Dwight Harris (Illustrations) and Tiffany Newman (design)

We sent the same set of questions to each candidate seeking office as mayor or part of the D.C. Council who faces an opponent within their party. These are the responses that were returned within our deadline.

The District of Columbia 2018 primary election will be held on June 19 (find your polling place) and early voting will be available June 4 – 15 (locations and wait times). Online voter registration is now closed, but same-day registration is available for early voting as well as Election Day.  This information and more is available on the D.C. Board of Elections website and through the “Vote4DC” mobile app (for iOS and Android).

“Voter Assistance Clerks” will be on hand at each polling place to help individuals. This includes the option to vote from your car if you are unable to enter a polling place on Election Day due to a disability, seniority, or illness. Early voting locations are also equipped with accessible touchscreen voting stations.


 

Photo by Jane Cave

The availability of affordable housing in the District has been nearly cut in half since 2002. Low and moderate-income residents must spend high percentages of their income on rent. What specific steps would you take to make the city affordable for all of its people and ensure new development serves current residents as well as new ones?

 

MAYOR

James Butler, Democrat (butlerformayor.com | @butlermayor2018): The District is an attractive place for developers. While most talk about affordable housing and make such units available under the law, affordable housing has become a misnomer. As mayor, I will strongly advocate that these rules be more inclusive so that living in the city can be a reality for millennials, seniors, and all. I will work for greater rent control to combat the trend of rising rents and stagnant incomes. I will require all developers to allocate “income-based” housing units. And I will implement a strategy to preserve current affordable housing, which is more cost-effective than subsidizing new affordable housing and will help maintain mixed-income, diverse neighborhoods.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Muriel BowserErnest E. Johnson (Democrats)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
Ann C. Wilcox (D.C. Statehood Green) and Martin Moulton (Libertarian)

COUNCIL CHAIR

Ed  Lazere, Democrat (edfordc.com @edlazere): The loss of affordable housing is the single largest challenge to D.C.’s future. It has contributed to displacement of Black and Brown residents and an unacceptable number of residents experiencing homelessness. As Council Chair, I will double the investment in D.C.’s housing programs to create and preserve affordable housing and will build affordable housing in every ward. I will move legislation to strengthen rent control that is currently stalled in the council. I will support at least $25 million annually for repair and maintenance of public housing that has been neglected by the federal government.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Phil Mendelson (Democrat)

AT-LARGE COUNCILMEMBER

Anita Bonds, Incumbent Democrat (anitabonds2018.com | @VoteAnitaBonds): Affordable housing must be addressed comprehensively and holistically. As a legislator, I have authored and will continue to explore creative solutions to combat the affordable housing crisis with a multi-pronged approach. I have tightened and addressed loopholes in rent control and will continue to address the issues that plague the 80,000 units in the regulatory regime. I increased the Home Purchase Assistance Program down payment to $80,000 and am currently working to increase it further to $100,000. I have and will continue to conduct stringent oversight on the Housing Production Trust Fund in order to create and preserve affordable housing units in the city.

Jeremiah Lowery, Democrat (jeremiah2018.com | @jeremiah4dc): 

  1. Reform Rent Control — Right now landlords and developers can exploit provisions in D.C.’s rent control law. I would work with advocates to close these loopholes and strengthen our rent control law.
  2. Mandate A Higher Percentage of Affordable Housing — I will introduce legislation that would mandate an increase in a percentage of affordable housing for low-to-very income residents in every new development.
  3. Community Land Trusts — I would work with advocates and the D.C. government to use community land trusts as a model to build and ensure long-term affordable housing for low-to-very low income residents.

 

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Marcus Goodwin (Democrat)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
David Schwartzman (D.C. Statehood Green) and Denise Hicks (Libertarian)

WARD 1 COUNCILMEMBER

Brianne Nadeau, Incumbent Democrat (briannefordc.com
@BrianneKNadeau): Nobody should have to pay more than a third of their income on housing but in DC that’s the norm. That’s why I’ve been laser focused on the preservation and production of affordable housing. Every year that I’ve been on the Council I’ve supported fully funding the Housing Production Trust Fund, additional Local Rent Supplement Program vouchers, Permanent Supportive Housing, Targeted Affordable Housing, and maintenance dollars for public housing. As Ward 1 Councilmember I saved or added more than 500 units of truly affordable housing just in my first 3 years.

Kent Boese, Democrat (boese2018.com @KentBoeseDC): As an ANC Commissioner, I’ve been deeply involved in leveraging public land for significant amounts of housing for low- and moderate-income families, including the Park Morton and Hebrew Home redevelopments. The Hebrew Home building will create 187 apartments in the housing pipeline with 80 percent of the units being for middle-income residents or lower, including 90 senior apartments. I also played a large role in leveraging District owned property to bring 462 additional apartments into the housing pipeline in the Park Morton project, preserving 147 public housing units and creating another 155 affordable apartments, including 76 apartments for seniors.

Lori Parker, Democrat (loriparkerward1.com @ElectLoriParker): I would advocate for greater investment in preserving our existing affordable housing units, including our public housing units (through regular maintenance and repairs). All of our residents deserve safe, clean, and affordable housing. I also believe the District must maximize the number of housing units available for people who earn 30 percent and 50 percent of the Area Median Income in all new developments through public-private partnerships (public land dispositions with discounted land values), and through private developments receiving public financing (loans and/or grants), vouchers, low-income tax credits, and/or other tax incentives (abatements and/or tax increment financing). I would also strongly advocate to cap annual rent increases (eliminating the extra 2 percent tenants pay above the Consumer Price Index (in annual rent) in rent-controlled units, preserve affordable rent-stabilized housing, and protect seniors and people with disabilities from extreme rent increases.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Sheika Reid (Democrat)

WARD 3 COUNCILMEMBER

Mary Cheh (Democrat) is running unopposed in her party. There are no candidates on the ballot in other primaries.

WARD 5 COUNCILMEMBER

Bradley Thomas, Democrat (bradleythomas4dc.com @bradleythomasdc): I would increase the Inclusionary Zoning requirement for affordable housing for new and renovated developments. The law currently requires developers of new housing complexes or buildings of a certain minimum size to set aside 8 percent to 10 percent of the floor space in those developments for affordable housing, generally defined as housing that is affordable for families earning only 80 percent of the Area Median Income for the Metro Washington Area. I would advocate increasing the space set aside to 12 percent to 15 percent and include families at the 60 percent, 50 percent and even 30 percent AMI levels, not just the 80 percent AMI level.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Kenyan McDuffie, LaMonica Jeffrey, Gayle Hall Carley, Nestor Djonkam (Democrats)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
Joyce Robinson-Paul  (D.C. Statehood Green)

WARD 6 COUNCILMEMBER

Charles Allen, Incumbent Democrat (charlesallen2018.com @charlesallen): In Ward 6, I have a track record of using my leadership to deliver new affordable housing. We’re leading the way with more than 1,500 new affordable homes created since 2015 and over 2,100 more on the way, more than any other Ward. I also champion the creation of larger units to accommodate families, such as the new construction at 13th & H Streets, NE, which will be 100 percent affordable homes with 2 or 3 bedrooms. And when affordable housing is being redeveloped, I am a leading voice to deliver for long-time residents by fighting to prevent displacement.

Lisa Hunter, Democrat (lisahunterforward6.com @LisaForWard6): Unlike my opponent, I don’t take money from wealthy developers who have displaced our neighbors. I will reverse the corporate and estate tax cuts that Mr. Allen voted for, and use that revenue to address our affordable housing crisis, improve public housing, and expand access to rental assistance programs. I would also redefine affordability; the current definition results in “affordable” units that politicians like Mr. Allen often point to, but that are not truly affordable for our neighbors. I will also move to ban the use of D.C. taxpayer dollars to subsidize development that doesn’t create truly affordable housing. EDITOR’S NOTE: When asked to explain her claim about Allen’s campaign contributions, Hunter referred to the number of donors who identify as working in real estate. This group made up 18% of Allen’s contributions in his March 10 disclosure to the Office of Campaign Finance, the largest concentration of professions cited.

Running unopposed in their parties: 
Michael Bekesha (Republican)


 

The overall city unemployment rate remained at 5.7 percent from 2017 to 2018. However, Black unemployment increased from 12.2 percent to 12.9 percent, White unemployment decreased from 2.2 percent to 1.5 percent; and Hispanic unemployment increased from 2.2 percent to 3.1 percent of the civilian labor force. As of January, an estimated 22 percent of single homeless adults were employed (down from 47), as were 33 percent of homeless adults in families (up from 32). What specific steps would you take to make equitable opportunities, training, and higher-paying jobs available to all District residents seeking work?

 

MAYOR

James Butler, Democrat (butlerformayor.com | @butlermayor2018): We need to have a real conversation in this city about race and job discrimination. As mayor, I will immediately work with our Attorney General and Office of the Inspector General to investigate all charges of discrimination. I will implement vocational programs in schools which will lead to jobs based upon marketable skills. As mayor, I promise to be committed to decreasing unemployment for Black and Hispanic workers. I will implement mandatory training for employers about the history and contributions of Black and Hispanic people to the District of Columbia. If businesses seek a D.C. Government contract in our city, they must first hire from underserved populations here in the District.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Muriel BowserErnest E. Johnson (Democrats)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
Ann C. Wilcox (D.C. Statehood Green) and Martin Moulton (Libertarian)

COUNCIL CHAIR

Ed  Lazere, Democrat (edfordc.com @edlazere): The widening unemployment gap between white, Black and Latinx D.C. residents shows we need to do more to build a fair economy where everyone benefits. As council chair, I will invest in woefully underfunded adult literacy programs, and push for accountability in D.C.’s job training programs to ensure they actually lead to a job. I will require developers of D.C.-funded development projects to train and hire D.C. residents, with good wages and benefits. And I will require a racial equity impact analysis for all major policy proposals, to shape policies to reduce D.C.’s wide racial and ethnic inequities, like unemployment.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Phil Mendelson (Democrat)

AT-LARGE COUNCILMEMBER

Anita Bonds, Incumbent Democrat (anitabonds2018.com | @AnitaBondsDC): I believe that the District of Columbia currently offers great opportunities for residents seeking work through the Department of Employment Services (DOES). While I will continue to support the many programs offered and advocate for the allocation of additional funding and resources to DOES, I believe that we need to increase awareness about the various programs offered and do more to support the individuals going through the process, i.e. offering transportation subsidies or services for continuing education.

Jeremiah Lowery, Democrat (jeremiah2018.com | @jeremiah4dc): 

  1. Through our 100 percent clean energy plan, I want to develop a green jobs training and placement program for returning citizens and homeless residents.
  2. I will introduce introduce legislation that would deny future contracts to any company that violates DC’s first source hiring law.
  3. Through the budget, I want to expand vocational schools for young adults, returning citizens, and residents who are homeless.
  4. I will also introduce a bill to direct the DC Government to develop a job training and placement program for homeless residents and with the goal of eliminating unemployment.

 

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Marcus Goodwin (Democrat)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
David Schwartzman (D.C. Statehood Green) and Denise Hicks (Libertarian)

WARD 1 COUNCILMEMBER

Brianne Nadeau, Incumbent Democrat (briannefordc.com
@BrianneKNadeau): Right now in the District, there is a deep disparity among different racial and ethnic groups in employment, housing, education, and more. I supported the increase in the minimum wage, but it takes more than $15 an hour, to build a life in D.C. Those who are experiencing homelessness can also face discrimination in hiring. I support a robust Office of Human Rights to push back on hiring discrimination. We also need to double down on training opportunities for adults who have been left behind by our education system. We have a mismatch between our workforce and the jobs that are being created. There are good jobs with real career paths available, but our residents are not being prepared for them. That’s the key to our unemployment problem. I’m leading a discussion around workforce development for home-based services such as home health aides and disability service providers. Those are good jobs that desperately need dedicated employees.

Kent Boese, Democrat (boese2018.com @KentBoeseDC): No matter how much housing we build, or how affordable District housing is, no housing is “affordable” to residents who are unemployed. It is critical that we focus on maintaining and growing quality jobs that pay living wages and provide opportunities for growth. Councilmember Robert White introduced legislation to grant a tax credit for businesses hiring residents that have been unemployed for 27 weeks, and the District is thinking about offering Amazon $7,500 relocation assistance per employee, why not offer a $5,000 tax credit for hiring District residents? Why not make District residents a truly valued commodity for employers?

Lori Parker, Democrat (loriparkerward1.com @ElectLoriParker): Through D.C. Council performance and budget oversight, I would hold the Department of Employment Services accountable for closely monitoring and ensuring that all new developments receiving public subsidies (tax abatements and incentives) contingent on hiring local residents and developing workforce training opportunities comply with their local workforce hiring and training requirements. In addition, I would advocate for greater support of our small and local businesses. Small businesses are big job creators. According to a report by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, based on research of 5 cities, including the District of Columbia, approximately one additional employee increase per small business could create enough employment opportunities for all unemployed city residents. from extreme rent increases.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Sheika Reid (Democrat)

WARD 3 COUNCILMEMBER

Mary Cheh (Democrat) is running unopposed in her party. There are no candidates in other primaries.

WARD 5 COUNCILMEMBER

Bradley Thomas, Democrat (bradleythomas4dc.com @bradleythomasdc): First, I would include 21st century vocational training in our public high schools. Second we should broaden our law regarding the sealing of criminal records so that persons who are ex-offenders but have served their prison or probation time can more easily have their records sealed, thereby making them more employable. Third, we should more strictly enforce laws against discrimination in the workplace as well as protections for whistleblowers.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Kenyan McDuffie, LaMonica Jeffrey, Gayle Hall Carley, Nestor Djonkam (Democrats)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
Joyce Robinson-Paul  (D.C. Statehood Green)

WARD 6 COUNCILMEMBER

Charles Allen, Incumbent Democrat (charlesallen2018.com @charlesallen): I believe we should apply an equity lens to every decision we make as a government to address the District’s significant economic inequality. In education, that means additional funding for the students who need it most, interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, and programs like Books From Birth to ensure every child is ready for school. In employment, I led the fight for a $15 minimum wage for all DC workers, am working to ensure fair access to career opportunities by reforming our record sealing and expungement laws, and host career fairs that have connected hundreds of residents seeking jobs to employment.

Lisa Hunter, Democrat (lisahunterforward6.com @LisaForWard6): I would require all developers to hire local workers, and hold them accountable when they don’t. Projects such as The Wharf largely avoided hiring locally even though they were required to do so. Developers cannot be allowed to break rules simply because they make campaign donations to DC Councilmembers. That type of pay for play ends with me. I would also expand language access services to provide job training and resources to everyone, regardless of English proficiency, and would immediately pass the Stoops Act to protect homeless neighbors from discrimination by employers. Unfortunately, Mr. Allen is single-handedly blocking this bill.

Running unopposed in their parties: 
Michael Bekesha (Republican)


 

Sketch of people banding together, carrying signs that say "Homelessness does not define me" and "Fair housing now!"

Illustration by Dwight Harris

Advocates report that housing and employment discrimination against people experiencing homelessness in D.C. is rampant. A homeless anti-discrimination bill has languished in the judiciary committee since July 2017. Do you support this bill? If not, do you propose another strategy to tackle discrimination against homeless District residents?

 

MAYOR

James Butler, Democrat (butlerformayor.com | @butlermayor2018): I do support [the bill]. I also have a three-part plan.

First, if we ask every church and nonprofit in the District to adopt just one homeless person or family, we’ll be well on our way to ending homelessness. This is not an attempt to negate the fiscal responsibility of the city — it’s simply a way to allow entities that enjoy tax-free operations to give back.

Next, we have to stick with the city’s plan to replace D.C. General family shelter with suitable housing, and not run from “not in my backyard” opposition.

Lastly, I will reduce abatement dollars going to for-profit developers that are not providing “income-based housing” and increase dollars going to end the crisis of chronic homelessness. With less than half of 1 percent of the District’s $14 billion budget, we could end chronic homelessness and no longer have a need to manage the crisis.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Muriel BowserErnest E. Johnson (Democrats)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
Ann C. Wilcox (D.C. Statehood Green) and Martin Moulton (Libertarian)

COUNCIL CHAIR

Ed  Lazere, Democrat (edfordc.com @edlazere): I support the Michael Stoops Anti-discrimination Act to protect people experiencing homelessness from discrimination. But we need to do much more than that. As Council Chair, I will support outreach and public education to make sure residents know their rights, push for adequate resources to enforce employment and housing discrimination, and take more strategic approaches to enforcement, including targeting landlords and employers that have a history of violations. I will support creating a small housing repair fund for landlords who accept vouchers, to overcome their concerns — unfounded — that voucher holders may treat their units poorly.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Phil Mendelson (Democrat)

AT-LARGE COUNCILMEMBER

Anita Bonds, Incumbent Democrat (anitabonds2018.com | @AnitaBondsDC): I co-sponsored this bill, which would include homeless individuals under the protections of the Human Rights Act. I believe that the homeless population must be protected. However, protected classes are ones that possess immutable characteristics. Moreover, homelessness should be rare and brief and we should not codify this class as a permanent vulnerable population. Instead, we must approach this issue by allocating dollars to address the discrimination that is increasing in our urban cities and utilize education to change the culture of the general public.

Jeremiah Lowery, Democrat (jeremiah2018.com | @jeremiah4dc): Yes, I fully support it. I will work to get it passed during my first year in office.

 

 

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Marcus Goodwin (Democrat)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
David Schwartzman (D.C. Statehood Green) and Denise Hicks (Libertarian)

WARD 1 COUNCILMEMBER

Brianne Nadeau, Incumbent Democrat (briannefordc.com
@BrianneKNadeau): I co-introduced this bill and support its passage.

 

 

Kent Boese, Democrat (boese2018.com @KentBoeseDC): I fully support the passage of the Michael A. Stoops Discrimination Amendment Act of 2018.

I find it unacceptable that the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety has yet to hold a hearing on this legislation. When examining barriers to employment for returning citizens; District leaders, and rightly so, introduced legislation to ban the box for returning citizens completing job applications. We should not allow source of income, place of residence or personal appearance to be used as an excuse for discrimination against people experiencing temporary or long-term homelessness.

Lori Parker, Democrat (loriparkerward1.com @ElectLoriParker): Yes. [I support the Michael A. Stoops Discrimination Amednment Act of 2018].

 

 

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Sheika Reid (Democrat)

WARD 3 COUNCILMEMBER

Mary Cheh (Democrat) is running unopposed in her party. There are no candidates in other primaries.

WARD 5 COUNCILMEMBER

Bradley Thomas, Democrat (bradleythomas4dc.com @bradleythomasdc): As far as I can tell, the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017 lays out a reasonable approach to addressing housing and employment discrimination against the homeless in D.C. I am not familiar with whatever arguments there might be for holding the bill in committee, but based on the information I have at this time, I would support the bill.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Kenyan McDuffie, LaMonica Jeffrey, Gayle Hall Carley, Nestor Djonkam (Democrats)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
Joyce Robinson-Paul  (D.C. Statehood Green)

WARD 6 COUNCILMEMBER

Charles Allen, Incumbent Democrat (charlesallen2018.com @charlesallen): I agree with the goal of the bill to reduce barriers for individuals experiencing homelessness in housing, employment, public accommodations, and educational institutions. D.C.’s Human Rights Act is one of the country’s most robust and has been expanded to include the protected traits of personal appearance, source of income, place of residence/business, credit history, and disability, which could cover the discrimination at issue. As chair of the committee with oversight of Office of Human Rights, I will continue working to ensure OHR has the staffing and resources it needs to tackle discrimination against all persons, including those experiencing homelessness.

Lisa Hunter, Democrat (lisahunterforward6.com @LisaForWard6): Yes, I wholeheartedly support this bill. To be clear, I believe the bill has the votes to pass the council. Unfortunately, my opponent is single-handedly holding it up and has been doing so for almost a year. His decision to block protections against discrimination for our homeless neighbors is inexcusable and shameful. Mr. Allen has said the Office of Human Rights is overburdened, which is why we cannot ask them to do more work. My position is simple: the solution to an overburdened Office of Human Rights is more funding and support from the D.C. Council, not fewer human rights.

Running unopposed in their parties: 
Michael Bekesha (Republican)


 

Photo of electronic candles, placed in a row on the ground, lit up at night.

Photo by Matailong Du

Roughly 50 homeless D.C. residents have been mourned during each annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day vigil since 2014. Many have been identified as receiving a housing voucher but dying before they could use it. What specific steps would you take to house the most vulnerable people sooner, prevent people from ending up on the street in the first place, and deliver quality health care to people experiencing homelessness?

 

MAYOR

James Butler, Democrat (butlerformayor.com | @butlermayor2018): As mayor, I will implement a special-ops homeless task force whose sole job will be to focus on those individuals most in need of housing and deliver immediate wrap-around services to them. The District offers more social programs than most cities in the country. However, we also often lack adequate outreach. This leaves people in need unaware of such services. Increasing outreach will dramatically decrease the number of people experiencing homelessness. Also, when a person’s homelessness is due in part to a mental or behavioral health crisis, the wraparound services will work to remediate that crisis while a home is being procured. EDITOR’S NOTE: Between D.C. government agencies and nonprofit providers and partners, there are approximately 20 outreach workers who seek out people experiencing homelessness and try to connect them with services specific to their individual needs, according to the Department of Human Services public information officer.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Muriel BowserErnest E. Johnson (Democrats)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
Ann C. Wilcox (D.C. Statehood Green) and Martin Moulton (Libertarian)

COUNCIL CHAIR

Ed  Lazere, Democrat (edfordc.com @edlazere): Homelessness cuts lives short and leaves too many to die on the street. I want to work toward a day when we won’t need to have a vigil for D.C. residents who died while experiencing homelessness. The budget just adopted by the D.C. Council funded only 40 percent of what’s needed to end homelessness, leaving 900 homeless families and individuals without housing. As council chair, my top priority will be to fully fund D.C.’s plan to end homelessness. I will also help residents stay in their homes by expanding D.C.’s successful homelessness prevention program and doubling funding for affordable housing.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Phil Mendelson (Democrat)

AT-LARGE COUNCILMEMBER

Anita Bonds, Incumbent Democrat (anitabonds2018.com | @AnitaBondsDC): I will continue to advocate each year for additional funding for the Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP), which is the primary locally-funded program that provides housing vouchers and subsidized units. LRSP is used to house very low-income households pulled from the Housing Authority’s waiting list, as well as to provide permanent supportive housing and targeted affordable housing to homeless District residents. I am fully committed to fighting for LRSP, public housing, and affordable housing in general so that we can intervene in the vicious cycle that relegates far too many residents to an unforgiving life on the streets.

Jeremiah Lowery, Democrat (jeremiah2018.com | @jeremiah4dc): Having a mother who is formerly homeless in D.C., this issue is near and dear to my heart. I am in full support of “The Way Home” campaign and their budget and policy priorities to end chronic homelessness. I will also add additional funding for Medicaid enrollment and outreach for people experiencing homelessness.
The D.C. government also has a plan to end or greatly limit homelessness in D.C. by 2020, the “Homeward DC” strategic plan. I would work with government officials and advocates to introduce legislation or fight for budget items to make sure we are meeting our 2020 goals.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Marcus Goodwin (Democrat)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
David Schwartzman (D.C. Statehood Green) and Denise Hicks (Libertarian)

WARD 1 COUNCILMEMBER

Brianne Nadeau, Incumbent Democrat (briannefordc.com
@BrianneKNadeau): The answer to homelessness is simple – housing. That’s why as chair of the Human Services Committee I’ve funded additional housing units in my committee budget every year. Living on the streets takes a terrible toll on a person, and getting them stably housed can often be a lifesaver. When a person is housed too late, it is a tragedy. My hope is that through the investments I’m making, we will no longer have to hold vigils.

Kent Boese, Democrat (boese2018.com @KentBoeseDC): We need a stronger commitment to building Single Room Occupancy housing as part of the solution. They could provide a last option before becoming homeless and the first transition out of homelessness for many people. Having more SROs available and spread throughout the District would help stabilize at-risk individuals and families, in addition to providing support before becoming homeless. They could also provide the necessary social services and support that someone who is homeless needs to get a job and get back on their feet. This is a better and more dignified path than living on the streets or in a shelter.

Lori Parker, Democrat (loriparkerward1.com @ElectLoriParker): Through D.C. Council performance and budget oversight, I would hold District health and human services agencies accountable for implementing recommendations of the Interagency Council on Homelessness and for ensuring the rights of homeless individuals and families to be treated with dignity and free from abuse and discrimination.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Sheika Reid (Democrat)

WARD 3 COUNCILMEMBER

Mary Cheh (Democrat) is running unopposed in her party. There are no candidates in other primaries.

WARD 5 COUNCILMEMBER

Bradley Thomas, Democrat (bradleythomas4dc.com @bradleythomasdc): I would speed up the process for applying for and being issued housing vouchers. I would seek to reduce red-tape and possibly stipulate that the Department of Health be looped into the process of the distribution of housing vouchers to provide wrap-around services beginning with the first contact in the application process. And once again, I would emphasize inclusion of vocational training in our schools and would focus on workforce development so that more of our residents are qualified for the many job opportunities that do exist in the District.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Kenyan McDuffie, LaMonica Jeffrey, Gayle Hall Carley, Nestor Djonkam (Democrats)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
Joyce Robinson-Paul  (D.C. Statehood Green)

WARD 6 COUNCILMEMBER

Charles Allen, Incumbent Democrat (charlesallen2018.com @charlesallen): I have been a strong supporter of increased funding for the Permanent Supportive Housing program, Targeted Affordable Housing, Local Rent Supplement Program vouchers, emergency shelter and transitional housing for youth experiencing homelessness, rapid re-housing, and emergency rental assistance. I will support similar efforts in this year’s budget. To prevent homelessness, I launched funding this year for landmark legislation that provides a right to counsel in eviction cases. Known as “Civil Gideon,” this innovative program is essential to protect the vast majority of low-income tenants who have previously gone without representation while facing eviction proceedings.

Lisa Hunter, Democrat (lisahunterforward6.com @LisaForWard6): I have lost count of the number of homeless neighbors I have met who have been on the voucher list for years, have been interacting with various D.C. government offices for years, and yet have never seen or met their current councilmember. If we expect our government to take care of our homeless neighbors, we need to start by electing leaders who treat everyone like neighbors. I would prioritize new mandatory funding for housing, protection from domestic violence, healthcare, childcare and mental health services to address the underlying causes of homelessness and provide our neighbors with the solutions they deserve.

Running unopposed in their parties: 
Michael Bekesha (Republican)


 

Photo by Benjamin Burgess

Homeless tent communities are routinely torn down in the city. It is illegal to live in a tent, car or other “temporary abode.” And such congregating can pose public health challenges. However, tent residents frequently report avoiding shelters and other services due to poor conditions. They claim to lose valuable items during clean-ups and report the safety of a tent and similar supplies is better than nothing when living on the street. What specific steps would you take to serve unhousedand housed residents surrounding these encampments?

 

MAYOR

James Butler, Democrat (butlerformayor.com | @butlermayor2018): As mayor, I will immediately offer secure [camp] locations, monitored for safety and cleanliness (with a prioritization for women and children). I will work with Karl Racine, our attorney general, directly. He and I have a terrific relationship. Together, I guarantee we will work out a humane and equitable solution to this problem.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Muriel BowserErnest E. Johnson (Democrats)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
Ann C. Wilcox (D.C. Statehood Green) and Martin Moulton (Libertarian)

COUNCIL CHAIR

Ed  Lazere, Democrat (edfordc.com @edlazere): The growing number of residents who only have a tent for a home is the clearest sign that D.C.’s leaders aren’t doing enough to address the loss of affordable housing. Clearing tent encampments doesn’t solve the root problem. As council chair, I will make it a priority to improve the quality and safety of shelters so that more residents can come in off the street. I will not support clearing encampments and will protect the rights of residents in tent encampments so they don’t lose important items or documents. I will work to maintain the cleanliness of encampments.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Phil Mendelson (Democrat)

AT-LARGE COUNCILMEMBER

Anita Bonds, Incumbent Democrat (anitabonds2018.com | @AnitaBondsDC): I believe that all District residents deserve safe and sanitary housing – including our homeless population. Fortunately, we are already on the path to creating safe and sanitary shelters by closing D.C. General and replacing it with individual shelters that are integrated in communities in all eight wards. By doing this, staff members will be better equipped to manage the day-to-day operations and give a higher-level of attention to the occupants, resulting in more dignified shelters that are more easily accessible to residents in need.

Jeremiah Lowery, Democrat (jeremiah2018.com | @jeremiah4dc): 

  1. I would introduce a bill to decriminalize sleeping in a “temporary abode.” We should be helping to uplift and not arrest and tear down.
  2. The Homeward D.C. strategic plan includes steps for modernization of all city-run single adult shelters. I would introduce legislation mandating a concrete plan with strict deadlines to fund and carry out these recommendations.
  3. I would introduce legislation to direct the D.C. government to come up with a plan and funding to increase storage space for items confiscated during encampment clean-ups. I will work to ensure no one loses any valuable items.

 

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Marcus Goodwin (Democrat)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
David Schwartzman (D.C. Statehood Green) and Denise Hicks (Libertarian)

WARD 1 COUNCILMEMBER

Brianne Nadeau, Incumbent Democrat (briannefordc.com
@BrianneKNadeau): As councilmember, I have secured millions of dollars for additional Permanent Supportive Housing Units, which help chronically homeless residents thrive in their own homes with wraparound supports. I’ve also supported funding for upgrades to our shelter system for our single adults so that more homeless residents feel safe coming in from the outdoors. I’ve also worked with the Deputy Mayor to ensure that when an encampment is removed, its residents and their belongings are treated with respect.

Kent Boese, Democrat (boese2018.com @KentBoeseDC): While tent communities are illegal, the District’s current approach to “cleaning them up” is disrespectful and the practice of discarding tent residents’ belongings must stop. Not only has the District made it more difficult to access shelter, but it hasn’t addressed the many reasons homeless residents refuse to seek shelter. Our shelters need to be better staffed, better maintained, clean and safe. We also need to allow those in shelters to bring their property into the shelter with them. Lastly, I would fund many more social workers to coordinate service providers, while working with social media experts to humanize people experiencing homelessness. Editor’s Note: In December, the D.C. Council passed the Homeless Services Reform Act Amendment of 2017. The amendment addressed many aspects of the homeless services system, including clarification of which documents could be used as proof of residency when applying for shelter. The change was intended to ensure only D.C. residents are benefiting from city services. The Bowser administration’s initial proposal was watered down by the council to reduce the number of documents required to prove residency. In practice, the final measure does not affect access to low-barrier programs where people seeking shelter line-up daily to claim a bed. But it may be applied by any shelter.

Lori Parker, Democrat (loriparkerward1.com @ElectLoriParker): If elected to the D.C. Council, I would work tirelessly with housing and homeless advocates, D.C. Council colleagues, and the Executive branch to develop other interim and permanent housing solutions in Ward 1 and across the District.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Sheika Reid (Democrat)

WARD 3 COUNCILMEMBER

Mary Cheh (Democrat) is running unopposed in her party. There are no candidates in other primaries.

WARD 5 COUNCILMEMBER

Bradley Thomas, Democrat (bradleythomas4dc.com @bradleythomasdc): Bradley Thomas: I would encourage the Metropolitan Police Department to regularly monitor tent communities and to adopt a low impact, decriminalized approach, limiting arrests to serious cases of violations of the law and serving more as a point of contact with health and social services than as a paramilitary force. I believe that it is important to develop a sense of trust between the homeless community and law enforcement so that homeless citizens will feel that police officers are there to protect and serve rather than to arrest and intimidate. Editor’s Note: While MPD is part of the interagency effort to clear encampments designated by the Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, residents are not currently criminalized. Street Sense Media has only documented one arrest since the Bowser administration ramped up camp evictions in 2015.

Also facing a challenger in this race:
Incumbent Kenyan McDuffie, LaMonica Jeffrey, Gayle Hall Carley, Nestor Djonkam (Democrats)
Running unopposed in their parties: 
Joyce Robinson-Paul  (D.C. Statehood Green)

WARD 6 COUNCILMEMBER

Charles Allen, Incumbent Democrat (charlesallen2018.com @charlesallen): The challenge of ending homelessness should compel all of us to work harder to ensure our unhoused neighbors can find safe, dignified, stable shelter. I support Mayor Bowser’s goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring, and efforts to increase and improve outreach to encampment residents. This outreach should include work to assess and address each individual’s unique needs, including housing, behavioral and mental health, workforce training, and other supports and services needed to achieve greater economic stability. I will continue to make this a priority with the goal to have each individual find stable and secure housing.

Lisa Hunter, Democrat (lisahunterforward6.com @LisaForWard6): I believe our city should be focused on providing assistance to our homeless neighbors, not tearing down their homes and stealing their belongings. Understanding the public health concerns these communities pose, I would move policies that direct our city to focus on proactive provision of services such as preventive health services, mental health services, case management, housing assistance, and educational services when they engage with homeless neighbors living in tent communities. When our city officials are directed to conduct glorified raids and steal neighbors’ belongings, we are pushing our homeless neighbors away from much-needed government services, not toward them. Editor’s note: When the Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services coordinates the clearing of a homeless encampment, camp residents who are present are offered time-limited storage for some of their belongings. For campers who are absent, city workers are directed to save anything deemed valuable, such as personal identification or family photos. Sites are designated to be cleared only after outreach workers have attempted to connect with the people living there.

Running unopposed in their parties: 
Michael Bekesha (Republican)


Candidates were contacted using the campaign information registered with the D.C. Board of Elections and provided a limited time frame and word count in which to respond. Their answers were edited only to match our style and word count, and to provide fact-checking as needed. Street Sense Media is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and does not support or oppose any candidate.

CORRECTION (06.12.2018)

This post has been updated to reflect that the proof of residency requirements imposed by the Homeless Services Reform Act Amendment of 2017 apply to all shelter programs where an application is involved. It originally stated the requirements only affect homeless families. They affect families and single adults, however single-adults also have low-barrier shelter options where these requirments are not implemented.