Archive for February, 2014

At the Returning Citizens Forum

D.C. Mayoral Candidates Make Cases at Returning Citizens’ Forum

While there are 60,000 returning citizens in D.C. who have pressing concerns and are politically motivated, only three of the eight mayoral candidates showed up at a recent candidates’ forum to hear and address those concerns.

D.C. Council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Vincent Orange (D-At Large) joined District entrepreneur Andy Shallal as the Democratic mayoral candidates who participated in the Returning Citizens United forum at the Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church in Northeast on Friday.

Considering that the vast majority of returning citizens are black, it really stinks that only one of the three black candidates, Vincent Orange, could be bothered to show up. Considering how lop sided the arrests are for drug offenses, it really shows what a failure the current leadership is. Shame on Muriel Bowser and Mayor Gray for not even showing up. Shame on them.

Andy Shallal on affordable housing

Rania Khalek interviews Shallal

DC has lost half of its affordable housing in the last decade – which has been disastrous for low-income residents. How might you fix that?
I think we need to increase inventory of available housing that’s affordable. We need to preserve the public housing that we have, which we’ve lost half of, as you mentioned. We need to make sure that when we give our public property to developers that we insist on certain restrictions on how they can build and how many units they need to build that are affordable. So we want to make sure that we get enough affordable units in new developments that are coming up.
I want to make sure that all the developments that we have that are coming in actually match the communities that they’re going into to provide affordability for the people who already live there.
There are lots of different ways we can do that with programs that we already have in place, like the Housing Purchase Assistance Program and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. Those types of programs need to be strengthened and funded better. Whether they’re tenants or buying a house for the first time, they should have support from the city to guide them through the process, which can be very complicated and costly.
These are things that will help make sure that the people who have lived here during the hard times are able to survive and live well during economic boom times.
How would you alleviate homelessness in DC?
We need to have rapid housing for some of them. We have programs where rather than just sticking people in a shelter, we put them in a temporary situation where we can help them out with the first couple months of rent and give them some support so they can get off their feet.
Without a home, a person cannot get a job; a person cannot really go to school. There’s a lot of stuff that happens when you’re homeless.
I think we waste a lot of money in putting people in shelters now, and that’s become the default situation that a lot of people that have been chronically homeless end up in. They end up going from shelter to shelter, never able to get off their feet for a couple of reasons. One is that shelter living is not exactly a way to stabilize your life, and second, the shelters do not really provide enough wraparound services – ways to help people find a job or help them with child care or health care.
Permanent support for housing, especially for some of the challenged communities that end up being homeless, needs to happen as well.
Again, we have the programs. We don’t have enough funding for those programs, and we let the situation fester and get worse and worse. We’ve lost so much public housing over the period of the last decade that it has come to haunt us now, seeing how many people are homeless – thousands of people are being left out on the street every night.

Mayor Vincent Gray leadership FAIL

Don’t give D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray the power to turn away the homeless

Gray (D) is proposing that D.C.’s right-to-shelter law — which requires the city to give shelter to anyone who needs it during the cold winter months — be modified so that social workers can try to get a homeless family to shack up with someone else when they want in from the cold. …

… Before they launched this brilliant idea, city officials held a couple “listening sessions” with families last week. Patty Mullahy Fugere, executive director of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, said the family members who came in told officials: “We would love not to be here” and “I don’t have family who can help me out” and “We don’t have alternatives.”

Then, Fugere said, “a staff member from [the Department of Human Services] told them: ‘We hear you loud and clear. If we had 15 days, if we had 30 days to help you find alternatives, we couldn’t. It’s about affordable housing.”

Yes, it’s about affordable, available housing. Not a mythical grandma’s house or stopgaps that might be good for reducing the numbers on paper but won’t go toward solving the real crisis in the gilded capital.

Edit –
Aunt Suzy Is No Answer to DC Homeless Family Crisis

This blog endorses Andy Shallal for mayor

Shallal criticizes D.C. school reform efforts, saying he would chart a different course

Shallal’s 13-page white paper, the most detailed and confrontational education proposal released by a candidate to date, outlines a different course. Hinting that he would drop the school system’s controversial IMPACT teacher evaluations, he said he would focus on reducing class sizes, developing strong leaders and teachers, broadening the curriculum, establishing wraparound social services for struggling families, expanding summer school programs and extending the city’s early childhood programs to more 3-year-olds.

Andy Shallal Announces he is Running for DC Mayor

Andy Shallal Announces he is Running for DC Mayor