I cannot believe May is just around the corner – it’s been a very busy month at the Council. This newsletter provides important updates about the work I’ve been doing on your behalf, but first, I’d like to hold space for a conversation on public safety across the District.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department’s year over year crime data, many statistics are jarring. Compared to 2021, robberies have increased by 54%, vehicle theft is up by 14%, and all violent crime has increased by 25%. As a community, we know that the pandemic exacerbated resources that were already stretched thin and access to necessities like healthy foods, mental health supports, or affordable housing became out of reach for far too many neighbors.
We are not alone in this trend. According to 2021 national numbers, homicides in large cities have increased by 7% and violent crime continues to rise. And that is no excuse for inaction. I deeply understand the concerns of neighbors who feel anxious walking their family to the playground or traversing home at night. This cannot and should not be our new normal.
I’ve been in conversation with the US Attorney for the District of Columbia regarding prosecutions for violent crime and with the Office of the Attorney General about improving accountability when it comes to juveniles involved in these incidents. We’ve pushed the Department of Parks and Recreation and related agencies to develop new programming specifically targeting the pre-teen and teenage population who have been engaged in a high number of carjackings and thefts in DC. We’ve made historic investments in school-based mental health and other behavioral health programs in the community. And the fiscal year 2023 budget provides an opportunity to deliver more needed investment in an enhanced public safety approach.
To me, public safety is a community endeavor to ensure that all individuals are able to live, work, play, and simply exist in environments that are free of all forms of violence and harm, physical and non-physical. To achieve this goal we must ensure that each agency is working collaboratively with each other and community, and has the resources necessary to do their work and do it well. Our response must not be siloed or piece-meal; we must be wholistic in our approach.
Christina Henderson Councilmember, At-Large ChristinaHendersonDC.com
The Budget Process...Continued
I am a member of the Committees on Health, Labor and Workforce, Government Operations and Facilities, Transportation and the Environment, and the Committee of the Whole. Just last week, I voted to support proposed budget proposals in each of these Committees that will invest in increasing access to DC’s essential services no matter your zip code.
The investments I have shared below are a few highlights from the Committee process that I worked on or am especially proud of. There could be changes, yet I will continue working in partnership with my colleagues to ensure key investments remain intact. Keep reading to find key upcoming dates for the budget.
Healthy Families and Access to Care
Continued leadership on improving outcomes for DC moms and babies with $118,000 for establishing a Perinatal Mental Health Task Force and funding for the requisite FTE to support the work
Led the work to allocate an additional $2.4 million for our School Based Mental Health programs, bringing CBO grants up to $80,000 for another year and ensuring a mental health professional is in every school
Worked with colleagues to secure an initial $100,000 for a new DC Diaper Bank Grant program
Invests an additional $1.46 million for school nurses, which combined with the Mayor’s $4.5 million enhancement will allocate a total of over $6 million to increase access to nurses for our students
Over $1 million invested in community organization focused on food access and programs with a similar aim like Produce Plus and Healthy Corners
$4.3 million set aside to fund 2 full weeks of paid medical leave for DC government employees, a tenet of legislation I championed alongside Councilmember Silverman to improve the leave programs for our workers
Investing in the Education of our Future Generations
Supporting the increase of 5.87% to the UPSFF foundation level, while urging the Executive to continue prioritization of this increase in future budgets
Increase capacity in Safe Routes to School through DDOT’s planning and sustainability division with $147,651 and 1 additional FTE in addition to capital budget enhancements of $3 million each year for School Action Plan Implementation and construction
Reiterating the importance of the proposed $5 million investment in Out of School Time programs while recommending this funding should be made recurring, thus ensuring equitable access for all students
Led on the Early Child Educator Pay Equity Scale Budget Support Act Subtitle to ensure we are paying early childhood educators a wage that reflects their hard work, and ensuring no educator faces a benefit cliff in Year 1 as a result of accepting the $10,000 payment
Establishes a dollar-for-dollar match for the University of the District of Columbia for up to $2 million in investment
Provides $15 million for preventative maintenance of HVACs and boilers to ensure systems work year-round
Enhancing Essential Infrastructure
Support the recommendation from the Committee on Transportation and the Environment to have DPW and MPD collaborate and stop providers of illegal boot removal
$1.6 million allocated for the critical stormwater remediation project at Mount Zion and Female Union Band Society Cemeteries
Deeply appreciate and support the request from the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities for regular updates from Wi-Fi improvement pilot plan at DCHA properties Potomac Gardens, Hopkins Gardens, and Greenleaf Senior Building
Invests in improving the Department of General Services work order dashboard, allowing residents to track HVAC repair status, DPR work order timelines, and more.
Public Safety and Justice
An investment of $14.2 million in the Metropolitan Police Department that will support the hiring of 47 more officers and retention of 300 officers
An additional $300,000 for the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG) to support victims with disabilities and special educational needs
$1M enhancement of reentry housing grants for those returning home to the District bringing the office’s total to a restored $105.7 million budget
Enhancement to the Office of the Attorney General’s budget by over $300,000 in both local and ARPA dollars to address the increasing needs of juveniles, families, and workers to name a few
An overall 18% increase in investment for the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement totaling $34 million for violence prevention and intervention services
A Livable, Workable, Affordable DC
Over $2 million investment in an increase in housing voucher availability for individuals who identify as LGBTQ, Veterans, Returning Citizens, and those on the waitlist
Enhancing clean team budgets to total $6.7 million, an increase of $277,000, ensuring our commercial corridors are ready to welcome District residents and visitors supporting our local businesses
$26 million to help residents who are low-income and first-time homebuyers with down payment and closing costs
Supporting small businesses east of the river through grant opportunities totaling $22 million for fresh food access points in Wards 7 and 8
Funding for a new curbside composting pilot program
The Next Steps for Fiscal Year 2023
Tuesday, May 10 – Committee of the Whole and Council consideration of the Local Budget Act (LBA) and Budget Support Act (BSA)
This will be the first vote of the full Council on the FY23 budget recommendations
Tuesday, May 24 – Council consideration of the LBA
This will be the second and final vote on the LBA
June, 2022 – Council consideration of the BSA
This will be the second and final vote on the BSA
Councilmember Christina Henderson attended the first annual Day of Play at RFK. She enjoyed meeting the horses giving children rides, speaking to neighbors outside the food trucks, and seeing kids play! Also pictured (left to right): Councilmember Vincent Gray, Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson, Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio, Miss DC Andolyn Medina, and Greg O'Dell CEO of Events DC.
April Conversations the Build A Safe Community
The RESTORE Act Panel with Tony Lewis Jr.
I had the pleasure of joining Tony Lewis Jr., Angel Gregorio of The Spice Suite and Founder of DC or Nothing, and Patrice Sulton of the DC Justice Lab for a panel on how we welcome home returning citizens in the District and the critical importance of passing the RESTORE Act which I introduced last year.
We discussed the urgent need for an overhaul of the District’s record sealing and expungement laws. Today, outdated practices leave residents without convictions or minor offenses subject to discrimination in job opportunities, housing applications and the like. It is time to move past these old practices and set up returning citizens for success.
From left to right: Tony Lewis Jr, Angel Gregorio, Councilmember Henderson, Patrice Sulton pose after the important discussion.Supporting Black Mamas
This past month I also had the pleasure of joining my former colleagues from the federal side of government at a panel on the Future of Black Maternal Health. The event featured Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL), Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Keenan Austin Reed, a partner at the Alpine Group, Mia Keeys, Chief of Staff for Rep. Kelly, Yasmin Rigney Nelson, principal at Bracewell, and Lakeisha Steele, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Education.
I am proud of the funding enhancements we have confirmed in the FY23 budget as I highlighted in this newsletter. Working to bring down the maternal mortality rate right here in the District will take work, and we are proving to be up to the challenge.
Over zoom, the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls and the Black Women’s Congressional Alliance hosted this conversation.
Constituent Services Corner
Redistricting Updates before May
The Council Subcommittee on Redistricting has been working behind the scenes all while the budget process has taken center stage on the Council calendar. This past Thursday, April 28th was our final public hearing where we heard from neighbors on the future of ANC boundaries.
The Council will take its first vote on this final map on May 24th. Boundaries will be finalized and voted on for a second and final time on June 7th. If you are interested in seeing the ANC Taskforce reports and recommendations, they can be found here.
I greatly appreciate every resident who has been engaged throughout the redistricting process, those who served on Ward task forces, and my fellow subcommittee members Councilmember Silverman and Bonds.
2022 Robust Retail Citywide Grant
This grant application just opened this week through the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and will be closing on June 8th 2022.
Retail businesses in the District have an opportunity to be awarded $7,500 to support their work. Learn more about the application process here.
Something in the Water Music Festival is coming to DC over Juneteenth weekend. There is a special DC Locals Only Sale for tickets tomorrow, Saturday, April 30th at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Ward 8. Processing fees are waived if you purchase in person. More information here.