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

Closing the academic “excellence gap” in Fairfax

EDUCATION
- Over the past decade, a program called Young Scholars has tried to address the wide disparity in the number of low-income and minority students in gifted and talented programs in Fairfax County schools by identifying promising students at a very young age (WaPo, 4/10):

Experts have put forth a variety of theories to explain why bright students in some groups fail to excel: They may enter kindergarten less ready; lack access to enriching resources or activities; face pressure from peer groups that stigmatize high achievement; or contend with instability at home. A lack of basic skills may mask their potential, and teacher bias may creep in.

As Carol Horn, Fairfax County Public Schools’ K-12 program coordinator, made the rounds at schools with high low-income and minority populations in 2000, she learned that bright students were often perilously behind by third grade, when most decisions about gifted services were made.

“The principals said, ‘You really need to start looking in kindergarten and have something for those students,’ ” Horn says. After a pilot program that included a three-week summer camp, Young Scholars was up and running. Today it has expanded to 82 Fairfax schools, serving 5,266 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, with roughly half coming from low-income families and half identified because they speak English as a second language.

- As DCPS implements the Common Core Standards, teachers say students are learning to read better. (WAMU, 4/14)

- Community college-university pipeline eases higher-ed route (WaPo, 4/10)

- D.C. school proposals trigger debate over future of neighborhood schools (WaPo, 4/12)

- The Post has announced 20 winners of the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award at schools throughout the region. (WaPo, 4/10)

REGION
- The region’s population growth has finally started cooling off. Economists point to federal budget cuts for the slowing growth. D.C. proper, on the other hand, is still attracting swarms of new residents. (WaPo, 4/11)

- Speaking of budget cuts: the national parks in the area, which are huge sources of revenue for jurisdictions across the region, are feeling the pinch as Congress has cut spending on them over the past few years. (WAMU, 4/14)

FOOD | Lindsay Smith, consultant for the Washington Regional Food Funders, reflects on Michael Twitty’s message about why the cultural heritage of food is as important to consider as environmental sustainability and other related issues at the kickoff of WRAG’s Brightest Minds series. (Daily, 4/14)

HOMELESSNESS | Since Mayor Gray launched the 500 Families, 100 Days initiative two weeks ago, 26 families have moved out of the homeless shelter at D.C. General. (DCist, 4/11)

HOUSING | Md. gubernatorial hopeful Brown calls for major increase in affordable housing program (WaPo, 4/14)

WORKFORCE | At Potomac Job Corps Center, working to bridge the skills gap (WaPo, 4/13)

ENVIRONMENT | DC-area transportation is not on track to meet climate change goals (GGW, 4/11)

NONPROFITS | Catching up with Patty Stonesifer (WaPo, 4/13)


Who would have thought that this super famous and super boring Microsoft desktop image would actually be kind of interesting?

- Rebekah

Judge orders D.C. to relocate homeless families

HOMELESSNESS | A judge ordered D.C. officials to move families out of recreation centers and into private rooms, arguing that the experience of staying at the rec centers with little to no privacy was potentially traumatizing for children (WaPo, 3/7)

A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 50 families placed in the two makeshift shelters since late January said children, parents and sometimes grandparents had been unable to shower for days and got only cots in big, noisy rooms, illuminated all night. Flimsy partitions exposed unrelated families to one another.

“The court finds that they, particularly the children, incur increased risk of communicable disease, are denied adequate privacy and physical security, are likely to experience emotional trauma and stress, hence are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a restraining order,” [Judge Robert S.] Tignor wrote.

Reminder for WRAG members: Tomorrow we’re hosting a brown bag discussion at noon for WRAG members on homelessness in the region. It’s not too late to register.

EDUCATION 
- The Peterson Family Foundation has pledged $1 million to Teach for America to expand their program in Prince George’s County public schools. As the article notes, this announcement follows a pledge from Venture Philanthropy Partners to invest up to $1.95 million in a program that works with young people in the county at risk of dropping out of high school. (WaPo, 3/10)

- New superintendent outlines plans for Alexandria schools (WaPo, 3/7)

NONPROFITS | Between 2001 and 2011, the nonprofit sector grew much faster than the business sector, according to data from the Urban Institute. (NY Times, 3/8)

Why have nonprofits multiplied faster than for-profit businesses? One reason is that as the population ages, greater demand for health care services drives growth in hospitals and health care organizations, many of which are nonprofits. Another factor is that charities focused on the needs of poorer Americans have experienced higher demand after the Great Recession. In addition, family foundations have grown in popularity, providing a convenient repository for untaxed wealth that often remains under the control of the donor.

WRAG | Last week Michael Smith, director of the Social Innovation Fund, met with CEOs of WRAG member organizations to update them on the Fund. Here’s a re-cap from Tamara. (Daily, 3/10)

FOOD
– D.C. leads the country in the number of students receiving free breakfast at school. (WaPo, 3/6)

- The recently passed farm bill increased support for organic farmers, fruit and vegetable growers, and programs to support the growth of organic farming, reflecting the growing interest in healthy eating and farm-to-table initiatives across the country. (NY Times, 3/8)

Related: These topics are of growing interest among local philanthropy as well. Last week WRAG released What Funders Need to Know: The Food System to share funders’ learnings about our region’s food system and ways to improve it.

MENTAL HEALTH | Mental-health advocates fear fundamental problems in Virginia have been left to fester (WaPo, 3/9)

HIV/AIDS | Women focus of Virginia AIDs campaign (WTOP, 3/10)

DISTRICT
- Jeffrey Thompson, alleged ‘shadow campaign’ funder, is charged in federal court (WaPo, 3/10)

- D.C. is one of only a handful of major cities that still have partisan, winner-take-all primaries. The result is that the mayoral election could be determined by a very small number of residents. (AP, 3/9)


In honor of International Women’s Day, which was Saturday, here’s a lovely portrait series of mothers and daughters from all over the world.

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Wednesday.

- Rebekah

Will the new SAT improve access to college?

EDUCATION
- In effort to break the correlation between SAT scores and family income, the College Board is once again revising the exam. It will also begin offering free test prep courses online through a partnership with Khan Academy. (WaPo, 3/6)

Whether the College Board can break the link between test scores and economic class is the subject of much debate.

“There’s no reason to think that fiddling with the test is in any way going to increase its fairness,” said Joseph A. Soares, a Wake Forest University sociologist. He said high school grades are a far better measure of college potential. Tests, he argued, needlessly screen out disadvantaged students.

Argelia Rodriguez, president and chief executive of the D.C. College Access Program, which provides college counseling in public high schools, said the College Board was taking a “step in the right direction” by promoting a test that might be less intimidating. But she said financial aid and other issues are far more important to low-income families. “There’s a lot more to access than just test-taking,” she said.

- Loudoun moves to open N. Virginia’s first charter school (WaPo, 3/6)

HEALTH/AGING | A new study suggests that the number of deaths due to Alzheimer’s has been significantly underestimated and ranks it as the third leading cause of death (WaPo, 3/6):

More than 5 million people in the United States are estimated to have Alzheimer’s. With the aging of the baby-boom generation, this number is expected to nearly triple by 2050 if there are no significant medical breakthroughs, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The disease cost the nation $210 billion last year; that rate is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

COMMUNITY | On the foundation’s blog, Yanique Redwood of the Consumer Health Foundation (and a WRAG board member) writes about an encounter on an airplane that highlighted the short cuts that the “unconscious brain” sometimes takes that lead people toward biased ideas. (CHF, 3/4)

Related: Back in December, Dr. Gail Christopher from the Kellogg Foundation spoke to WRAG members about the societal impacts of unconscious bias. (Daily, 12/20)

WRAG | Sara Gallagher, a graduate student at UMD, writes about what she learned serving as a Philanthropy Fellow at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and Calvert Foundation. (Daily, 3/6)

Related: The Philanthropy Fellows Program is a service to WRAG members that connects them with talented fellows studying philanthropy and nonprofit management at UMD. We’re accepting fellowship position descriptions from WRAG members now. More information is available here.

TRANSIT | The cost of building the Purple Line has nearly doubled to $2.37 billion since the initial estimate. (WaPo, 3/6)

HOUSING | DC’s mayoral candidates voice ideas for affordable housing (GGW, 3/5)

WORKFORCE | After Lively Debate, Maryland House Approves Minimum Wage Hike To $10.10 (WAMU, 3/6)

PHILANTHROPY | The Social Innovation Fund has announced a fourth funding competition, this time prioritizing applications targeting opportunity youth, vulnerable populations, and collective impact approaches. More information is available here.

NONPROFITS | IRS hit from all political stripes on nonprofit rules (Politico, 3/3)

DISTRICT | On March 21, there will be a mayoral candidate forum on sustainability, clean water, and environmental health. More information is available here.


Who knew people in D.C. were so happy…and so into dancing in public!

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Monday. Have a great weekend!

-Rebekah

President Obama to announce initiative for young men of color

EQUITY | Today President Obama will officially announce the launch of “My Brother’s Keeper,” the cross-sector initiative he first hinted at in his State of the Union address. The effort will address the societal barriers faced by African American and Hispanic boys and young men. A number of major foundations have collectively pledged $200 million to support the goal of the initiative (WaPo, 2/27):

Those organizations, which include prominent groups like the Ford Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will seek to coordinate their investments to create and bolster programs that keep youths in school and out of the criminal justice system, while improving their access to higher education. The White House said it expects money for those programs to grow “exponentially” as major businesses start to pitch in.

Obama will also sign a presidential memorandum creating a government-wide task force to evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches, so that federal and local governments, community groups and businesses will have best practices to follow in the future.

FOOD 
- The FDA is proposing changes to nutrition labels that would make the relative healthiness of food items more obvious to consumers (WaPo, 2/27):

Among the most prominent changes for consumers may be the updates to serving sizes.

Consumers have long been confused about why a can of sweetened tea contains 2.5 servings, a single muffin is two servings or a serving of breakfast cereal is three-fourths of a cup.

Advocates of this change say that people will no longer have to do a lot of math to understand how many calories they are consuming. Of the 157 food types that are currently covered, the Food and Drug Administration is proposing to change the serving size for 17 percent of them. For instance, the serving size for ice cream, now half a cup, would become one cup.

Unfortunately, no label redesign can make ice cream less delicious.

- City Paper profiles DC Central Kitchen’s Healthy Corners program, which provides fresh fruit and vegetables to 34 corner stores in D.C., mainly in low-income neighborhoods with little access to healthy groceries. (CP, 2/26)

NONPROFITS | The Council on Foundations has released the formal comments they submitted to the IRS regarding the proposed rules for 501(c)(4) organizations. According to the Council, the rules would have a “chilling effect on civic engagement efforts of 501(c)(3)s.” (COF, 2/27)

EDUCATION
- Maryland audit of Prince George’s school system identifies weak financial controls (WaPo, 2/27)

- There’s a test that may give us a clearer picture of student growth, but DCPS is reluctant to consider it (GGE, 2/26)

HEALTHCARE | D.C. Mayor to Address Health Care for Transgender Residents (NBC4, 2/27)

ECONOMY | According to GMU’s Stephen Fuller, if Maryland were to raise the minimum wage, which it is considering, it would end up increasing the cost of living in the state, and ultimately hurt its economy. (WTOP, 2/27)

TRANSIT | Area Leaders Pledge $75 Million For Metro Upgrades, Including Eight-Car Trains (WAMU, 2/27)

LOCAL | A number of local nonprofit organizations are hosting a series of 3 “unforums” with the major candidates for mayor to discuss inequality and its impact on the city. More information is available here.


I’m not usually one for cute kid and/or animal videos, but here’s one that’s worth sharing.

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Monday. Have a great weekend!

- 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

Focusing on at-risk students can improve all students’ achievement

EDUCATION
- A new study found that schools are best served by targeting resources toward at-risk students, as data suggest that having a large number of disadvantaged students in a school brings down the overall achievement level of all students (WaPo, 2/13):

For example, researchers found that children who were homeless or mistreated disrupted their classrooms, pulling down reading achievement and attendance rates among children who were not homeless or mistreated. Along the same lines, schools filled with many students who did not receive adequate prenatal care had overall poor reading achievement, even among those children who did get prenatal care.

- DCPS chancellor Kaya Henderson was on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on Wednesday for a wide-ranging discussion about the state of the city’s schools. (WAMU, 2/12)

- Md. lawmakers debate expansion of education for 4-year-olds (WaPo, 2/12)

- D.C. Lags Behind Maryland, Virginia In AP Pass Rates (WAMU, 2/12)

- A fight is brewing over tests in the Common Core age (WaPo, 2/13)

ARTS | President Obama has named Jane Chu, currently the president of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, as his nominee to head the National Endowment for the Arts, a position that has been vacant for over a year.

In reaction to this announcement, Robert Lynch, head of Americans for the Arts, said (WaPo, 2/12):

“If there had to be a long wait, this candidate looks like a really great person to have waited for … Her background in Kansas City at the local level is as someone who understands how the arts can transform a community. She talked about the broad array of the arts to the broad spectrum of people, which is an important philosophy to bring to the nation’s highest arts position.”

WORKFORCE | A recent study found that, while more women are getting jobs in STEM-related fields, gender bias still creates challenges to keeping them in these jobs. (WaPo, 2/12)

HEALTH CARE
- Health insurance enrollment on target in January (WaPo, 2/13)

- 74,000-plus have signed up for health care in Va. (WTOP, 2/14)

TRANSIT | Metro really, really needs more Congressional funding. (WAMU, 2/13)

NONPROFITS | IRS plan to curb politically active groups is threatened by opposition from both sides (WaPo, 2/12)


Awww, I guess Vikings weren’t just brutal marauders after all.

For those of you who aren’t in the mood for Valentine’s Day schmaltz, here’s a (depending on your feelings toward heights) thrilling and/or terrifying video.

Enjoy the long weekend. The Daily will be back on Tuesday.

- Rebekah

Family homelessness in D.C. doubles, marking it the biggest increase in the nation

Homelessness in the District has become the hot button campaign topic for the mayoral race. It’s annoying to see it politicized. But it is good that such a critical issue is being brought into the spotlight.

The Post has crunched the numbers to quantify the recent surge in homelessness. Over the last year, family homelessness has increased an incredible 100 percent. An accompanying article looks at Mayor Gray’s policies (WaPo, 2/10):

New York, Los Angeles and many cities in between have struggled with double-digit growth in homelessness in the wake of a deep recession, stagnating wages and escalating housing costs. But no other major U.S. city is on pace this year for its overall numbers of homeless families in emergency shelters to double.

Some applaud Gray’s efforts to streamline a variety of social services for the poor and to prod families from generational poverty toward self-sufficiency. But many of the same people say that he has failed to put together a realistic plan to do so and that the District’s rise in homelessness is the tip of the iceberg of a broader decline in economic security.

Related: On Friday, Gray held an interview with the Post to discuss the spike in homelessness and his policies. (WaPo, 2/10)

PHILANTHROPY
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy has released its annual Philanthropy 50 list, ranking America’s largest donors. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife top the list, and the combined giving of the top 50 donors is $7.7 billion – up 4 percent from last year. (Chronicle, 2/10)

Related
The Chronicle has a lot of articles about this list. One of them focuses on the Zuckerburg’s gift to the Silicon Valley Community foundation, which is headed by WRAG’s 2013 annual meeting keynote speaker, Emmett Carson. (Chronicle, 2/10)

- Also, check out the rationale behind the list. One name obviously missing from the list is Gates. Bill and Melinda Gates did give a lot of money last year – about $181 million – but it went toward paying off a pledge they had made in 2004. (Chronicle, 2/10)

- The New Yorker has a thought-provoking reaction to the Philanthropy 50 list. Their general question is whether large scale giving from the world’s wealthiest works to justify the equity gap. More specifically, does this giving do enough to relieve poverty? (NY, 2/10)

WORKFORCE | As the debate grows about the merits of raising the minimum wage, quite a bit of new research is emerging from places like the Employment Policies Institute. According to the New York Times, that organization is effectively a front for an interest group – and these sorts of fake organizations are influencing policies (NYT, 2/10):

The campaign illustrates how groups — conservative and liberal — are again working in opaque ways to shape hot-button political debates, like the one surrounding minimum wage, through organizations with benign-sounding names that can mask the intentions of their deep-pocketed patrons.

Ugh, soon somebody will discover the fact that my Institute for Galactic Education (IGE) is just a front to get Star Wars education added to the Common Core standards.

TRANSIT
- Metro might finally be able to take over the Silver Line from contractors. Maybe. (WaPo, 2/10) I wonder whether the Silver Line or H St. streetcar will be running first. We should know by 2030.

- And Metro chief Richard Sarles directly responded to some riders’ questions about the system. For example, why do train operators close the doors on passengers trying to enter? Because riders should have gotten out of the way when they heard the chimes, he says. No mention of how that’s fair to deaf people though. (WaPo, 2/10)


I have two hilarious things for you on this tenth day of February. First – and you might have already seen it – the Russian Police Choir singing Daft Punk’s Get Lucky at the Olympics. It’s truly absurd and I half-expected Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd to shuffle in. Watch the whole thing, because it gets better and better.

And here’s a classic example of eating your words on live television. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Why are huge numbers of MoCo students failing math tests?

EDUCATION | In Montgomery County, students are failing math finals at an alarming rate of more than 50 percent. While the reason for this huge problem is obviously the cancellation of Mathnet in 1992, school officials are looking for other factors and have compiled a report that features insights from teachers (WaPo, 2/6):

Asked to cite three causes of exam failure, 27 percent of the teachers who responded said students choose not to put in an adequate amount of preparation; 18 percent said students don’t know how to prepare for a cumulative test; and 11 percent said class grades do not reflect mastery of content, which causes students to overestimate their level of preparation.

I think there are three other key factors to consider: math stinks and nobody uses it in real life.

HOMELESSNESS | At a debate last night, D.C. mayoral candidates took on the city’s massive spike in homelessness. The event featured plenty of “blasting,” “blaming,” and finger shaking, but the Post’s recap doesn’t indicate that the anyone discussed actual solutions. (WaPo, 2/6)

GIVING
- Blackbaud reports that charitable donations grew by nearly 5% in 2013, with more significant increases in online giving. (Chronicle, 2/5)

- Charities should pay attention to the increase in online giving, because another survey finds that most of them aren’t doing a very good job with online fundraising. (Chronicle, 2/5)

TRANSIT
- Public transportation in the United States is seeing a huge increase in off-peak usage. There could be a number of reasons, including shifting habits among Millennials, car-free living, continued economic strain. Whatever the case, transit systems are going to need to respond to the demand. (Atlantic, 2/6)

In our region, you only have to wait 24 minutes between trains during off-peak hours.

- More info on how Metro’s proposed fare hikes will affect disabled riders. (WaPo, 2/6)

EVENT | Next Tuesday, the Washington AIDS Partnership’s AmeriCorps team will be hosting a fundraiser at Nellie’s on U Street. What kind of fundraiser, you ask? Drag Bingo and Beer!

LOCAL | Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time! As the Olympics get underway, it’s the perfect time to remember the story of the Jamaican bobsled team, captured hilariously in Disney’s excellent Cool Runnings. As it turns out, the Mayor of Warrenton, Va., played a big part in that success story. (WTOP, 2/6)


Any Jeopardy! fans out there? Have you been watching Arthur Chu? He’s a current contestant, having won four times, and his strategies are creating a lot of controversy. You can read all about him here.

Rebekah has the Daily tomorrow, but before then, get into the Olympic spirit with John William’s iconic theme! See you on Monday.

Farm bill sent to Obama with cuts to SNAP included

After clearing the House last week, the farm bill easily passed through the Senate yesterday and is now in the hands of President Obama. The president is expected to sign the bill, which includes $8.6 billion in food stamp cuts over the next decade. That’s a lot, but it will only affect about 4 percent of current recipients.

The cuts are related to a connection between food stamp eligibility and utility assistance (WaPo, 2/5):

Food-stamp eligibility is based on a household’s disposable income. If it’s low enough, you qualify. But to calculate disposable income, the state takes your total income and subtracts some allowable deductions for essentials. Since things like rent and utilities are considered household necessities, they’re subtracted.

Here’s the problem the farm bill seeks to fix: recently, some states began providing nominal amounts of LIHEAP assistance — as little as $1 a year — meaning some households got credit “for utility costs they don’t actually pay,” according to CBPP President Robert Greenstein. As a result, they got more SNAP benefits than they would have otherwise.

Related
- 5 things the farm bill will mean for you (CNN, 2/5)

- Neil Young, a major farm advocate, has a catchy song called Homegrown. I might have actually put it in the Daily before, but it’s still a good song!

HEALTHCARE/WORKFORCE | The Affordable Care Act can’t catch a break. A new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that the law will have a significant, negative effect on the nation’s labor force (WaPo, 2/5):

More than 2 million Americans who would otherwise rely on a job for health insurance will quit working, reduce their hours or stop looking for employment because of new health benefits available under the Affordable Care Act, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

HOMELESSNESS | At Deal Middle School in D.C., face to face with homelessness (WaPo, 2/5)

EDUCATION | DCPS is creating a ‘Parent Cabinet,’ where children can store their mothers and fathers when they aren’t needed. Actually, the cabinet will be an advisory group to help DCPS understand parents’ perspectives. (WAMU, 2/5)

LOCAL | Harriet Tregoning of the District’s Office of Planning has been a good partner of the philanthropic community for many years. (Proof!) At the end of the month, she’ll begin working for the Obama administration with a position at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The District’s loss is the nation’s gain! (WBJ, 2/5)

WEATHER | I’m a climate change denier. As a snow lover, I refuse to believe the “scientific evidence” that we’re less and less likely to get snow every year. The numbers must be wrong. Science schmience! (WaPo, 2/5)


Are you ready for the Olympics? Russia isn’t. The media have arrived in Sochi and they are documenting their experiences. At the moment, things seem to be a bit like a nightmarish Terry Gilliam movie. When the water is literally dangerous to touch – not just ingest – you know things are in bad shape.

On the home front, here’s a really funny parody of the excessive and meaningless patriotism frequently found in car commercials.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers