On April 2, Mayor Muriel Bowser published her long-awaited budget plan. We had been gearing up for the release since last year!
Over the past months we worked internally with partners in the housing-rights community, helping to develop both the Coalition on Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development’s budget recommendations and the D.C. Fair budget Coalition’s budget platform.
We also advocated publicly for investments in affordable housing and ending homelessness. Most notably, we testified before several City Council hearings on agency oversight and attended Mayor Bowser’s budget engagement forums, which she held across the city to get input from Washingtonians across all eight wards about the government services that are important to them.
And now, on to some highlights from the Mayor’s proposal:
$100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF). A huge win – this was the funding level we asked for! The HPTF is the main way the District builds and keeps up affordable housing units, like the ones we have at Hyacinth’s Place. We are so pleased that Mayor Bowser kept the commitment to fund the HPTF at this level that she made while still serving on the City Council.
$18.7 million for the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) strategic plan. Recently adopted by voting members from agencies and the community, this plan takes a holistic approach to programs that both allay and prevent homelessness. The strategic plan is driven by a strong emphasis on cross-agency coordination.
The Local Rent Supplement Program. This fund lets many low-income people in the District access housing by helping out with rent that they otherwise couldn’t afford. The Mayor’s proposal would increase project- and sponsor-based vouchers by $2.4 million and tenant-based vouchers by $3.7 million.
We are glad that the Mayor has been vocal about her commitment to affordable housing. While her proposal isn’t an exact match with all of our recommendations, it is clear that despite the budget shortfall the District is facing, she stands by that commitment.
The release marks a milestone in the budget process, but we’re a long way from the end. We now turn to the City Council, which, over the next months, will be developing its own proposal. Our work will include attending agency budget briefings, testifying before the City Council, lobbying Councilmembers, and rallying the public.
To refresh your memory, check out our blog post on the budget process.
For more information, we recommend several resources:
First and foremost, here’s where you can review the Mayor’s budget.
The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute’s budget page. Here you’ll find a number of valuable documents, including its take on the Mayor’s proposal and a comprehensive guide to the D.C. budget process.
The Coalition on Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development’s (CNHED) budget recommendations. As a member of the CNHED Supportive Housing Working Group, Hyacinth’s will place particular emphasis on advocating for several of these priorities during the next phase of budget season.
The D.C. Fair budget Coalition’s budget platform. Hyacinth’s Place is a cosigner of the platform, which is guided by the principle that to fight poverty in the District, we have to tackle a range of issues related to human needs concurrently. In addition to programs that impact housing and homelessness, we stand behind coalition partners advocating for funding for TANF, the Office of Victim Services, adult education, worker protection, and health and nutrition programs.
The Way Home Campaign’s take on the budget proposal’s investments in ending chronic homelessness.
The budget briefings schedule. Over the next weeks, agencies will hold briefings to talk about their budget requests and answer the public’s questions.
The budget hearings schedule. Starting April 13, City Council committees will hold hearings on each agency’s budget. Contact Vanessa@hyacinths.org if you are interested in testifying—we’d love to have you!
The Fair Budget Coalition’s fun photo album with tons of advocates sharing their priorities with the Mayor.
Finally, here is the roundup of news articles on the release from the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, and DCist. You can also watch Mayor Bowser discuss her budget in an interview with Fox 5 news.
Here’s to the next leg of budget season!
Government Relations and Advocacy Manager