JONETTA ROSE BARRAS’ ARticle on nonprofits in D.C. (“The Tax-Free Zone,” 12/2) was wrong on all counts because it missed the big picture: Nonprofits represent a net gain for the city.
Charities not only provide social services better than the city ever has, they do so at a fraction of the cost. This represents a huge savings to taxpayers, far above the amount which is not collected.
The consumption of city services by nonprofits is exaggerated. (It is crime, remember, that demands so much attention from the police, courts, and hospitals.) All utilities used are paid for directly.
Nonprofits employ many city residents (myself included) and must therefore pay payroll taxes and workers’ compensation to the city.
Even nonresident workers, students, and other “freeloaders” contribute to the local economy by shopping, eating lunch, etc., while they are in the city.
Churches perform an essential social and political role, especially for black residents who certainly need a good reason not to leave. All churches are equal under the Constitution, by the way, and it is a little disturbing to see activists pick on a religious minority.
Offices and housing units used by nonprofits would otherwise be left vacant and many would be neglected, contributing to the sense of decay in the city.
Universities already provide plenty of in-kind services—emergency rooms at hospitals, for example, and better-than-public libraries. I can’t imagine the situation would be improved by bureaucratic oversight.
Relax. We are much better off with such troublemakers as Columbia Hospital, Howard University, the Black Caucus, Samaritan Inns, and even National Geographic operating in our city. The last thing we should do is chase them away. If this “plague” is such a drain on the city, why does the Alexandria government fund a special office dedicated to convincing trade associations and other nonprofits in the District to relocate inside its borders?
Logan Circle, via America Online