Thursday, November 11, 2010

The debate around protecting homeless services

If you missed the public hearing on B18-1007, "TANF Educational Opportunities and Accountability Act of 2010" and B18-1059, "Homeless Services Reform Amendment Act of 2010" you can watch it now here on OCT.   More than 30 community members registered to testify.

Advocates have rallied to oppose the bill, arguing the new provisions will prevent the most vulnerable from accessing shelter.   A fact sheet from Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and a Washington Post story examine the issues in greater depth.

Committee chair Tommy Wells (Ward 6) did not back down from his insistence that protecting limited resources for District residents is essential.   In fact, his prepared opening remarks noted this:

The Homeless Services Reform Amendment Act of 2010 will allow the Department of Human Services to focus District resources on District residents and better manage capacity in homeless shelters.

I will emphasize that given the current waitlist for homeless services, there are no cost savings under this Bill and none have been certified by the CFO.   Rather, the Bill allows the District to focus taxpayer dollars on District residents.

The fight is not over; we can expect opponents to continue their advocacy with other members of the Council.   We can also expect CM Wells to continue his challenge to the public to identify ways for the city to preserve services for residents and to identify real ways to cut funding to deal with the $500 million budget problem.

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