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:
$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.
$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.
$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: $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.