A major focus of the Summer Policy Agenda for May-August 2021 is the DC budget. Our demands for the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget reflect Sunrise DC’s vision for a just and thriving DC community by advocating for funding for essential services that DC residents need, and divesting funds from institutions that do not align with our vision of racial and economic justice.
The Defund MPD coalition is a Black-led and abolitionist coalition that has been advocating
for policies that: 1) divest from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), 2) invest in communities, and 3) create police-free schools in DC. The coalition is planning on being involved in the upcoming DC budget process, and they have working groups that touch on many other issues as well. Sunrise DC has recently joined the coalition’s steering committee, and is working on an upcoming social media campaign illustrating the connections between abolition and climate justice. Going into the summer months, Defunding MPD is one of Sunrise DC’s top policy priorities, and we will continue supporting the coalition through our series of upcoming workshops on abolition, transformative justice, and Black liberation, by testifying at DC Council hearings, and by leading direct moral protest.
Sunrise DC is committed to fighting gentrification and stopping the displacement of Black, brown, and working class DC natives from their homes. Within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunrise DC joined as a partner of Cancel Rent Coalition DC, demanding that none of our neighbors be evicted or burdened with debt because of COVID-related economic hardship. We reject DC’s current rental -relief platform, STAY DC, because it places the burden of applying for rental relief on tenants, instead of landlords, and requires that tenants provide extensive documentation to prove financial hardship. As a member of Cancel Rent, Sunrise DC supports the introduction of universal rent -cancellation legislation, which will enact a two-year rent freeze for all tenants and allow tenants to self-certify financial hardship. We are also a member of the Reclaim Rent Control Coalition and organize to enact long-overdue reforms to DC’s Rent Control system. We demand that the DC Council pass the Reclaim Rent Control Omnibus bill, which will expand rent control to 25,000 new households, strengthen affordability protections for all rent-controlled apartments, and stop the erosion of DC’s stock of rent-controlled housing. Fighting for housing justice is a key part of Sunrise DC’s agenda — in order to build strong, healthy, and sustainable communities, DC needs to have affordable, accessible, and abundant housing.
Washington, DC currently does not have congressional representation or full control over its own laws and budget—but DC statehood, which has gained significant momentum in the past year and a half, would right both of those wrongs. DC statehood would also support other components of Sunrise DC’s policy agenda and ensure that our organizing is felt at the federal level. Since January 2021, Sunrise DC has been working in partnership with 51 For 51 and Neighbors United for DC Statehood as well as Sunrise hubs across the country to target crucial U.S. senators who haven’t made DC’s fundamental right to democracy a priority. In the coming months, we’ll continue to mobilize and organize to put pressure on the Senate to make DC the only plurality-Black state, and to guarantee that the Jim Crow filibuster doesn’t stand in the way. Our work will show moderate and centrist senators such as Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and Mark Kelly that the residents of DC won’t wait for statehood any longer.
Rank the Vote DC is the coalition that’s pushing for ranked-choice voting (RCV), a simple voting method in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. RCV limits the influence of money in politics; empowers more women and specifically women of color to run; and increases the chances of movement candidates winning. Sunrise DC and the other members of the Rank the Vote coalition are looking forward to seeing Councilmember Christina Henderson introduce a Ranked Choice Vote bill in the DC Council in the upcoming months.
In order for DC to meet its clean energy goals, it must transition its electricity grid so that it can support community-owned, locally-generated energy. The Distributed Energy Resources Authority Act would allow DC to propose clean energy alternatives to Pepco’s fossil fuel infrastructure, and would expand locally-generated energy generation throughout DC’s neighborhoods. Sunrise DC has worked with Councilmember Charles Allen’s office on this issue, and compiled numerous ideas on how to ensure the bill centers the needs of BIPOC residents. Going forward we will be working with our Community Outreach Project Team to learn more about the community’s needs regarding energy justice.