Race, Poverty, and Family Economic Security

On any given night in the District, more than 1,400 children and their families are in a shelter or on the street. Far more families are doubled up. During the 2018-19 school year, at least 7,700 students experienced homelessness. In addition, according to the 2019 Youth Count, approximately 1,300 unaccompanied youth, up to age 24, were homeless. DC residents experiencing homelessness are almost entirely Black and brown. The District’s system for serving families and young people in need of permanent housing is fragmented and challenging to navigate. How would you reform DC government services for children and youth experiencing homelessness to ensure the system effectively enables them to obtain the services they need?

It’s heartbreaking to see so many children and families homeless and on the street. We must do better to deliver meaningful reform for the needs of impoverished and unhoused families. This issue disproportionately affects families of color – I’m committed to promoting Housing First policies and providing robust government services for those who need them. In order to provide for children experiencing homelessness, we must allocate funds to get them off of the streets and invest in mental health services to get them headed in the right direction. I have already supported efforts in this year’s budget to increase permanent supportive housing vouchers, public housing repairs, and our housing production supply to address this growing challenge.

No one deserves to live in poverty, especially children and youth, yet far too many in the District face crushing circumstances that have lifelong consequences. In 2019, 37% of Black children and 17% of Latinx children lived in poverty, compared to just 2% of white children. For children and youth to succeed and meet their full potential, we must close the racial gaps and eradicate poverty. What is your definition of racial equity? How do you think the District should address the significant disparities in poverty rates of Black and brown children compared with white children?

Racial gaps are evident in so many areas of our society, and as Councilmember, I have been working every day to address these issues. Many black and brown children face harsher living conditions than nearly anyone, and the only way to put them on a path to success is to recognize the problem of poverty and the racial wealth gap and to act on it. Racial equity only occurs when the color of a child’s skin does not determine their socioeconomic opportunity and possibility. We have a long way to go to achieve this, but I am committed to making sure that we invest in our impoverished communities that far too often are primarily composed of Black and brown children.


Everyone who lives and works in the District has been affected by the pandemic, but not in the same way. Because of systemic racism, the impact has been particularly brutal on Black and brown residents who have suffered the greatest consequences in areas such as health, housing, job security and more. Unless we want to see these divides deepen, we need to take action. Earlier this year, DC Action for Children and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute conducted a poll of registered DC voters and found that 83 percent support raising local taxes on the highest earning residents to maintain vital public programs and services for families. Specifically, 78 percent of District voters support raising taxes on residents earning taxable income of $350,000 or more and 72 percent $250,000 or more, respectively. Would you support raising new taxes on DC’s highest income earning residents to maintain vital public services and meet children, youth and family needs?

What changes would you make to our tax system to ensure it is more equitable?

We must be responsible with our budget so we are not giving away abatements without ensuring the recipient follows through their end of the bargain. It is important we raise enough money to adequately provide for social services for those at the very bottom of the tax bracket. I am also committed to taking some burden of middle-class workers struggling to pay their taxes as they are during the pandemic and looking at increasing the senior homestead deduction and other tax liabilities for veterans so folks can afford to stay in their homes. Finally, we are considering reforms on how we tax our commercial properties to ensure it reflects an accurate value of the building.


Since the pandemic, the importance of child care has only become more evident. Families will need access to safe, high-quality, and affordable care so they can return to work. Unfortunately, this kind of child care, costing an average of $23,000 per year, remains out of reach for most families, Early childhood educators, who are primarily Black and brown women, play a critical role in the learning and healthy development of infants and toddlers. Unfortunately, they earn about $30,000 per year, which is half of what their peers in public education earn, and they receive very few benefits. In 2018, the Council passed the Birth to Three for All Act, historic legislation that—if fully funded and implemented—will provide access to health and mental health care, early child development support, and high-quality, affordable child care to families with young children. The Act also raises wages for early childhood educators. To fully fund Birth to Three within 10 years, we will need to allocate nearly $300 million dollars. How would you plan to raise the revenue needed to fund the Birth to Three law?


As Councilmember, I have been a strong advocate for the Birth to Three Act. This Act is an absolutely necessary step towards achieving universal childcare and paying those working in childcare and early childhood education the wages that they deserve. The COVID-19 pandemic has made adequate and available childcare more important than ever, and it has proven that our current childcare system is not one that is set up for success. I stand behind the Birth to Three Act, and plan to do whatever it takes to raise the $300 million necessary to fund the program. While much more is needed, I was proud to support adding an additional $5 million in the FY 2020 budget to support child care providers who are especially struggling during the pandemic.

In addition to potential learning loss, one of the negative consequences of virtual learning is the disparities that surface between schools. Some teachers have the resources they need to be successful in the virtual learning environment while others do not. These disparities directly affect students’ ability to learn. Out-of-school time programs can play an important role in addressing inequality and closing opportunity gaps by providing social and emotional learning, internships, mentorship, and tutors in communities and schools. However, school systems and out-of-school time providers do not effectively coordinate in order to best serve students. What steps would you take to ensure schools collaborate with out-of-school-time programs and keep them in place to serve students?


Virtual learning has proven to be challenging for many families, but I am grateful to all the teachers and parents that have worked so hard to make the experiences of their students as smooth as possible. We must acknowledge that many students do not have access to ideal learning environments at home. Out-of-school time programs are necessary to provide students with opportunities to grow outside of the classroom. We must make sure that out-of-school time providers have the appropriate resources to collaborate with our schools in order to best serve students. We continue to coordinate closely with the Mayor’s team and DCPS to ensure our students have access to technology, internet, and can get back to the classroom as soon as is safe.


Many District residents are enrolled in public health insurance, but they don't go to the doctor. What policies would you advance to ensure every family has a medical home in their community where they can access preventive and acute health care?

The only way healthcare works is if people who need it actually have access to it. We must have medical facilities in every community, so that those enrolled in public or private health insurance have the ability to receive proper care. As Councilmember, in addition to voting for legislation to update many of our city’s hospitals, I am a proponent and supporter of legislation that will put medical facilities in the areas of greatest need in DC. This is paramount during the current pandemic; I will work to get this done.

Many Black and brown immigrant parents have access to healthcare through the DC Healthcare Alliance. However, many report losing coverage due to the requirement to recertify every six months. Losing coverage in the middle of a pandemic can be a matter of life of death. Would you support a 12-month certification for the DC Healthcare Alliance, to align with Medicaid and DC Healthy Families, to ensure more consistent coverage?

City/State Coordination

Many states across the country, including Maryland, have recently created Children’s Cabinets to coordinate children and youth work across departments and to break down internal silos. The cabinets have created strategic goals to improve child well-being across issue areas. What are your thoughts about steps that DC can take to improve service coordination among departments and improve outcomes for children and youth?

Children’s Cabinets are great ideas that bring the needs of child wellbeing to the forefront of the conversation. I think such a cabinet would be a meaningful step for the Council to take to prioritize child wellbeing across many issue areas. Aside from these cabinets, establishing committees within the Council that address issues surrounding children and families would help improve outcomes for children and youth. I have already co-introduced a piece of legislation from an idea that originated out of a meeting with Mikva Summer Challenge High School students to make feminine hygiene products free and accessible at all DC Public and Charter Schools.

Youth Voice

We believe that young people play a vital role in our democracy. Recent actions, organizing and protests, led by young people have been critical in advancing political and social change. Many youth leaders are too young to vote, but there is a growing Vote 16 movement. Do you support lowering the voting age to 16?

DC Action for Children believes that in order for our advocacy work to be most effective, it must be centered around the voices of children, youth, and families. This work must go further than just testimonies during DC Council hearings and meetings. In addition to lowering the voting age to 16, what are innovative ways you would involve and elevate the voices of children, youth, and families?

In order to know what children and our youth need, we have to listen to them and their families. I am committed to finding innovative ways to elevate the voices of children, youth, and their families, and I believe that working in close collaboration with organizations like DC Action for Children is one of the best ways we can work to set the youth of our city up for success.

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Questionnaires were sent to all candidates running for the at-large and ward 2 council seats, as well as the at-large State Board of Education seat. Candidates were given the same amount of time to complete their questionnaire. Multiple reminders were sent out with the deadline for response. If a candidate did not return their questionnaire, we noted it in our candidate gallery.

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