily provide the additional $20 million required for start-up costs for Paid Family Leave;

    2) Maintain significant progress towards a fairer tax code by eliminating planned cuts in the estate tax and business franchise tax that further accentuate income inequality. This will yield $40 million in recurring funds for FY18 (and more than $200 million over the next 4 years) that can go towards public housing repairs, housing vouchers, and the NEAR act;

    3) Withdraw all subsidies/abatements from developers/corporations not complying with local hiring, affordable housing regulations or other wage/labor laws, and

    4) Recommend revision of the 2014 tax legislation to move towards a more progressive structure by raising the income tax rate on households making more $350,000 per year.

UPDATE (5/15/17): Subsequent to the May 9th meetup, we updated the FY18 Budget Recommendations to correct an erroneous understanding of the budget timeline. In fact, the Council first publishes the updated Budget before the first Council vote (not the Committee of the Whole public hearing). Therefore, the first recommendation (under Transparency) needed to be changed to call for the Council to publish the budget 7 days before the first Council vote. Click here to read the DC4D FY18 Budget Recommendations Final

DC for Democracy members took a stand on Affordable Housing and the FY18 Budget at our meetup on May 9, 2017.

Joe Barrios, Coordinator of the Affordable Housing team, presented a resolution drafted by the team that included principles that would guide amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, regulation of the short-term rental market (Airbnb) and the FY18 budget. Members debated and voted on amendments to the resolution, and passed the resolution by majority vote (show of hands). The resolution will serve as the agenda for the Affordable Housing team for the next fiscal year. Read the 2017 Housing Resolution here.

Kesh Ladduwahetty, Chair, presented a resolution drafted by the Steering Committee, with input from the Affordable Housing team and Criminal Justice teams. The resolution included items related to transparency, affordable housing (the same items included in the Affordable Housing resolution), criminal justice issues, Paid Family Leave, and revenue. Members debated and voted on amendments to the resolution, and passed the resolution by majority vote (show of hands). Read the final FY18 Budget Resolution here.

At our May meetup we will discuss and vote on two resolutions.

One resolution was prepared by DC4D’s Affordable Housing Team and defines the team’s housing agenda for 2017 - 18. It addresses some aspects of the Comprehensive Plan which is the master plan that drives decisions about housing, land use, etc. The Comprehensive Plan is undergoing an update from now through 2018 and will influence housing in DC for the next 10 years. This is the first time DC4D is attempting to delve into the “Comp Plan,” so this resolution signifies an initial step that we hope to build on. This resolution also addresses housing issues in the FY18 budget and pending legislation that seeks to regulate the short-term rental market (e.g. Airbnb).
Read the DC4D Housing resolution here.

The second resolution was prepared by DC4D’s Steering Committee with input from the Affordable Housing team, Criminal Justice teams and individual DC4D members. It addresses DC4D’s recommendations for the FY18 budget. Since the budget is an enormous document that addresses many vital issues, we have selected a small number of issues that fit with core values and long-standing priorities, as well as those that are well-suited to advocacy by our members. The budget resolution includes those items in the Affordable Housing resolution that pertain to the FY18 budget.
Read the DC4D FY18 Budget Recommendations here.

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