Last week, DC Council committees voted on changes—or “mark-ups”—to the Mayor’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 and supplemental FY 2021 budgets. While the mark-ups resulted in some funding increases for vital education, housing, and other programs, Councilmembers missed key opportunities to ‘build back better’ through a just recovery. Notably, the Council’s mark-ups still fail to fully provide for immediate and growing needs, such as affordable housing, public housing repairs, and cash benefits for excluded workers, among other areas.
During mark-ups, each Council committee proposes funding for agencies and programs they oversee, using the Mayor’s budget proposal as a starting point. Committee chairs send their marked-up budgets to the Committee of the Whole, which will vote on the full budget on July 20th. At that time, Councilmembers can make additional changes to the budget, including preserving, undoing, or expanding changes made during mark-ups.
DCFPI encourages the Council to protect vital community programs and to lay the groundwork for a just economic recovery that targets those most in need, addresses longstanding racial inequities, and raises revenue to sustain—over the long-term—momentum built with federal funds.
The following are some of the committees’ most noteworthy mark-ups:
- Provided $5.6 million to early childhood, adult, and residential public charter schools that were ineligible for emergency federal recovery dollars and have experienced significant enrollment declines.
- Added $2 million for Out-of-School Time programs.
- Saved $5 million by cutting de-escalation training for DCPS security guards and MPD school resource officers. The Committee of the Whole deemed the training redundant and not well designed to meet the educational and safety needs of DC youth.
- Put forward a plan to phase out the School Resource Officer program over four years with a “scale down, scale up” model, scaling down school security while scaling up other resources. The Committee also limited law enforcement’s ability to detain or arrest students in schools for non-serious offenses.
Homelessness and Eviction Prevention
- Added $1 million to Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which helps residents facing eviction pay overdue rent and related legal costs, among other needs.
- Missed Opportunity: At least $4.5 million is still needed to fund the program at the FY 2021 level.
- Restored Project Reconnect funding to FY 2021 levels by adding $325,000. Project Reconnect helps individuals who are newly homeless find alternatives to shelter such as reuniting with friends and families.
- Missed Opportunity An additional $1.05 million to double the number served.
- Restored $305,000 to a youth homelessness program to offset the Mayor’s proposed cuts.
- Missed Opportunity: $1.6 million is needed for a variety of youth programs.
- Cut $423,000 from Rapid ReHousing for individuals and $2.1 million for families in the FY 2021 and FY 2022 budgets. Rapid ReHouisng, which combines time-limited rental assistance with case management, can be funded with federal emergency rental assistance funds to offset these cuts.
- Created a $5.5 million fund to provide $500 incentive payments to the first 10,000 residents who complete STAY DC applications and have experienced unemployment. STAY DC is federally funded and pays rental arrears to prevent evictions.
- Cut $500,000 from the FY 2021 Interim Disability Assistance (IDA) budget. IDA provides modest, temporary cash benefits to adults with disabilities who have applied for federal disability benefits and are awaiting an eligibility determination. This cut reflects underspending in FY 2021 and should not result in recipients being cut from the program.
- Missed opportunity: No funding added to expand the caseload in FY 2022 despite many in need.
- Created a new $1.5 million eviction diversion program that will provide mediation for tenants and landlords.
- Added $650,000 for public housing repairs.
- Missed opportunity: An additional $37.4 million is needed.
- Funded $1.3 tenant vouchers for special populations, with 20 vouchers for returning citizens, 15 for seniors, and 20 for LGBTQ seniors.
- Missed opportunity: $17.3 million is needed for tenant vouchers for families on the DC Housing Authority waitlist.
- Added $100,000 for transitional housing for returning citizens.
- Missed opportunity: $700,000 more is needed.
- Added $20 million more for excluded workers—those who are undocumented or otherwise in the informal cash economy and excluded from unemployment benefits.
- Missed opportunity: This is $165 million short of excluded workers’ ask and far short of true need.
- Exempted permanently Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits from the local income tax with an allocation of $29 million. And, added $15 million for payments to UI claimants who have endured long wait times before receiving benefits.
- Included $5 million in hazard pay for essential workers who risked their health during the pandemic.
- Extended paid family leave to include prenatal leave and added stillbirth as a qualifying medical leave event, and, in FY2022, increased medical leave from 2 weeks to up to 6 weeks.
- Allocated $9 million to support the ‘Child Wealth Building Act,’ (also known as baby bonds)—an annually compounding investment for each eligible child that they can use to build wealth upon turning 18 years of age.
- Missed opportunity: $26 million is needed over the 4-year financial plan to implement the program.
- Allocated $1.5 million to support a Guaranteed Income pilot program. This program provides unrestricted cash payments to residents with low incomes.
- Created a Commission on Poverty with $668,000 to evaluate existing and future anti-poverty programs and their effectiveness and make recommendations for improvement.
- Allocated $30 million for targeted grants to small and minority-owned businesses to help them pay back rent and other costs associated with reopening, like hiring more workers.
- Created a new $10 million Commercial Acquisition Fund to establish a commercial down payment assistance program and offset the increasing costs of owning and operating a small business in DC.
- Allocated $150,000 for community-based reentry services for transgender returning citizens.
- Funded the ‘Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Amendment Act of 2020,’ which establishes employment protections for DC government employees who participate in the medical cannabis program.