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Councilmember Henderson's Newsletter

October 26, 2023


As an October baby, this is my favorite time of year. The days leading up to Halloween are always jammed packed with excitement and community events, and this year is no exception. In addition to community staples like Hill-o-ween, which is tonight, I also want to flag for you all that this Sunday is also the Marine Corps Marathon. Lots of street closures will be in effect, so please plan ahead and be mindful while you’re out and about. This edition of the newsletter provides a brief update on what I’ve been working on legislatively and within the community.  

I’ll start with an update on our work around the opioid and drug crisis we are facing. The much-anticipated Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission’s first public meeting on Wednesday, October 25. Members of the Commission received an overview of our charge, what our current landscape looks like, and how it will organize its work to make meaningful recommendations on how to spend approximately $80 million the District is expected to receive over the next few years. These meetings are open to the public and will meet again on Wednesday, November 8. The day after the Commission met, the Committee on Health held another public oversight hearing on the topic, including the Sense of the Council on the Opioid and Fentanyl Epidemic Resolution of 2023 - a piece of legislation I introduced to urge the Mayor to declare the opioid and fentanyl crisis in the District of Columbia a public health emergency. Both Maryland and Virginia have already done so, providing their officials with much needed tools to more readily combat this crisis in our region. Lastly, on Monday, October 30, I'll be joining the Mayor, as well as my colleagues, in the ceremonial ribbon cutting to mark the official opening of the District's first and long-awaited Stabilization and Sobering Center.  

Although October has been filled with great strides toward reversing opioid deaths in the District, I recognize that upending the opioid crisis also requires creating an environment where residents feel safe. I am taking a hard look at newly introduced legislation like the ACTIVE bill and the ACT Now bill aimed at addressing significant public safety concerns. This week in particular was quite tough after learning of the attack on a couple of preschool teachers while they walked with a class of toddlers through their neighborhood. We’ve al1 seen little kids walking through neighborhoods in buggys or their little hands holding on to a rope. It brightens my day every time I see it, and it is enraging and scary to think that the littlest among us cannot do this without fear of safety. In addition to working to connect the childcare center with appropriate supports in the aftermath of the incident, I’ve also been in contact with U.S. Attorney’s Office, the DC Attorney General, and the Director of the Department of Behavioral Health about what happens next. I raised at my hearing this week the need for more targeted public saftey and outreach teams on the ground in areas where we know there is high opioid usage and individuals struggling with mental health. I will also raise my concerns about this at the Joint Public Oversight Roundtable on violence reduction programs on Monday, October 30.  

There’s lots more covered in this newsletter. Please read on...

In service,

Christina Henderson

Councilmember, At-Large

                                                                                                                                                    Health Committee Updates

Public Roundtable on Board Nominees
On Tuesday, October 24, the Health Committee held a Public Roundtable on nominees for the Board of Optometry, the Board of Psychology, the Board of Occupational Therapy, and the Health Benefit Exchange Executive Board.

Public Roundtable on Sense of the Council on the Opioid and Fentanyl Epidemic Resolution of 2023
On Thursday, October 26, the Committee on Health held a Public Roundtable on Councilmember Henderson’s Sense of the Council on the Opioid and Fentanyl Epidemic Resolution of 2023. During the hearing, community members provided testimony on how the opioid crisis in the District has affected them personally either in their professional capacity or via their work. Many spoke about the need for more youth education, trainings on Narcan, a more robust public awareness campaign, and funding for staff on the ground. Further, the need for better coordination and direction from DC government. The Committee also heard from the Department of Behavioral Health Director Bazron, DC Health Director Ayanna Bennett, and DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Medical Director Dr. Robert Holman. Information and testimony from the hearing can be found  here, and a recording of the hearing can be found  here.

                                                                                                                                                      Key Legislative Updates

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Committee on Recreation, Libraries and Youth Affairs Public Hearing
On Wednesday, October 18, the Committee on Recreation, Libraries and Youth Affairs held a Public Roundtable on Acting Director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) Sam Abed and Acting Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) Thennie Freeman. During the first half of the hearing, Councilmember Henderson discussed recruitment efforts to fill key vacancies and plans to improve the quality of medical services at DYRS with Abed. DYRS has been without a consistent Medical Director for several months.

During the second half of the hearing which focused on the DPR nominee, Councilmember Henderson discussed plans to improve the registration system for high-demand classes and activities, a timeline for filling vacancies, a potential Park Manager position at DPR, and ways to establish clear communication between DCPS and DPR regarding field and gym space for sports and recreational activities. Information and testimony from the hearing can be found here, and a recording of the hearing can be found here.

Committee on Public Works and Operations Public Hearing
On Thursday, October 19, The Committee on Public Works and Operations held a Public Hearing on the following measures, the first of which was introduced by Councilmember Henderson:  

In her opening statement, Councilmember Henderson called for a more efficient waste management system and addressed a need to remove equity gaps for District homeowners. During the hearing, which was attended by members of the public, ANC Commissioners, and agency leaders from the Department of Public Works (DPW), Councilmember Henderson discussed the potential impact of the TRASH Act, plans to examine and potentially adjust the current solid waste tax credit, and ways to ensure smaller homes receive timely and efficient trash collection services from DPW. Information and testimony from the hearing can be found on the Council’s new Hearing Management System here, and a recording of the hearing can be found here.

                                                                                                                                                                 New Legislation

This week Councilmember Henderson introduced three new bills on food access and transit:

                                                                                                                                 Upcoming Hearings

The Council has a NEW centralized system for signing up for hearings. Check it out here:

  • On Monday, October 30, at 9:00 am the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, the Committee of the Whole, and the Committee on Executive Administration and Labor will hold a joint public oversight roundtable on the Mayor’s “Districtwide Review of Violence Reduction Programs.”
  • On Wednesday, November 1, at 10:00 am, The Committee on Health will hold an additional meeting to consider and vote on the confirmation of 12 Board nominations, as well as the Sense of the Council on the Opioid and Fentanyl Epidemic Resolution of 2023
  • On Wednesday, November 1, at 10:30 am the Committee on Transportation and Environment and the Committee on Public Works and Operations will hold part two of a joint public hearing on the following legislation. Two of these bills were introduced by Councilmember Henderson.  

  • On Monday, November 30, at 10:30 am the Committee of the Whole will hold a public hearing on the following legislation. Two of these bills were introduced by Councilmember Henderson.

 .                                                                                                                     Christina in the Community

Regional College Conference on Hunger  

On Monday, October 23, Councilmember Henderson joined Capital Area Food Bank and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area for their panel on hunger among college students. As a panelist, Councilmember Henderson spoke about her food policy work including delivering increased funding for DC Health’s Healthy Food Access grants such as Healthy Corners, Home Delivered Meals, Produce Plus, Joyful Food Markets by $375,000 and her Universal Free School Meals Amendment Act of 2022, Give SNAP A Raise Act of 2022, and the Food Access by Public Transit Study Act of 2023.  

She also discussed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed changes to expand access to the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows high-poverty schools to serve free meals to all students without requiring families to file an application. If enacted, the minimum threshold of the “Identified Student Percentage” would go from 40% to 25% for a school or district to qualify for CEP, thus granting more students access to free meals.  

                                                                                                         In Case You Missed It: Councilmember Henderson in the News

                                                                                                                                             Constituent Services Corner

  • Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests Continue: The federal government will continue to distribute free COVID-19 tests directly to homes. This ensures that free COVID-19 tests are available to marginalized and uninsured communities. Order up to four COVID-19 at-home tests per household here.  
  • DPR Halloween Activities: Join DPR for haunted houses, trunk-or-treat, Halloween-themed games, movie screenings, and kid-friendly Halloween parties. To sign up for activities near you, click here.
  • Halloween Story Time: Join the Second District Police Station at the Rose Park Recreation Center (2609 Dumbarton St NW) on Friday, October 27, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, for a Halloween-themed story time. No registration is needed.  
  • Payne Elementary School’s Annual Fall Festival: On Saturday, October 28, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, fall lovers will be able to grab some hot chocolate and kids can enjoy a hayride and face paintings at Payne Elementary School’s Fall Festival (1445 C Street SE). For more details, click here.
  • Haunted House & Trunk or Treat: On October 31, from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm, join the First District Police Station (500 E St SE) for a fun trunk-or-treat and spooky haunted house. No registration is needed.
  • DC Prevention Centers provide education on drugs and substance abuse, prevention strategy training for youth, families, schools and communities, prevention material distribution, and tobacco use prevention programs. For a map of prevention centers in each ward, click here.  
  • Hillcrest Children and Family Center (915 Rhode Island Avenue NW) is a participant in the DC Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Expansion Program (ASTEP). For neighbors in need of intensive out-patient group, individual and family services, assessments, and basic education activities to delay the onset of experimentation with drugs and alcohol, you can click here to make an appointment or call at 202-232-2300.
  • Clothing Giveaway at the Family Success Center at Benning Road and Minnesota Ave: On Tuesday, October 31, you'll be able fill a free bag with an amazing selection of women's and men's clothing, shoes, and accessories at The Family Success Center (241 42nd Street NE). Registration is required. To reserve a spot, click here.  
  • Metro to shut down Red line service at three stations in December for critical repairs and upgrades: On Monday, December 18, Metro will begin a two-week construction project on the Red Line to perform critical safety repairs to the tunnel and track infrastructure, upgrade signal and communications systems, and install new platform edge lights. During construction, Red Line service will be unavailable at Farragut North, Metro Center, and Gallery Place stations with free shuttle buses replacing trains from December 18 through Saturday, December 30. While the Red Line is closed, service will continue to be available on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines on the lower level at Metro Center and Green and Yellow line service on the lower level at Gallery Place. More information can be found on Metro’s website.  
  • DPW Yard Waste Collection is now year-round. Residents must call 311 to make an appointment for yard waste collection. Residents can also visit to make an appointment or download and schedule an appointment using the 311 mobile app available at the Google Play and Apple App stores. DPW only collects yard waste in paper bags. DPW will collect up to 20 paper bags of yard waste from residences that receive DPW’s trash and recycling collection services. Residents are still able to leave their paper yard waste bags at the point of trash collection. Residents who wish to can drop off their yard waste at the Fort Totten Transfer Station during normal residential business hours.  
  • Sign up for DDOT’s weekly construction updates: The 2023 Paving Plan is published on the PaveDC website at the start of the construction season. The website also includes separate tabs for sidewalks scheduled for repair and the Alley Restoration Plan for Fiscal Year 2023. For more information about these projects, please visit DDOT's interactive tool, PaveDC. To sign up for DDOT’s weekly construction updates, visit the sign up page.  
  • Medicaid Renewal, Don’t Wait to Update: All DC residents with health coverage through Medicaid, Alliance, or the Immigrant Children’s Program must renew their coverage. Please visit the District Direct website to update your address, phone number, and/or email so that the Department of Healthcare Finance (DHCF) knows where to send your Medicaid renewal letter. If you require assistance, please call the Public Benefits Center at 202-727-5355.  
  • Have a constituent service need related to the Health Committee or any of the other agencies in DC Government? Want Councilmember Henderson to come to your community event or meeting? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Constituent Services Director Ana Berrios-Vazquez during regular business hours (9:00am - 5:30pm) at 202-724-8105, or