Today, the DC Council will vote to approve our annual budget, now $14 billion dollars. It is one of the most important votes of the year and as is often said, budgets are moral documents. Where we invest our resources says a lot about our values.
In many ways, this budget is a step in the right direction. Credit goes to the many advocates and residents from across the District who raised their voices and fought for these improvements.
It’s also clear that if we are going to end homelessness, make housing affordable for hard-working families and support all students across DC, we need to move with a much greater sense of urgency.
For example, the DC budget for 2019:
- Provides less than half of what’s needed to end homelessness in DC
- Offers rental assistance for just 240 families, when 26,000 extremely low-income families spend more half their income for housing.
- Leaves the Housing Production Trust Fund stuck at $100 million for four years in a row, while housing development costs continue to rise, meaning we get less and less new housing each year.
- Keeps all DC schools underfunded and tolerates the continued failure to keep our commitment to students who need the most help. Under the DCPS budget, 40 percent of “at-risk” funds will go somewhere other than helping these students.
So while we celebrate the progress being made, today’s budget vote is a reminder that we need to do so much more to build a fair economy where no one is left behind, to ensure that all current residents can continue to call DC home, and to narrow DC’s widening racial inequities.
At a time when we have one of the widest racial income and wealth gaps in the country, gentrification and unfair development are only exacerbating the many challenges we face. It’s clear that we cannot address these issues incrementally; we need bold leadership and a clear vision to move us forward.
I’m running for office because I believe we can and need to do more. If elected Chair, families will know they have an advocate leading the council.
- Ed Lazere