THIS BLOG WAS FIRST PUBLISHED BY MIRIAM'S KITCHEN AT HTTPS://MIRIAMSKITCHEN.ORG/2021/05/25/MAYOR-BOWSER-RELEASES-HER-BUDGET/
TELL MAYOR BOWSER TO END CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS
Mayor Bowser releases her version of D.C.’s $16.9 billion budget on Thursday, May 27th. As DC begins to recover from COVID-19, this will be one of the most consequential budgets in D.C.’s history. If she wants to, Mayor Bower could use this budget to end chronic homelessness for 3,100 households and set D.C. on a path to a just recovery. To do that, the mayor’s budget must prioritize housing justice and ensure that D.C.’s growing prosperity is equitably spread to all our neighbors. In practice, a moral budget must:
- Invest $100 million to end chronic homelessness for 2,670 individuals and 430 families.
- Fully fund D.C.’s robust network of homeless street outreach with an additional $1.8 million in recurring funds.
- Prevent people from entering homelessness by increasing investments in Project Reconnect, The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), and well-targeted Rapid Rehousing that preserves client choice.
- Increase funding for deeply affordable housing by increasing LRSP (both tenant and project-based) and the Housing Product Trust Fund, by repairing public housing, and purchasing hotels to convert them into PSH and low-income housing.
Federal funding is not enough.
D.C. has or will receive over $2.5 billion in federally funded COVID relief, including a few hundred housing vouchers. This is good news, and this money should be leveraged to prevent and end homelessness. However, this federal funding is not sufficient to meet the full needs of D.C.’s homelessness crisis. As such, D.C. must invest recurring local dollars, which are more flexible and durable than federal funding, to end homelessness.
Now is the time for Mayor Bowser to live up to her commitments.
The best time to make bold investments to end chronic homelessness was before D.C.’s homeless crisis began and before thousands of our neighbors were without housing. The second-best time is now. Mayor Bowser must fulfill her campaign promises to end chronic homelessness and all forms of homelessness in D.C. Simply put, Mayor Bowser must put her money where her mouth is and invest $100 million to end chronic homelessness for 3,100 households. Anything less means that far too many of our neighbors will be without housing for at least another year.
Click here to email Mayor Bowser to tell her that her budget must end chronic homelessness for 3,100 households.
Mayor Bowser often labels her budget as a Fair Shot. A fair shot is only possible when everybody, specifically D.C.’s wealthiest neighbors and companies, pays their fair share for the collective good. D.C. has many options to find the money needed to end chronic homelessness, from defunding MPD, increasing taxes, or shifting funding away from non-urgent projects such as the Streetcar. A fair shot means that everybody has a chance to thrive, and that must start with housing.
Andrew Anderson, an advocacy fellow at Miriam’s Kitchen and Director of Outreach at the People for Fairness Coalition reminds us that ending homelessness is exceedingly possible. Andrew says, “D.C. has an opportunity to end homelessness, and this opportunity should not be wasted. If the District can fund the creation of streetcars and millions of dollars on police, we absolutely can invest in housing. Housing is a human right.”
Housing justice is essential for racial justice.
Addressing D.C.’s homelessness and affordable housing crises is essential for achieving racial justice. Not only because a staggering 86% of individuals experiencing homelessness in the District are Black, but also because this is not a coincidence. It’s the result of centuries of racist policies that have denied entire communities the ability to thrive. Policy choices, like the ones that create and maintain homelessness, require policy solutions and necessitate governments to step up to meet the needs of the many, not just the privileged few.