- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2017

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday night made a broad range of promises to residents, saying she would make major investments in affordable housing and education, and call on Congress to fix federal roads in the city and help fund Metro repairs.

The mayor continued to emphasize the importance of investments that make housing in the city more affordable — one her signature causes.

“I ran on the promise of committing $100 million annually to the Housing Production Trust Fund. Our next budget will be the third one where we realize this commitment, but we’re not just squirreling this money in the fund,” Miss Bowser said at her State of the District Address at the University of the District of Columbia. “We are putting it to work.”

She said for every $100 million invested into the fund, more than 1,000 affordable units are either constructed or preserved. She also pledged to commit an additional $10 million to Housing Production Trust Fund — a program offering grants to developers who promise to build low-income housing.

“So what I do not want lost in the numbers is that each unit that is preserved or constructed isn’t a notch on my belt, it is a family or a senior who now has a safe, affordable place to live,” she said.

“Since 2008, we’ve completed more than $3.4 billion dollars of work and we have about $1.5 billion to go,” the Demcoratic mayor said. “Current funds will complete renovations of all comprehensive high schools as well as all middle schools.”

She also promised a 2.2 percent funding increase for public charter school facilities for the next four years.

Miss Bowser called on the federal government to foot more of the bill for Metro subway repairs, saying an increased federal investment in the system would be a win for the whole region.

“We call on the president and Congress to do more for Metro than hold hearings, and we also call on the governors of Maryland and Virginia to identify dedicated revenue rather than study what we already know: Metro needs greater investment for safety, reliability and capacity,” she said.

But Miss Bowser acknowledged that the District’s transportation woes don’t lie solely on the shoulders of the federal government.

“I’m convinced that being born and raised here gave me a higher tolerance for bad alleys and pot holes,” she said. “But eight years of being a ward council member gave me a new appreciation for tackling the city-owned infrastructure that impacts your family as soon as you leave your front door.”

According to the mayor, the city’s Transportation Department estimates that the District’s main roads are in good shape, with only 7 percent rated in poor condition. But DDOT also estimates that about 32 percent of local roads hold a poor rating.

She said residential roads suffer from lack of funding and pledged to fix all roads with a poor rating in five years without burdening residents.

“We will be smart about coordination with planned developments and utility repairs, we will separate street and sidewalk and curb projects where it makes sense, and we will commit to using sustainable building materials and practices,” Miss Bowser said.

She didn’t miss an opportunity to criticize President Trump on immigration issues, saying that the District is and always will be a sanctuary city.

“We are a sanctuary city that’s committed to protecting the rights of our immigrants, the underserved and every single person whose contributions have been discounted or dismissed for way too long,” she said. “This is who we are. These are D.C. values. These are the priorities we are fighting for.”

In girding for a confrontation with the federal government over immigration and the possibility of lost federal funding, Miss Bowser said a unified front is needed in the city.

“Everyone knows I like a good fight,” she said. “Let someone from the federal government or the Congress come after one of us. They better be ready to take on all of us.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide