2014 VOTER’S GUIDE: Mayoral Race
MURIEL BOWSER (D): says that the administration of Mayor Vincent Gray has not done enough to create afford able housing. As a member of the city council, she has supported a bill that would provide $100 million a year for affordable housing projects, continuing a one-time step taken by Gray. She says the city should meet an annual goal of producing 10,000 affordable units per year. As frontrunner in the race, Bowser has taken heat from Gray and Catania for her handling of troubles at the crumbling Park Southern apartment complex which houses over 700 working poor families.
Bowser has called the complex “disgusting.”
DAVID CATANIA (I): contends the District has become an increasingly unaffordable place to live noting that between 2000 and 2012, the number of renters paying more than 30 percent of their monthly gross income for housing grew by 40 percent. He faults the current administration for a fragmented approach to building more affordable housing and says that if elected mayor, he will “create a comprehensive housing plan” for the city. He says he will examine DC’s regulatory system in order to identify obstacles to creating and preserving affordable housing and that he will develop ways to streamline the process.
CAROL SCHWARTZ (I): says if elected mayor, she will double funding for Local Rental Support Program (LRSP) to provide immediate support for struggling renters and stabilize funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund at $100 million a year with an option for additional allocations. She believes the city should consider waiving fees for affordable housing developers while setting strict requirements for the delivery of affordable housing and penalties for non-delivery. Finally, Schwartz says she will work to encourage holistic wrap-around development projects more available to DC’s most vulnerable communities.
SCHWARTZ: says she would be reluctant to close the troubled DC General family shelter pointing out that the city lacks alternative places to house homeless families. She says the facility should remain open, but only after going through a complete renovation. She also promises to administer background checks to employees of the shelter. She cites the District’s 72,000-name waiting list for affordable housing as a factor that contributes to the problem of homelessness.“The housing burdens are leading to the growing and unconscionably large number of homelessness,” she says. Schwartz applauds the current administration’s spending on programs to house homeless veterans, provide tax relief and rental assistance to seniors and offer rental support low income families but says the measures do not go far enough.
BOWSER: calls for the closing of the city’s family shelter at the former DC General hospital, saying the aging facility is “structurally challenged” and that security there is also a concern. Bowser says she supports developing smaller shelter alternatives though she has been accused by her opponent David Catania of not supporting measures that would have created additional beds for homeless families at the former Hebrew Home on Spring Road NW. Finally, she backs the city’s efforts to implement an integrated human services case management system as a way of addressing poverty and keeping families out of shelters. She says that if she is elected, she will set a goal of ending homelessness in the District by 2025 by boosting prevention and re-housing efforts.
CATANIA: has said he is “not sure” whether the DC General family shelter should close but has called for the immediate improvement of conditions at the facility. Longer-range, he says the city needs to develop “a forward-looking strategy to transition away from the large-shelter model and its legacy of failure.” Pointing to the 3,795 homeless people living in families in the city, Catania says the current “homelessness crisis” is a consequence of the “lack of a comprehensive housing plan and inadequate coordination between responsible government agencies.” He says if he is elected mayor he will address growing rates of homelessness with an “integrated and coordinated government-wide strategy.”
CATANIA: says he will increase apprenticeship and workforce development opportunities. He will work to forge a partnership between the DC Apprenticeship Office and the University of the District of Columbia Community College to enable apprentices to earn college credit for their work.. Finally, he will make job training and readiness policy part of an integrated and responsive government-wide effort.
SCHWARTZ: says she will expand vocational and technical training opportunities aimed at helping more city residents to find work in building and construction trades. She will also boost science, technology engineering and math (STEM) programs in local high schools, vocational schools and at the University of the District of Columbia in order to make city residents more attractive to employers. She says she will offer tax incentives to technology start-up companies to hire at-risk youth.
BOWSER: If elected mayor, Bowser pledges to appoint a Workforce Opportunity Advisor to evaluate and refocus more than $100 million spent by the DC government on workforce development programs each year to ensure these programs are aligned with jobs that exist now. She says she will also invest in coordinated resident training and apprenticeship programs, including the Summer Youth Employment Program. She promises to lauch a DC First Program to bring more job opportunities to poor neighborhoods.