- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2019

Here’s an alert for D.C. taxpayers and other stakeholders — and that includes you.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced Wednesday morning that the city is suing six Maryland parents for fraudulently claiming D.C. residency so they could send their children to D.C. public schools.

“Danielle Lewis Anderson and Christopher Anderson are residents of Upper Marlboro, Md.,” Mr. Racine said in a press statement. “The Andersons sent their child to a District of Columbia Public Charter School (Apple Tree Early Learning) and two District of Columbia Public Schools (Peabody Primary Campus and Watkins Elementary School) from 2008 through 2016, claiming on official government forms that they and their children lived in the District though they actually resided in Maryland during this time. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, damages, and penalties from the Andersons that could total as much as $137,492.”

Here’s the attorney general’s kicker: “Over the past two years, my office has devoted more resources and hired new attorneys and investigators to fight residency fraud. With this work, we are sending a message to non-residents that breaking the law to send their children to District schools carries serious consequences.”

Now’s the time for the mayor, lawmakers and the city’s business and philanthropic organizations to plaster that warning onto the walls of their conference rooms as they consider funding to combat homelessness and bolster the city’s affordable housing stock.

Do as Mr. Racine has done and probe whether people demanding housing and shelter are actually — i.e., factually — residents of the District.

Why? Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new public-private partnership to end homelessness in the District.

As The Washington Times’ Sophie Kaplan reports, the goal is “to help end homelessness in the District and create 36,000 affordable housing units by 2025.”

“Members of the partnership set a goal to raise $35 million in the next three years to fund grants and invest in affordable housing. The funds will be used to help D.C. households earning less than 60% of the city’s $82,372 median income,” Miss Kaplan reports.

Lots of pathways are paved with good socio-economic intentions. However, so are tarnished ones, such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal on public housing “projects,” which became such monstrosities as the District’s Valley Green “projects” and Chicago’s Cabrini-Green projects. Both had to be demolished.

Overwhelmed by homelessness and a calculated shortage of so-called affordable housing, city officials have long been unable to balance need — real need — with political ambition to become the numero uno problem solver.

See, it really shouldn’t matter whether a non-D.C. resident is stealing education dollars, food stamps, health services, a job or housing. Fraud and theft are fraud and theft. Period.

The crux of the problem with welcome mats, however, is that politicians’ liberally bleeding hearts also hemorrhage tax dollars because of lax residency.

For example, people who work for the city know their government colleagues aren’t really paying attention. So they sneak their kids into D.C. schools and recreation programs.

All thanks to city officials broadcasting “free” stuff — transportation, food stamps, cellphones, housing, summer employment, job training, traditional and special-needs schooling, smoke detectors, graffiti cleaning, needle-exchange programs, security cameras, and condoms.

The list of freebies has no end. The homeless problem doesn’t either. And the fact that the nation’s capital is a sanctuary city piles on.

Residency fraud is a real problem, as Mr. Racine proves. Indeed, two of the parents being sued are former employees of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Instead of wasting public dollars on such joy rides as bus-only traffic lanes, the mayor should take whatever pages necessary out of Mr. Racine’s law-and-order book and crack down on residency fraud.

If the mayor and lawmakers need assistance along the road to tightening residency laws, regulations, requirements and the like, ask Mr. Racine — before the homeless and affordable housing public-partnership spends another dime.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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