November 17, 2023

Dear Angela,

Since my last newsletter to you last month, I introduced a critical public safety bill, protected $20 million for emergency rental assistance, passed my bill for a free Master’s in Social Work program for DC residents, and welcomed a new public housing director in my months-long work to transform the DC Housing Authority. My team and I are working tirelessly and are getting things done. I'm proud to share updates with you here. I'll also share upcoming opportunities for you to testify and share your thoughts on my crime response bill as well as my teacher retention bill. And, as always, this newsletter also includes resources and information on how to contact my constituent services director for help.



My Whole Government Response to Crime Act

I introduced the Whole Government Response to Crime Act to get at the heart of why DC is continuing to see crime and violence escalate: our broken public safety system. Too many residents have recounted horror stories of calling 911 and getting no response or having first responders dispatched to the wrong location. Last year, the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to prosecute more than half of the people arrested in the District. There are too many guns flooding our neighborhoods and we don't know where they're coming from. My bill tackles these gaps in our public safety system to make residents safer faster by fixing our 911 center, recruiting and retaining the forensic personnel needed to collect evidence and hold those committing the violence accountable in court, and tracking where guns are coming from and where they're being recovered in DC. This bill is just the start, and it is the first in a series of bills I’ll be introducing focused on responding to crime, preventing crime, and recovering from crime.

I'm grateful to have the support of the majority of the Council, including Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers McDuffie, Nadeau, Allen, Trayon White, Pinto, Lewis George, Parker, and Frumin as co-introducers of my crime response bill. 

This bill is scheduled to have a hearing in Councilmember Pinto's Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety on December 11. Your voice matters: you can sign up to share your feedback on the bill here.

New Permanent Executive Director of DC Housing Authority

After a challenging period with a series of interim executive directors at the DC Housing Authority (DCHA), the agency's new permanent director, Keith Pettigrew, took the helm on November 1. This week Director Pettigrew joined me on a visit to two public housing communities: Kenilworth Courts and Montana Terrace. I was heartened by his sense of urgency to get issues fixed for residents and deliver on the mission of DCHA.

I am encouraged that Director Pettigrew has an extensive professional background in public housing administration. A DC Native who grew up in DC's public housing at Barry Farm, Director Pettigrew most recently served as CEO and President of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority. I look forward to working with Director Pettigrew to strengthen DCHA by improving public housing conditions and ensuring our residents get the housing and support services they need, and ensuring open, transparent, and productive oversight.

Director Pettigrew (right) and I speaking with a resident at Montana Terrace

Rallying the Council to Reject a $20 Million Cut to Emergency Rental Assistance

Residents need emergency rental assistance in a big way right now. That’s why I worked so hard to stop the Mayor from transferring $20 million out of the Emergency Rental Assistance Fund (ERAP). Last fiscal year, ERAP blew through all of its funding–$43 million–in just five months. This fiscal year, when the ERAP program opened in October, the website crashed because so many residents were trying to apply, and then closed after receiving 3,500 applications in less than seven days.

I worked with Council Chairman Mendelson last fiscal year to direct an additional $33 million in federal funding to ERAP so we could help more people after it ran out of funding. Unfortunately, the Mayor didn’t reopen the ERAP portal last fiscal year, and recently submitted a request that the Council strip $20.6 million of those ERAP funds for another program.

I submitted a disapproval resolution, along with Chairman Mendelson, to bar the administration from using money that the Council budgeted for ERAP for other programs. We cannot balance our budget on the backs of our poorest residents. Simply put, I believe that robbing Peter to pay Paul is not good governance. I'm grateful to my fellow Councilmembers for unanimously voting to reject this cut to ERAP.

Moving Forward the Free Master's of Social Work Program at UDC!

We did it! Last week the Council passed my Pathways to Behavioral Health Degrees Act, which establishes a Master's of Social Work (MSW) degree program at the University of the District of Columbia. It also creates a comprehensive scholarship that enables DC residents and people working in DC to get their MSW for free. In return for the scholarship, our new social workers will commit at least three years to DC non-profits and agencies to focus on issues like crime, homelessness, and youth mental health.

So many residents have told me they want to help their communities confront big challenges -- from working to prevent violence to helping erase stigmas around mental health. The free MSW program will enable community members to step into these roles. Residents are ready to be the heroes their communities need, and I believe this bill helps clear the path for them to do that.

Thank you to EVERYONE who testified, spread the word, expressed interest in serving your community through this program, and more, to help us get this bill passed.

Interested in this program? You can sign up here to receive updates from my office about the MSW program and to learn when UDC will begin accepting applications.

The Seizure-Safe Schools Act

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, and this year we took a positive step for students with seizure disorders and their families. On November 2nd, Councilmember Allen and I jointly introduced the Seizure-Safe Schools Act, which would train staff at every school in DC to know how to recognize and assist when a student has a seizure and ensure students with seizure disorders have access to needed care. This bill was brought to the Council by Oliver, a 16-year old DC resident and advocate, with the support of State Board of Education Representative Brandon Best. Next step: we'll push to get this bill a hearing in the Committee of the Whole!

Councilmember White & Councilmember Allen interview student advocate Oliver

It's not every day a 16-year-old brings a bill to the DC Council, so Councilmember Allen and I sat down with Oliver to talk about what made him advocate for this bill, and what passing it will mean for him and other students and families living with seizure disorders.

Your Voice Matters

Your perspective is important in helping to shape our laws. Below are upcoming hearings on my bills (in bold) that I encourage you to share your feedback on. You can view all upcoming Council hearings here. To register to testify, click on the hearing link (above) and click the "Register to Testify" button. If you'd rather submit written testimony, click the "Submit Testimony" button.

Tuesday, November 21, Committee of the Whole Hearing

  • Bill 25-200, the “Educator Retention for Student Success Act of 2023”
  • Bill 25-499, the “Student Loan Repayment Assistance for Educators Act of 2023”

Monday, December 11, Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety Hearing

Upcoming Community Events

Saturday, November 18

Celebrate Petworth Festival

Monday, November 20, 12-3 pm

Community Office Hours

Shaw/Watha T. Daniel Library

I am committed to making myself and my team available and accessible for community members. I will be spending time in all 8 wards to meet with you in your neighborhood and hear about the concerns on your mind.

Tuesday, November 28

Jobs Not Guns Recruitment Fair

Click here to register

Resources that can help

Below are various resources that I hope will help solve issues you or your family may be facing. And if you have a specific need, my Constituent Services Director, Andre Strickland, is available to support you.

  • After running out of Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) funding last year, the DC Department of Housing and Community Development issued new guidance for potential homeowners. Check out my blog post on what the changes could mean for you.

  • It is officially hypothermia season. If you are in need of shelter, or you see someone outside in need of shelter, call the Shelter Hotline at (202) 399-7093 or dial 311. Transportation to shelter is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during hypothermia season.

  • Receive discounts on your energy bills: The District’s Department of Energy & Environment’s Utility Discount Programs (UDP) assists District residents with low incomes to reduce their utility costs. Find out if you qualify and apply here

  • DC Water offers financial assistance: The Residential Assistance program (Emergency Residential Relief) provides income-eligible customers with up to $2,000 to eliminate their past due balance. Call the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) at 202-350-9649 or visit DOEE's website to apply. Find out about additional assistance options here.

  • Leaf collection is happening around DC! Click here to find out when the Department of Public Works will be doing leaf cleanups in your neighborhood.

  • This guide from DC Greens lists health equity resources available to residents in Ward 7 and Ward 8.

Need to reach me or a member of my team?

My office is available to you. Connect with me and my staff via phone or email. Please call my personal office at (202) 724-8174, or my committee office at (202) 727-8270, or email any of my team members. If you have a moment, please take my 3-question constituent survey here.



Robert White | Councilmember | [email protected]

Angela Fowlkes | Chief of Staff | [email protected]

Katie Whitehouse | Legislative Director | [email protected]

Andre Strickland | Constituent Services Director | [email protected]

Devon Haynes | Communications Director | [email protected]

Lisa Wright | Legislative Assistant | [email protected]

Sam Walden | Office Manager | [email protected]




Shawn Hilgendorf | Committee Director | [email protected]

Sean Cuddihy | Deputy Committee Director | [email protected]

Caitlin Cocilova | Senior Legislative Counsel | [email protected]

Neah Evering | Legislative Counsel | [email protected]

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