There are many, many great things happening across our city, and I am proud to report that many are also taking place right here in Ward 2. This past week, I spent time with representatives of the Georgetown Heritage Center to talk about recent improvements made to the Canal and future plans to continue to develop the area for educational and recreational uses. I also toured the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library to review the wonderful changes coming to the District’s flagship library. The library has been undergoing a top-to-bottom renovation with new facilities to prepare it for the 21st century, including state of the art studios, device lending, children and teen sections, adult learning, and so much more – we will share more information about the opening of the library in our next newsletter!
This month also brings about notable cultural celebrations. Mayor Bowser has issued a Proclamation designating September as African Heritage Month and additionally, National Hispanic Heritage Month was kicked off yesterday, Tuesday, September 15! While I urge everyone to remain safe, I also encourage you to visit the websites of the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs and the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs to find out how you can safely partake in these celebrations. This month the Jewish community will also observe the High Holidays. Friday marks the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year and I wish all Jewish Washingtonians “L’shanah Tovah!”.
Lastly, I would like to speak to you about a concern that is very near and dear to my heart – homelessness. While homelessness impacts the District of Columbia in many of the same ways that it impacts other major cities, the homeless epidemic presents unique challenges for our city during this global health pandemic and has especially impacted Ward 2. As many public spaces once used as gathering spots for our neighbors experiencing homelessness are now closed, unfortunately, many homeless encampments have now sprung up across the city. Understandably, businesses and residents are voicing their concerns about the health and safety of those living in the encampments and that of other permanent residents of the surrounding areas. With homelessness increasing and becoming more visible, there is an increasing awareness of the need to provide mental health support for our neighbors experiencing homelessness and city officials and community organizations are working hard to meet the demand.
What we can say is that while we have made great strides to support our residents in need and move folks into housing, much more needs to be done. We need to take a collective approach, one that brings all stakeholders to the table. To help us move further along in that process, I invite you to join me this evening, Thursday, September 17, at 7:00 p.m. for a conversation on homelessness solutions. Our goal is to bring diverse perspectives to the table, so our solutions are guided by a complete understanding of the myriad of challenges at play here: empathy, and practicality. Guests panelists will include representatives from the Deputy Mayor on Health and Human Services and the Department on Human Services. To register for this event or submit questions, visit www.tinyurl.com/PintoSeptember2020.
As always, my team and I are here to assist and support you. Please do not hesitate to contact us there is anything you need.
Yours in Service,
Never Forget: On Friday, September 11, Councilmember Brooke Pinto presented members of the District of Columbia’s Fire and Emergency Services (FEMS) with a ceremonial resolution to honor the sacrifice that so many first responders made on that day 19 years ago. The ceremony also presented an opportunity for the District to celebrate the retirement of Chief Gregory Dean whose “example that will endure” and “continue to inspire great service for years and years to come.” Among those in attendance were members of the International Association of Firefighters Local 36 and Local 3721chapters, the 9/11 Day organization, Chef Jose Andres, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen. Councilmember Pinto would like to extend a special thanks to Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh for starting this tradition 10 years ago and faithfully honoring FEMS’ commitment to service since then.
The Lillian & Albert Small Capitol Jewish Museum Groundbreaking Ceremony: This week, Councilmember Pinto presented at the Lillian and Albert Small Capitol Jewish Museum groundbreaking ceremony. The new Capital Jewish Museum will explore the intersection of American Judaism and American democracy and will serve as a safe place for dialogue across the diverse cultural communities of our city.?The museum site will also include the first synagogue in Washington, DC, the historic 1876 Adas Israel Synagogue. During the groundbreaking, the Councilmember remarked that the Jewish community has a “long history… that spans centuries, traverses continents, and speaks in many languages…” and praised the Commission’s commitment to “preserve a people’s story.” For more information on the Museum’s groundbreaking events, visit www.capitaljewishmuseum.org/groundbreaking.
September Outreach Events: You are invited to join the Councilmember and her team for her final September outreach event tonight, Thursday, September 17, at 7:00 p.m. This “Conversation on Homelessness Solutions” will take place in partnership with the Deputy Mayor on Health and Human Services and the Department of Human Services. You may register and submit your questions at www.tinyurl.com/PintoSeptember2020.
Tenant Protections, Eviction Prevention Services, and Rent Stabilization in the District: Councilmember Pinto joined the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, Chaired by At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds, for two public oversight roundtables this week. At the first roundtable, Councilmember Pinto discussed the expansion of the District’s rent stabilization program to protect the numerous rent-controlled buildings. Later, the Councilmember joined discussions on tenant protection and eviction prevention services, during which time she urged everyone to think critically about how we can prevent “an avalanche” of evictions and homelessness once the emergency period is behind us, assist tenants who have been unable to make payments, and prevent housing providers and building owners from foreclosure. She spoke about the importance of creativity, empathy, and practicality throughout the process. The Councilmember looks forward to working with the Committee to identify and develop actionable solutions to address these urgent matters.
The Districts Unemployment Compensation Oversight Hearing: Councilmember Pinto also joined At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, and public witnesses to discuss how to make the District’s unemployment insurance program work far more effectively. During the hearing the Councilmember learned about residents’ personal experiences with the program and focused on identifying gaps in the city’s efforts to administer this benefit. On Wednesday, September 30, government witnesses from the District's Department of Employment Services (DOES) will join the Committee to resume this public oversight hearing and discuss their progress and productivity, organizational challenges, and goals to more effectively support residents during this difficult time.
Championing Black Lives Matter Plaza: During a public hearing held by the Committee of the Whole to discuss the naming designation of certain public roads and buildings, Councilmember Pinto championed the official designation of a two-block stretch of 16th Street N.W. in downtown as ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza.’
In a statement, the Councilmember said “I'm pleased that the Council is moving forward with ceremonially naming Black Lives Matter Plaza in Ward 2, honoring and commemorating widespread calls for criminal justice reform and racial equity. While the commemoration is a very important step, we won't stop there. We will continue supporting and building upon efforts such as the establishment of the D.C. Police Reform Commission, voter enfranchisement, and the adoption of mental health-based public safety models, so that all D.C. residents benefit from the very best of the law and are not burdened by it.”
Legislative Calendar – Upcoming Council Meetings, Public Hearings, and Roundtables:
The Council of the District of Columbia will hold its first post-recess legislative meeting on Tuesday, September 17, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
To watch the session live, visit https://dccouncil.us/event/legislative-meeting-49/.
The Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Reports: The Council of the District of Columbia’s Budget Office is issuing a seven-part series of reports that highlights some of the most important enhancements that the Council funded in the FY 2021 Budget and Financial Plan. These reports explain and contextualize the Council’s budget enhancements. In the first report, available here, 5 readers can learn about the dual impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and historic job losses on the District and the health and economic disparities that have been felt in the context of COVID-19.
Forthcoming reports can be found at https://www.dccouncilbudget.com/fy-21_budget-summary-report.
Budget Report Release Schedule:
REMINDER - The Great Streets Retail Grants Program application period is now open: The Great Streets Retail Grant provides existing and new businesses the opportunity to help transform 13 emerging commercial corridors into thriving and inviting livable, walkable, and shoppable neighborhood centers. More information is available here: https://greatstreets.dc.gov/Great-Streets-Retail-Grants.
The Submission deadline is Monday, September 28, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.
The November 3rd General Election Update
The general election is now less than 50 days away. To ensure that you do not have any issues casting your ballot, please review the information below.