The challenge of rapid rehousing in the second most expensive rental market in the country

HOMELESSNESS | The District is changing policies and offering incentives to entice landlords to participate in the rapid rehousing program, part of a concerted effort on the part of the Gray administration to get homeless families out of hotels and the shelter at D.C. General. The big question is whether people will be able to pay their rent after their subsidies from the city run out. Some homeless advocates are concerned (CP, 4/16):

According to a recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a D.C. resident making minimum wage needs to work 137 hours per week—or nearly 20 hours a day, seven days a week—to afford fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment. [Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless attorney Will] Merrifield argues that rapid rehousing might make sense for employed individuals, but that “to try to plug everyone into this program is insane.”

“Where I don’t see it working is for families that are going to be a single mom working one or two minimum-wage jobs that are going to be put in an apartment that’s $1,400, $1,500, $1,600 a month, and then falling off a cliff when the six months is up and the rapid rehousing runs out,” Merrifield says. “There’s no way that that can be successful in my opinion.”

Which leads us to…

HOUSING | In the ranking for most expensive rental market, D.C. is second only to Hawaii. (WTOP, 4/17) Where, presumably, a rental unit comes with a beach view.

YOUTH | A new resource map from the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, produced in partnership with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, traces the various funding streams going toward services for disconnected youth in D.C. DCAYA has an overview of the findings about gaps and opportunities to better target investments toward disconnected youth on their blog. The full resource map can be found here. (DCAYA, 4/16)

ARTS | The National Endowment for the Arts announced their latest round of grants yesterday, $2.5 million of which is going to 30 D.C. organizations. Here’s the list. (CP, 4/16)

HEALTHCARE |  DC extends deadline to enroll in health plans (WTOP, 4/17)

EDUCATION | The College Board has released sample questions from the new SAT exam, which will be better aligned with the Common Core standards. (WaPo, 4/16) I got butterflies and my palms started to sweat a little when I saw the math question on the front page of the Post yesterday.

NONPROFITS | Analysis: Looking At The Gender Wage Gap At Non-Profits In D.C. (WAMU, 4/16)

DISTRICT | After Six Years, D.C. To Get Six More Months To Debate Zoning Code Rewrite (WAMU, 4/16)

REGION | D.C. And Maryland Decriminalize Marijuana, But Differently (WAMU, 4/15)


Peeps! (…and a whole lot of ad videos. Thanks, Washington Post)

The (Almost) Daily will be back on Monday. Along with, I hope, spring.

- Rebekah

As tuition increases, so does hunger on campus

HUNGER | As the price of college (and related costs, like housing) rise, more students are having trouble affording food, particularly those who are from low-income families or are first-generation college students. Many colleges are starting food banks to serve students otherwise going hungry (WaPo, 4/10):

At the same time that higher education is seen as key to financial security, tuition and living expenses are rising astronomically, making it all the more tempting for students to cut corners on food.

“Between paying rent, paying utilities and then trying to buy food, that’s where we see the most insecurity because that’s the most flexible,” said Monica Gray, director of programs at the College Success Foundation-District of Columbia, which helps low-income high school students go to college.

As campuses look for solutions, the number of university food pantries has shot up, from four in 2008 to 121 today, according to the Michigan State University Student Food Bank, which has advised other campuses on starting them. Trinity Washington University in the District opened one in September, and the University of Maryland at College Park is looking into opening one.

HOUSING
- D.C. wants to buy a lot of land next to the Anacostia metro station to develop it for affordable housing. (WBJ, 4/9)

- Here’s a great write-up of a recent successful effort to purchase an apartment building in Columbia Heights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act – the program that helps tenants purchase their properties when landlords put them up for sale. (WAMU, 3/28)

HOMELESSNESS
- Post columnist Petula Dvorak writes about the need for a safe playspace for children at D.C. General and calls on the city to get moving on building it – especially since there is already community approval and funding available for it (including financial support from Pepco). (WaPo, 4/10)

- Although Mayor Gray says he wants to close the homeless shelter at D.C. General, he says NIMBYism will make it difficult to create smaller shelters throughout the city. (WaPo, 4/9)

CHILDREN & YOUTH | Advocates led by the D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates are drafting a bill that would address sex trafficking in the District. (DCist, 4/10)

ARTS/TRANSIT | Fairfax County considers turning the Silver Line into a massive public art project (WaPo, 4/9). Yes, please! This is such a great idea I won’t even make a snarky comment about the silver line.

WORKFORCE 
- I don’t even know how to categorize this piece since its implications are so cross-cutting: day care costs more than college in 31 states. This has a lot to do with why so many women are staying home rather than returning to work after they have a baby, as a Pew study released earlier this week reported. (WaPo, 4/9)

- The region’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly last month. (WBJ, 4/10)


Even if you’re tired of cherry blossom photos (or, at least, tourists), you should check these pictures out, just for the awesome outfits.

- Rebekah

An “unintended consequence” of healthcare law impacts community health centers

HEALTHCARE | Local community health clinics, like Mary’s Center, are having a hard time competing with MedStar, the for-profit health care provider, as it expands into the the community with new primary care facilities. In the long-term, this could threaten the clinics’ financial stability and ability to continue serving the uninsured. (WaPo, 4/7):

The tension is an unintended consequence of the health-care law, which has set off an intense competition for a growing number of privately insured patients, who tend to be the best-paying customers. Under the law, thousands of people in the Washington area and millions across the country are getting coverage for the first time. That has prompted a variety of health providers to move into neighborhoods that were once the exclusive turf of community health centers, which are designed primarily for low-income patients.

For many consumers, having additional places to get medical care will provide more choice and convenience, health experts say. But community health centers worry that the bigger providers will siphon off the insured, leaving them with more uninsured patients. That, they say, would imperil them financially and hurt the people who have no other place to get care — including illegal immigrants and others who won’t benefit from the health-care law.

FOOD | A couple weeks back, the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership – now the Washington Regional Food Funders – provided testimony in support of more coordination of food policy in the District. Elevation DC reports on the hearing and what a food policy director could do to further work to improve food access in the city. (Elevation, 4/8)

Related: The Washington Regional Food Funders remain interested in advocacy for good food. Today they share this report from the first ever regional gathering of food policy councils and coalitions they hosted last fall and talked about at the hearing.

POVERTY | Silver Spring is characteristic of the growing “suburbanization” of poverty, with a number of nonprofit organizations reporting a big increase in the number of people they serve over the past few years. (WAMU, 4/4)

HOUSING
- What do solar panels have to do with affordable housing? A lot. (Elevation DC, 4/8)

- City Looks to Restart Park Morton Redevelopment (CP, 4/4)

- The Search for Affordable Housing Is Pushing the Middle Class to the Exurbs (Atlantic, 4/8)

Related: This is an issue we looked at last year with an edition of What Funders Need to Know that looked at why philanthropy should focus on supporting housing affordability close to transit.

WORKFORCE | A new report from DC Appleseed says that the District’s job training programs are failing to meet the needs of District residents. The report calls for additional workforce training funding and better coordination among District agencies that work on adult education. (WAMU, 4/4)

EDUCATION
- Obama announces federal grants to help prepare students for careers (WaPo, 4/7)

- D.C. mayoral primary has Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s future up in the air (WaPo, 4/3)

GIVING | Tomorrow, April 9, is Spring2ACTion, Alexandria’s annual day of giving. This year’s goal is to raise $1 million for Alexandria nonprofits. More information here.

TRANSIT | Suuuuuuure. (WBJ, 4/7)


If this isn’t an argument for getting rid of D.C.’s height limit, I don’t know what is.

- Rebekah

An effort to reduce pregnancies among Hispanic teens in Montgomery County

YOUTH | While the overall teen pregnancy rate has been declining, there remains a significant disparity between Hispanics and other groups, an issue that one local nonprofit has been working to address in Montgomery County (WaPo, 3/29):

Even as the Latino birthrate has fallen in Montgomery over the past two decades, it remains more than 2.5 times higher than the rate for the county’s black girls in that age group and more than three times the rate for white girls.

[...]

Since 1996, the earliest year in which Montgomery officials have published data, the great disparity between birthrates for Latino and white teenagers has hardly changed. Meanwhile, the gap between black teenagers and Latino teenagers has increased. This has perplexed local officials at a time when teen pregnancy rates in the nation are plummeting and the gaps between all races and ethnic groups continue to shrink.

For advocates, the disparity has come to symbolize the socioeconomic gulf between Latinos, largely a population of new immigrants, and more established populations in one of the country’s most affluent counties.

COMMUNITY | Today the Citi Foundation announced the launch of Pathways to Progress, a three-year, $50 million initiative in 10 cities, including D.C., to provide career training to 100,000 low-income youth. (Citi, 3/31). More information on the initiative is available here.

VETERANS | The Post commissioned a wide-ranging survey of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a must-read for those interested in issues affecting veterans and their families. The quick take-away from the intro: “More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans.” (WaPo, 3/29)

Related: WRAG members have been convening regularly over the past year to look at ways philanthropy can better support veterans and their families in our region. Last year, they learned about challenges some veterans encounter when transitioning to the civilian workforce, and today (literally, right this minute) they are examining the potential of scaling up a successful program in Montgomery County for the entire region.

HOUSING
- Housing advocates see great potential for affordable housing options in Ward 8, particularly as developers begin to re-hab the area’s “abandominiums” – condos and apartments that have been left empty. (WAMU, 3/28)

- How your housing affects your health (WaPo, 3/26)

EDUCATION/WORKFORCE | In his latest column, Robert McCartney argues that recent changes to the GED exam, put in place to meet higher demands of employers, are making the exam far more difficult to pass during a time when unemployment for those without high school diplomas is so high. (WaPo, 3/29)

REGION | The population of the Greater Washington region continued to grow last year, due primarily to the availability of jobs. (WaPo, 3/28) As Stephen Fuller explains in the article, “very few people flock to D.C. to enjoy the weather.”

HEALTHCARE | Maryland gears up for health exchange redo (WaPo, 3/30)

ARTS/PHILANTHROPY | S&R Foundation provides Washington Ballet with live music, affects city’s music scene (WaPo, 3/28)

CSR | Breaking Down The Benefits Of In-Kind Giving — And The Regulations Around It (Forbes, 3/30)

Related: On Thursday and Friday last week, WRAG and Johns Hopkins University hosted the second session of the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility. Check out the speaker-line up and photos from the session. From the pictures, it looks like a fun and jammed-packed two days. We’ll begin taking applications for the 2015 class early this summer. More information here.


You know how in some circles the first thing people ask you is “what do you do?” That drives me crazy. Here’s a cool video that gives an overview of all of the obnoxious ways people form quick judgments about new acquaintances all over the country.

- Rebekah

Montgomery County schools working to reduce racial disparities in suspensions

YOUTH
- While the rate of suspensions in Montgomery County schools is declining, African American and Hispanic students are still being suspended at higher rates than their white peers, an issue that officials are trying to address (Gazette, 3/26):

Superintendent Joshua P. Starr said that as the school system addresses the issue of suspensions, it must support students and counter the effects of other institutions.

“It requires perhaps more than just an equity lens,” he said. “In some ways, it actually requires an anti-racist lens.”

Starr said reducing suspensions does not mean excusing behavior; turning away from suspensions might mean more work for school staff.

- To prevent teen pregnancy, provide opportunities for young people (Elevation DC, 3/25)

HEALTH | Data lovers: today is the equivalent of your gift-receiving-holiday of choice – the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released their 2014 County Health Rankings. The rankings provide county level data on a number of public health indicators, as well as data on social and economic determinants of health, like housing, transportation, access to exercise opportunities, and more. (RWJF, 3/26)

You can spend a lot of time looking at the stats on our region. Here’s are some interesting nuggets:

District of Columbia: Only 8% of the population is uninsured, placing the city in the top 90th percentile of jurisdictions nationwide.
Prince George’s County:  57% of workers commute in their car alone for over 30 minutes.
Montgomery County: Ranks first in overall health outcomes in the state of Maryland.
Arlington County: 14% of the population face “severe housing problems.”

COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING | The New York Times has a great write up on worker co-ops around the country – such as the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland –  which are widely viewed as an effective business model for ensuring economic equality. (NY Times, 3/25)

Related: This model is currently being examined by the Community Wealth Building Initiative, which is laying the groundwork to launch employee-owned businesses anchored in low-income communities in our region. One of the potential businesses would be focused on green stormwater management, which we recently wrote about. For more information about the initiative, check out these Frequently Asked Questions.

HOUSING/AGING | In an effort to prevent seniors from being priced out of their homes, Mayor Gray signed a bill exempting low- and middle-income residents over the age of 70 from paying property taxes, if they have owned their home for at least 20 years. (DCist, 3/25)

HEALTHCARE
- The Obama administration is extending the deadline to enroll in a health care plan through the federal insurance marketplace for individuals who start the enrollment process before March 31. (WaPo, 3/26)

- Which is good news, since apparently: Most People Don’t Know The Health Insurance Deadline Looms (NPR, 3/26)

FOOD | Montgomery council, advocates push for healthy school foods (Gazette, 3/26)

BUDGET | New Ward 8 hospital will be floated in upcoming Vincent Gray budget proposal (WaPo, 3/24)

EVENT | Funders are invited to a special briefing on Venture Philanthropy Partners‘ Social Innovation Fund youthCONNECT initiative on May 12. More information is available here.


One important set of indicators that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation failed to include in their health rankings: relative preparedness for the zombie apocalypse. Be aware that things do not bode well for our region.

- Rebekah

You need to work 137 hours a week on minimum wage to afford rent in D.C.

HOUSING | Another day, another study that shows that housing in the Greater Washington region is really, really (really) not affordable. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition:

Renters in the District of Columbia need to work 137 hours per week at the minimum wage of $8.25 an hour to afford a Fair Market Rent of $1,469.

Renters in Maryland need to work 138 hours per week at a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to afford a Fair Market Rent of $1,297.

Renters in Virginia need to work 115 hours per week at the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to afford a Fair Market Rent of $1,088.

On the bright side, when D.C.’s minimum wage rises to $11.50 an hour, workers will only need to work a leisurely 98 hours a week to pay their rent. (WAMU, 3/24)

HOMELESSNESS
- The Gray administration has been ordered by a D.C. Superior Court judge to immediately stop sheltering homeless families in rec centers on freezing nights. (WaPo, 3/24)

- There are over 4,000 homeless students attending D.C. schools – a number that has increased 60 percent over the last five years. (WAMU, 3/20)

Related: Late last year we published What Funders Need to Know: Educational Outcomes and the Relationship to Housing, which looked at the impact of housing affordability, or lack thereof, on educational achievement.

ARTS | WRAG member Ken Grossinger, chair of the CrossCurrents Foundation, recently penned an article for Grantmakers in the Arts’ Reader on an innovative public art project in Baltimore that used street art to draw attention to negligent landlords and pushed the city to raze dilapidated buildings that were blighting low-income neighborhoods. Today, we’ve re-published the article on the Daily. (Daily, 3/25)

Related for arts funders: The Arts & Humanities Working Group, which aims to increase awareness among philanthropy of our region’s vibrant nonprofit arts sector and how the arts can positively impact other issue areas – including social justice and community development – is meeting on April 24. More information is available here.

COMMUNITY | Get to know Nicky Goren, the next president of the Meyer Foundation. (WBJ, 3/20)

EDUCATION | As the expiration date of D.C.’s No Child Left Behind waiver approaches, the U.S. Department of Education has issued a new report criticizing the Office of the State Superintendent of Education for its lack of progress toward improving the city’s lowest-performing schools (WaPo, 3/24):

[OSSE] has faltered in pressing for improvements in the District’s lowest-performing schools, arguably the most important aim of the original No Child Left Behind law. Those schools were supposed to develop plans for improvement in seven key areas, from leadership and staffing to curriculum, family engagement and school culture. The OSSE promised to monitor those efforts and to report annually on the schools’ progress.

The OSSE has not done that, according to the federal report issued last week that outlined several other problems at the agency, including a failure to direct federal Title I funds to the appropriate schools and to include required data on school report cards.

FOOD | Yesterday, WRAG’s Lindsay Smith, consultant for the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership, testified before the D.C. Council on the need for more coordination of D.C.’s food policy. You can read her testimony here.

Related: Better coordination of food policy is especially important as there are many food-related initiatives happening around the region, as well as a growing number of funders who are investing in the area of food. To help educate local philanthropy on the food system, earlier this month we released What Funders Need to Know: The Food System.

VETERANS | Some Grant Makers Get Savvier About Aid to War Veterans (Chronicle, 3/23)

Related for WRAG members: Funders in our region are identifying ways to better serve veterans and military families locally. WRAG members are invited to join us for a brown bag lunch discussion next Monday on the topic. More information is available here.


Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of one emotionally overwrought Saturday detention, when a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel, and a recluse talked a lot about their feelings in one of my favorite 80s movies.

- Rebekah

Americans need a “medical cultural revolution”

HEALTH | In the Huffington Post, Brian Castrucci, Chief Program and Strategy Officer of the de Beaumont Foundation, calls for a “medical cultural revolution” to address the high rate of chronic illness among Americans — illnesses that are largely caused by social and environmental conditions, rather than bacteria and viruses (HuffPo, 3/6)

There is no treatment, pill, or vaccine to address the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables to support a healthy diet, limited options for physical activity, exposures to environmental toxins, or the disproportionate distribution of alcohol and tobacco advertising and outlets. These are the community-level drivers of the chronic diseases that plague population health and are responsible for much of the healthcare spending in the US.

Health care reforms, including the Patient Accountability and Affordable Care Act, focus on needed changes to healthcare financing and reimbursement as well as increased access to healthcare. These are worthwhile goals, but they will not lead to the transformation needed in American health. Integrating the efforts of public health and clinical medicine will allow us to make the next vital transformation in healthcare to ensure that we have a system that acts upon the undeniable link between the individual and the community.

Related: The de Beaumont Foundation, together with Duke University and the Centers for Disease Control, recently launched an initiative called the “Practical Playbook,” an online toolkit for those working to integrate public health and primary care. More information from de Beaumont is available here.

Related for WRAG members: At the next Health Working Group meeting, Brian will demonstrate the Playbook and lead a discussion on its potential application in the Greater Washington region. More information is available here.

EDUCATION
- The U.S. Department of Education has placed a hold on a portion of the funds it previously awarded the District as part of the Race to the Top competition, citing concerns with the management of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. OSSE handles the grant funds, which were intended for eight low-performing schools. (WaPo, 3/19)

On Wednesday, federal officials released a progress report showing problems with the District’s effort to improve the eight schools.

According to the report, the District is behind in its obligation to come up with a strategy for those schools — Browne Education Campus, Garfield Elementary School, Johnson Middle School, Kramer Middle School, Anacostia High School, Dunbar High School, Eastern High School and Luke C. Moore High School.

Ann Whalen, who oversees implementation of the $4 billion in Race to the Top grants at the Education Department, said that before OSSE can tap into the federal dollars it won to improve those schools, it will have to submit additional plans and “get our approval so the way they’re spending their money matches the commitment they made.”

- Greater Greater Education looks at the secret behind Thurgood Marshall Academy’s success and whether DCPS can replicate it. (GGE, 3/18)

HOUSING | Following the Post investigation into abusive practices among tax lien investors in the District, legislation will soon be brought before the D.C. Council that would dramatically overhaul the city’s policies and practices regarding the sale of tax liens. The changes would better protect homeowners who fall behind on their property taxes. (WaPo, 3/19)

FOOD | Cheh introduces bill to provide poor D.C. children with meals on snow days (WaPo, 3/18)

TRANSIT | In a shocking turn of events, there is still no start date for the Silver Line. (WAMU, 3/19)

NONPROFITS | The Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington is accepting applications until March 31 for their Future Executive Directors Fellowship program. More information and the application are available here.


Recently some cosmologists made a big discovery that supported a very long-held theory about the big bang (and that’s about as much as I can understand from that article). This is a bit more comprehensible for the layperson: a physicist’s reaction when he found out the work he’d been doing for decades had actually been worth it.

-Rebekah

Mayor Gray backs off controversial proposal on homeless families

HOMELESSNESS
- Mayor Gray is backing off his emergency proposal that would allow the city to deny shelter to families if city officials determined the family had another place to stay. The proposal had received pretty serious backlash from homelessness advocates. According to Gray, fewer families requested shelter when the city ran out of motel rooms and began placing them in recreation centers instead. (WaPo, 2/25)

More time is needed, Gray wrote, to study if emergency measures “are needed as urgently as previously believed.”

“We’re pressing the pause button; it’s not a withdrawal,” said mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro. “We have seen a remarkable decline in the number of people showing up – like 90-plus percent decline – which raises some interesting questions.”

The real question is how is the city going to deal with the fact that there are so many people without long-term, stable places to live.

Related: Gray’s proposal was further complicated on Monday when an administrative law judge ruled that the living conditions in rec centers violated a District law intended to protect the privacy of children. (WaPo, 2/24)

Reminder: WRAG members are invited to a brown bag lunch discussion on homelessness in the region on March 11. More information here.

WRAG | In her monthly column, A Voice from Philanthropy, Tamara explains why we’re having Dan Pallotta, our 2009 Annual Meeting speaker, back to speak to CEOs of WRAG’s member organizations. (Daily, 2/26)

EDUCATION
- Next year’s DCPS budget will include $5 million that schools can apply for to support initiatives intended to improve student satisfaction. (WaPo, 2/25) Just imagine how many pizza parties that could buy.

- Winners and losers in D.C. school renovation funding shift (WaPo, 2/25)

HOUSING | The District has submitted its bid to redevelop Barry Farm as part of the New Communities Initiative. The plan calls for 1,879 new, mixed-income units. (WBJ, 2/25)

HEALTH
- They aren’t entirely sure why, but CDC officials say that the obesity rate among children between ages 2 and 5 has dropped 43 percent. (WaPo, 2/25)

Related: On the flip side, obesity rates have remained high among all other age groups, and actually increased among women over 60. (Boston Globe, 2/26)

- The Obama administration is advancing rules that would ban marketing junk food in schools. (WaPo, 2/25)

HEALTHCARE | After firing the company running its beleaguered insurance exchange, Maryland officials are considering their options moving forward, including potentially joining the federal exchange. (WBJ, 2/25)

BUDGETS | Bulova may seek higher Fairfax property tax cap after $3.7 billion budget plan is proposed (WaPo, 2/25)

AGING | George Mason professor champions shoes with GPS tracking for Alzheimer’s patients (WaPo, 2/26)


74,476 reasons you should always get the bigger pizza – and why I should have paid more attention in math class.

- Rebekah

DC charter board develops new standards for alternative schools

EDUCATION
- The D.C. Public Charter Schools Board has adopted a new policy to help the board evaluate the performance of alternative schools, or those that primarily serve students at high risk of academic failure (WaPo, 2/24)

Evaluating such schools has bedeviled charter school authorities across the country because of the tension between acknowledging the difficulty in serving students with such profound challenges and making excuses for schools’ poor performance.

“You have to have a way to distinguish between schools that are doing a good job and turning kids’ lives around and those that are just collecting public monies,” said Nelson Smith, a charter expert who headed a national working group tasked with studying how alternative charter schools can and should be judged.

- A previously unreleased audit of D.C.’s Tuition Assistance Grant program, which helps D.C. students pay for college tuition at schools outside the District, suggests that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education can’t account for millions in spending. (WaPo, 2/23)

- As High Schoolers Wait For College Notices, D.C. Fights To Get Students To Apply (WAMU, 2/24)

HOUSING | WRAG and the Aspen Institute recently co-hosted an event focused on impact investing and affordable housing. The national housing experts on the panel offered a number of good lessons learned for foundations considering entering the impact investing space. (Daily, 2/24)

Related: A video of this event can be viewed here.

HOMELESSNESS | Over in the other Washington, a group is taking an interesting approach toward ending chronic homelessness – building a community of tiny houses. (NY Times, 1/19)

VETERANS | Report: Military efforts to prevent mental illness ineffective (USA Today, 2/20)

YOUTH | After Fairfax County student deaths, a renewed focus on mental health (WaPo, 2/24)

AGING | To help meet the goal of making the District an “age-friendly” city by 2017, D.C. is conducting an in-depth survey of practically every block of the city to determine what issues need to be addressed to meet this goal. (DCist, 2/21)

HEALTHCARE | Maryland has achieved its health insurance enrollment goal, thanks to a research error (WaPo, 2/24)

TRANSIT | More delays for the Silver Line. (WTOP, 2/21)

COMMUNITY
- The D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation is conducting a survey of the city’s youth workers to learn more about their training and professional support needs. More information and the survey are available here.

- The Community Foundation for Prince George’s County is hosting two tours to local high schools to examine successful practices to prepare students to be college and career ready. More information is available here.


It’s been over a week and it still feels like the entire internet is obsessed with House of Cards. The blog Ghosts of DC looks at the history of some of the places included in the opening segment – like this liquor store on North Capitol Street.

- Rebekah

The D.C. Housing Authority needs billions to meet housing demand

HOUSING | Adrianne Todman, the head of the D.C. Housing Authority, cited some staggering figures at a D.C. Council hearing yesterday. According to her, it would take an additional $1.3 billion in DCHA funding to modernize the city’s current public housing supply, and $2.3 billion to build sufficient units to house the 71,000 people on the city’s public housing waiting list (CP, 2/19):

[...] Todman laid much of the blame for her agency’s funding shortfall at the feet of the federal government, which has reduced DCHA funding substantially in recent years. “Unfortunately, our national leaders do not appear to appreciate this form of affordable housing and continue to underfund it,” she said.

HOMELESSNESS | In response to the increase in the number of families in shelters this winter, Mayor Gray is asking the D.C. Council for the power to allow the city to determine whether families have some place else they can stay (WaPo 2/19):

A draft of Gray’s proposal…would fundamentally alter a District law that grants any resident a “right to shelter” on nights when the temperature drops below freezing and the city declares a hypothermia alert.

[...]

Under Gray’s plan, families would be given shelter on a provisional basis, but caseworkers would immediately begin to determine whether they have other housing prospects, including sleeping on the couches or floors of relatives or friends. The city would have to make a decision within 14 days.

Those who have such options would be required to leave city-funded rooms within 24 hours, even if the temperature remains below freezing.

Related: WRAG members are invited to a brown bag discussion on homelessness in the region next month. More information here.

ARTS
- The long-struggling Corcoran Gallery of Art will be taken over by the National Gallery of Art, and the Corcoran College of Art and Design will be taken over by George Washington University, under a plan that was announced yesterday. (WaPo, 2/19)

- The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities is bringing back the 5×5 project, which brings 25 temporary public art installations to locations throughout the city. The announcement comes with a pretty cool promotional video too. (DCist, 2/19)

EDUCATION
- Here’s part 2 of Greater Greater Education‘s look at how the IMPACT teacher evaluation system can be improved in low-income schools. (GGE, 2/19)

- Alexandria rethinking small middle schools (WaPo, 2/20)

INEQUALITY | A new study from the Brookings Institution finds that cities with strong economies tend to have greater levels of economic inequality. (NY Times, 2/20)

Related: Here’s the paper from Brookings. (Brookings, 2/20) It will surprise exactly no one where D.C. ranks on their list of cities with the greatest levels of inequality.

HEALTH | Reason To Smile: Children’s Dental Health Improves In Maryland (WAMU, 2/19)

NONPROFITS | MacArthur Foundation recognizes 3 D.C. area nonprofits as creative, effective institutions (WaPo, 2/20)

TRANSIT | North-South streetcar starts to take shape (GGW, 2/19) Try to suspend your disbelief.


I scored a 76 on this quiz. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

- Rebekah

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