Volume 10 | November 2017
Stay Connected With Me

Hello neighbor,
Many District residents are being forced out of the city by the rising cost of living. We know that we are still losing affordable housing at a frantic pace as more people continue to move into the city and many older apartment buildings are rehabbed and turned into very expensive housing. While we are investing millions into creating affordable housing, the tools we have at our disposal are still falling short. I have been working to create an exciting new tool.

As housing prices are escalating significantly, the same is not true for our office buildings. While new developments bring beautiful state of the art office buildings to the region – commercial tenants, like law firms and other businesses are both downsizing and abandoning older buildings. Our older office buildings can’t attract new commercial tenants without significant renovation, but they can’t rehab their buildings without new rent-paying commercial tenants. As a result, we have a 12% commercial vacancy rate, which has become an unsustainable drag on our economy. I decided to introduce a bill to help convert older office space into residential affordable housing units.
Councilmember Robert White was interviewed on the Barras Report about how his bill, the Office to Affordable Housing Task Force Establishment Act, is one of many solutions to the affordable housing crisis.

On Thursday, November 16 the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization is holding a hearing on my Office to Affordable Housing Task Force Establishment Act.

My bill will bring building experts, advocates, and government to the table to determine exactly what would be required of our government to turn these half-empty office buildings into apartment buildings with significant amounts of affordable housing.
Panel discussion on issues that returning citizens face upon leaving incarceration. Pictured left to right: Eric Weaver, Lashonia Thompson, Brittney Floyd, Charles Thornton, and Councilmember Robert White.
Screening of documentary "Returning Citizens" followed by panel discussion at the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center on Nov. 2nd.

This month I lectured at Howard University, appeared on the WPFW 89.3 FM "Crossroads Radio Show with Roach Brown," and on WKYS 93.9 FM "Fam in the Morning with DJ QuickSilva and Danni Starr" to talk about my returning citizens legislation. My office sponsored a screening of the documentary " Returning Citizens " followed by a panel discussion on issues that returning citizens face after incarceration. Many of our returning citizens face barriers to housing and employment after incarceration. Nearly 150 residents and agency directors attended the event at the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center located in Ward 8, including some current residents of the Hope Village Halfway House.
Councilmember Robert White held a resource fair after the screening and panel discussion. Several agencies, offices, and community organizations provided information to connect residents with programs and services.
I am thankful to our panelists who shared their personal stories as returning citizens -Charles Thornton, Lashonia Thompson, Brittney Floyd, and Eric Weaver. I also want to thank co-hosts Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Councilmember Anita Bonds, Councilmember David Grosso, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Councilmember Trayon White, DC Office of the Attorney General, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, Metropolitan Police Department, DC Department of Corrections, DC Department of Employment Services, DC Office of Human Rights, Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs, United Planning Organization, and the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law Black Law Students Association.

The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will hold a public hearing on my Returning Citizens Opportunity to Succeed Amendment Act on Thursday, December 7 at 12:00 p.m. This bill would help returning citizens get government identification before they return home, grant a transportation stipend to help them find jobs and housing, and require the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs to establish contact with District inmates six months before they return home to begin the transition process. Sign up to testify about this bill by contacting the Committee via email at judiciary@dccouncil.us or calling (202) 727-8275 no later than close of business on Monday, December 4.

The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will hold a public hearing on my Criminal Record Accuracy Assurance Act Thursday, December 14 at 9:30 a.m. This bill will prevent sealed or expunged offenses and arrests without convictions from being used against residents applying for career opportunities or housing. Sign up to testify about this bill by contacting the Committee via email at judiciary@dccouncil.us or calling (202) 727-8275 no later than close of business on Monday, December 11.

This month, I introduced the Performing Arts Promotion Amendment Act of 2017, to promote local performing artists by giving incentives to businesses that host live performances. DC has such a rich history in creating unique styles of music and creative visual performances. I want to make sure that art and culture can continue to flourish here as it did in decades past. Cafes and coffee shops should be able to provide performance opportunities without fearing a financial loss due to costs associated with hosting live performances.

I also introduced the Neighborhood Reinvestment from Advertising Regulation Amendment Act of 2017, which establishes a grant program for community organizations that offer recreation and sports programs to children. The grant program will be funded by a fee on the digital billboards being erected in Designating Entertainment Areas across the District. Organizations that serve children near these areas would be eligible for the grant money.
Members of the Council and the Put A Price On It, DC coalition: Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Interfaith Power and Light, SEIU Local 32BJ, 350 DC, Sierra Club DC among others.

Environmental justice is social justice. I was happy to host the "We Can't Wait" climate change rally on the steps of City Hall.

I’m glad to support a policy that will address climate change while maintaining robust economic growth in the District. The proposal for a carbon tax and rebate is a common-sense solution that would benefit us all.

As a matter of fairness and justice, businesses should not be able to pollute our city and our lungs without liability. This effort encourages a change to renewable energy and charges those who pollute our air.

As a Council, we passed a Resolution in support of Dreamers and DACA recipients living in our city. Our constituents deserve better than what they are experiencing under Donald Trump and the cowards in Congress that empower him through action or silence. While we cannot stop everything the federal government does, we can at least be clear that we stand together any time he threatens or discriminates against members of our community.
We have seen this administration lash out with thinly veiled racism and prejudice of all kinds. The erosion of legal protections for Dreamers and for those with Temporary Protected Status, though, is particularly horrible because it reflects an attack on fundamental American values executed with spectacular hypocrisy. The United States is a nation whose history has largely been defined by waves of immigration from all across the globe. We have grown and been made stronger through the energy and diversity of those who have traveled here. But beyond simply rolling back immigration, this administration is targeting the most innocent, at-risk members of our immigrant community. They have decided to go after those who had no choice – those who either came to America as children and have grown up here, or whose home countries are too dangerous for them to return.  

Watch my entire statement starting at 32:00 here .

I work hard to make sure my office responds to constituent concerns in a timely and thorough manner. Recently, residents in the 16th Street Heights neighborhood sent me a thank you card after my office was able to help get their alley re-paved in the 1300 block of Farragut Street NW.

My office is accessible by phone, email, social media, or by simply stopping by the John A. Wilson Building.
A kind gesture of thanks from 16th Street Heights residents.
Friday, November 17
Ward 8 Community Office Hours | 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. | Anacostia Arts Center | 1231 Good Hope Road, SE

Friday, November 17
Ward 5 Community Office Hours | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. | Smith Public Trust | 3514 12th Street, NE

Tuesday, November 21
ANC 3F | 7:00 p.m. | University of the District of Columbia Campus in Building 44, Room A03 | 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Tuesday, November 21
ANC 5E | 7:00 p.m. | Friendship-Armstrong Public Charter School | 1400 1st Street, NW

Wednesday, November 29
Annual Holiday Reception | 5:00 p.m. | John A. Wilson Building | 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Friday, December 8
Ward 1 Community Office Hours
Time & location TBD

Friday, December 8
Ward 2 Community Office Hours | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. | Pleasant Pops | 731 15th Street, NW

*Dates, times, and locations are subject to change.
Opposite Top Photo: Councilmember Robert White was the guest speaker at the Unique Residential Care Center's Veterans Day luncheon.

Opposite Bottom Photo: Grand Opening of Culture Coffee Too located at 300 Riggs Road NE. Owner is Veronica Cooper.
I hope you enjoyed this month's edition of my newsletter. If you have any questions or need to bring an issue to my attention, please call my office at 202-724-8174 or reach out to my team.
·         Robert White |  Councilmember  |  rwhite@dccouncil.us

·         Mtokufa Ngwenya  | Chief of Staff |  mngwenya@dccouncil.us

·         Shawn Hilgendorf  | Legislative Director shilgendorf@dccouncil.us

·         Breanna Bledsoe  | Legislative Counsel |  bbledsoe@dccouncil.us

·         Rebekah Caruthers  | Communications Director |  rcaruthers@dccouncil.us

·         Luz E. Martínez  | Staff Assistant / Scheduler |  lmartinez@dccouncil.us

·         Andre Strickland  | Constituent Services Coordinator astrickland@dccouncil.us
My Best,

Robert C. White, Jr. Councilmember, At-Large | Council of the District of Columbia
Phone: (202) 724-8174 | Fax: (202) 727-8210 |  www.RobertWhiteAtLarge.com