From Charles Allen <[email protected]>
Subject Ward 6 Update: Budget, Wizards & Caps Stay in DC, and Spring Cleaning!
Date April 5, 2024 3:37 PM
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Friend --

Baseball's back, the cherry blossoms have bloomed -- spring is definitely here! Plenty below on some major items: the new deal with Monumental to keep the Wizards and Caps here in DC, public safety, the Mayor's proposed budget is out, and a big environmental bill moves forward.

We've been crisscrossing the Ward in the past few weeks, including meeting with residents in two buildings in Ward 6 to talk about ways I can support their efforts to get their property managers to do their jobs and provide safe and clean homes. I'm always happy to speak with residents in larger buildings if I can help use my office to solve any issues, so don't hesitate to reach out.

I also had a chance to join neighbors in Southwest at Bloomaroo for The Anthem's NSO In Your Neighborhood performance <[link removed]> -- such a wonderful part of living in DC. What's your favorite spring activity in Ward 6? Let me know!

And last, but certainly not least: come out tomorrow for the Great Ward 6 Spring Clean! More than 300 neighbors will be all over the Ward from 10am-12pm (and we'll meet up after for lunch at the Roost until 2). More info and the full list of sites below. And show us your crew at work on social using #Ward6!

Quick Links: Spring Clean Details <#spring%20clean> | Public Safety <#public%20safety> | Wizards and Caps! <#mse> | Budget <#budget> | Healthy Homes Vote <#Healthy%20Homes> | Randall Rec Center <#Randall> | New Park <#park> | Miner ES <#miner> | Vision Zero Installation <#visionzero> | ERAP <#erap> | Food Drive <#food%20drive> | DPR Jobs <#dprjobs> | Payne ES <#payne> | DC United Tix <#tickets>


The Great Ward 6 Spring Clean is Tomorrow!

We've got our sites finalized and ready ahead of the April 6 Great Ward 6 Spring Clean! This is going to be the biggest one yet, as we have more than three hundred people signed up to volunteer and 15 sites (plus a few groups working privately). All the sites are listed here <[link removed]> (or just clean up along your block!) I'm looking forward to seeing folks tomorrow, Saturday, April 6, from 10-12 -- and meet up with us after at the Roost for lunch! 

- Eastern Market Metro Park <[link removed]>(Team Allen site): meet near the Metro entrance

- H Street NE <[link removed]>(Team Allen site): meet at 8th & H St NE and fan out from there with block captains

- King-Greenleaf Rec <[link removed]>(Team Allen site)

- Atlas Performing Arts Center <[link removed]>

- Northwest One/NoMa <[link removed]>: meet ANC Comm. Chris Hart at 1st & M Sts NW

- 7th, Constitution, & Mass NE <[link removed]>

- Barney Circle <[link removed]>: meet ANC Comm. Edward Ryder at the north side, or meet ANC Comm. LaFortune on the south side, of Penn Ave at McDonald's

- Anacostia River Trail <[link removed]>: meet at 17th & Barney Circle SE

- Jenkins Row/14th & Penn SE <[link removed]>: meet in front of the Bank of America

- Ludlow-Taylor ES <[link removed]>

- Maury ES <[link removed]>

- Hill Center <[link removed]>

- Watkins ES Rec <[link removed]>: meet on the Watkins fields

- 14th St SE Safeway <[link removed]>: meet in front of the Safeway

- Amidon-Bowen ES <[link removed]>

- James Creek <[link removed]>(SW): meet at 100 N St SW 


Public Safety Update

As we close out the first quarter of the year, our big picture stats on crime continue to trend downward <[link removed]> in nearly every category. We aren't where we want to be, but comparing the first three months of last year to this year, we're seeing a lot of progress. If you've been the victim of a crime, or someone you know has, all the stats in the world don't matter - we need to continue to see urgent and impactful progress. I know I've spoken with several neighbors in Hill East following a spate of gun violence incidents. I'm communicating closely with First District during their investigations to ensure accountability. My goal continues to be focused on a both / and approach to public safety -- both ensuring swift and certain accountability for anyone who commits harm in our community, and bringing smart, strategic, and focused efforts by government to crime prevention, interruption, and reentry into society.

That was my guiding approach while I was Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, and it remains mine now. It's also an approach to public safety that seems to have broad support with DC residents, based on the Opportunity DC poll cited in this recent DC Crime Facts post <[link removed]>.

New Bill on Reducing Chronic Truancy in Schools

<[link removed]>On that front, I want to talk about a bill I introduced this week focused on lowering the alarming rates of chronic truancy and absenteeism in our schools -- especially our high schools. We have 13 high schools in DC where a majority of students are chronically truant, with 11 of them hitting rates above 70 percent. These numbers are simply unacceptable. While many school systems saw truancy go up during the pandemic, the District has lagged behind in recovery, and I haven't seen any urgency from the Executive to tackle this. There's a variety of reasons that a student may not go to school, and we need to tailor our responses to each. I remember a recent conversation I had with a mother who told me if it's a sunny, warm day, she considers keeping her two kids at home rather than school, because she's not confident they'll be safe getting there and back again. She needs to know - just like everyone - that her city will do what's necessary to keep her kids safe. We may not think of a truancy bill as a public safety bill, per se, because not every child that skips school goes on to commit a crime or be a victim of one. But when someone is missing this much school, good things don't follow. The more we can keep our kids in school, the better outcomes we'll have across a wide range of issues, including public safety. I spoke to NBC4 <[link removed]> and WUSA9 <[link removed]> about the bill to take on this serious issue.

Here are a few key bullet points on the Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy Reduction Act of 2024 <[link removed]>. What the bill proposes:

- Schools with a chronic absenteeism rate above 20% should be designated as priority areas for the Safe Passages Safe Blocks program by School Year 2027-2028.

- There are many reasons kids stop going to school. Being afraid of getting there and back safely is one of them, without question. That's what Safe Passages does. 

- A new additional funding category be added to school budgets specifically to address chronic absenteeism. - I know our schools are facing staff cuts right now. But if we want them to be equipped to take on chronic truancy and we raise expectations for them to intervene earlier, then we have to be honest that we also need to arm them with the resources to do so.

- Schools must intervene when a student misses five days unexcused in one quarter or marking period.  - This doesn't always currently happen. I want to require that before a school has to turn to the Office of the Attorney General or Child and Family Services Agency, they must intervene and engage with the student and their family to find out what's going on and what they need.

- School principals should be given the final call on how their school uses at-risk or chronic absentee funding.  - All too often, these "additional funds" get used to plug needs in the school that the standard budget should be covering. If we give principals that authority, they know what their children need best.

My bill joins two others introduced by my colleagues Councilmembers Robert White and Zachary Parker, which shows there's a strong interest in taking action here. We need to do everything we can to get our kids in school and ensure our schools are safe and welcoming environments.

Community Walk in Northwest One

I joined seniors at Golden Rule Plaza, ANC Commissioner Kevin Rogers, and First District officers for a community safety walk around their immediate neighborhood. We focused on a few issues with some recent car break-ins and spent a good amount of time troubleshooting traffic concerns along New Jersey Avenue, NW. Plenty to take away and follow-up with DDOT, but as always, grateful to everyone who took the time to share their perspective.

"Drug-Free Zone" Established at 8th and H Street NE

The Council's Secure DC law now in effect created the ability for MPD to "disrupt" hot spots by creating a time-limited and geographically-limited drug-free zone. MPD implemented a drug-free zone at 8th and H Street, NE last weekend for five days. The goal is to disrupt ongoing illegal issues long enough to help "reset" an area. I want to hear how MPD and neighbors evaluated the impact of this zone on long-term chronic issues, and I also believe the District should similarly expand concepts like the Safety Hub in Chinatown to other corridors in need.

Ward 6 Public Safety Updates

Arrest Made in Robbery at 900 First Street SE <[link removed]>

Arrest Made in Stabbing at 700 block of 15th Street NE <[link removed]>

More details above on arrests in two recent Ward 6 crimes, and please join neighbors at our April walks in partnership with MPD's First District.

This month, MPD's First District team will be hosting walks in Southwest and Northwest neighborhoods in Ward 6. Info in the graphic. All are welcome!


The Wizards and Caps are Staying in DC!

The big news last week was the announcement that Monumental Sports & Entertainment would be staying in the District and signing a new lease through 2050. This is great news! In exchange for a new commitment, the agreement includes an investment of $515 million to upgrade the arena itself and the surrounding public spaces by the District. The overall project will cost a combined one billion dollars in total and includes Monumental expanding their footprint into vacant commercial space, improving the surrounding area for event experiences, and a much bigger focus on making the streets surrounding the arena a lot more accessible to pedestrians and inviting for a more vibrant streetscape.

Last August, I rang the alarm bell in the Washington Post <[link removed]> that DC needed to prioritize getting a deal done with Monumental over an NFL stadium at RFK. Since then, we all went on quite the journey while Monumental tried to land a massive deal to move to Potomac Yards in Virginia. But the deal fell through. Ultimately, keeping the Capitals and Wizards here is the right thing to do for our city and is crucial for a few reasons: 

- The fact that the arena hosts an NBA and NHL team means there are 80+ home games a year. Add to that the many concerts and special events at the venue, and combined, it hosts more than 320 daily major events with near year-round activation. It easily becomes the most productive investment option a city can make in a professional sports venue. That matters an awful lot since our goal with an investment isn't the upgrades themselves, but the preservation and expansion of economic activity that draws millions of visitors to downtown every year. The Downtown BID's February 2023 study estimated the arena creates around $34 million in tax revenue annually -- meaning this investment should pay for itself over the life of the deal, if not grow some as we create more favorable conditions to draw people to the area year-round.

- The arena will continue to be one of the most accessible via public transit in the nation and located right in the center of the city. I'm really proud of that fact, as it means the arena and the teams will continue to truly feel like a central part of DC culture and identity. That's also good news for Metro and recovering ridership forecasts. 

The deal itself includes significant benefits to activating more of the surrounding streets, particularly F Street and 6th Street. It will enclose the alleyways that connect 6th and 7th Street (think where Clyde's is) and allow for more activation and use of space. This is going to be key to bringing more people to the area before and after events and supporting those local businesses. And with the city's investment comes a requirement that 50 percent of the project must include first source hiring of DC residents and working with DC businesses. That's critical as it ensures this investment benefits DC residents from day one of construction through the life of the deal. 

I know this is getting announced right before we start a tough budget process. We have schools that need additional funding to retain or hire teachers, a looming issue with honoring the city's commitment to our child care workers, likely cuts to SNAP benefits for our families living right on the edge, funding WMATA, and more. So it's important to be clear the funding for this deal is coming out of the capital budget, not the operating budget, and we can't move dollars from one to the other. The capital budget is what we use to build things, not pay salaries. We have a lot of work ahead of us to craft a budget that ensures we don't backslide on the progress we've made since the pandemic. I think this is a great investment in reimagining downtown to be much more of a mixed-use neighborhood and preserving the economic vitality of the area that helps pay for many important government services. 


Council Budget Process Begins

It's been well-covered, but the District's budget process was delayed by about two weeks due to a disagreement between the Mayor and the CFO on how quickly one of four reserve funds needs to be replenished -- about a $250 million question. But the budget process kicked off in earnest on Wednesday, April 3 when the Mayor formally presented her proposal to the Council. Our revised Committee schedule is in the graphic to the right, and you can also start looking for the agencies where you want to weigh in through our hearing management system, which is searchable by committee <[link removed]>.

While we've had the budget for just 48 hours and are still digging in, there are a few things that are clear. In good news, all of the Ward 6 school, library, rec center, pool, and park modernizations I've fought for are included and preserved. That's important to ensure DC residents know their city is still delivering on improved services and facilities. But on the operating side of the budget, there are major concerns. This is my 10th budget as your Councilmember, but I've never seen such cuts to low-income households, vulnerable residents, and lower-wage workers. The Mayor's proposed budget leaves several schools facing cuts to their staff, eliminates higher pay for childcare workers, raises taxes on low-wage workers, defunds programs to modernize and lower utility bills for low-income households, cuts food assistance to SNAP beneficiaries, and more. I've been through difficult city budgets before, and I know we'll have tough decisions to make, but if we're asking for shared sacrifices from residents, then we have to be able to ask a little of everyone, not balance the budget on the backs of one group of neighbors over another.

I'll share greater details in the next newsletter of what's in the Mayor's proposed budget, and I invite you to join me at my annual  <[link removed]>Ward 6 Budget Town Hall <[link removed]>, set for Monday, April 29 from 6 to 7:30 pm at the Northeast Branch Library, where we'll dig deep on the proposed budget and give you more chances to have your voice heard.


Healthy Homes Act Passes First Vote Unanimously

On Tuesday, the Council took the first of two votes on my Healthy Homes Act. This is a bill that sets a goal to upgrade 30,000 homes by 2040 to use electric heat and appliances rather than fossil fuel sources. This is entirely voluntary and geared toward low-income households to ensure as we move away from fossil fuels, they're not left behind. And no one from the government is coming to take away your gas stove unless you ask them to.

I believe this bill is an important part of the District's overall efforts to get to a net-zero carbon output by tackling one significant source of emissions: those coming from powering our homes. Just as important, not burning a fossil fuel like natural gas (which has high levels of methane) will improve indoor air quality and reduce risks of breathing issues like asthma. As the country pushes to phase out fossil fuels in the next few decades, we want to be sure everyone can make the transition, not just those who can afford a new electric stove or heat pump.

I funded the bill last year through the Department of Energy and Environment's Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF), although unfortunately, the Mayor has now taken most of that money in her proposed budget to cover the District government's own energy bills. The SETF is a dedicated pot of money meant to fund all kinds of renewable and sustainable projects, including supporting DC's Green Bank - which finances green projects - as well as working with large commercial and residential buildings to meet energy efficiency goals. We'll need to work hard together to replenish funds for the Healthy Homes Act, because I certainly don't support taking money for low-income homeowners to pay the DC government's energy bills instead. 


Share Your View on Randall Park Recreation Center

Thanks to the neighbors who joined me recently to walk and talk with DPR staff about the future of Randall Rec Center in Southwest (it's right at South Capitol Street, SW). If you didn't get the chance to join us, you didn't miss your only opportunity to weigh in. Here are three ways to get involved from DPR: 

- Help Plan the Future: DPR needs your feedback about the future of the project. Please visit [link removed] <[link removed]> and complete the survey today.

- Sign Up for Updates: If you haven’t done so, please visit [link removed] <[link removed]> to sign up to receive updates about the project. 

- Learn More About the Project: Visit [link removed] <[link removed]> for up-to-date information about the project.


New Pocket Park at 8th and Mass NE

For my Capitol Hill neighbors along Massachusetts Ave NE, the new pocket park is open and lovely just in time for spring! This was a park upgrade project I secured funding for in the budget a few years ago (with the great partnership of neighbors like Mike Soderman and Tom Cash), and we've transformed the park into a wonderful place to get outside and enjoy the sun in your neighborhood. If you haven't had the chance to visit, stop by this weekend! 


New Principal Transition at Miner Elementary School

A new principal has been named for Miner Elementary School. While Miner is now physically located in Ward 7, it's home to many Ward 6 families. So I don't really care where the Ward line lands; it's a neighborhood school whose success is critical to me. Dr. Broquard will be moving to Miner Elementary School after a long tenure at Lafayette Elementary School in Ward 3. Previously, DCPS has placed a rotating set of leaders at Miner - something like eight principals in the last four years. Miner has needed strong, consistent leadership to work with its amazing school community. I'm hopeful this selection represents a new day in that regard and a commitment from DCPS to deliver for Miner's families. I hope you'll join me in welcoming Dr. Broquard to Miner!


Vision Zero Improvements Being Installed at Independence Ave and Kentucky Ave SE

Sharing what I posted on Instagram <[link removed]> earlier this week: happy to report DDOT is finally moving forward with changes to the intersection at Independence and Kentucky Avenues, SE to make permanent (and nicer looking) curb and crosswalk extensions and bike infrastructure that will help improve visibility and slow down drivers. This will result in a much safer and less stressful pedestrian experience in a wonderful, walkable neighborhood that many children navigate going to and from school. If we're ever going to make Vision Zero a reality, we need to do more of these tactical changes. 


ERAP Portal Re-Opened Monday, April 1

For anyone behind on rent, the emergency rental assistance program portal will open on Monday and remain open until this quarter's funds are exhausted - which will happen fast. Get your paperwork together over the weekend and be ready. Here's the link with a FAQ to be sure you have what you need <[link removed]>. 


Ward 6 Mutual Aid Food Drive

Our friends at Ward 6 Mutual Aid are holding a food drive. More from them on how to help fight hunger right here in Ward 6: 

Serve Your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid is doing a big push during the month of April to stock up on food and supplies to support our neighbors through the coming summer months. They are accepting shelf-stable food and toiletries. 

Donate in person at any of the following locations: 

- Christ United Methodist Church (900 4th St SW, back entrance off the pathway to the SW Public Library), on Wednesdays from 3-5pm and Saturdays from 12-2pm

- SW Farmers Market (425 M St SW) at the Serve Your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid booth, on Saturdays from 9am-1pm

- Check your building or church to see if they are hosting a donation box

To sponsor a donation box at your housing community or business, contact [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>. 


Now Hiring: DPR Staffing Up Summer Jobs

DPR is beginning the hiring process for a wide range of summer jobs, including:

- Working at a Pool – DPR will train you for FREE to be a lifeguard <[link removed]> or work as a pool operator or pool-based Customer Service Representative.

- Working at a School – Work at a DPR Boost Camp, offering kids ages 3-13 enriching recreation opportunities on-site at District schools, with kids who attend that school.

- Engaging Youth in the District – Work with kids through DPR’s Roving Leaders program or the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program.

- DPR’s Environmental Division – Lead and support nature-themed outdoor programming and events including wellness walks, geocaching, hiking, kayaking, fishing, bird watching, and camping.

- Operations – Help move and set up DPR equipment and play activations or work as a driver transporting kids, staff, and cargo around DC and beyond.

- Food Service – Assist in DPR’s summer meals programs as a food safety inspector or monitor. 

Visit <[link removed]> to start your application and learn more.


Payne Elementary School Students Stop by the Wilson Building

A few times a year, I have the opportunity to visit a classroom at a Ward 6 school and answer questions from our students. But it's even more fun when the students make the field trip down to see where their local government works. This week, Payne Elementary third graders visited the Wilson Building to take a tour and meet some of their local representatives (including me, Chairman Mendelson, and City Administrator Kevin Donohue). They had a great questions and ideas. And it was a good reminder: have you ever been to your state capital building? It's open to the public most days -- come down and stop by Suite 110 when you do!


DC United Ticket Giveaway!

You made it to the end (I'm sure you didn't cheat with the quick links at the top)! Just reply to this email, and we'll enter you in a raffle for two DC United tickets for the April 27 match against the Seattle Sounders at 7:30pm.

See you around the neighborhood,

Charles Allen

<[link removed]>


Councilmember Charles Allen - 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 110, Washington, DC 20004, United States

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