By Southwester Staff
On May 10, the DC Council approved a budget for the coming year, allocating $19.5 billion for needs across the city, ranging from public safety to education and beyond.
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, who chairs the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, provided $1.7 billion in budget recommendations for public safety, with a focus on both action and accountability when harm is committed and investments aiming to prevent, interrupt, and break cycles of violence.
The budget also includes Southwest-specific investments in public safety focused on improving tools for first responders in an emergency. The budget funds a new fireboat with improved speed and functionality as well as design and construction of a new Engine 7 Fire Station, currently located at 1101 Half Street, SW.
Other areas of the budget focused on school modernization, including $50 million for renovations at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, with planning set to begin in Fiscal Year 2027, and supporting Southwest businesses and economic development, including funding to repair and stabilize the piers at The Wharf Fish Market.
Additional funding in this year’s budget will allow the Southwest Business Improvement District (SWBID) to expand south of M Street, bringing their Clean Team and other services, such as providing food, services, and emergency care, to a broader section of the community.
“I’ve been in ongoing conversations with the BID about how we can leverage their skillset to provide more services to neighborhoods south of M St who traditionally are near a lot of economic activity, but not always benefiting from it,” Allen said in a newsletter to constituents. “This extension will allow for more than just regular cleaning and beautification, but a new type of invest in the neighborhoods south of M Street.”
Another area of focus for Allen this budget cycle was responding to the February fire at 301 G Street SW that claimed the lives of two Southwest residents. Allen and staff members Jeanne Mattison and Naomi Mitchell say they heard from residents that following the fire, particularly as residents were asked to move back into the building, there was a need for professional counseling support to process the trauma of the deadly fire.
Allen added to the budget a $200,000 pilot program that would allow DC’s Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) to pay for multiple counseling sessions for residents in the aftermath of a “natural or manmade disaster.” While many of the details of the program will be worked out by DBH’s team directly, Allen said through a spokesman he hopes this pilot program can help DBH respond to traumatic experiences for residents and begin to understand how great the need might be for counseling following a serious incident.