[Hpn] HNJ DC laugh-in at DC mayor- (press release)
Sun, 19 Nov 2000 00:10:22 -0500
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Homes Not Jails-
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
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
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.