Important Topics to Talk About at Today’s Council Discussion
DC budget season is entering the home stretch. Council members are meeting this afternoon to discuss parts of the fiscal year 2013 Budget Request Act and Budget Support Act which will be voted on next Tuesday. DCFPI thanks Chairman Kwame Brown for televising today’s proceedings, but once again, there are no seats for the public in the meeting room. Members have tough decisions to make, but ultimately the choice is between moving our city forward or back to the past. We hope Council members choose to move forward and fund programs that will make our city more healthy and productive.
Moving our city forward includes restoring the $7 million for homeless services to replace depleted federal funds and smartly putting $6 million toward Local Rent Supplement. This will allow 250 families to move from $100 a night motel rooms to stable housing. An additional $2 million would support 200 permanent supportive homes for homeless residents.
Mayor Gray’s proposed budget includes a “Revised Revenue Estimate Contingency Priority List”, a list of 25 programs he hopes to fund if the District’s revenue collections grow beyond current projections in fiscal year 2013. It is not a list of frills but instead it would simply help maintain services that are critical to the well-being of the District, including human services programs that have been hard hit in the Great Recession.
DCFPI urges the DC Council to keep the following items on the priority list as part of the budget:
Number 1: $7 million of local dollars to homeless services. If the Council cannot fund homeless services in the budget, it’s critical to keep this at number one. Without this money, shelters might close and both families and singles will be left on the street outside of hypothermia season.
Number 2: $14.7 million toward Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This is critical to implementing a re-designed TANF jobs program and to making sure s parents have sufficient benefits for their children while they access the services they need to find and retain employment.
Number 4, hopefully moved up to Number 3: $20 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund. The trust fund is DC’s best way to maintain and build affordable units. The DC HealthCare Alliance is currently at number three, but the Committee on Health found savings within its committee to restore money to the program. DCFPI hopes the Council will move the trust up to number three. The number of affordable units in our city is quickly vanishing. As he did last year, Gray proposes in his budget to take money from the Housing Production Trust Fund to fund the Local Rent Supplement Program. Unfortunately, taking money from one good program to fund another isn’t a winning strategy for keeping our city affordable.