July 13, 2020 at 2:46 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. Council approves $2.7 million for LGBTQ programs
Phil Mendelson, D.C. Council, gay news, Washington Blade
Council Chair Phil Mendelson has said that the epidemic would have a devastating impact on the city’s finances. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Council on July 7 approved in a preliminary vote $2.7 million in funds for LGBTQ-related programs as part of the city’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget. The July 7 vote was the first of two votes required by the Council to approve the voluminous budget bill.

Japer Bowles, an official with the LGBTQ youth advocacy group SMYAL and a spokesperson for a coalition of local LGBTQ organizations that advocated for the LGBTQ funding proposals, said the coalition was hopeful that additional funds it has proposed would be approved in a final version of the budget bill set for a vote on July 21.

The $2.7 million in funds approved by the Council on June 7 represents a significant reduction from the $10.6 million in LGBTQ-related funds the coalition called on the Council to approve in June. And that figure was a reduction from an initial request by the coalition for $22.6 million for LGBTQ programs that the coalition sought in January before the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic became known.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council Chair Phil Mendelson pointed out in the spring that the epidemic would have a devastating impact on the city’s finances and few if any new funding initiatives would be possible for Fiscal Year 2021.

Among the initiatives included under the $2.7 million approved by the Council are $150,000 for a D.C. government study of the employment of transgender and non-binary individuals in D.C. agencies and the agencies’ employment practices toward them; $500,000 for a workforce development program for transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming D.C. residents who are homeless; and a one-time $70,000 funding allocation for the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community to help with moving expenses when its current home — the city’s Reeves Center municipal building — closes for renovation.

Other programs to be funded under the $2.7 million allocation include $945,000 in recurring funds for the Office of Human Rights to boost its ability to curtail hate crimes; and $170,000 for a community dining support program for LGBTQ seniors.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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