A lot about our lives and how we do things has changed since the start of the pandemic, but one New Year’s tradition I am happy to continue is starting the year off by delivering an accountability report to the nearly 700,000 residents of Washington, DC.
I remain grateful for how our community has stepped up to respond to the pandemic – with an appreciation for science, data, and keeping each other safe. While the District’s comeback is off to a strong start, we also know that COVID-19 has upended so much of our lives. Most obviously, it created new and unexpected health challenges and a financial crisis, especially for those who were already struggling to get by. It also upended our very fragile public safety ecosystem, created new challenges around homelessness, and new demands around housing. The pandemic has changed the way many people think about work and created a unique opportunity to reimagine how we move around and how we use public space.
As we’ve said throughout the pandemic, though, each of these challenges is also an opportunity – an opportunity to build a future that better matches our DC values and the needs of our community.
Already, in the months since DC reopened, we’ve hit the ground running, building on the progress of the last seven years and working to build a more equitable DC. We celebrated a 73% reduction in family homelessness by launching Homeward DC 2.0, a plan to replicate that success with single adults. We made good on a promise to families to reopen our public schools for in-person learning for approximately 90,000 students, and in doing so, opened 11 new or newly modernized DCPS schools, including the brand-new Banneker Academic High School. We opened a new grocery store in Ward 8, but not before giving out almost $9 million in grants to eight local food businesses that will expand in Wards 7 and 8.
But there’s more to do, and I’m energized by the work ahead. I know that Washingtonians across all eight wards are eager to keep moving our city forward. Seven years ago, we set bold goals; and, together, we are reaching them. Step by step and year by year, let’s keep pushing.