More than 50 of the District’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners representing all eight wards convened this week for a virtual call to discuss needs in their neighborhoods amid the coronavirus crisis.
ANC 6B Vice-Chair Chander Jayaraman, who organized the call, on Thursday shared the commissioners’ questions, concerns, observations and recommendations with Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council members, the city administrator and the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services.
“The city has been doing a good job of pushing information out,” Jayaraman said. “This was an opportunity for the city’s 296 elected neighborhood representatives to share intel from the field and send information back to city leadership. The commissioners were really engaged and came up with some great recommendations and questions.”
The main issues during the meeting included a daily update on the number of new cases of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, reported by ward; clarification on how the city is supporting homeless individuals and other vulnerable populations; concerns about spreading the virus at construction sites which are excluded from the mayor’s list of non-essential activities; and immediate relief for small-business owners regarding deferred payment of business sales taxes as well as property and BID taxes during the state of emergency.
“Small businesses are hurting badly,” Jayaraman said. “If we fail to take action now, many of our treasured small businesses may not return. This would have a ripple effect and cause irreparable harm to our city and our local economy.”
Commissioners also shared several strategies their communities are taking to address unmet needs, including the creation of neighbor check-ins on the most vulnerable residents, food collection and preparation, and the creation of neighborhood volunteer networks.
“ANC Commissioners step up in times of need and the current crisis is no exception,” he said. “I am grateful for all those who participated and look forward to keeping our discussions going so that we can be a conduit for gathering and sharing information that will enable the mayor to make informed decisions and address any challenges that are identified.”