1/8/08 – Policy Wins

Over the past few weeks, Washington Grantmakers’ advocacy efforts in collaboration with partners have seen some successes:

Funding for Summer Youth Programs – In November, the leadership of WG’s Children, Youth and Families Working Group met with Council Member Tommy Wells (W6), Chair of the Committee on Human Services, to express concern about the reduced funding allocation for 2008 summer youth programs. The result: The City Council revised the Mayor’s Supplemental budget, approving a $5.1 million allocation to the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation for after-school programs. The Mayor still needs to sign it, but this is a great step forward. (If the Mayor does not sign the budget by Jan. 14, it will take effect automatically.) 

Congress Lifts Ban on Public Funding for D.C. Needle Exchange Programs – When President Bush signed a $555 billion 2008 spending bill in December, he effectively signed into law the use of public funds for needle-exchange programs in the District, thus lifting a nine-year old ban. (The House initially voted to lift the ban back in June.) In a city with an estimated 9,700 intravenous drug users, needle exchange programs have been proven effective at preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS infections. District officials have already announced plans to put $1 million towards needle-exchange programs in 2008.

More Funding for Affordable Housing – In December, Washington Grantmakers and the Community Development Support Collaborative sent letters to the D.C. City Council urging them to approve Mayor Fenty’s request to dedicate an additional $50 million for the creation of permanent supportive housing in the Supplemental Appropriations Act. The Council voted to direct $30 million of the request to the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) and to dedicate $11 million of that amount for the creation of permanent supportive housing. This action is a victory in that there is at least some dedicated funding to support creation of permanent supportive housing. And, the allocation of an additional $19 million to the HPTF will make it possible to fund more projects in the pipeline.

-Carolynn Mambu