Contact: Janelle Treibitz
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 23, 2012
Washington, DC: On Friday, March 23, 2012 Mayor Vince Gray releases the city budget for Fiscal Year 2013. The Fair Budget Coalition, a group with 74 member organizations consisting of service providers, advocates and community members, offers the following guidelines for evaluating the Mayor’s budget:
1) Does the budget address current needs?br />
► Family homelessness: Between 2008 and 2011 family homelessness in the District increased by 46%, and the number of families in shelter and hotels this year is 138% higher than last year. Despite that, hundreds of families will be sleeping in cars, on the street, or in other unsafe settings for the next six months because the Administration has no plan to place any other family in shelter until next winter. Is the Mayor addressing the exponentially expanding need?
► Affordable housing: Over 40,000 households, 19,000 of which are homeless, are on the waiting list for subsidized housing. A family has to work 136 hours a week at minimum wage job to afford a two-bedroom apartment. Affordable Housing was the number one priority for participants of the One City Summit. Despite that, the Housing Production Trust Fund was cut by $18 million last year. The Local Rent Supplement Program has a shortfall of over $8 million next fiscal year—which means people will lose their housing if that gap is not filled. What has the Mayor done for affordable housing in this budget?
► Illiteracy: Currently in DC, one in three adults over the age of 16 are functionally illiterate. Yet, over the last several years, $1.2M has been cut from literacy program in the District. What has the Mayor done for literacy programs in this budget?
► Disability Assistance: DC residents who cannot work due to a disability and have no income rely on Interim Disability Assistance (IDA), a modest subsidy of $270 a month, while they wait months or even years to be approved for Social Security. Despite the effectiveness of this program, the Mayor eliminated it in the FY 12 proposed budget, but the Council partially restored funding. Will this crucial program be eliminated this year?
► Child care: Since 2007, child care programs have been cut by more than $20 million, leading to fewer child care options for families who want to work but cannot afford the rising cost of care. Meanwhile, families on Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) are expected to find work in a recession, without adequate child care resources. Will the trend of cuts to child care continue?
► Victims Services: Since the recession began, $4 million has been cut from the Office of Victim Services for programs that serve victims and survivors of crime and domestic violence. Will the Mayor stop further cuts to services for victims of domestic violence and crime?
2) Did the Mayor take a balanced approach to the budget?
► Spending cuts: Last year, 60% of budget cuts came from housing and human services, though those services make up only 25% of the local budget. Were cuts this year similarly disproportionate?
► Revenue: Last year the Mayor proposed a modest income tax increase to offset spending cuts. Has he equally balanced cuts with new revenue this year?
► Surplus revenue: The city currently has a $240 million end of the year surplus from FY 2011. Yet in FY 11, the Mayor made millions of dollars in cuts to housing and human services. Will the Mayor use some of the surplus to make one-time investments in housing and human services, or will he put all of the money in savings?
3) Is the budget responsive to community input?
►At the Mayor’s One City Summit, the top concern of DC residents was “Lack of affordable housing”, closely followed by “Income Inequality.” Has the Mayor been responsive to these concerns in his budget?
►According to a Hart research poll conducted last year, 85% of DC residents supported raising income tax rates on higher income residents over cuts to services (with 90% support in Ward 3.)