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homelessness

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Grosso re-introduces bill to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness

For Immediate Release: 
March 19, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso re-introduces bill to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) re-introduced legislation today to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness in the District of Columbia.

“Discrimination against people experiencing homelessness perpetuates the very problem of homelessness,” Grosso said.  “If we want to put people on the path to stable housing, we must end discrimination that creates another barrier in the way of people seeking to improve their situation.”

The Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019 amends the Human Rights Act of 1977 to add homelessness as a protected class to help eradicate discrimination for individuals experiencing homelessness in employment, in places of public accommodation, in educational institutions, in public service, and in housing and commercial space.

The legislation is named to honor the life and legacy of Michael A. Stoops, a long-time advocate for the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness and a tireless warrior for overcoming income inequality. He helped found the NCH, protested to pressure Congress to pass federal legislation to combat homelessness, and co-founded the North American Street Newspaper Association, which helps to support our own local newspaper, Street Sense.

Grosso first introduced the legislation in 2017. Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, and Brandon Todd joined Grosso as co-introducers.

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Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019

Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019

Introduced: March 19, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmember Robert White, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, Brianne Nadeau

BILL TEXT

Summary: To amend the Human Rights Act of 1977 to protect individuals experiencing homelessness from discrimination.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

A survey conducted by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and George Washington University in 2014 found that out of 142 individuals experiencing homelessness, 132 claimed they had been discriminated against because of their homeless status.

While there isn’t more recent data on this issue, virtually all homeless individuals experience some form of discrimination as they go about their everyday lives.

Today, I am introducing the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019.

This bill amends the Human Rights Act of 1977 to add homelessness as a protected class to help eradicate discrimination for individuals experiencing homelessness in housing, employment, public accommodation, educational institutions, public service, and commercial space.

It is named the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019 to honor the life and legacy of a person who was a long-time advocate for the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness and a tireless warrior for overcoming income inequality.

During his 67 years of life, Michael was able to accomplish many great feats on behalf of individuals experiencing homelessness.

In the 1980s, he help founded the National Coalition for the Homeless.

He fasted and slept on the street in order to pressure Congress to pass the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law that provides funding for homeless shelter programs, and is the primary piece of federal legislation related to the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Later, he pushed the standards of living for homeless individuals by organizing over 100,000 people to join the “End Homelessness Now! Rally”.

In the 1990s, Michael co-found the North American Street Newspaper Association (or “NASNA”). NASNA is a nonprofit trade association of street newspapers that helps to support 110 papers in 40 countries, including our very own local newspaper, Street Sense, where Michael served on the board from 2003 to 2014.

Unfortunately, in 2015 tragedy struck. Michael suffered a massive stroke, which caused him to be wheelchair bound and unable to speak. However, he still remained dedicated to his life’s mission until he passed away in 2017.

Passing this legislation will help eliminate discrimination against homeless people simply because they are homeless.

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Grosso FY2019 Budget Victories

Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, celebrated investments in his budget priorities included in the fiscal year 2019 budget for the District of Columbia, which was given final approval by the D.C. Council on May 29, 2018.

“This budget comes before us during a tumultuous time in the public education sector, but I believe the funding we have approved move us forward in education reform and toward closing the achievement gap,” Grosso said. “It makes new investments that put students in the best position to succeed by creating positive school climates, bolstering community schools, and expanding access to multilingual education in D.C.”

The Council’s full budget largely preserves or increases investments approved by the Committee on Education in Grosso’s education priorities and makes investments in other areas of focus for the councilmember:

  • Prioritizes students’ right to learn by reducing the use of exclusionary discipline: $3.4 million to fund the Student Fair Access to School Act to protect students’ right to an education, close the achievement gap, and foster positive school climates, including an increase to the at-risk weight of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula.
  • Improves educational outcomes by meeting students’ non-academic needs: An increase of $1.4 million for a total investment of nearly $3 million to expand community schools, which set students up for academic success by addressing their academic, health, and social needs through community partnerships.
  • Invests in the mental and physical health of our students: Provides $3 million at the Department of Behavioral Health for school-based clinicians and $4.4 million at the Department of Health for school-based nurses.
  • Increases access to multilingual education in the District: $367,000 to establish the Office of Multilingual Education in OSSE, with dedicated personnel whose mission is to increase cross-sector access to high-quality multilingual education across the city.
  • Supports students with special education needs: Fully implements the Enhanced Special Education Services Act and includes $350,000 in new funding for teacher training in special education.
  • Creates a world-class central library: $1.5 million for opening day collections at the newly-modernized Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, set to re-open in 2020.
  • Preserves our local history for future generations: $500,000 for the D.C. Oral History project, a collaboration of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Humanities DC, and the D.C. Public Library, over the next four years.
  • Provides resources to combat residency fraud: Provides four full-time staffers and $300,000 to OSSE to aid its mission of investigating and reporting residency fraud in D.C. schools.
  • Expands equitable, high-quality out-of-school learning opportunities: Provides over $20 million for after-school and summer programming for students—more than double the current level of grant-funding for community-based organizations and unthinkable under the former D.C. Trust.
  • Supports early childhood education: Includes a new tax credit for families to offset the high cost of raising a child in D.C. and increased the reimbursement rate for subsidized childcare.
  • Continued investment in early literacy interventions: $1.6 million in continuing investments in the successful early literacy intervention program that gets students at or above reading level by third grade. 
  • Invests in Fair Elections: Fully funds Grosso's legislation that establishes a strong public financing system for campaigns in D.C., weakening the influence of large donors and corporations in our elections.
  • Fights homelessness and housing insecurity, especially for vulnerable populations: $15.6 million to combat homelessness including $1.6 million to fully fund the Interagency Council on Homelessness Youth Plan in 2019, with $300,000 from the Committee on Education to provide wraparound services at a new 24-hour drop-in center and additional youth beds.

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Councilmember Grosso requires increased transparency in education sector and invests in expanded educational opportunities

For Immediate Release:
May 4, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso requires increased transparency in education sector and invests in expanded educational opportunities

Washington, D.C. – Under the leadership of Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), the Committee on Education today unanimously passed its recommendations for the District of Columbia FY2019 budget. The Committee’s recommendations require greater transparency from the education sector when formulating its budget. It also makes new investments that put students in the best position to succeed by creating positive school climates, bolstering community schools, and expanding access to multilingual education in D.C.

“I share the public’s frustration with the lack of transparency in the development of school budgets,” Grosso said. “The policy changes included in this report will force DCPS and the mayor to explain their math when devising future budgets. With that information, not only can the Committee, the Council, and the public perform greater oversight, but the city can begin to grapple with the true cost of educating our students as it examines additional reforms to our public education system.” 

Policy Recommendations and Legislative Change Highlights:

  • Greater accountability in the formulation of D.C. Public Schools’ budget: Legislative language in the budget requires DCPS to explain the cost that central office attributes to supporting each student, requires the mayor to report how the base of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) is calculated each year before the budget is formulated, and ensures accuracy in enrollment projections for budgetary purposes.
  • Greater transparency in the expenditure of at-risk dollars: By October 1, 2018, D.C. Public Schools must report to the Committee on Education how it will add an accounting line item to central office and school budgets allowing for more detailed tracking of funds intended for students at-risk for academic failure.
  • Study transportation barriers that hinder school attendance: Requires the Deputy Mayor for Education to collaborate with the District Department of Transportation to analyze student transportation times, options, and routes for chronically absent students.

“The budget the Committee has passed also creates a positive school environment that values a student’s presence and strives to meet the non-academic needs of our most vulnerable students,” said Grosso. “By addressing these issues, we can begin to close the achievement gap and get students on track to graduate ready for college, career, and life."

Investment Highlights:

  • Prioritizes students’ right to learn by reducing the use of exclusionary discipline: $4.4 million to fund the Student Fair Access to School Act to protect students’ right to an education, close the achievement gap, and foster positive school climates. This includes:
    • An increase of $450,000 for a total investment of nearly $1 million for Restorative Justice programs, which provide an alternative to outdated discipline methods.
    • An increase in the Universal Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) for students at-risk of academic failure.
    • Establishing the School Safety and Positive Climate Fund to support schools in implementing strategies to reduce suspensions and expulsions and facilitate training and technical assistance in positive behavioral interventions.
  • Improves educational outcomes by meeting students’ non-academic needs: An increase of $1.4 million for a total investment of nearly $3 million to expand community schools, which set students up for academic success by addressing their academic, health, and social needs through community partnerships.
  • Increases access to multilingual education in the District: $367,000 to establish the Office of Multilingual Education in OSSE, with dedicated personnel whose mission is to increase cross-sector access to high-quality multilingual education across the city.
  • Creates a world-class central library: $1 million for opening day collections at the newly-modernized Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, set to re-open in 2020.
  • Preserves our local history for future generations: $500,000 for the D.C. Oral History project, a collaboration of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Humanities DC, and the D.C. Public Library, over the next four years.
  • Provides resources to combat residency fraud: Provides one additional full-time equivalent to the proposed three FTEs and $300,000 for OSSE to aid its mission of investigating and reporting residency fraud in D.C. schools.
  • Expands equitable, high-quality out-of-school learning opportunities: Increased investment of $652,000 for OST grants with redirection of defunct tax donation line and transfers from the Committees on Labor & Workforce Development and Business & Economic Development. Total Education investment: $13.6 million.
  • Supports services and housing for youth experiencing homelessness: The Education Committee transferred $300,000 to the Human Services Committee for wrap-around services at the 24-hour drop-in center and for shelter and housing for homeless youth.

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Grosso sends follow-up questions to DHS on closure of D.C. General

On March 28, Councilmember David Grosso, a member of the Committee on Human Services, sent follow-up questions to Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger after the Committee's March 28th hearing on the closure of D.C. General Family Shelter.

UPDATE 4/11/2018: DHS submitted responses to Councilmember Grosso., which can be found below, along with the original letter from Councilmember Grosso that was sent on March 28. 

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Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017

Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: July 11, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, and Robert White

Summary: To amend the Human Rights Act of 1977 to protect individuals experiencing homelessness from discrimination.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Today, along with my colleagues Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Robert White, and Mary Cheh, I am introducing the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017.

Virtually all homeless people experience some form of discrimination.

A 2014 survey conducted by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and George Washington University found that out of 142 individuals experiencing homelessness, 132 claimed they had been discriminated against because of their homeless status.

Discrimination on the basis of homelessness runs rampant throughout our city- from law enforcement to private businesses, medical and social services.

Therefore this bill amends the Human Rights Act of 1977 to add homelessness as a protected class to help eradicate discrimination for individuals experiencing homelessness in employment, in places of public accommodation, in educational institutions, in public service, and in housing and commercial space.

The bill is aptly named the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017 to honor the life and legacy of a person who was a long-time advocate for the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness and a tireless warrior for overcoming income inequality.

During his 67 years of life, Michael was able to accomplish many great things on behalf of individuals experiencing homelessness.

In the 1980s, he help founded the National Coalition for the Homeless.

He also fasted and slept on the street in order to pressure Congress to pass the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law that provides funding for homeless shelter programs, and is the primary piece of federal legislation related to the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Later, he pushed the standards of living for homeless people by organizing over 100,000 people to join the “End Homelessness Now! Rally”.

In the 1990s, Michael co-found the North American Street Newspaper Association (or “NASNA”). NASNA is a nonprofit trade association of street newspapers that helps to support 110 papers in 40 countries, including our own local newspaper, Street Sense, where Michael served on the board from 2003 to 2014.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 2015. Michael suffered a massive stroke, which caused him to be wheelchair bound and unable to speak. However, he still remained dedicated to his life’s mission until he passed away earlier this year.

Passing this legislation will help eliminate discrimination against homeless people simply because they are homeless.

Comment

Comment

Grosso introduces bill to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness

For Immediate Release: 
July 11, 2017
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso introduces bill to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced legislation today to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness in the District of Columbia.

“Discrimination against people experiencing homelessness perpetuates the very problem of homelessness,” Grosso said.  “If we want to put people on the path to stable housing, we must end discrimination that creates another barrier in the way of people seeking to improve their situation.”

The Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017 amends the Human Rights Act of 1977 to add homelessness as a protected class to help eradicate discrimination for individuals experiencing homelessness in employment, in places of public accommodation, in educational institutions, in public service, and in housing and commercial space.

The legislation is named to honor the life and legacy of Michael A. Stoops, a long-time advocate for the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness and a tireless warrior for overcoming income inequality. He helped found the NCH, protested to pressure Congress to pass federal legislation to combat homelessness, and co-founded the North American Street Newspaper Association, which helps to support our own local newspaper, Street Sense.

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D.C. Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Passes First Vote with Grosso's Priorities

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2016
Contact: Keenan Austin
(202) 724-8105

D.C. Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Passes First Vote with Grosso's Priorities

Washington, D.C. -- Today, the D.C. Council took its first vote on the "Fiscal Year 2017 Local Budget Act of 2016", "Fiscal Year 2017 Federal Portion Budget Request Act of 2016", and "Fiscal Year Budget Support Act of 2017", which together comprise the fiscal year 2017 budget. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) worked closely with his colleagues to ensure inclusion of his top priorities in the budget. Grosso made the following statement:

"I am proud of the hard work and collaboration that happened during the budget process on behalf of D.C. residents. My colleagues and I were tasked with balancing the city's many priorities. Through this arduous process, we produced a budget that is fair and puts the needs of the people at the forefront.
 
"Budgets are about choices and unfortunately we could not do everything that we wanted or that was asked of us. Nevertheless, I believe this budget will continue to move us forward and help ensure that we are putting students in the District of Columbia in the best position to learn and succeed. The Committee on Education's budget and policy recommendations that passed a couple of weeks ago were strong, reflecting the needs and issues raised during the performance and budget oversight hearing process, and I am delighted to see that the Committee of the Whole builds upon our efforts. For a second year, the Committee utilized an objective process that evaluated the status of DCPS facilities and ranked them for modernization based on 4,600 data points.
 
"I am especially grateful that my colleagues once again supported the Committee on Education's approach to depoliticize funding of our school modernizations. Our model, based on equity, student demand, community-centered schools, and transparency, prioritizes the schools in greatest of need. 

"Particularly important is inclusion in this budget of funding for the replacement and closing of D.C. General, a goal that I have championed for years. I commend Mayor Bowser for taking on this important and difficult task. While I acknowledge the great deal of work ahead, the changes that the Council made will strengthen the plan, while saving money and ensuring stability. I was glad to help identify capital funding necessary for D.C. to own the new shelters rather than lease them, while working with my colleagues to ensure that Coolidge High School will still complete its full renovation onthe Mayor's schedule."

Grosso's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Victories
Education
Under Grosso's leadership, the Education Committee approved a $3.9 billion budget improving public education, literacy, and career readiness for all District residents, including:

  • $1.8 million to increase the subsidy rate for child care providers;
  • $2.3 million to increase additional capacity for the Strong Start Early Intervention program that provides services to infants and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays;
  • $1.6 million to continue the early literacy grant initiative targeting third grade reading success, which Grosso created in Fiscal Year 2016;
  • $11.9 million in capital funds for data systems infrastructure at OSSE, to improve data collection, transparency and coordination in the education sector;
  • $800,000 to restore the 21st Century Learning Grants at OSSE;
  • $200,000 for the establishment of a D.C. Oral History Project
  • $440 million in FY17 for school modernizations and other repairs for D.C. Public Schools;
  • $2.5 million for Show Up Stand Out, ACE, and PASS, programs that support student attendance and divert young people away from the criminal justice system;
  • $700,000 to increase the library collections budget including opening day collections for Palisades, West End, and Capitol View branch libraries;
  • $600,000 to support the success of the Books from Birth program at DC Public Library;
  • $1.2 million to expand the school-based health centers located in 7 schools throughout D.C.; and
  • $650,000 for the Department of Health to continue funding for the teen pregnancy prevention programming and teen peer sexual health educators.

Capital Improvement Plan for DC Public Schools
This year, the Committee on Education continued its objective approach to capital modernizations. The model was refined to include 4,600 data points throughout 10 categories to rank all 112 schools in the DCPS portfolio, and was based on the following principles:

  • Ensure that the Capital Improvement Plan reflects equity focused planning, aligns investments with student demand, upholds the values of community centered schools, and builds facilities to support quality educational programs;
  • Exercise greater discipline in managing the scope and budget for the projects; and
  • Increase transparency in the capital funding process, including delineating general stabilization fund categories such as roof repairs, boiler repairs, ADA compliance, and electrical upgrades to school specific projects.

As a result, the Committee approved a $440 million Capital Improvement Plan for FY17, enhancing the Mayor's plan by $13 million.

Arts
As a world class city, Grosso believes we must plan and develop strategies to sustain a thriving artistic and creative sector, which includes:

  • $4.6 million to increase Arts Building Communities to provide more grants to more artists and provide larger grants to organizations that currently apply for multiple grants in order to meet their need;
  • $1.45 million to conduct educational activities and outreach to youth and young adults;
  • $30,000 to increase training and employee development of new staff of the Commission on Arts & Humanities; and
  • $20,000 to increase legislative and grants management for the processing of additional grants by the Commission on Arts & Humanities.

Health and Human Services
As a member of the Committee on Health and Human Services, and recognizing the impact health and human services has on the success of students at school, Grosso is glad to see important investments in this sector including:

  • Over $100 million in capital funds to build smaller, more humane shelters for families experiencing homelessness, resulting in the closure of D.C. General, fostering more stability, and saving over $165 million in the process;
  • $2 million for additional Permanent Supportive Housing for individuals transitioning out of homelessness;
  • $2.5 million for additional Targeted Affordable Housing for individuals and families transitioning out of homelessness;
  • $4.9 million for youth development funding that will be issued in FY17 while the government and community create a new strategy to replace the D.C. Trust; and
  • $1.2 million for Produce Plus to support low income individuals eating healthy and fresh food.

To learn more about the Committee on Education's budget and priorities on the Committee on Education, please visit www.davidgrosso.og.
 
 
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Grosso Supports New Neighborhood Shelters and Closing of D.C. General

For Immediate Release
February 10, 2016
Contact:
Keenan Austin
(202) 724-8105

Grosso Supports New Neighborhood Shelters and Closing of D.C. General
 

WASHINGTON, D.C— Yesterday, February 9, 2016,  Mayor Muriel Bowser and Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Laura Zeilinger announced the plans to close D.C.’s long-standing family homeless shelter, D.C. General, and plans to replace it with 8 small, neighborhood shelters spread across the city.  

Councilmember David Grosso made the following statement in response to this announcement: 

Like many of you I have seen the dysfunction of so many parts of our response to these vulnerable residents. I see the Homeward DC plan as critical to our effort to transform how we handle homelessness. Homeward DC is a carefully crafted five year strategic plan to address our city’s homelessness issue, planned by our government and in extensive consultation with the community. Director Zeilinger's track record over the past year speaks volumes as she has made significant structural changes within DHS and implemented smart policy reforms like year-round access to shelter for families.

The Council stepped up to the plate last year and made an unprecedented investment in homeless services, including the replacement of D.C. General as the main shelter for housing our homeless families. As the transitioning of residents from D.C. General goes forward, we must meticulously track the effort and ensure that these new shelters provide positive and healthy environments and feature extensive wrap around services. To me, these are critical human rights issues--I am glad to see us as a city take the human rights of these most marginalized residents more seriously. I hope that everyone will all be supportive of the Mayor’s approach and see to it that we get these shelters up and running quickly.

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Agencies Improve Policies for Marginalized Residents to get Identity Documents

Earlier this fall, after discussions with advocates and community members, Councilmember Grosso sent letters to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Human Services out of concern that some policies are unnecessarily creating barriers for residents when they need to access identity documents. In particular, Grosso was concerned about the ability to get identity cards or driver's licenses for D.C. foster youth in placements outside of D.C., homeless residents, returning citizens, and low income residents who may have trouble producing certain documents or paying certain fees. 

In response to Grosso's letters, both DMV and DHS took immediate steps to improve or clarify their policies, and began discussions to update others. You can read the letters below--first Grosso's letter to DMV and the response from Director Babers, second Grosso's letter to DHS and the response from Director Zeilinger. The Councilmember thanks these agencies for their willingness to engage on these issues and make changes to their policies.

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Grosso letter on conditions at men's shelter on New York Ave NE

Councilmember Grosso sent the following letter to City Administrator Young and DHS Director Zeilinger after the latest incident outside of the men's shelter located at 1355 New York Ave NE, which resulted in a death. Grosso had previously raised concerns about this shelter with both officials. The Mayor's office responded that a response is in the works. The shelter is run by Catholic Charities under a contract with DHS, and is located on D.C.-owned land.

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D.C. Budget Passes with All of Grosso’s Priorities

For Immediate Release

May 27, 2015

Contact: Dionne Johnson Calhoun

(202) 724-8105

 

D.C. Budget Passes with All of Grosso’s Priorities

Washington, D.C. –- Today, the D.C. Council voted on the bills that comprise the D.C. fiscal year 2016 budget–-the “Budget Request Act of 2015” and the “Budget Support Act of 2015.” Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) worked closely with his colleagues to ensure inclusion of his top priorities in the budget. 

“This particular budget and vote is significant as it is my first while chairing the Committee on Education. For this Council period, education and housing were designated as the Council’s two top priorities. I am pleased that a comprehensive budget to benefit District of Columbia residents was developed in the areas of education, workforce development, transportation, and health and human services, with historic investments for a strategic pathway to end homelessness,” said Grosso. 

Grosso’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Victories

Education

Under Grosso’s leadership, the Education Committee approved a $2.4 billion budget that reversed proposed cuts to the library system, supported modernization of the Martin Luther King, Jr. central library, and brought a new, objective approach to determining capital funding for D.C. Public Schools, based on equity and data, not politics. In the coming months, the Committee will hold town hall meetings in every ward to share the analytical framework for determining school modernization priorities. Grosso allocated $1.6 million for a new literacy intervention program, targeted at 3rd grade reading success. Equipping these young students with the basic building blocks of learning—reading and writing—will ensure that they are on track to succeed throughout their academic careers. Grosso transferred $760,000 to the Committee of the Whole to restore funding to the University of the District of Columbia that the Mayor had proposed to cut. Grosso also allocated almost $700,000 to DCPS to make up for funding losses at schools such as Wilson and Ballou High Schools, and $450,000 to restore funding for SAT and ACT test preparation courses for D.C. high school students. Grosso included language in the Budget Support Act that broadens the scope of the Bullying Prevention Taskforce and extends its term until August 2018. Grosso also allocated $266,000 to expand the Community Schools program, which supports students and their families by providing wrap-around services. New language in the Budget Support Act also strengthens the program and expands the pool of potential applicants to include middle schools. Meeting the needs of these students and their families in a comprehensive way is part of Grosso’s vision to put every student in the best position to learn and achieve.

The Arts

As a world class city, Grosso believes we must plan and develop strategies to sustain a thriving artistic and creative sector.  To that end, Grosso identified and transferred $200,000 to the Committee of the Whole to fund a comprehensive, citywide cultural plan.  This plan, housed in the Office of Planning, will enable the city to identify the current level of service for cultural groups in each neighborhood; detail the feedback from community outreach; establish a strategy to meet the specified needs of each community; quantify the economic impact of arts and culture; and ultimately put forth a targeted approach to increase cultural activity citywide. 

Food Security & Recreation

Grosso believes a sustainable food system encourages local food production and distribution that makes nutritious food accessible and affordable to all D.C. residents.  For this reason, he introduced the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act of 2014, which became official law on April 30, 2015.  Grosso worked closely with the Committee of the Whole to ensure that the intent of the legislation was preserved and funded to move urban agriculture efforts forward in the city. The funding allocated for the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act enables residents using their property for urban agriculture purposes to take advantage of a 90% tax abatement program.  Additionally, the legislation enables those tax exempt entities that allow farmers to grow and sell produce on their property to maintain their tax exempt status.

An additional program that has proven its value and has Grosso’s support is the Produce Plus Program, which is a farmers market incentive program designed to increase access to healthy and nutritious food options for low-income D.C. residents.  The final budget includes $350,000 for this program to ensure that all our residents can afford to eat healthy.

Health & Human Services

As a strong supporter of reproductive and sexual health and rights, Grosso has worked to support programs such as peer-led sex education in schools and in this budget allocated $300,000 to the Committee on Health and Human Services for teen pregnancy prevention programs. This funding will help fill the gap left by the end of activities of a private foundation that supported such programs locally.

Throughout the budget process, Grosso has also been a vocal proponent of stepping up to the plate to end homelessness in D.C. He is very pleased that the Council’s approved budget builds on the Mayor’s proposed increases in homelessness and human services in line with the strategic plan developed by stakeholders.

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Oversight letter to the Child and Family Services Agency

It is performance oversight season again at the D.C. Council, with each committee hearing from the public and the agencies under its purview about the agencies' performance. After a hearing, Councilmembers often send letters to agencies with further questions. Here is Councilmember Grosso's letter to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency

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DHS responds to Grosso's questions about homeless services budget and homeless youth

In December, Councilmember Grosso sent a letter to the D.C. Department of Human Services requesting on update on funds allocated by the Council in its FY15 budget for homeless services. After an oversight hearing on the issue of homelessness at the end of January with the new administration, Grosso sent a new letter with the same questions as well as some additional questions regarding homeless students, homeless youth, and homeless LGBTQ youth.

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Grosso Proposes Creating Separate Council Committee For Housing

By Sarah Anne Hughes, September 3, 2014, DCist.com

Councilmember David Grosso has proposed creating a separate Council committee for housing, saying it's "an important issue separate and apart from economic development."

"Regardless of changes in political leadership, creating and maintaining affordable housing in the District of Columbia must always be a top priority," Grosso and his legislative assistant Katrina Forrest said today in a blog post. "For this to happen, we must be willing to candidly discuss past policy failures, to improve on existing policies and to create better policies moving forward. ... D.C. has seen numerous housing initiatives started and stalled over the years. This reality necessitates a need for a comprehensive look at our housing policies and strategies to ensure that all D.C. residents have access to quality affordable housing."

The recommendation, one of several released today by the At-Large Councilmember, would remove housing oversight from the Committee on Economic Development, which is currently chaired by Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser.

"Creating a standalone Committee on Housing and Community Development will provide greater oversight of all housing related agencies including the Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD), the District Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA), the District Housing Authority (DCHA) and others to ensure performance goals are being met and the creation and preservation of affordable housing is a top priority that is in line with all of the city’s housing strategies," Grosso and Forrest write. "Additionally, important aspects of the agencies responsible for providing services to the homeless will fall under the purview of this committee to ensure that the full spectrum of housing issues, from homelessness to homeownership, are prioritized.

Grosso's chief of staff says the Councilmember has not discussed the idea with Bowser or Council Chair Phil Mendelson. Request for comment from Bowser's office was not immediately returned.

Other recommendations include building a public housing database, as well as fee waivers and reductions for affordable housing development.

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Grosso Makes Housing Strategy Recommendations

Washington D.C. -- Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) issued a comprehensive list of new strategy recommendations to address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis in the District of Columbia. Grosso and staff devoted the summer months to taking a close look at existing affordable housing initiatives and published two blog posts focusing on the correlating factors that impact housing and homelessness.

"Preserving and creating affordable housing are major steps in addressing the homelessness crisis in D.C.," said Grosso. "Without a comprehensive housing plan, we will continue to revisit this issue. I have proposed a list of new strategies that I believe the District of Columbia government should begin working on within the next 12 months. I thank the advocacy groups that flood Council offices advocating for investments in the annual budget to tackle the homelessness issue. The next step is for city officials to enhance the wrap around services for homeless individuals and families and for anyone at risk of becoming homeless."

Grosso's strategy recommendations include: 1) Creation of a standalone Committee on Housing and Community Development; 2) Convening of a Housing Policy Council to discuss strategic housing plans and evaluate new trends; 3) Stabilization of the Housing Production Trust Fund with annual commitments for financing the construction of new housing, rehabilitation or preservation of housing; 4) Creation of a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit; 5) Establishment of a fast-track permitting process at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for the renovation or creation of affordable housing; 6) Investment in financial literacy programs that educate residents on budget and debt management, homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention; 7) Comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness crisis; 8) Creation of a centralized housing database; 9) Overhaul of existing agency performance measures; and 10) Establishment of a D.C. Housing Land Trust.

For the full list of recommendations click here.

View the first and second blog posts in the series.

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Grosso Reports FY2015 Budget Victories

For Immediate Release:

May 28, 2014

Contact: Dionne Johnson Calhoun

(202) 724-8105

Grosso Reports FY2015 Budget Victories   

Success with priorities in education, workforce development, transportation, homelessness, environment, and more

Washington, D.C. – Today, the D.C. Council held a legislative meeting on the first reading of the FY 2015 Budget Request Act of 2014 and the FY2015 Budget Support Act of 2014. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) worked in committee to ensure inclusion of his top priorities in the budget. 

“The Committee of the Whole put forward a thoughtful and comprehensive budget that will benefit all District residents in the areas of education, workforce development, human services and transportation.  This budget is the result of a lot of hard work and careful considerations and I am pleased to support and vote in favor of it,” said Grosso. 

Grosso’s FY2015 Budget Victories

Tax Revision Commission

From the very beginning, Grosso supported the diligent work of the Tax Revision Commission. He advocated for the inclusion of the Commission’s recommendations in the FY15 budget, and was happy to join his colleagues in passing one of the largest tax relief packages for low & middle class individuals and families in the District’s history. In particular, Grosso advocated for the following:

  • Adding a new individual middle income bracket of $40,000 to 60,000 at 7% in FY15 and later 6.5% in FY16
  • Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to childless workers
  • Raising the standard deduction for single and married filers
  • Reducing the unincorporated and incorporated business franchise tax to 8.25%

 

Public Education

Improving public education has been a priority for Grosso since he first joined the Council. He supported the work of the Committee on Education in the FY15 budget and is especially pleased to support the following enhancements:

  • $1 million for the continuation of the Community Schools grant program, which works to integrate academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement in our public schools. Grosso strongly supports school being seen as community centers and this funding is vital to the success of the program.
  • A provision requiring D.C. Public Schools to report on its implementation of a restorative justice pilot program next school year. Grosso is committed to pushing our education sector to reexamine school discipline policies in an effort to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Restorative justice programs implemented with fidelity in schools is one way to advance those efforts.
  • Grosso also supports the Committee on Education’s decision to amend the Capital Improvement Plan to align capital funding with those schools that need it most. The additional funding for School Within A School, Logan Elementary, Marie Reed Elementary, Murch Elementary, Orr Elementary, and Watkins Elementary for modernization in FY2015 is important to the continued improvement of these education campuses.
  • Expansion of the school-based mental health program administered by the Department of Behavioral Health. Social-emotional support personnel are especially important for students. Our kids do not leave the stress of their home lives at the school house door. Even the best, highly qualified teacher struggles to teach a child who is only physically present but shut down mentally from stress and trauma.
  • $100,000 to support teen health educators who provide sexual and reproductive health education to their peers.

 

Workforce Development

It is important for the District of Columbia to not only establish a positive climate for businesses, but also for residents who work here or are seeking meaningful work. Grosso was proud to champion and support initiatives to improve workforce development and support District government employees.

  • Grosso worked diligently with the Chairman of the Committee on Government Operations, Kenyan McDuffie, to pass a proposal for 8 weeks of paid family leave for  District government employees in connection with the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child, or the care of a family member who has a serious medical condition.  This is the most expansive family leave provision in the country.
  • $5.5 million investment in District Workforce Development at the University of the District of Columbia Community College Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning program to ensure that we are supporting workforce development programs that are successful and supporting our residents so that they can secure life-long, meaningful employment that allows them to take care of themselves and their families. 
  • $175,000 for a new employee at the Workforce Investment Council and a technical assistance consultant to conduct a cross-agency study that will track how each District agency allocates their adult literacy and workforce development funding.

 

Food Security & Recreation

Grosso believes we need to bolster our recreation options and efforts toward food security in the District of Columbia and complement the strong, robust health care infrastructure we are establishing. Grosso was pleased that the following initiatives he advocated for and supported were approved:

  • $8,000,000 for the renovation and modernization of the District’s only Therapeutic Recreation Center, which services people with disabilities and is located in Ward 7.  The funding will create additional changing spaces and showers in the women’s locker room, help to replace a badly patched roof and expand the physical size of the facility, which has not been renovated since it was built in 1971.
  • $1.3 million to create a locally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enhancement. With this funding, no resident receiving SNAP benefits will receive less than $30 per month in assistance, greatly increasing food security in the District.
  • $75,000 to support the Summer Food Services program administered by the Department of Parks and Recreation for low-income children participating in summer programming; $63,000 to support school food pantries at low-income schools in the District; $500,000 in capital dollars to support the development of urban farming, new community gardens and edible landscapes at sites across the District.

 

Homelessness Services

Grosso is committed to improving how the District assists our most vulnerable residents, as well as health outcomes in the city. He advocated for and supported the following:

  • $600,000 to hire 10 family case managers for families at D.C. General to assess families, connect them with the appropriate social services, and ultimately assist them in finding permanent housing.
  • $1.3 million to fund key provisions of the End Youth Homelessness Act of 2014, including funding for 10 transitional beds and 5 emergency shelter beds for youth aged 24 and younger, and street outreach to identify and assist vulnerable youth.
  • $2 million to fund the Homeless Prevention Program Establishment Act to implement prevention efforts that have proven to be successful in other jurisdictions.
  • $2.3 million to expand the Permanent Supportive Housing Program at the Department of Human Services.
  • $3 million to the tenant-based Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) for homeless families, and those at risk of becoming homeless.
  • New funding for coordinated entry system to connect the homeless population to housing and other wrap around services.
  • $200,000 to conduct a feasibility study for the CCNV individual homeless shelter to determine the housing and service needs of the population and facility.

 

Transportation & the Environment

Having a multi-modal transit friendly city that is the “greenest” in the country is something we should all desire and is a top priority for Grosso. Over the course of this year, he has established quarterly meetings with the District Department of the Environment to discuss his priorities, participated on panel discussions with the DC Environmental Network to address waste management in the District, and just last month joined the Anacostia Watershed Society in a river clean-up targeting 25 sites around the Anacostia watershed.  Grosso was pleased that the following initiatives he supported were including in the FY2015 budget:

  • Budget Support Act language establishing a statutory deadline of June 30, 2018 for the District Department of the Environment to adopt and publish a Record of Decision selecting the remedy for remediation of the contaminated sediment in the Anacostia River.  This commitment ensures that DDOE will work quickly and efficiently so that District residents can swim and fish in the river sooner rather than later.
  • $500,000 to conduct a Comprehensive Rail Study to examine the impact of increased population on current commuter rail, the feasibility of expanded commuter and industrial rail, and the impact of privately-owned rail crossing on current and future rail use.
  • Grosso is pleased to report that the Council will maintain the planned 6-year, $400 million investment in the streetcar project and dedicate $45-$65 million of operating funds to the project annually. The Council adjusted the proposed streetcar PayGo transfer from a fixed to a floating base year. 25% of the District’s revenues generated over the previous year, rather than a locked-in baseline of FY15, will be dedicated to support the construction of the new streetcar.  The provision will be implemented in FY2017.  These changes ensure that District residents will reap the benefits of a comprehensive streetcar system.
  •  $187 million towards the H Street bridge, a critical infrastructure project needed for the completion of the streetcar line.  Full replacement of the H Street bridge will be completed before Fiscal Year 2018.
  • $5 million for the Washington Humane Society, which provides the District’s animal control services, to secure a new location and building.

 

Transparency & Open Government

Grosso is fiercely committed to transparency and open government. To advance these ideals, he was successful in getting the following reporting requirements included in the FY2015 Budget Support Act:

  • By October 1, 2014, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer shall submit a report on recommendations for improving transparency of the agency’s budget, including a plan for implementing improvements by the submission of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget to the Council.
  • With the support of the Chair of the Committee on Health, language was also included in the BSA requiring the Department of Health to begin submitting quarterly reports on all grants administered by the agency. During the performance oversight and budget hearings, we heard testimony from many public witnesses regarding the continuous delays with DOH expending grant money. The quarterly reporting will help improve oversight and hopefully grant funding operations at the agency.
  • Grosso also worked with the Chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, to include language requiring the Department of Parks and Recreation to submit reports to the Committee on workforce strategic hiring plan to fill 106 vacancies, the development and implementation of a comprehensive complaint in-take database system to quantify and analyze the number and type of complaints the agency receives and report on the status of a system to produce performance metrics.

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