Tax & Budget Coordinator, DC Statehood Green Party
P.S. This is my complete written testimony. In four minutes I could only touch on themain points. In the comments period following my testimony, Councilmember Evanschallenged me, and by implication all just budget advocates, to find the waste in our record budget in order to better fund our low-income budget when I pointed to the morethan $200 million cut in low income programs since 2008, despite the record overalllevel of funding in proposed FY 2014 Budget, and the continuing economic and socialhuman rights violations occurring in DC. His time then expired, and I was not permittedto respond. I would have pointed out that the Mayor and City Council, as presumedservants of our residents, have the moral responsibility to achieve exactly that goal.Their first priority should be directed to our residents most in need in a city with an ever-shrinking stock of available housing. The majority of our residents bear the burden of income insecurity, a direct result of record income inequality.
Washington D.C. Turning Youth Away From Homeless Shelters Despite $400Million Budget Surplus
By Scott Keyes on Mar 22, 2013 at 1:15 pmWashington PostHomeless youth in Washington D.C. are being turned away in droves from shelters after
the city slashed its budget for homeless children’s services. In its latest budget,
the cityenjoys a $417 million budget surplus, yet they cut funding for youth homeless sheltersby $700,000 and overall homeless services by $7 million. Mayor Vincent Gray has
announced he will keep the surplus in the city’s savings account, which will no
w total$1.5 billion.
D.C.’s budget cuts are having a disastrous impact on the city’s homeless. As the
Washington Post details, many youth are being turned away from shelters who no
longer have the budget to accomodate them. Counselors at one of the city’s
largestshelters for homeless youths have had to turn away more than 80 unaccompaniedchildren
some as young as 12 or 13
who came to them for help in the past six
weeks after the city cut more than $700,000 from the shelter’s budget. [...] For workers
on the ground, the effect of lost
money has been clear andimmediate. One counselor at Sasha Bruce House recalled trying to counsel a sobbingteen seeking a place to sleep after her mother lost the family apartment, and being ableto do little to help.
“To not be able to help somebody and know there is not any other option for them —
it’sheartbreaking, it’s awful,” said Gina Bulett, the primary counselor. The program now just
has five emergency beds, down from 16 last year, but houses dozens more inapartments.
The city’s cuts to homeless services come at a particular inopportune time as the
number of people living on the streets continues to increase. A survey last year found
6,954 homeless people in our nation’s capital, a 6 percent inc
rease from the year prior.
It’s no surprise then, with increased demand and less funding for shelter beds, that the