Vision for DC
It's very difficult to have a conversation about environmental justice issues such as; land, water, food, development, pollution, and medical equity without making a connection to people.
Environmental Justice touches on the pulse of many issues, in a people-centered way that is important to DC residents. Currently, DC is moving toward greener policies and programs. However, there is still a great opportunity for the district to shimmer and shine, and be a national example in the area of green legislation/ programs.
My goal is to expand "zero waste" incentives and champion programs that demand businesses and schools to reduce food waste and environmental kindness.
The number one cause of environmental toxicity in the District of Columbia is construction and demolition pollution.
While we welcome infrastructural development in the district, we need to make sure that we build in ways that are responsible and consistent with our green initiatives. Whether we are dealing with pollution stemming from dust, soil, water, noise, or emissions from machines, combating the negative consequences will require smart, long-term solutions.
I will advocate for strong partnerships between community and business that foster job creation and development while protecting the most precious resources to us all: our air, water, soil, and living environment.
The pandemic is the latest threat to the already existing crisis in food that many of DC’s residents have grappled with for decades. In fact, more than three-quarters of the food deserts in D.C are located right in wards 7 and 8. This means that many of our neighbors east of the river do not have access to quality foods and grocery stores.
These vulnerable citizens have experienced the greatest food inequities for the longest periods of time.
I will fight to overcome this unfair reality by tackling the system that causes food insecurity -namely the limited access to quality, affordable food due to a lack of grocery stores in these communities.
Expansion of Green Spaces
Research shows that Wards 7 and 8 are several degrees hotter than the rest of the District due to the lack of green spaces and lack of mature trees.
Every DC resident deserves to live in clean, green, communities that make them feel safe and inspired. The ability to take a walk with a family pet through the dog park is something we all deserve as well. Planting trees is not only good for cooling down spaces, it has many therapeutic benefits. A study conducted by Columbia University, Penn State and others, demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between cleaner, greener communities and crime reduction.
I will fight to prioritize the protection and creation of green spaces, recycling, and expansion of the current zero waste platform.
Truly Affordable Housing
Affordable housing is not affordable in the district.
I will work to make sure affordable housing is truly affordable.
I live in a multi-generational household. That means, my mother, father, 3 nieces and nephews, and my brother live communally. I desire to increase the availability of 3 and 4 bedroom units to accommodate the needs of larger, multi-generational families like my own.
The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in DC is $2450 according to the most recent data. Even though the median income in DC was over $96,000 in 2019, DC residents were still challenged with having a comfortable quality of life in the District, and it's even more difficult for residents in Wards 7 and 8 where the median income is $30,000. The reality is most Washington, DC residents struggle to find and qualify for decent, affordable housing. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, the number of DC residents living in poverty has risen by more than 25 percent since 2007. And income inequality is wider here than in almost any other city.
My goal is to expand access to homeownership through the improvement of existing programs, create greater access to education on the home buying process, and support initiatives that encourage existing landlords to provide access to affordable spaces through government programs and funding. Also, I will work to ensure that affordable housing is equitable and not disproportionately placed in Wards 7 & 8.
I have 5 nieces and nephews that are navigating our DC public education system. Currently, my oldest niece and nephew commute from Ward 7 to Tenleytown as opposed to attending their neighborhood school. Like many neighbors, I have deep concerns regarding why my family felt forced to make the decision to send their children away from their communities in hopes of securing a more competitive and safe education, which I will address once elected.
One of my biggest goals is to increase literacy for school-age children in DC through initiatives within the school system and in the home. I am disturbed by the data showing that In 2019, only 30% of fourth-grade students in DC performed at or above proficient levels on the National Assessment Education Progress exam in reading. The District ranks 47th in the nation. That is unacceptable for all of us as DC residents.
I believe that we should focus on creating parent and educator-centered policies. We also need to empower teachers to focus on teaching. Teachers are tasked with the enormous responsibility of being a counselor, nurse, social worker, etc to the extent that it impedes their ability to teach the curriculum. I will fight to make sure that schools are able to provide the necessary support to the varied needs of students, particularly the needs that fall outside the scope of classroom instruction.
I have been having conversations with folks in all eight wards and many of them feel unsafe, very unsafe. Every member of the District of Columbia deserves to feel safe, no matter what ward they live in.
All eight wards have experienced an uptick in gun violence, homicides, robberies, and various other crimes. Although public safety means different things to district residents the solution is the same- invest in people.
I believe that by investing in the root issues that nudge folks to participate in violence, and by strengthening organizations that are designed to disrupt violence such as "Cure the Streets" we can create a safer DC. Additionally, I will work to Invest in racial equity and de-escalation training, paired with the creation and revitalization of programs like “Officer Friendly” that will aid in the rehabilitation of relationships in stressed communities that have a history of distrust/ dislike towards law enforcement offers.