What We Won This Budget Season

There is no denying that we can all feel very proud of our work this year. Our budget campaign got huge victories that not only included funding restorations but also policy shifts and NEW investments in critical programs!

But the most successful aspect of the campaign was the way so many different organizations and individuals came together to make it happen. Fair Budget’s active campaign committee included staff from organizations, concerned community members, long-time DC activists and volunteer advocates who are directly impacted by budget cuts. Our members, volunteers and allies were able to mobilize equally diverse crowds for our actions, making a big impression on our Councilmembers. We helped each other to learn new social media tools, to understand the budget process, and to build relationships with reporters. And we figured out what other skills we will have to learn to have an even bigger impact next year.

This is another kind of victory for our campaign. The feeling that we’re building something powerful, that we’re bringing people together to think beyond the budget numbers to what actually makes a budget fair. There are many programs that are still desperately underfunded. There are policies and practices that can undermine what money we do win for services. Political will is too often determined by money or re-election concerns, rather than by human needs and human rights. But as we continue to build power, we will develop the strength, skills and vision to successfully re-imagine the budget process and make Justice a central component.

As we wind down this budget season, we celebrate our long-term potential as much as our short-term gains. In this spirit, we share with you our budget wins for FY2013:

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

$19.8 MILLION RESTORED TO THE HOUSING PRODUCTION TRUST FUND

The Council restored $19.8 million of the $20 million cut from the trust fund in Gray’s proposed budget by redirecting money from the sale of DC-owned property into the fund and by voting for $1.8 million of FY 12 surplus into the program.

$2 MILLION RESTORED TO PROJECT-BASED LOCAL RENT SUPPLEMENT PROGRAM

The Council voted to include $2 million in project-based Local Rent Supplement for FY 14 and beyond. This will allow developers of new affordable housing the resources to rent to extremely low-income District residents.

$4 MILLION ADDED TO LOCAL RENT SUPPLEMENT PROGRAM

This will allow between 200 and 300 homeless families to move out of shelter into stable housing, helping to alleviate free up space for new families in need of emergency shelter.

HOMELESS SERVICES

$7 MILLION TO RESTORE CUTS TO HOMELESS SERVICES IS #1 ON THE COUNCIL’S PRIORITY LIST

$1.7 MILLION FOR YOUTH HOMELESS PREVENTION IS #6 ON THE COUNCIL’S PRIORITY LIST

If the City gets future surplus revenue in the next 3 revenue forecasts, the $7 million gap in homeless services will be the first to get funding. The budget also puts as #6 on the wish list the $1.7 million for homeless youth prevention.

HEALTHCARE

$23 MILLION FOR THE DC HEALTHCARE ALLIANCE

The Council restored $23 million to the DC HealthCare Alliance, the city’s public health insurance program, ensuring that hospital coverage will continue to be available to residents using the program.

VICTIM’S SERVICES

VICTIM’S SERVICES: $2.1 MILLION FOR THE OFFICE OF VICTIM’S SERVICES

This restoration will help provide shelter, counseling, legal services and support to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes. An additional $2.5M was put as #9 on the Council’s wish list.

SUPPORT FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES

$14.7 MILLION FOR TEMPORARY AID TO NEEDY FAMILIES #2 ON COUNCIL’S PRIORITY LIST

This money will be used to delay cuts to families who have been on TANF for 60 months or more, provide exemptions and extensions of benefits to families who have certain hardships, and to provide more resources for the TANF redesign.

PROTECTION FOR INJURED DC WORKERS

$1.8 MILLION TO PROTECT INJURED DC WORKERS IS #27 ON THE COUNCIL’S PRIORITY LIST

New language was added to the BSA that would restore the importance of treating physicians’ opinions for assessing disability claims. This change will take effect if the city gets a sufficient surplus to reach item # 27 on the priority list.

Victory! Because of you!

 

Yesterday we joined advocates and community members in a packed Council Chamber to witness the final vote that passed the FY2013 budget. We’ll have more details coming soon, but we just wanted to offer an initial report that ALL FOUR of the items we were pushing in our most recent email action were included in the budget!! Three of the four were put into the budget ahead of the vote today.

The fourth item we wanted, a one-year delay before cuts to TANF families are implemented, was introduced in an amendment from Jim Graham. It spurred a heated debate on the dais. We had a shaky 8 votes in support and it seemed like we might lose a couple over the course of the debate. But as more Councilmembers weighed in and spoke powerfully about how the government has failed TANF families and shouldn’t punish the families for that failure, sentiments seemed to turn. Jack Evans and Vincent Orange were among those who spoke the most passionately in support of Graham’s amendment. (You should have seen the wide eyes and dangling mouths of the advocates in the room when Evans really got going.) Flurries of text messages flew towards the dais as advocates began a minor social media blitz at certain Councilmembers. Kwame Brown began against and changed his mind. Tommy Wells didn’t like it either and tried to offer a weaker compromise which he backed down from.The final vote was 10-3 in support of delaying the cuts. Only Alexander, Mendelson and Catania voted against it. A resounding victory for TANF families who would have faced major cuts in October.

Additionally, the Wish List remained largely untouched. The $7M for homeless services is still the #1 priority on the list, making it likely that it will get funded. And the money to follow through with the injured worker policy change was added to the list.

A HUGE congrats to DCFPI, Washington Legal Clinic, CNHED, DCCADV, and to all of you. Everyone who has done walkarounds and participated in calling or emailing Council in the past few weeks should feel responsible for successfully delaying the TANF cuts, for winning exemptions from the cuts for some TANF families, for funding the project-based local rent supplement program by an additional $2M, and for implementing a policy shift to protect injured workers. It’s hard to believe we got it all.

Of course, there are critical things that remain desperately underfunded. Childcare, Interim Disability Assistance, adult literacy… We are grounded in the realities of the work that still needs to be done though we are happy to celebrate what we have accomplished this year.

We’ll send a broader rundown soon of all that we won this budget season.

In the meantime, Congratulations!

 

Take Action Today! (Last chance before budget vote!)

Although we are still celebrating our victory restoring $46 million to safety net services (click here to see an inspiring video of our culminating “Day in the Strife” action!), there remain a few programs that did not get addressed in the Council’s budget. Please take action today by emailing the Council asking them to support these critical programs. We have until the final budget vote on Tuesday, June 5th to get money for these programs into the Council’s “Wish List” (funded if there is extra revenue next year).

The priorities we need Council to address are:

1) Delaying benefit cuts to families receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Families who have been on TANF more than 60 months would have to survive on $257 a month if the cuts go through.

2) Investing in the Project-based component of the Local Rent Supplement Program, which helps create desperately needed affordable housing.

3) Providing assistance to injured DC workers.

We are asking Fair Budget members and supporters to email and call DC Councilmembers today to advocate for our remaining priorities.

Email your Councilmember by clicking here for an easy one-click action!

Call Kwame Brown to ask him to support these priorities at: (202) 724-8032

We’re almost there! Please help us spread the word. Let’s keep up the pressure and get this done!

A Budget Victory! DC Council restores $46M to Safety Net Services!

We are delighted to report that yesterday the Council unanimously passed a revised budget that prioritized affordable housing, healthcare and support for DC’s homeless families! And we have you to thank for it!

In our final push these last couple of weeks you have helped us turn up the pressure. We interrupted a budget hearing with gospel music and 60 family members from the DC General shelter. We inundated Council members with tweets during their Mark-Up sessions. We sent nearly 600 emails to Council talking about the need to fund homeless services and to move families out of shelter and into housing. And we showed up with 200 people at the Wilson Building for our huge “Day In the Strife” action, challenging the Council to support safety net services. Our members and partners have been doing amazing work beyond that as well, and our combined efforts have made the difference.

Chairman Kwame Brown even gave Fair Budget a shout-out in his opening remarks as he introduced the budget yesterday, referencing our “Day in the Strife” action to demonstrate why the Council needed to prioritize affordable housing. (We talked about more than affordable housing during that action, but we’ll take the compliment!)

Please take a moment to thank Councilmembers for their support with this easy one-click action.

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Here’s what we won in the budget:

(See DCFPI for more complete info)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: $18 MILLION RESTORED TO THE HOUSING PRODUCTION TRUST FUND The Council restored $18 million of the $20 million cut from the trust fund in Gray’s proposed budget by redirecting money from the sale of DC-owned property into the fund.

HOMELESS SERVICES: $4 MILLION ADDED TO LOCAL RENT SUPPLEMENT PROGRAM This will allow between 200 and 300 homeless families to be moved out of shelter into stable housing and given housing subsidies, helping to alleviate the overcrowding at the DC General family shelter and hopefully allowing the shelter to accept new families in need of emergency shelter. It does not restore the $7 million gap in homeless services, but keeps it as number 1 on the Council’s “wish list” for future surplus revenue. The budget also puts as number 5 on the wish list the $1.7 million to add beds for homeless youth.

HEALTHCARE: $23 MILLION FOR THE DC HEALTHCARE ALLIANCE The Council restored $23 million to the DC HealthCare Alliance, the city’s public health insurance program, ensuring that hospital coverage will continue to be available to residents using the program.

VICTIM’S SERVICES: $1.1 MILLION FOR THE OFFICE OF VICTIM’S SERVICES This restoration will help provide shelter, counseling, legal services and support to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes. An additional $2.5M was put as number 8 on the Council’s wish list.

THE WISH LIST: We don’t love the idea of trying to cover budget costs with money that doesn’t exist yet, but we do appreciate how most of the top ten items on the Council’s wish list for how to spend future surplus revenue are safety net priorities: 1) $7M for homeless services; 2) $14.7M for TANF; 3) $9.5M to implement the South Capitol St Memorial Act; 4) $18M for NoMa park (or to prevent park being sold for HPTF money); 5) $1.7M to add beds for homeless youth; 6) $1.6M for various family services; 7) $2.9M for Home Purchase Assistance Program; 8) $2.5M to Ofc of Victim Svcs to offset various cuts; 9) $8.5M for infant/toddler progs; 10) $5M for special ed improvement.

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Our fight is not quite over. There is one more budget vote on June 5th and we think we might be able to get a couple more of our priorities addressed (like delaying the cut to TANF). It’s important in these moments that we make sure the Council knows that we appreciate their support of the safety net. Please remember to take our one-click action to thank the Council for their support and ask them to incorporate our few remaining priorities:

Please click here to thank Councilmembers!

Thank you for all of your support this budget season! We will update you with new developments as budget negotiations continue and as we plan a fun event to celebrate our budget victories!

Updates from DC Council Budget Votes

From the DC Council – Councilmember Michael Brown proposed $25 million to support affordable housing. Plus, the Mayor and Councilmembers Kwame Brown and David Catania have agreed to fund Alliance (DC’s public health care program). Stay tuned for more updates on urgently-needed safety net services…

Washington Times: DC Council to Consider Backing Brown’s Plan

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A Day in the Strife: Showing our Councilmembers what it’s like on the poverty line

Kwame Brown greets the crowd

Councilmember Kwame Brown greets the crowd

Over 200 people – most of whom will be directly impacted by proposed budget cuts – descended upon the Wilson building yesterday, inviting the City Council to see what life is like for DC residents living in poverty. For more photos, visit our Facebook page (and give us a “like” while you’re there!)

We asked that the City Concil make our walk a little easier by fully funding safety net services, including services to victims of domestic violence, shelters for families and individuals, affordable housing, and family support services.

For a fraction of DC’s $9 billion budget, the city could fund essential public services. When there’s plenty of funding to go around, we shouldn’t have to choose between services like protecting injured workers and providing affordable housing.

  • A luxury tax of only 6 cents a drink would mean that families don’t have to sleep on the street.
  • Asking couples that together earn over $350,000 to pay their fair share would mean that victims of domestic violence would have a safe place to stay.
  • Using some of the $240 million surplus from last year, or the millions of dollars of surplus this year would mean that someone who was once homeless will have a place to call home.

    Councilmember Jim Graham also spoke with us

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Join us May 10! “A Day in the Strife” at the Wilson Building!

Pay rent or buy groceries?

Buy a metrocard to get to work or school supplies for your kids?

When faced with the impossible choices that many DC residents have to make, what would DC Council members choose?

A DAY IN THE STRIFE: A Tour of Life on the Poverty Line

Thursday, May 10th, 10am-Noon

At the Wilson Building

1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW

(And come on the March for Homeless Services starting at 9am: Scroll down below for details!)

Lunch will be provided

Bring your ID to enter the building

Over the last few years the Mayor and DC Council have cut funding to safety net programs like affordable housing, homeless serivces, TANF, Child Care and more. This year millions more in cuts to these programs are on the chopping block. Meanwhile, DC residents are forced to make impossible choices to make ends meet.

Join us as we fight CUTS to the safety net and show the Councilmembers what it’s really like to live in poverty!

And bring an extra shoe to carry along as we tour! We want to ask Councilmembers to picture what it’s like to walk a mile in our shoes.

For more information contact 202-328-1262 or makeonecitypossible@gmail.com

To learn more about the campaign, visit: www.makeonecitypossible.com

Invite your friends to the event on facebook!

Follow us on Twitter: @FairBudgetDC



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Start your “Day in the Strife” off at the…
March for Homeless Services

May 10th: 9:00am (don’t be late!)

Marching from the CCNV Shelter: 2nd & D St NW




SHARC (Shelter, Housing and Real Change) is organizing a March for Homeless Services that will culminate by joining the “A Day in the Strife” tour.

With a $7 million cut to homeless services funding proposed, shelters are at great risk and some may close.

Half the beds may be cut for men and women next spring.

Food, transportation, job training, outreach and other services at the shelter will be cut.

Help us show that we won’t stand for these cuts by joining us on the March!

Take Action Today to Save Homeless Services!

Today is an action day for homeless services! Here’s a one-click action you can take right now to help prevent major cuts.

Homeless services now faces a $7 million budget gap that the Mayor has refused to fill. If this goes through, we are expecting a 50% of homeless individuals will be put out of shelters, any new homeless families outside of hypothermia season will be turned away without help, and food, transportation and outreach services will be drastically reduced. Since last March we have seen a 138% increase in the number of homeless families seeking shelter. To deal with that crisis, the city has put almost 200 families into motels, costing the city $20,000 a day, with no plan to move these families into supportive housing. It would be cheaper in the long run to place 250 families into supportive housing than continuing our policy of placing them into motels.

Click here to tell Council members to restore funding to homeless services and to invest in putting homeless families into housing rather than motels!

And finally, please join us this Thursday for our climactic “Day in the Strife: A Tour of Live on the Poverty Line” event at the Wilson Building. Join hundreds of DC residents as we tour City Hall in our final major push to pressure Councilmembers to restore funding to safety net services.

A DAY IN THE STRIFE: A Tour of Life on the Poverty Line

Thursday, May 10th: 10:00am-Noon


At the Wilson Building: 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW (Bring your ID to enter the building)

Invite your friends on facebook!

Thank you for your support and we hope to see you Thursday! (And don’t forget to participate in our online action today!)

A message to City Council from a teen at DC General

Chris is about to graduate from high school next month with a full scholarship to Michigan State. He also lives at D.C. General, participates in the Homeless Children Playtime Project’s teen program, and has a message for City Council members: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150697196157109

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