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Though Mayor Vince Gray touts his budget as “structurally balanced,” and chief financial officer Nat Gandhi says he’s happy to take it to Wall Street—admittedly, two very important things—there’s a lot not to like about it. We’ve already covered the zeroing out of Main Street funds and slimming down of the Housing Production Trust Fund. Lately, a couple more things have come to light that should probably be fixed:
- A loss of federal funding has left a $20.5 million gap in the homeless services budget. As things now stand, $7.1 million of that will be made up by closing the family shelter at D.C. General Hospital—which now serves 153 families—during non-hypothermia season, or unless temperatures drop below 32 degrees. There will also be no services during hyperthermia season, when temperatures get unbearably high. Another $10.3 million will be saved by closing single adult homeless shelters, putting 1,200 men and women back on the streets. At the budget hearing today, Councilmembers Tommy Wells, Jack Evans, and Jim Graham have all expressed concern about the potentially life-threatening cuts.
- As part of the financing of the Nationals Ballpark in 2004, the city created a community benefits fund that would be used for affordable housing and public services in neighborhoods around the city. The last couple budgets have diverted that money for other priorities, but according to the Washington Interfaith Network, this one proposes to eliminate it entirely—which leaves them feeling betrayed, since they supported the ballpark because of the promise of funding for neighborhoods down the line. On the campaign trail last year, Gray and Chairman Kwame Brown said they wouldn’t be cutting this fund, along with the Neighborhood Investment Fund, which has also been reduced to zero. (DeBonis has more).