It’s that time of year again—time to fight for DC residents through an equitable budget.
Despite being disappointed in Mayor Bowser’s proposed FY21 budget, we continue to expect and demand a substantial investment in the programs and agencies that improve the lives of those who are struggling the most to survive in DC. For too long, gentrification, underinvestment, and the DC government’s focus on big development have contributed to mass displacement and trauma for DC’s Black and extremely low-income communities. Each year, in a city rife with income and wealth disparity, the Fair Budget Coalition aims to convince the Mayor and the Council to prioritize the needs of those who are surviving with the least. Mayor Bowser’s administration has made many grand proclamations about commitments to affordable housing creation and homelessness eradication. However, DC residents deserve to see those commitments kept. If creating deeply affordable housing, keeping residents off of the streets, and promoting racial equity are, indeed, D.C. priorities, the DC budget must reflect that.
In the midst of COVID-19, prioritizing the needs of DC residents has become even more critical. The Council has stepped up over the last couple of months to pass a series of emergency bills to address some immediate concerns. However, that must only be the beginning. The public health emergency has cast a spotlight on the programs and agencies that are truly essential for residents of the District. The Fair Budget Coalition urges the Council to craft and pass a budget that addresses the current and future reality for so many.
Last year, the love for go-go music, a DC institution, triggered a widespread movement of support in the face of a challenge. That love and pride for music nurtured in this city—a product of DC’s historic Black culture—were palpable. Encouraged by residents, councilmembers and Mayor Bowser jumped to action to protect a precious piece of the city’s history. A few months ago, that prolonged support resulted in legislation that declared go-go the “official” music of the District. It was a beautiful example of what can be accomplished in this city when intention and resolution combine.
Fundamentally, that’s what love is—protection and intention. It’s action. To love DC means to protect and support the needs of all of its people. It means affirmatively preventing harm to Black communities, not just mourning harm after it occurs. It’s making sure that people have an opportunity to thrive. We urge the Council to come together and rise to the occasion again—this time, to pass a budget focused on protecting the lives of DC residents.
The Fair Budget Coalition continues to work to elevate the programs and legislation that would reduce harm and best contribute to a more equitable DC budget–one that shows love for DC by showing a commitment to the people of DC. The Fair Budget Coalition’s Housing Security Group has compiled recommendations detailing the FY21 budget investments that would have the biggest impact on minimizing the barriers to housing and creating more equitable access for vulnerable DC residents. We want DC’s FY21 Budget to make essential investments in: repairing and maintaining public housing, ending family and chronic homelessness, funding 0-30% AMI housing, passing tenants’ rights legislation, increasing ERAP funding, creating housing for returning citizens, providing private rooms to those in shelters and on streets, and expanding rent relief.
Check out the Fair Budget Coalition FY21 Budget Platform for a detailed breakdown of the Housing Security recommendations, the mayor’s current investments, and the entire Fair Budget Coalition FY21 Budget Platform. You can also read the full testimony that we submitted to the Committee of the Whole today here.
The only way to love DC is to love its people.