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The proposed DC budget for fiscal year (FY) 2020 will reinforce gentrification and displacement of Black residents, and fails to take meaningful steps to address the city’s persistent racial inequities, according to a new analysis by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. As the DC Council works on the FY 2020 budget, they should take meaningful steps to promote racial equity.
The DCFPI report, Budgeting for Equity: How to Advance Opportunity for People of Color in DC, examines the proposed FY 2020 budget through a racial equity lens, identifying shortcomings and steps District leaders can take to advance equity for DC residents. The report calls for urgent action, and comes the day before the Council holds a hearing on the Racial Equity Achieves Results Amendment Act (REAR Act), which would help bring a racial equity focus to the District’s policymaking.
The DCFPI report argues that the budget is the key tool for addressing the history of systemic racism that blocked Black residents from homeownership, job opportunities, quality education, and health care, and that has left residents of color behind in DC’s growing prosperity. Yet several aspects of the proposed budget will reinforce, rather than address, these inequities:
- The proposed budget includes a new program to directly subsidize housing for residents with incomes above $100,000, while not putting any new money into public housing repairs or vouchers to reduce DC’s 40,000-household housing wait list.
- The proposed budget would cut funding at many DC public schools, nearly all of them in Wards 7 and 8.
- It would make permanent a child care tax credit for families with incomes up to $750,000, while barely addressing the low quality of care that holds back infants and toddlers in low-income communities.
- The budget would create free transportation on the Circulator, which serves a whiter and higher-income population than MetroBus.
“Where we put our budget resources says everything about the city we want to be,” said Ed Lazere, Executive Director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. “A budget that prioritizes housing for middle-income residents over residents with low-incomes and that promotes public transit access in mostly white, wealthy areas sends the message that the city doesn’t care about long-term Black residents who are being displaced and left behind.”