At-Large Councilmember Robert White announced this week major wins for District residents, especially low-income residents, in his first budget as a member of the DC Council. The announcement comes as the Council today took the second and final vote on the city’s fiscal year 2018 budget, which passed unanimously.
Councilmember White successfully advocated for, and secured, funds to address the needs of the District’s low-income residents, including: nearly $2 million for adult students pursuing an education or job training to ride Metro for free, which removes the barrier of high transportation costs; approximately $600,000 for the Office of the Tenant Advocate to hire four additional employees to better help renters combat poor housing conditions, rent control violations, and lease problems; and $300,000 for two case managers and strategic planning for the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs to better assist our returning citizens who come home facing the high cost of housing and hiring discrimination from employers. White praised his colleagues for helping secure funds for these programs as well as the residents and advocates who testified at numerous public hearings.
White identified his budget priorities in a letter he sent to Mayor Muriel Bowser in February as she was preparing her budget proposal. White said, “When the priorities I had identified as critical to low-income residents were not funded in the Mayor’s proposed budget, I knew I had to work with my colleagues to find the funds.” White said that he saw opportunities to create more tools and opportunities for people being left behind in our city’s prosperity.
During the budget process, it also became clear to White that two public schools, West Education Campus and Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, were in desperate need of modernization. Adopting this new goal, White and his colleagues were successful in accelerating the modernization timeline for both schools.
In a statement during today’s vote on the budget, White thanked Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and the Council committee Chairpersons who funded these priorities, including: Anita Bonds, Mary Cheh, Jack Evans, David Grosso, Kenyan McDuffie, and Elissa Silverman. He also thanked Councilmember Trayon White, who assisted in advocating for these programs, and the advocacy organizations whose testimonies and outreach helped secure funds for these programs.
White also noted that he was proud of the budget the Council passed. The fiscal year 2018 budget includes:
- $4.5 million to increase the value of child care vouchers for low-income District families so children can receive the early childhood education they need to succeed academically throughout their lives;
- A 3% increase in school funding so our schools can foster intellectual growth in all of our students, and continue to build confidence in our schools;
- Reforms to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to protect low-income families, with special protections for children;
- Increased funding for the Local Rent Supplement Program, the Targeted Affordable Housing Program, and the Permanent Supportive Housing Program;
- $372,000 for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for new housing inspectors and permit processing, which ensures that homes within the District are safe for residents and families; and,
- Funding to provide financial relief for first-time homebuyers who wish to make the District their long-term home for their families.