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Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans wants more District employees to live in the District, and he’s got the legislation to make it happen. Under a bill Evans proposed yesterday, new police, teacher, and firefighter hires would have to live in the District.
But Evans is already facing opposition from the unions that represent those people. Labor leaders for the teachers and police officers Evans hopes to woo into the District say his legislation doesn’t account for the difference between the cost of a home in the city and their comparatively paltry salaries.
“It’s insane,” says Liz Davis, president of the Washington Teacher’s Union, which has around 40 percent of its members living outside the city.
Davis says a residency requirement would hurt the D.C. Public Schools system’s ability to compete with nearby school systems for teachers. If Evans wants public employees in the District, Davis says, he either give needs to give them big raises or restore city programs that helped them buy homes.
Evans tells LL that restricting residency for new hires in DCPS, the Metropolitan Police Department, and D.C. Fire and EMS would mean more tax revenue, more jobs for the city, and more middle class residents in neighborhoods.
But Delroy Burton, the chairman of Fraternal Order of Police’s MPD chapter, says police officers will struggle at a roughly $52,000 starting salary to afford neighborhoods where their families will be safe. It’s not lost on Burton that Georgetown resident Evans pulls a much more lucrative city salary: $132,990.
“Where are our officers going to be able to find a place to live that’s affordable at that rate of pay?” Burton says. “He’s delusional.”
If Evans’ bill manages to make it out of the D.C. Council, it’ll face even more opposition from Maryland and Virginia representatives in Congress who are loathe to lose income taxes their states draw from commuting District employees. At yesterday’s Council breakfast, Evans said the District’s erstwhile regional allies in Congress should side with the city anyway.
“This is [Maryland Rep.] Steny Hoyer‘s moment in time to stand up on our side and not on his side,” Evans said.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery