Meeting Report (May-July)

THREE MONTH SUMMARY

We apologize for playing catch-up with these ANC meeting reports. For full details of all ANC actions, see the meeting minutes under the Documents header. What follows are the highlights of what you may have missed, month by month.

Mayor Bowser’s Visit in May

The ANC had two presentations in May. One from DC Water about its green infrastructure projects in the Glover Park area, which aim to control stormwater to keep it from pushing raw sewage into the Potomac. Projects include paving certain alleys and some parking lanes with permeable surfacing and creating tree-box and bump-out gardens to absorb and store rainwater. Before any project is undertaken, near neighbors will be notified door-to-door and advised about contact info for questions.

The other presentation was from Mayor Muriel Bowser, who visits each ANC in turn. She focused on the priorities in the next budget year. Public schools will receive an increase with a continued push to upgrade school infrastructure. The Mayor noted that all but “two handfuls” of facilities were either “fully modernized or robustly renovated.” Funds for public safety will increase resources to MPD, and the Fire and EMT departments. Funds for solving the homeless crisis target efforts to reduce the number of people in the system, emergency solutions, and affordable housing, in which the District has been investing $100 million a year.

Questions from the ANC and audience covered funding for the Fillmore Arts program, how to expand capacity at Stoddert, the need for more affordable housing, the burden of a licensing fee charged to cab drivers, pedestrian safety and the then-unresolved issue of the Ward 3 shelter for homeless families. (Note that the Ward 3 shelter is now set to be built adjacent to the District 2 MPD building on Idaho Avenue.) The Mayor listened but did not commit to any resolutions or promises at the meeting.

The Mayor also talked about her goal of putting statehood for DC before the voters in November. To learn more about that, go to dcstatehood.dc.gov. There will be a presentation about the statehood ballot initiative and constitution process at our September 8 meeting.

Universal Paid Leave Discussed in June

At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, who introduced the Universal Paid Leave Act in the DC Council last October, described the goal of enhancing the existing uncompensated family and medical leave program in the District so that some leave-takers can receive all or part of a their salary. Right now, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California have UPL and 16 states are in the process of debating it. Providing paid leave for family or medical emergencies would be required only of private employers, be funded through a payroll tax of no more than 1%, last 12 weeks, and pay out more to low-wage employees while capping the benefit for higher wage earners. Paul Holder, managing partner of Town Hall and a Glover Park resident, objected to the ANC voting on a resolution to support UPL without first hearing other points of view and the Commission agreed to table the resolution. Since then, the DC Council has also postponed action on the legislation. To learn more: www.dcpaidfamilyleave.org.

Resources for Seniors Explored in July

The ANC invited a panel of experts to discuss what’s available for seniors, particularly in Ward 3, and what is needed. The panel included Mark Bjorge, DC Department of Aging; Sally White, Iona Senior Services; Deborah Royster, Seabury Resources; and Pat Clark, Glover Park Village.

We learned from Mr. Bjorge that Ward 3 has the highest number of seniors in the District (24,841) and that the senior population is growing faster than the resources being devoted to it. The District provides 90.5% of its budget in direct services thru grantees such as Iona, which is the designated provider in Ward 3. The biggest general concern about seniors in our area is isolation; programs at Iona and through the village movement help alleviate that.

Sally White ran through the full range of services available for seniors at Iona in Tenleytown – from food and fitness to case management by experienced social workers to its adult daycare program, support groups and even the Take Charge Age Well Academy which helps people looking for “encore careers.” Many seniors are transported from home to Iona, and Iona also provides in-home care management. The most important take-away was that anyone can call Iona’s Helpline at 202-895-9448 to get trained professional assistance free of charge for yourself, a family member, or even a neighbor you are worried about. Iona is the premier resource for seniors in our area. They respond to all calls or make referrals. Learn more at www.iona.org.

Deborah Royster described how Seabury Resources started 92 years ago as the Episcopal Home in Georgetown and now provides affordable senior housing throughout the District including Friendship Terrace near Iona, transportation on Seabury Connector buses, case management by social workers, and in Wards 4, 5, and 6, support for seniors who need help with chores at home. Learn more at www.seaburyresources.org.

Pat Clark told how Glover Park Village was started in 2010, following on the upsurge of similar aging-in-place support systems in other neighborhoods. GP Village is based entirely on volunteer support and charges no fees for belonging or using its services. Volunteers, who must undergo background checks, drive seniors places, read to them, rake their leaves, shovel snow, and help with other home chores. Pat noted that volunteers are always needed as is help identifying seniors who need support to continue living in their homes.

By far the biggest issue for senior resources is that the need far outpaces the funds available. Seniors need more transportation options, more affordable housing, and more hands-on, individual case management by social workers. But cuts in the District’s FY 17 budget, for example, mean Iona has to cut a social worker position and possibly put seniors on a waiting list. What is missing in this picture is organized, local advocacy by and for seniors to stop the backsliding on the budget and put seniors’ needs front and center. It is time to start focusing on the FY18 budget, and seniors need to speak out.

ANC3B will be discussing the merits of a virtual Senior Wellness Center in Ward 3 versus a brick-and-mortar one at our September 8th meeting.