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A federal program intended to help lower income areas actually awarded millions of dollars to small businesses in D.C.’s wealthy neighborhoods at the expense of poor ones. Why? Because the agency tasked with running the program used 1999 data for the last 16 years to determine poverty eligibility, according to a Washington Post investigation

“A new Washington Post analysis found that the [Historically Underutilized Business Zones program]’s use of outdated and unadjusted data allowed businesses in wealthy areas to qualify for more than $540 million in federal contracts meant for firms in underserved neighborhoods,” writes the Posts John D. Harden. “Rather than improve inequalities, critics say, the program has exacerbated disparities, and they question whether its calculations fit the program’s mission.”

By way of background, to classify as a HUBZone, a neighborhood must meet certain economic characteristics. For example, the area has to have a poverty rate of at least 25 percent. 

But that clearly wasn’t the case. 

Businesses in Chinatown—where by 2010, the poverty rate was 5 percent—earned $151 million the past six years, the most of any other HUBZone in the District. That also accounted for a quarter of the program’s funds for D.C. Meanwhile, HUBZone opportunities for poorer neighborhoods, such as those east of the Anacostia River, have been minimal. 

The Small Business Administration, the federal agency in charge of the HUBZone program, doesn’t dispute the Post investigation. But it wouldn’t comment further, either. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? Email agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

CITY DESK, by Amanda Michelle Gomez:

  • Tens of thousands of Washingtonians have criminal records getting in the way of jobs and housing, and many of them never even committed a crime. [WCP]

  • D.C. mental health agency admits it failed to properly monitor a patient that went on to kill his neighbor in an unprovoked shooting in March. [Post]

  • Because airports aren’t pricey enough already: National and Dulles to raise fees for using ride-sharing apps. [WTOP

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Did Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans mean to break ethics rules? Does it matter? [WAMU]

  • Council approves $47M subsidy contract for permanent supportive housing with well-connected developers, despite community pushback. [Curbed]

  • A note from Evans’ supporters: The Jack We Know [Scribd]

  • Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh charged with 11 counts of fraud in children’s book scandal. [Baltimore Sun]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com) 

  • Some question the name of forthcoming Rosslyn food hall Happy Endings Eatery. [WCP]

  • Attorney General Karl Racine takes on delivery company DoorDash. [WCP]

  • A vegan is suing Burger King over cross-contamination. [Post]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Waves is an emotional journey into the life of a Florida family. [WCP]

  • Current 1A host Joshua Johnson is headed to MSNBC. [WAMU]

  • Rest in peace, Rock Creek Park deer. [Post]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Most D.C. sports fans fans won’t know Ted Peters by name, but they’ve likely seen his work. Peters is “Captain Obvious,” the unofficial mascot that’s a regular at Nats and Caps games. [WCP]

  • First-year Wizards player Moritz Wagner, who goes by “Moe,”has been one of the bright spots on the team. [Bullets Forever]

  • Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined Nats pitcher Sean Doolittle in arguing against the MLB proposal that would eliminate 42 minor league teams. “Sean is absolutely right,” Sanders wrote on Twitter. “Closing down Minor League teams, like the Vermont Lake Monsters, would be a disaster for baseball fans, workers, and communities across the country.” [NBC Sports Washington]

MAKE PLANS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full To Do This Week newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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