[Hpn] HNJ DC laugh-in at DC mayor- (press release)

hnj-dc@homesnotjails.org hnj-dc@homesnotjails.org
Sun, 19 Nov 2000 00:10:22 -0500


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE		                 Contact: Homes Not Jails- 
202-297-4430

HOMELESS ADVOCATES STAGE LAUGH-IN AT MAYOR , CITY POLICIES

WASHINGTON, DC- November 18, 2000- Homeless advocates today staged a laugh-in 
at the annual Fannie Mae Walkathon for the Homeless.  Bringing attention to 
the continued  funding cuts for all social services that have occurred since 
Mayor Anthony Williams was Chief Financial Officer of DC, the activists held a 
large banner directly across from the speaker's podium that read "Mayor 
Williams: Who can take you seriously?  Housing Now!."  Crossed out were the 
words "Hot Air."  The activists pointed at the stage and laughed loudly into 
bullhorns.  

The Walkathon is an annual fundraising event for homeless service agencies 
across DC.  That powerful people such as mayor Anthony Williams speak at this 
event is hypocritical in the eyes of the advocates, considering the damaging 
effects of the budget cuts to homeless services that he strongly influenced. 

Since 1994, the city government and Control Board have cut $100 million per 
year from the safety net for our children, poor, disabled and elderly.  These 
cuts included reductions in homeless shelter space, child care,  and drug 
treatment programs.  The cuts also eliminated emergency assistance for 
families at the edge of eviction, and the Tenant Assistance Program.  

The effect of these cuts are especially damaging at a time when a worker 
earning minimum wage in the District would have to work over 100 hours a week 
to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the city's fair market rate.  The mayor 
and city government have made no commitment to raise the benefit level of 
welfare recipients above the poverty level, nor have they made proposals to 
insure adequate support for their entry into the workforce at a living wage, 
with full child care and educational opportunities.  

At least 39% of DC's children live in poverty because the TANF benefit with 
entitlements is below federal poverty level, according to DC Action for 
Children.  This figure may be as high as 60% if children in low income 
families not receiving welfare are included. 

Even with DC's notoriously cold winter approaching, the city is not providing 
adequate shelter for those in need and thousands will face nights on the 
street.  Families seeking emergency hypothermia shelter will be forced to 
travel all the way to DC Village.  Currently, service agencies are turning 
away battered women in need of emergency shelter, because there is none 
available.  
 
There are over 18,000 families on the waiting list for Section 8 vouchers, and 
almost 10,000 families on the waiting list for public housing.  These families 
are often left waiting up to several years for housing.
###