Mayor Bowser speaks at the State of the District Address
Reginald Black

On March 7, a group of activists affiliated with the homeless advocacy coalition The Way Home Campaign demonstrated in front of the Wilson Building to raise awareness for an additional $35.5 million they want in the budget for fiscal year 2020. They say the investment would be enough to end chronic homelessness for 1,140 individuals and 177 families in D.C. At the event, six people who previously experienced homelessness spoke, and many others stopped by to show support. Participants made signs with various quotes from homeless individuals and wrote in chalk on the sidewalk phrases such as “No person should die on the street” and “Housing is a human right.”  

Demonstrators at The Way Home event

People share their comments at The Way Home event in front of the Wilson Building. Photo by Colleen Cosgriff

Two weeks later, Mayor Muriel Bowser made several monetary promises for the fiscal year 2020 budget when she delivered her annual State of the District address on the University of the District of Columbia campus. These included $26 million toward implementation of the city’s strategic plan to make homelessness “rare, brief, and nonrecurring” by 2020, $11 million for short-term housing programs, and $200 million for affordable housing. However, Mayor Bowser did not mention anything about the specific investment targets outlined by The Way Home Campaign.  

During Bowser’s address, several critics who believed those investments were not enough started shouting “This is our home!” and “Stop the war on the poor!” before being escorted out by a guard. 

The mayor’s full preliminary budget proposal will be released on March 20. Up-to-date schedules for review and markup of the budget by the D.C. Council are available at www.dccouncilbudget.com.