Laura Newland, director, D.C. Department of Aging and Community Living
Laura Newland, director, D.C. Department of Aging and Community Living

Last month marked two years since the start of DC’s public health emergency. And since the pandemic, our city has seen and felt an incredible amount of loss and challenge.

We’ve lost loved ones, seen some of our favorite businesses close, and had to learn the best ways to adjust in the new normal. Yet, as a city, we came together to crush COVID-19.

We wore our masks, practiced social distancing, got vaccinated, and even got boosted. And because of these small but mighty steps, we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. DC is finally open, and our city is ready for our well-deserved comeback.

And if you’re looking for a sign if we’re back, this is it! It’s time for us to get back to doing the things we love – attending fitness classes at our wellness centers, enjoying meals with friends, and making new connections with other seniors in our communities. Our wellness centers have been open since March 1st and we have so much in store for everyone.

Another sign that our city is ready for a comeback is the recent release of Mayor Bowser’s Fiscal Year 2023 Fair Shot Budget. This budget is focused on building a safer DC, a more affordable DC, and a DC that more residents can envision a future in. It’s an example of the best of government:

The Mayor committing to end senior hunger, isolation, and loneliness by supporting new and innovative programs; seniors pushing us to think more broadly; and DACL staff always being open to innovation and ready to meet and collaborate with the community throughout the District.

This budget is focused on ensuring older adults can thrive in their homes and communities. They include:

• $1 million investment for expanded transportation access through the District’s Connector Card programs, providing more choice in transportation options for qualifying seniors.

• $2.6 million investment to keep seniors connected to family, friends, healthcare, wellness, and more through the distribution of personal tablets. This investment will provide devices, data plans, and ongoing training and support to qualifying seniors to combat isolation and promote connection to wellness activities.

• $750,000 investment in increasing nutrition support through grocery card distribution for eligible seniors. With this investment, we’re building off the success we’ve already seen through similar programs focused on providing cash relief to alleviate challenges and stabilize communities.

• Instituting a 2% property tax cap for seniors, which will lower the amount that
property taxes can go up every year.

With these investments, and so many others, we’re making up for lost time. The last two years have been difficult, but it’s shown us all just how much we need each other. These investments are all about reconnecting with each other and the things that we love about our city. It’s about making sure that every Washingtonian can build a future here in DC, no matter their age, stage, or ability.

If you’re waiting for a sign, this is it. I can’t wait to see you back out in the community.

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