Mayor Bowser’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Budget is a big step forward for ending chronic homelessness. We are grateful to the mayor for a strong budget proposal that prioritizes investments in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), Street Outreach, and more. We look forward to working with the Council to build on the proposed budget to further advance housing justice and to fill critical gaps.
The recent horrific attacks on our unhoused neighbors remind us that housing is vital for everybody's safety and that ending homelessness is truly a matter of life or death. While our hearts are still reeling from this most recent violence- and the ongoing violence that our unhoused neighbors face every day- we must push forward and fight to ensure that everybody has a safe place to call home.
Mayor Bowser will release the highlights of her budget at 11 am tomorrow and will release the details of her Human Services budget this Friday. That means we have less than 20 hours to convince her that her budget must include $26 million to end chronic homelessness for 760 households. As a reminder, these recommendations are based directly off Homeward DC 2.0, Mayor Bowser's strategic plan to end homelessness. Our ask is simple: Mayor Bowser must fund her administration's plan to end homelessness.
Below are 4 things you can do to push Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to end chronic homelessness.
1. Follow us on Twitter at @thewayhomeDC for up-to-date information and analysis of the mayor's budget release.
2. TAKE ACTION: EMAIL THE MAYOR
We have until 10 am tomorrow morning to ensure that Mayor Bowser's budget prioritizes ending chronic homelessness. Please click here to send her an email before it's too late!
3. Testify at upcoming budget oversight hearings
Between March and April, the DC Council hosts oversight hearings about the budgets of all DC's Agencies. This is a chance to share your thoughts about DC's homelessness crisis, the urgent need for more low-income housing, DC's treatment of homeless encampments, and anything else! Click here and scroll to the middle of the page to learn how you can submit testimony to the DC Council about these vital topics.
4. Attend the Miriam's Kitchen Mayoral Candidate forum focused on ending chronic homelessness
Please join Miriam's Kitchen on April 5th from 6:30-8:00 pm for a Mayoral candidate debate focused on ending chronic homelessness. For more information and to RSVP, please click here.
Thanks to our collective advocacy, DC’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget included over 2,400 Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) vouchers: a historic investment that will help us reach our shared goal of ending chronic homelessness!
Yesterday, the DC Council voted to allow Mayor Bowser to continue to evict homeless encampments during hypothermia and a worsening COVID surge. On National Homeless Person's Memorial Day, as we memorialized 69+ of our neighbors who died without housing, 7 Councilmembers (Mendelson, Henderson, Bonds, Pinto, Cheh, McDuffie, and Allen) ignored the guidance of the CDC and dozens of local and national organizations and instead chose continued displacement, violence, and harm.
We want to thank Councilmembers Nadeau, Lewis-George, Trayon White, Robert White, and Silverman for voting "yes" and putting the needs of encampment residents first.
We showed up strong
While we are dismayed by yesterday's vote, we are proud of how our community showed up. Together, we forced the majority of the DC Council to go on record and say publicly that they are content to preserve a program that bulldozed a human and used 35+ police to evict an encampment over the guidance of dozens of local and national organizations. Even in this loss, we had many victories, including:
- A commitment from Mayor Bowser to not evict the encampments at 21st and E and 25th and Virginia, the two remaining sites of the CARE Pilot Program,
- Changing the narrative of the CARE pilot program, educating the public about the harm of encampment evictions, and raising awareness about the need to focus on housing without displacement and harm; and,
- Building power! We showed the DC Council that thousands of residents expect them to put the needs of unhoused residents first.
Together, we sent in over 5,000 letters and mobilized opposition for encampment evictions from dozens of local and national groups and leaders including Attorney General Karl Racine, 80+ ANCs, The National Low Income Housing Coalition, The National Alliance to End Homelessness, The National Homelessness Law Center, Miriam's Kitchen, The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Empower DC, The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, Friendship Place, Pathways to Housing, Everyone Home DC, The People for Fairness Coalition, Sunrise DC, Metro DSA, Serve Your City, Bread for the City, The Fair Budget Coalition, ACLU of the District of Columbia, and DC for Democracy.
This was a vote against racial justice
In DC, where more than 85% of people experiencing homelessness are Black, ending homelessness is a matter of racial justice. On Monday, the DC Council's Office on Racial Equity released a report clearly stating that voting "no" to pause encampment evictions was a vote against racial justice. The seven Councilmembers who voted "no" yesterday willingly discounted the guidance of their own racial justice experts.
Their report states, "This racial inequity was caused by Federal and local governments divesting from Black neighborhoods, perpetuating segregation, and relentlessly denying Black residents wealth. Government should work to undo this harm-but the CARE Pilot Program is instead exacerbating it. The Executive's approach, design, and implementation of the CARE Pilot is deliberately cruel, unreasonably punitive, and fails to acknowledge the root causes of homelessness."
A word on compromise
The legislation that failed on Tuesday addressed numerous concerns raised by the Council two weeks prior. We worked with the drafters to negotiate in good faith and helped re-write this legislation to account for concerns raised by many Council members, especially Councilmembers Allen and Henderson (even though their concerns were often untrue and rooted in stereotypes about homelessness). Even though our coalition made multiple attempts to speak with their offices over the past several weeks, our attempts to compromise were met with silence and our meeting requests were unanswered. To our shock and despite these concessions, these two Councilmembers still voted "no."
We're not going anywhere, stay tuned for next steps
By delaying this vote until days before Christmas and New Years' break, we believe the DC Council hoped to avoid public accountability without repercussion. We won't let that happen. Please stay tuned for more ways to hold Councilmembers Mendelson, Henderson, Bonds, Pinto, Cheh, McDuffie, and Allen accountable for choosing harm over housing.
DC must focus on housing, not harm
We look forward to working with Councilmembers who raised objections so that we can find a solution that stops the harm of encampment evictions without further playing into harmful stereotypes about homelessness.
Last Thursday, Mayor Bowser displaced several of our unhoused neighbors from their chosen community during the winter at the New Jersey and O Street encampment. Despite the fact that many residents are still waiting to move into housing and even though many more were not offered housing assistance, DC used dozens of police officers and giant bulldozers to carry out the Mayor's wishes. This. Must. Stop.
CLICK HERE TO EMAIL YOUR COUNCILMEMBERS AND DEMAND THEY SUPPORT EMERGENCY LEGISLATION TO STOP ENCAMPMENT EVICTIONS
Together, our community has sent over 2,700 letters to the DC Council, testified at a public oversight hearing, and has sent statements to the Mayor. Unfortunately, the Mayor decided to move forward with her program of evictions and displacement instead of focusing only on housing. The good news is we are not backing down and there are still ways you can help by taking action!
1. ACTION ALERT: Tell The DC Council to support emergency encampment legislation!
The same day that the encampment was evicted, Councilmember Nadeau introduced emergency legislation to make the Mayor stop these harmful evictions and redirect the focus back on housing. The Council votes on the bill this Tuesday, 12/7, and we need you to contact them right now. We've also created some talking points to combat the misleading information coming from the Mayor's office.
Click here to send your Councilmembers an email in support of emergency legislation that will stop the eviction of homeless encampments.
In addition to stopping future encampment evictions for a period of 90 days, this legislation will:
- Focus on housing encampment residents quickly and without arbitrary timelines or threats of displacement,
- Retroactively remove existing no camping zones,
- Mandate trash removal, toilets, sanitation stations, and increased fire safety at all pilot encampments, and,
- Remove the cement barricades on L and M Street that currently prevent pedestrians from walking down the sidewalk.
2. Tweet at your 6 Councilmembers
- If you live in Ward 1, click here
- If you live in Ward 2, click here
- If you live in Ward 3, click here
- If you live in Ward 4, click here
- If you live in Ward 5, click here
- If you live in Ward 6, click here
- If you live in Ward 7, click here
- If you live in Ward 8, click here
3. Attend a joint community session with DC Congressperson Eleanor Holmes Norton and the National Parks Service this Thursday at 7 pm via zoom.
Encampment evictions happen both on land controlled by DC and the Federal Government. Recently, NPS has ramped up its effort to ensure that national parks are not welcoming to unhoused people (such as recent evictions from Mass and 3rd Street and Gompers Park). This session is a great way to give feedback directly to our Congressperson and the National Park service.
To attend, email NortonEvents@mail.house.gov. Please also email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can send you talking points and answer questions beforehand.
On Monday, October 4th, DC stopped an encampment eviction in NoMa when a DC bulldozer injured a human being in an attempt to throw away his tent. You read that right, they nearly threw away a person. This botched eviction, conducted during a pandemic and on the eve of hypothermia season, was both predictable and preventable. As Andrew Anderson from the People for Fairness Coalition told WUSA 9, "I think [DC] dropped the ball on this completely." Still, Mayor Bowser is moving forward with this pilot program and now will rely even more heavily on the police to conduct these clearings.
As we said in our statement released on Monday, the solution to homelessness is housing, and we're grateful that many encampment residents have moved into housing recently. But we cannot ignore the violence and harm of Monday's eviction. We need to meet people with compassion and understanding, not with artificial timelines and threats. Instead of focusing resources on criminalization and closures, DC must marshall its resources to focus on housing.
Raise your voice!
The fact that somebody was bulldozed underscores the sad reality that, in D.C., the lives of unhoused people, especially unhoused Black and brown people, are often considered disposable to those in power. That's why, together, we need your help to continue building a movement that forces our elected officials to prioritize the needs of our unhoused neighbors. Below are two ways to channel the anger we are all feeling to create policy change.
- CALL THE DC COUNCIL THURSDAY AND FRIDAY (10/7 and 10/8): Click here to sign-up to call Councilmembers Allen and Gray, and Chairperson Mendelson.
- ONGOING: Add your name to this petition calling on DC to stop the creation and expansion of "no tent zones."
Communities and leaders are speaking up against the criminalization of homelessness
Since Monday, there has been an outpouring of opposition to the increased displacement and criminalization of homeless encampments. Please take some time to read these powerful statements from the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Greater Greater Washington, and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Additionally, we are grateful to Councilmembers Nadeau, Lewis-George, and Robert White for using their power to support our unhoused neighbors and to push back on these harmful evictions.
We thank our partners on the ground!
We want to take a moment to thank our partner organizations who have been on the ground directly supporting our unhoused neighbors in the NoMa encampments for months and even years. We owe deep debts of gratitude to the People for Fairness Coalition, Serve your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid, HIPS, The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and Pathways to Housing.
P.S. Don't forget to follow us on twitter, instagram, and facebook for campaign updates, action alerts, and more!