Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Kwame Brown and the support of several Councilmembers, the DC Council voted unanimously yesterday to approve a budget that prioritizes homeless families by including a $4 million investment in the Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP)!  These funds will be used to house 250 families currently staying in DC shelters and will ultimately open up shelter space so that new families that experience a housing crisis and need a safety net will not be turned away to the street.

As he introduced the budget at yesterday’s legislative session, Chairman Brown noted that he was pleased to present a budget that proves that affordable housing isn’t just a myth in the District of Columbia. He said that ours is a community that cares for our most vulnerable residents.  This was evident not only in his allocation of the $4 million for LRSP, but in his restoration of $18 million to the Housing Production Trust fund to support development of new affordable housing for low-income community members.

The Chairman’s leadership was key in finding the much needed funding for these vital programs.  It was clear that he heard the pleas of DC families and individuals who are struggling to get back on their feet, and he and his colleagues took swift action to respond to their needs.  The funding of LRSP in particular will have an enormous positive impact in easing the crises that far too many families in our community face.

The entire tone of the budget vote yesterday was very heartening, with a number of councilmembers voicing concern about the needs of the District’s most vulnerable residents throughout the proceedings.  Councilmember Michael Brown, who first requested funding for LRSP in his committee report, has repeatedly said this budget season that investment in affordable housing “is a matter of political will.”  At yesterday’s legislative session, he thanked Chairman Brown for both finding this political will and the money to fund it.  We are grateful for that tremendous show of support.

We are also grateful to our readers for getting involved in our budget campaign this year:  for reading our blog and sharing it with your networks,  for your calls and emails to city leaders, for participating in budget actions at the Wilson Building, and last but not least, for caring about the welfare of ALL DC residents.

Much remains to be done.  An amendment introduced by Councilmember Graham to push back the damaging cuts to TANF benefits slated to go into effect this coming October was withdrawn.   Funding has yet to be identified to close the $7 million gap in homeless services, but this remains the number one priority on the Council’s “wish list.”  We’re hopeful that the June revenue forecast will be more than enough to restore that money to homeless services and ensure that none of the cuts to transportation, food, outreach, and shelter beds will go through next spring.

For today however, join us in congratulating Chairman Brown and the rest of the DC Council for displaying great leadership by prioritizing the needs of DC families and investing in life saving affordable housing.  Click Here to send them a thank you note!

As the Chairman himself said yesterday, “DC still has a long way to go, but [passing the FY 2013 budget] was a good start.”  We couldn’t agree more.