We must make DC an affordable city that works for all, not just a few; a city that rewards effort but shows compassion for those most vulnerable – our children, our seniors, our working poor; a city that welcomes newcomers but also values the families, communities and neighborhood businesses that give DC its resilient soul.
Hardship is not a statistic but an everyday reality for too many Washingtonians.
By some economic measures, the city is booming. But if you look beyond the headlines and the sound bites, you will see too many people falling further behind, dispirited and losing faith that elected leaders even care anymore.
We need fresh leadership. We need a mayor with a fundamentally different vision and the unquestioned integrity to lead DC toward shared prosperity and equal opportunities in all parts of the city.
* Make affordable housing truly affordable for all income levels
* Fund more programs for adult literacy and job readiness
* Reduce poverty by creating good jobs with a living wage and paid sick leave
* Help small businesses prosper
* Put the public voice back into the public education
* Improve government services like the DMV and DCRA
* Provide more assistance to returning citizens
* Reform the tax code
* Reduce wasteful government spending
Below are some highlights of Andy's plan for DC.
Fostering Entrepreneurship and Innovation
I am known for creating vibrant, cultural spaces. My vision is to make the city less stodgy by drawing on the city’s history for inspiration. We need to bring back the funk and create a culture where people can “bring their whole selves” to government and civic life.
We are the most inequitable city in the country. But we’re a city full of people who want to make the world a better place. I am committed to equitable development that takes into account the people most impacted.
Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education
You can count on me to reclaim the promise of public education for all of our children. The “Principles that Unite Us” align powerfully with my experience, beliefs and core values. These principles I will stand for as your mayor of the District of Columbia.
As the Nation’s capital, we should be leading the way on public education, using proven, state-of-the-art strategies to meet the profound needs of our students. Instead educators have been forced to operate on a one-size-fits-all basis more suited to the Industrial Age than a Knowledge Based Economy. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have narrowed the learning experience of our children to a factory conveyer belt of test prep and rote memorization.
Closing the Job Readiness and Literacy Gaps
According to DC government, in November 2013, there were 736,000 jobs available in DC. But the U.S. Census estimates that there were only 646,449 people living in the District. Even though there are more jobs than people in the District too many DC residents do not have the education and the skills to fill those jobs. I will work with private sector partners, community-based organizations, and NGOs to pull together a multi-pronged skills agenda to make it possible for DC residents to fill all those jobs. As Mayor, I will:
Increase funds for adult literacy programs by a factor of 5.
Hire more workforce “intermediaries” to make sure that residents are trained for actual jobs and connected directly to those jobs.
Strengthen vocational programs at both high school and community college levels.
Support programs with demonstrated outcomes in helping residents find and keep living wage jobs.
Mobilizing to End the Affordable Housing Crisis
The lack of affordable housing is one of Washington, DC’s most serious, most challenging problems. Since the year 2000, we have lost half of our low-cost rental units (under $750 a month). The list of people waiting for affordable housing has reached almost 70,000.
We do have several programs aimed at supporting affordable housing. But the funding for these programs has been both inadequate and erratic from year to year. Even the recently announced plan to build 10,000 new units by 2020 falls far short of satisfying even today’s demand. In the meantime, people live in fear that their neighborhood might become the next “hot spot” for gentrification.
We need a much more aggressive program to deal with the city’s chronic shortage of affordable housing. We can draw on the best practices of other cities around the U.S. and around the world to develop a multi-pronged assault mobilizing every city department, private builders, and nonprofits. As Mayor, I will:
Dramatically increase funding for the Local Rent Supplement Programs and Permanent Supportive Housing. These programs create housing that is affordable for people with very low incomes below 30 percent of AMI and the chronically homeless. Funding for these programs has been flat in recent years.
Commit $100 million annually to The Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF). Funding for this program has ranged from a high of $76 million in 2008 to a lower of $14 million.
Create a “Gentrification Tax Relief” program to prevent long-term residents from being forced out of their homes by higher property taxes caused by gentrification.
Establish an Office of Development and Accountability to evaluate whether developers are actually complying with their agreements with the city to build affordable housing on public land.
Enforce laws barring landlord harassment.
Provide incentives for landlords to provide affordable rents.
Add additional requirements on inclusionary zoning to provide space for seniors and returned citizens
Provide educational and informational programs to combat predatory lending.
Provide foreclosure prevention assistance and other support to reduce risks of foreclosure.
Shifting Focus from Developers to Small Business
An overwhelming body of evidence shows that the businesses that generate the greatest economic development are locally owned. As Mayor, I will shift course dramatically, turning away from giving endless tax subsidies to developers who have not really been required to do anything in return (See Getting What
We Pay for from Developers). Instead, I will fight focus on creating jobs by accelerating the growth of locally-owned small business. As Mayor, I will:
Increase Selective Procurement – I will overhaul the city’s procurement system to make it more open to bids from local business. Today’s system, for example, does not accord businesses adequate credit for spending their contract dollars in DC and generating tax dollars (and other benefits). I will introduce a new system where bidders must represent the minimum percentage of a contract that they will spend locally, and bids will be adjusted – objectively through appropriate studies– by the additional taxes they generate for the District. This change will enable the District to get better bids, while increasing support for local business.
Establish a Small Business Blue-Ribbon Commission – I will convene the top small-businesspeople to serve on an advisory commission for my administration. I will charge this body with preparing an annual report reviewing programs intended to support small businesses, including indicators on the health of DC’s small businesses. This commission would also explore best practices for promoting small business from around the country, and make suggestions for eliminating ineffective policies and adopting promising new policies. The report also will contain indicators on the health of the local small business community.
Create Tax Incentives for Residents Who Invest in Small Business – I will propose a 5% income tax credit for any and all investment dollars residents put in qualified local DC businesses. As other states have demonstrated, tax credits can be a powerful mechanism for changing the investment behavior of residents. But unlike most tax-credit programs around the country, this one will be focused on the local businesses that can contribute the most to local economic development.
Turbo Charge the Anacostia Business Improvement District (BIID)- The city has used BIDs successfully in other parts of the city and I want to adapt this useful tool to deal with specific local problems, starting by supplementing the mandatory assessment fees paid by merchants in order to extend the BID’s reach and impact. In other areas, BIDs have traditionally had small staffs that provide cleaning, hospitality, safety, and beautification services. In Anacostia, a BID could take on new community projects, like assisting in the education of children or supporting the care of seniors.
Getting What We Pay for from Developers
Year in and year out, DC’s Mayors and City Council members have been giving away hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to big developers in the form of tax incentives and other so-called subsidies for economic development.
The evidence that such give-aways result in long-term economic gains is weak. But in our city, the Mayor and the Council don’t even bother to find out what kind of return they’re getting for these enormous give-aways. As Mayor, I will:
Enforce Existing Agreements: Despite having given away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives and subsidies to developers, the Mayor and the City Council have failed to evaluate whether these developers have been delivering the benefits that they promised in return for their tax incentives. I will ensure that we hire sufficient personnel to conduct a thorough evaluation of all existing agreements, and to “claw back” monies or assess penalties from developers who have failed to meet their obligations.
Reduce Giveaways: I propose that the city significantly reduce its tax incentives and other subsidies to major developers, freeing up large sums of money which we can use to fund city programs that directly improve the education and skills of our workforce.
Require Transparency: Any DC dollars spent on behalf of economic-development will be allocated after a careful and open RFP process. Every business, including local businesses that have been all but shut out of our existing economic-development programs, will have a fair opportunity to propose how many jobs they will create for, with the support received from the District.