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Councilmember Henderson's Newsletter

December 1, 2023


It is hard to believe that December is here. Even though the year is winding down, our legislative work continues full steam ahead. I want to provide a brief update on two developments related to public safety and our public benefits enrollment system.

There is not a singular action or event that has led to the rise in crime and gun violence we have seen in the District, so I’ve been working to address the issues through a variety of different approaches -- funding, legislation, and oversight of agencies charged with implementing our public safety laws. Last week, I co-introduced and worked with colleagues to pass emergency legislation to extend the Mayor’s existing public emergencies on youth crime and opioids, as the Mayor can only declare a public emergency in 15-day increments. This gives the Mayor the flexibility to waive procurement laws procure goods and services needed to address certain issues. The Mayor declared a public emergency on opioids after a resolution I authored was unanimously approved by Councilmembers.

On Wednesday, the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, of which I’m a member, had a hearing on B25-479, the Addressing Crime Trends (ACT) Now Amendment Act. The legislation proposes a variety of changes around anti-loitering laws, organized retail theft, regulations on body-worn camera footage, and a host of things. A couple of weeks earlier, on November 8, we had a hearing on B25-479, the Addressing Crime through Targeted Interventions and Violence Enforcement (ACTIVE) Amendment Act, which proposes a variety of changes as it relates to guns and carjackings. I attended both hearings and there are elements of both bills that I support. The record is still open for the ACT Now Amendment Act, so if you would like to submit testimony for the record you can do so here. Like you, I’m frustrated that we are not seeing the decrease in criminal activity that other cities are seeing and I’m committed to working on solutions to reverse the trends we have seen this year.

On the issue of the District’s public benefits enrollment system, I want to highlight a press release I sent out earlier this week on an upcoming joint hearing of the Committee on Health, which I chair, and the Committee on Housing. I do not often send press releases about hearings but I want to draw attention to our discussion of why thousands of District residents’ public benefits applications are not being processed in a timely manner. The District has faced significant challenges when determining residents’ eligibility for health and human services benefits, despite spending more than $622 million on the DC Access System (DCAS) that was supposed to streamline the enrollment process. The District ranked last nationally for timely processing of SNAP applications in Fiscal Year 2022 with a rate of just 42.86%. (The second worst performer was Guam at 65.93%). The US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has warned that if the District did not improve timely application processing, FNS may issue a formal warning that federal funds for SNAP could be suspended. At the same time, there are 18,599 Medicaid renewal applications pending review as of November 20. DCAS was intended to create a streamlined, efficient system to connect District residents with health and human services benefits. However, cumbersome applications, lengthy application processing times, and high rates of user error persist. The oversight roundtable is scheduled for Monday, December 4 at 10am. This will be the Committee’s third hearing on Medicaid renewals this year.

In service,

Christina Henderson

Councilmember, At-Large


                                                                                                                                                          Health Committee Updates

Public Roundtable on Food Policy Council Nominees and Oversight of the Food Policy Council  

On Wednesday, November 29, the Health Committee held a Public Roundtable on the nominations of Jose Funk McDonald Morales to be a member of the Food Policy Council and Caroline Howe to serve as the Food Policy Director. We also touched on the general FY23 activities of the Food Policy Council. The District government alone is responsible for serving about 45 million meals a year. The Committees wide-ranging discussions with both nominees covered everything from the significance of integrating technology in fresh produce delivery services, to the benefits of investing in micro-markets in the District, to the forthcoming Centralized Kitchen Study, to maximizing federal funds for future investments.

                                                                                                                                         Upcoming Health Committee Hearings

The Committee on Health has a jammed packed calendar for the month of December. See below for the upcoming hearings:

  • On Monday, December 4 at 10:00 am, the Committee on Health and the Committee on Housing will hold a joint public oversight hearing on Health and Human Services Benefits Enrollment and the DC Access System.  

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


                                                                                                                                            Working on Various Education Issues


Committee of the Whole

On Thursday, November 30, the Committee of the Whole held a Public Roundtable on four pieces of legislation introduced by Councilmember Henderson:  

In her opening statement, Councilmember Henderson expressed excitement to discuss her four pieces of legislation aimed at removing impediments to student success across all levels of education and gave a brief breakdown of each bill.  

When discussing her Universal Free Application for Federal Student Aid Graduation Requirement Act of 2023, Councilmember Henderson discussed with OSSE officials the correlation between graduation rates and the bill’s proposed FASFA requirements and whether OSSE has the capacity to develop a waiver for the proposed FASFA requirement.  

When discussing her Institution of Higher Education Sexual Misconduct Reporting and Resource Accessibility Act of 2023, Councilmember Henderson asked about university standards for sexual misconduct prevention trainings, amnesty provisions for parties involved in sexual misconduct, campus climate survey accessibility, and sexual misconduct trainings for Title IX officers, Confidential Resource Advisers, and institution safety personnel in her conversation with government witnesses. Councilmember Henderson also highlighted the need for trauma-informed training for parties handling sexual misconduct cases. Information and testimony from the hearing can be found here, and a recording of the hearing can be found  here.

Over the past two weeks, Councilmember Henderson has attended multiple Committee of the Whole public hearings to discuss educator retention, obstacles to student success, and her four pieces of education legislation.  

  • On Tuesday, November 14, the Committee of the Whole held a Public Roundtable on the DC Public Schools’ budgeting practices. 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.
  • On Wednesday, November 29, the Committee of the Whole held part two of a Public Hearing on Teacher and Principal Retention in the District. Information and testimony from the hearing can be found  here, and a recording of the hearing can be found  here.

                                                                                                                                                                 New Legislation

This week Councilmember Henderson introduced a bill to support and strengthen the District’s first-responder efforts:

  • The Retired Firefighter and Police Officer Redeployment Amendment Act of 2023 would grant retired firefighters from the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (FEMS) and retired police officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) eligibility for rehire at the discretion of the Director of the Office of Unified Communications (OUC) as temporary full-time or temporary part-time 911 call takers or 911 dispatchers without decreasing their retirement benefits.  

                                                                                                                                                  Christina in the Community  

DC Hospital Association Panel on Maternal Health and Respectful Care

On Tuesday, November 14, Councilmember Henderson spoke at the DC Hospital Association’s educational conference which covered maternal health, diversity, equity and inclusion, and technology and artificial intelligence and the healthcare workforce. During the panel, Councilmember Henderson emphasized the significance of stigma-free, patient-centered maternal care and underscored the importance of healthcare leaders taking proactive measures to engage with and build trust among patients and birthing individuals within the community.  

Volunteering at Food & Friends

On Wednesday, November 15, Councilmember Henderson and her staff volunteered at Food & Friends. After meeting with Food & Friends Chief Development Officer Carolyn Schmidt, Councilmember Henderson and her team packaged more than 500 nutritious, medically tailored Thanksgiving meals for residents with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other serious illnesses.  

AKA Xi Omega Way Unveiling

Later on Wednesday, November 15, Councilmember Henderson joined her sorors for the unveiling of the AKA Xi Omega street sign at 4411 Xi Omega Way NW. Councilmember Henderson and Councilmember Lewis George felt the happiness in the air from their fellow sorors as they honored the history and accomplishments of Xi Omega, the first Alpha Kappa Alpha graduate chapter in Washington, D.C.  

Safeway Feast of Sharing

On Wednesday, November 22, Councilmember Henderson joined the Mayor, city officials, and volunteers at the 24th Anniversary of the Safeway Feast of Sharing community event and thanked volunteers for their selfless work. Although this was the first fully in-person meal since 2019, turnout was great and volunteers distributed over 5,000 boxed nutritious meals and gift bags containing winter clothing accessories, face masks, hand sanitizers, and toiletry kits. The Safeway Pharmacy team was also on site to offer attendees flu, COVID, and pneumonia vaccinations.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute  

On Wednesday, November 29, Councilmember Henderson delivered welcoming remarks at the Ascend at Aspen Institute’s gathering of community-based organizations, policymakers, public sector and parent leaders from across the District and discussed how she shares their vision for two-generation approaches to supporting families.  

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee

On Friday, December 1, Councilmember Henderson met with the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee and market vendors to discuss operational challenges, public safety, and necessary updates to HVAC systems.  

                                                                                                     In Case You Missed It: Councilmember Henderson in the News

                                                                                                                                                 Constituent Service Corner

  • Know Your Rights When Making Purchases Through SNAP: SNAP Retailers Cannot: Charge a transaction fee to consumers paying with a SNAP card; Set a minimum transaction amount for qualified SNAP purchases; Require a minimum SNAP card balance in order to make a qualified purchase; Require SNAP users to make a SNAP card balance inquiry before making a purchase.
  • If you know of SNAP retailers in the District that are not following the law, please report it to the DC Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Mediation Program by: Calling OAG’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (202) 442-9828; OR Emailing; OR Submitting a consumer complaint online here.
  • Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests: DC Public Libraries have at-home tests available for pickup! For a full list of library locations with test kits available, click here.
  • Community Family Life Services: On Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, stop by for CFSL’s free food bag distribution. On Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, CFSL distributes clothing and toiletry items for women and to men on Fridays from 10:00am to 12:00pm at 305 E St NW. You can also call 202-864-6295 for the nearest drop-in center location or to make an appointment.  
  • Georgetown Glow Tour: From December 1 to January 7, explore Georgetown's historic streets and canal in a different light - a GLOW! Several local tour companies are offering more than 30 GLOW-inspired walking tours, tying the exhibition to history, photography, and art themes. To reserve a tour, click here.
  • 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.
  • 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 and repair a deteriorated concrete ceiling above both tracks. During construction, Red Line service will be unavailable at Judiciary Square, Farragut North, Metro Center, and Gallery Place stations with free shuttle buses replacing trains from December 18 through Saturday, December 30. From December 22 through Friday, December 24 free shuttles will replace trains between Dupont Circle and Union Station. Additionally, trains will operate in two segments: between Shady Grove and Dupont Circle every 8 minutes; between Union Station and Glenmont every 8 minutes (every 10 minutes after 9:30 p.m.) 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.  
  • 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.
  • 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