Two weeks after cutting the ribbon on Ward 4’s new short-term family homeless shelter, Mayor Muriel Bowser will join other DC officials on Tuesday for the debut of Ward 7’s counterpart.
Dubbed The Horizon, the new building at 5004 D St. SE in Marshall Heights has 35 units as well as computer labs for residents, administrative space, an outdoor playground, indoor recreation space and a study lounge. A ribbon-cutting and open house will run from 5 to 7 p.m.
With a third shelter slated to open next month in Ward 8, the mayor is nearing the halfway mark of her plan to replace the widely criticized DC General shelter with six smaller-scale facilities throughout the city. A coalition of homeless advocates, however, continues to press the Bowser administration to hold off demolition work at the DC General site until the remaining families have moved out. Bowser has declined to do so while still planning to close the DC General shelter by the end of October.
Following Tuesday’s open house, Bowser will head to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 7E’s monthly meeting to discuss priorities for the city. Other events on the mayor’s weekly schedule include a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Wanda Alston Foundation, which provides a home for LGBTQ homeless youth (Wednesday); a roundtable discussion on women’s empowerment with students at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus (Thursday); a ceremonial grand opening for the National Law Enforcement Museum at Judiciary Square (Thursday); and participation in a “Roll Off Day” in Petworth to highlight free disposal of bulk trash and other debris (Saturday). The latter event is pitched as part of the mayor’s #BacktoBasics campaign.
Bowser’s week started Monday morning at another ribbon-cutting event, marking the expansion of the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital in Ward 4. The ceremony at 6045 16th St. NW celebrated the official opening of the school’s north campus, which houses what school officials say is the first dedicated Jewish middle school in DC since 1976. With 395 students at its two campuses, the school saw a 15 percent rise in enrollment this year. Facilities on the north campus — which serves grades 2 through 7, with plans to add an eighth grade next fall — include two science labs, a rooftop playing field, a full-sized gymnasium, a Design Lab, studios for art and music, and a traditional Jewish study hall. A contribution of more than $20 million from Ambassador Alfred Moses and the family of Milton Gottesman fueled the building’s renovation and expansion.
On the DC Council agenda
DC Council committees will take on an array of subjects in the shortened workweek, including a look at the proposed elimination of acute-care services at Providence Hospital in Northeast by the end of the year.
As chair of the Committee on Health, Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray has scheduled a public oversight hearing for Wednesday at 10 a.m. to examine the impact of Providence’s closure on the District’s emergency health care system, as well as the role of the DC Health Department in approving the change.
In an interview Monday on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show, Gray expressed skepticism about the Health Department’s assurances that other hospitals can absorb the added demand, saying he’s heard otherwise from officials at DC health care facilities. “There is no easy way to fill the gap that is being created,” he told WAMU. “Where are these people supposed to go? … We want to hear that from Providence.”
Officials at Ascension, the Catholic health system that oversees Providence, say that the District has more than twice the national average of hospital beds and that the envisioned shift to a “community-focused” model will benefit DC residents. (Click here to read The DC Line’s Sept. 25 article on community protests objecting to Providence’s plans.)
On Tuesday at 10 a.m., at-large DC Council member Elissa Silverman’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will hold a public oversight roundtable on implementation of the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2016 — a law that has become a flashpoint in the at-large DC Council race. The law requires all District-based private-sector businesses to provide up to eight weeks of parental leave, six weeks of family leave and two weeks of medical leave for eligible employees, with the weekly benefits capped at $1,000. The funding would come from a tax of 0.62 percent on employee wages or the annual income of self-employed workers. The tax will be in place by July 1, 2019, and the District will begin administering the paid-leave benefits by July 1, 2020.
Silverman’s push for the legislation helped spur Bowser to endorse challenger Dionne Reeder, who has criticized the funding mechanism for the benefits but so far hasn’t offered an alternative plan. While the DC Department of Employment Services continues to work on implementation of the paid leave law, Bowser earlier this year suggested funding another council initiative — the Birth-to-Three for All DC Amendment Act — by shifting money allocated for paid leave.
Also on Tuesday, the council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment — chaired by Ward 3’s Mary Cheh — will hold a public hearing at 11 a.m. on the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018. The hearing comes on the heels of a United Nations report saying that “unprecedented” actions are necessary worldwide over the next decade to moderate global warming. Cheh, author of the DC bill, says the measure would establish the nation’s most aggressive renewable-energy standard by requiring that by 2032 all electricity sold in the District come from renewable sources such as wind and solar. A coalition of environmental advocates initially complained that the bill left out a carbon tax, but it is now supporting the bill as a major enhancement of the District’s push for clean energy and conservation. (Click here for The DC Line’s recent article on the issue.)
Among the other proposed legislation being discussed at this week’s council committee hearings:
- A bill to establish a sales tax holiday for energy- and water-efficient products on the Memorial Day and Columbus Day holiday weekends (Committee on Finance and Revenue).
- A bill to establish an internet sales tax for online retailers that have over $100,000 in annual gross revenue in DC or more than 200 separate transactions over a 12-month period, with the revenue going to lower commercial property tax rates (Committee on Finance and Revenue).
- A bill to create a Commission on Literacy to develop recommendations on how to address disparities, provide support to existing groups, and host events related to literacy (Committee on Education).
- A bill to require that all visually impaired and blind children receive instruction in Braille unless it’s deemed inappropriate for the student by the team responsible for developing their Individual Education Program (Committee on Education).
With the Nov. 6 election drawing closer, there are two candidates forums this week for DC Council races, both sponsored by the Hill Rag, the Ward 6 Democrats and the DC Republican Party, among others. On Wednesday at 7 p.m., at-large DC Council candidates will converge on Friendship Chamberlain Elementary & Middle School at 1345 Potomac Ave. SE; on Friday at 7 p.m., the Ward 6 council candidates will take their turn at the Hill Center DC, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. For details on these and on candidates forums scheduled in future weeks, check The DC Line’s Civic Calendar.
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education has scheduled three community meetings this week on the DC Public Education Master Facilities Plan now being drafted. Officials say the workshops will include presentations on preliminary findings and the latest analysis, as well as an opportunity for public feedback. The sessions will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Roosevelt High School; Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Woodridge Neighborhood Library; and Saturday at 10 a.m. at Kramer Middle School.
In the neighborhoods
Across the city, 13 of the District’s advisory neighborhood commissions will meet this week. Among the highlights: On Wednesday, ANC 4C will hear from DC Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and ANC 2B will hear from DC Department of Transportation director Jeff Marootian on the newly created Office of Vision Zero. At least two the ANCs plan to consider resolutions on the CleanEnergy DC bill pending in the DC Council. For meeting details, check The DC Line’s Civic Calendar.
On Tuesday, the DC Public Library system will hold an all-day open house to mark the debut of the new Capitol View Interim Library at 220 49th St. SE on the grounds of J.C. Nalle Elementary School. The temporary facility will provide services during the exterior reconstruction of the neighborhood library nearby, expected to take about three months. (For background on a court battle over the scope of the renovations to the Capitol View Neighborhood Library, click here.)
Also this week, the DC Office of Tax and Revenue will host two workshops on real property tax relief programs that are available to reduce the tax liability for senior citizens. The first is at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday at Ward 4’s Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center, 324 Kennedy St. NW; a second one will take place Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at Ward 1’s Bernice Fonteneau Senior Wellness Center at 3531 Georgia Ave. NW. Four additional sessions are scheduled later in the month.
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