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.