Today was the last legislative meeting of the year and of the Council Period. Each Council Period is two years and we will begin Council Period 25 on January 3, 2023. I want to provide updates today on some of our legislative victories and initiatives as well as community events from the past several weeks.
This fall I joined our Metropolitan Police Department officers for biking and walking tours of our communities. It has been very instructive in our effort to see more officers in our streets as they build trust and relationships with residents and businesses and to hear directly from our officers about how we can support them in our shared mission to improve public safety.
At the final legislative meeting today, the Council passed important legislation to protect wildlife, improve benefits for SNAP beneficiaries, create a plan to ensure all District residents have access to the internet, require that new District owned buildings have the highest green building standards, direct revenue from automated traffic enforcement to funding Vizion Zero programs, extend additional bereavement leave to grieving parents, provide protections for domestic workers, and reach our climate goals through locally generated solar energy.
The Council passed emergency legislation to restructure the DC Housing Authority board. I voted against the emergency legislation as it lacked public input and would not meaningfully meet and address the challenges facing the Housing Authority: the highest vacancy rate in the nation, uninhabitable units, board composition and training, and lack of transparency in contract and procurement.
This past week, I introduced permanent legislation to reform, rebuild, and restructure the DC Housing Authority in order to comprehensively address the extraordinary failures at the DC Housing Authority which have been documented by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and DC Attorney General Karl Racine. AG Karl Racine agrees that permanent legislation- not emergency legislation - is the best path forward. Our public housing residents, voucher holders, and constituents deserve transparency, input, and our sustained commitment to comprehensive reforms that make certain our public housing authority delivers safe and decent housing to extremely and very low-income residents. The failure to house residents in available housing units is a direct cause of displacement and homelessness for our District residents. I will be reintroducing the legislation in January for the new Council Period – this is an important step torwards meaningful reform.
I am looking forward to the next Council Period and all the promise it holds. I will be chairing a committee for the first time and look forward to oversight of the agencies that will fall under its jurisdiction. The agencies that will fall under my committee’s purview will be finalized at the first legislative meeting on January 3rd. As part of my preparation for committee chairwomanship, I attended an intensive multi-day training with the Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy and look forward to implementing the skills and knowledge I learned.
In addition to my committee work, I look forward to continuing my work with you next year on our shared priorities of supporting small business, enhancing public safety, increasing affordable housing and addressing homelessness, and uplifting women and girls.
Yours in Service,
COMMUNITY OFFICE HOURS
Thank you to everyone who attended my Community Office Hours this fall. I spoke with dozens of neighbors during these events, exchanging ideas and responding to concerns. I’m looking forward to hosting many more community office hours in 2023 – keep an eye out for announcements of these events in the new year!
IN THE NEWS
The Washington Post
DCist: D.C. Councilmembers Pinto, Silverman Introduce Housing Agency Reform Bill. “Our public housing residents, voucher holders, and constituents deserve transparency, input, and our sustained commitment to comprehensive reforms that make certain our public housing authority delivers safe and decent housing to extremely and very low-income residents,” Pinto said.
The Georgetowner: Farewell, RFK. Thanks for the Memories. Councilmember Pinto joined leaders for a final farewell ceremony for RFK Stadium. She joined her cousin Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to honor the memory of Robert F. Kennedy and ensure his legacy fighting for human rights is honored in the nation’s capital. Councilmember Pinto also reinforced her desire for the Commanders to return the District.
DCist: Facing Uncertain Outcome, D.C. Council Delays Vote On Bill To Dissolve Housing Authority Board. “Attorney General Karl Racine spoke out against [the emergency bill], followed thereafter by Councilmember Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), who said she wanted to maintain the board’s independence and the presence of representatives who live in public housing.”
WTOP: DC tries to lure more people back to downtown. “D.C. Councilmembers Brooke Pinto and Christina Henderson are trying to put together tax incentives to boost people in the area. The Rediscover Equitable Central Occupancy Vitality and Encourage Resilient Yield (RECOVERY) Amendment Act was introduced in 2021, but picked up steam last month with its first public hearing. If passed, the bill would offer temporary tax relief to new businesses that relocate to the Central Business District. It would also offer real property tax abatements to incentivize the converting office spaces into housing, retail or entertainment spaces.”
Washington Biz Journal: D.C. Council proposes more incentives to address office, retail vacancies. "The significant challenge has become a crisis since the onset of the pandemic, and one that needs a change of plan to adequately address and bring people back to downtown and Golden Triangle areas," Pinto said at a Nov. 22 public hearing for D.C. Council's Committee on Business and Economic Development.
WUSA 9: DCHA submitted its response to the scathing HUD report that described the agency as among the worst in the nation. Councilmember Brooke Pinto added, “The failure to house residents in available housing units is a direct cause of displacement and homelessness for our District residents.”
Supporting Small Business: Councilmember Pinto’s Business and Entrepreneurship Support to Thrive Act (the “BEST Act”) was passed unanimously by the Council this month. The bill encourages entrepreneurship, lower costs and regulation, and streamlines business licensing & renewal so it's easier to open and operate a business in DC. The BEST Act sends a clear message that our city values the contributions of our small business community and takes an important step forward in removing barriers that have made it more difficult for women and people of color to own and operate a business in the nation’s capital. Starting a small business in the District should be straight forward, efficient, and cost effective. The reality is current licensing requirements are so convoluted that they discourage aspiring entrepreneurs. The BEST Act reduces the over 100 current licensing categories to just 11, eliminates endorsements, and reduces basic business license fees to $49 for a 6-month license and $99 for a 2-year license. The bill also waives licensing fees for businesses with under $10,000 in annual revenue.
Downtown Recovery: Councilmember Pinto’s Recovery Act bill had a hearing on November 22nd in the Committee on Business and Economic Development. Councilmember Pinto plans to reintroduce the bill in the new year for the new Council Period beginning in January. The Recovery Act is targeted to support District residents, workers, and businesses with the goal of transforming our office corridors from solely commercial uses to a vibrant city core that includes mixed-use developments, affordable housing, and jobs and green space as a driver of growth. You can read more here.
DCHA Hearing: Earlier this month, Councilmember Pinto attended a public roundtable hosted by the Committee on Housing & Executive Administration to speak directly with the leadership of the DC Housing Authority. At the roundtable, Councilmember Pinto asked pointed questions about the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development District of Columbia Housing Authority Assessment DC001 that was released in early October of this year. Councilmember Pinto focused her questioning on 1) contracting, procurement and conflicts of interest, 2) unit vacancies and habitability for current residents, and 3) board composition, competence and independence.
Judicial Vacancies: The Senate has confirmed seven district judges filling vacancies Councilmember Pinto fought to have filled. Councilmember Pinto authored a letter to U.S. Senate leadership urging the Senate to take action on eight judicial nominees that need a vote to be approved. Councilmember Pinto also lead a letter with her colleagues urging the White House to nominate more judges for Senate consideration. There are still more vacancies in DC Courts that need to be filled and Councilmember Pinto will continue to work on this urgent issue.
IN THE COMMUNITY
January 2, 2023 - Swearing-in Ceremonies for Elected Officials
The swearing-in ceremonies will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and should be streamed live on DCN.
For Ward 2 ANC Commissioners who are unable to make it to the in person swearing in, Councilmember Pinto will hold two virtual swearing in options that week that the community is welcome to watch. We will be sharing these dates and opportunities to sign up soon.
As DC prepares for winter weather a reminder that anyone observing water running from streets or sidewalks is encouraged to report the leak to DC Water. Tweet