Last Thursday, April 19th, the DC Council Committee on Human Services held a budget hearing on Mayor Gray’s proposed DHS budget for FY 2013. Committee Chairman Jim Graham heard testimony from DHS officials, legal services attorneys, advocates, service providers, faith leaders and most importantly, people who are experiencing homelessness or who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Witness after witness expressed concern about the gap in funding for homeless services left by the mayor’s proposal. Time and again, Councilmember Graham heard from community members that even if that gap were filled, the system would still fall short of meeting the need…turning away family after family with no safe place to go…or potentially worse, referring those families to Child Protective Services. Most compelling was the testimony of homeless moms who are desperate to find a safe and stable home for their children.
The Committee also heard testimony opposing the planned cuts in TANF benefits, with a particular focus on the hardship that families will suffer as the District continues to struggle to pull out of the recession.
You can read the Legal Clinic’s testimony on both issues, delivered by Marta Beresin and Amber Harding by clicking the links. Through the remainder of the week, we will share with you some of the powerful statements made by family members in, or seeking to enter, DC’s family shelters.
Over the weeks ahead, all Councilmembers need to hear from their constituents that adequately funding homeless services is a community priority. We urge you to add your voice to those who are calling for budget justice. You can get contact information for the Council here.