The U.S Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a report detailing management failures in the DC Housing Authority. You can read the entire report here. Last week, the Council voted on emergency legislation to move immediate reforms forward in response to the findings of this report. These reforms include training requirements for the Executive Director and Board Members within 30-60 days, a required report on how the authority is using funds for rental assistance and repairs by December 1st, and clarity on consumer protection laws as private landlords. At Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, who introduced this emergency bill, has already announced that she plans to introduce a comprehensive bill soon. This is an incredibly important issue to me, and I am deeply concerned about the HUD findings. Even before I took office nearly eight years ago, I met with residents of public housing about the issues in Ward 1, and I continue working with them to ensure they can live in safe, dignified housing. When I was a member of the Committee on Housing, oversight of the Housing Authority was a key component of my work, and even now that I’m not, I meet monthly with the director to raise issues in Ward 1. Unfortunately, many things in this HUD report were not surprising to those of us working on behalf of residents. I am eager to see the response from the Housing Authority regarding the HUD findings so we can galvanize local resources as needed to resolve the concerns raised.
Local Residents Voting Rights Passes
The Local Residents Voting Rights Amendment Act has passed! For nearly a decade, I've championed expanding voting rights so that those who have made the District their home has the right for their voices to be heard in our local issues, no matter their immigration status. I am proud to see this bill move forward and am especially proud to have worked alongside local advocates, residents, and Councilmember Charles Allen, Chair of the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. Thank you for your dedication, hard work, and tireless outreach that helped us get to this finish line.
More Rights For Domestic Workers
The Council voted out of committee the Domestic Worker Employment Rights Act. The bill will give legal protections to domestic workers (housekeepers, nannies, home aides, etc.). The bill does this by removing the exclusion of “domestic servants” from the Human Rights Act so that the protections can apply to the 9,000 workers in the District of Columbia. These workers often experience wage theft or exploitation, and this change in the law will help protect them by also requiring a contract detailing duties and pay for any services provided for more than a certain number of hours a month. This change is the direct result of domestic workers organizing with allies and working with the Council.
Overflowing Trash & Rodents
The Council also had a hearing on the Containing Litter and Ensuring Adequate Neighborhood (CLEAN) Collections Amendment Act, a bill introduced by Councilmember Janeese Lewis George that will help us address overflowing trash cans and rodents. I was happy to sign on as a co-introducer. Recognizing that many buildings have overflowing trash because the receptacles are too small, the bill requires multifamily buildings to provide the appropriate-sized trash cans, recycling cans, or dumpsters by defining the size needed as 32 gallons per residential unit. It requires trash collection twice a week rather than once and adds a civil penalty for repeated violations. With so many multifamily buildings in Ward 1, this will help with the trash and rodent issues we’ve been seeing.