2002 ANNUAL REPORT
was a year of recovery as well as new tragedy for the region.
The year began with the city seeking to regain its footing in
the aftermaths of the 9/11 and anthrax attacks. The winter and
early spring months saw the gradual return of the tourism
industries - so vital to the local economy. Yet only as the city
was returning to pre-9/11 activity levels, the region was struck
by the impacts of the serial sniper killings. Innocent lives
were again taken, and numerous secondary impacts were felt.
These events continued in the context of a nation's capital
preparing for the possibility of war with Iraq.
unfolded as member congregations sought to continue to serve the
needy amongst us - not forgetting the homeless poor, youth, the
elderly, and the working poor who are so negatively impacted by
rising housing costs, local violence, and a depressed economy.
Congregations sought to commemorate all the victims of 9/11,
while supporting those who were newly struck by tragedy and
It was in
this context of both local and national recovery that the
Downtown Cluster of Congregations and its members were called to
serve. Clearly the role of the religious community remained
vital in 2002, as it sought to offer direct aid as well as
solace and religious leadership during challenging times.
national economic malaise of two years continued in 2002,
spurred in part by 9/11 impacts. Locally, it meant more persons
coming here seeking employment - especially immigrants, as well
as increase difficulty for those already seeking employment.
This economic reality, combined with soaring housing costs,
meant more and more persons becoming homeless in the region,
with homelessness up in the region by 8.8% according to a
Council of Government study over 2001. It was in this context
that the Homeless Services Unit continued to reach out for the
17th straight year to the homeless and indigent of the city.
This team of
3 full time Outreach Workers rotated between 9
congregation-based sites as well as canvassed parks, commercial
areas, and other public spaces where the homeless live. The
staff saw 1,470 persons - 291 women and 1,179 men. Women were
20% of those served. The staff provided 1,300+ emergency aid
referrals for food, clothing, and shelter. The team was able to
provide follow-up, in-depth case-management services to 164
persons. About 425 applications were made for Food Stamps,
Social Security Benefits, Medicaid, and other assistance. Some
315 of these applications were successful; numerous others
remained pending. 102 persons were referred for substance abuse
treatment, of which 37 received treatment. 80 persons were
referred for mental health treatment, of which 47 actually
received such care. Over 250 persons were referred for general
medical care. 137 applications were made for transitional and
permanent housing, of which 52 persons were placed into such
housing. Over 100 persons were referred for job training and
placement, of which 44 obtained jobs, and 32 received training.
2002 included an increased number of families seeking aid, and
an increase in the number of persons in danger of becoming
homeless seeking assistance as well.
The goal of
the Homeless Services Unit is to assist each person to meet
life-threatening emergency needs, while addressing long-term
needs in order to break the cycle of homelessness or poverty.
This is achieved by the staff forging a working partnership with
each person and family, and allowing them to identify and
implement the steps necessary to re-gain control over their
Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WACIF)
Cluster of Congregations and its members continued to support
this non-profit loan fund. The Cluster is a significant investor
in the Fund, which has assets of about $4 million, and an
additional $2 million to provide aid to 9/11 impacted businesses
through loans or grants. The Fund celebrated its 15th
Anniversary in October of 2002. During its operation, it has
originated over $9.5 million in loans to 133 organizations; has
leveraged more than $60 million in other loan funds, and this
has resulted in the development of some 1,400+ units of
affordable housing and 20 community-based facilities. It
approved 15 loans in 2002, and closed on 7 such loans. These
loans are primarily to tenant-owned organizations, non-profit
agencies, or religious facilities seeking the rehabilitation or
construction of affordable housing.
Revitalization of Neglected Properties
continued to encourage the revitalization of several large
abandoned or under-utilized government-owned parcels, in order
to secure new jobs and housing opportunities for residents, as
well as new tax revenues for the community's use. In 2002, the
old Tariff Building re-opened as the Hotel Monaco, delivering
many new jobs and revenues to the city. The Roosevelt Apartments
also re-opened at 16th & V Streets, N.W., which had been
decaying for years under government ownership. Rehabilitation
got under way of the Mather Building in the 900 block of G
Street, N.W., which should include affordable housing.
that were sought for rehabilitation include the historic
Franklin School at 13th & K Streets, N.W., city-owned land
at 65 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. - a site of about 60,000 square
feet in close proximity to Union Station and the Capitol, and
the old Post Office Pavilion. The Franklin School has sat vacant
for over a decade; its sale could garner $10 million or more for
the city. These funds could specifically aid D.C. Public Schools
which saw its budget cut by $30 million in the fall owing to
D.C. revenue shortfalls. The vacant parcel at 65 Massachusetts
Avenue, N.W., has sat vacant for years; a new appraisal shows
the city could garner $45 - $55 million from its sale alone. The
old Post Office Pavilion has also fallen on hard retail times,
and a new competition could breath new jobs and revenues into
years, the Cluster had won a ruling from the D.C. Court of
Appeals that the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority had illegally
raised rates on congregations on ono-profit agencies. The
Cluster continued to pursue in 2002 rebates for overcharges made
to those who the rate was imposed upon.
Cluster of Congregations joined other citizen and community
groups in opposing a $16 million rate increase sought by
Washington Gas before the Public Service Commission. As a result
of community input and the work of the Office of People's
Counsel, Washington Gas was ordered to refund to ratepayers $7.5
million - the first rate reduction in over 15 years! Washington
Gas is appealing the ruling. Community Services and Issues
began with the Cluster monitoring expenditure of 9/11 assistance
funds. The Cluster pushed for the expedited spending and
accounting of funds donated to various charities for aid to 9/11
related victims. Particularly, the Cluster sought to speed aid
to the 15,000+ temporarily displaced hospitality, airline, and
tourism related workers in the aftermath of the tragedy.
representative served on the D.C. Public Schools Sept. 11th
Advisory Committee which made recommendations for memorials for
Bernard Brown, Rodney Dickens, and Asia Cottom (all age 11) and
their 3 teachers - James Debeuneure, Hilda Taylor and Sarah
Clark - who died on 9/11.
Director weighed in on the changing to a lottery basis entry to
preferred out of boundary public schools. Parents were beginning
to camp out for more than 10 days in advance of registration for
out-of-boundary admissions. This process created severe
hardships for single parent families, and those working multiple
jobs. By year's end, the D.C. Public School system announced a
new set of guidelines by which out-of-boundary applications
would be handled, with the institution of a lottery system.
weighed in on "special events" that the Mayor sought
to have in the city, without adequate consideration of the costs
nor impacts. For example, the Executive Director called for full
disclosure of the economic costs of hosting a Grand Prix racing
event on Capitol Hill, as well as mitigation of sound impacts.
Full costs to the public were never released, and noise impacts
violated local ordinances, driving many residents from their
homes for the week-end long event. The Cluster and its members
sought alternative routes and timing for the D.C. Marathon,
which closed 26 miles of D.C. streets on Palm Sunday morning.
Many persons seeking to attend worship services were blocked;
the event particularly impacted the elderly and handicapped,
preventing many from reaching their places of worship. The
Cluster spoke against a Mike Tyson boxing match, as he had been
suspended in other jurisdictions including Las Vegas for
behaviors both inside and outside of the ring. The Executive
Director spoke on national radio citing the urgent need to set
examples for youth in the city.
As well, it
was the Cluster which called for Alcohol Beverage Control Board
oversight of the RFK Sports complex, which hosted a concert
featuring "Eminem" that resulted in 2 persons being
critically injured, numerous arrests for drug-related charges,
and dozens of persons being transferred to local hospitals owing
to a stampeding of the stage and alcohol/drug related effects.
It was urged that persons be barred from the field to prevent
such stampedes, and that alcohol service be monitored.
Cluster's longstanding efforts to curb underage drinking, it had
sought preventive steps by University of Maryland officials
prior to the NCAA Final Four tournament to avoid
"celebratory rioting". Few to no preventive actions
were taken by University and College Park authorities; riots
after the team's basketball victories resulted in both property
damage and the loss of an eye by a Metro bus drive.
continued to provide leadership in opposing the expansion of
liquor licenses to adult strip clubs in downtown. After
approximately 5 years of litigation, hearings, and changes in
the law, the 1720 Club withdrew its application to locate within
close proximity to member congregations, other office and retail
uses, and the White House.
continued to monitor the activities of other downtown nightclubs
as well. Staff met with Alcohol Beverage Control staff and the
new police commander of the 1st District to go over safety
procedures in downtown. There were at least 2 homicides related
to local nightclubs during the year in downtown.
safety rose as issues of concern as the homicide rate continued
to climb, and the closure rates of such crimes fell through much
of the year. The Executive Director called on enhanced policing
around metro stops. The Cluster called for police escorts for
school drop-offs and pick-ups after a Maryland middle school
student was shot by the snipers. Homicides rose 13% in 2002 to
262 such victims.
provided aid to a number of health related initiatives -
advertising blood drives, sickle cell disease education efforts,
and prostate cancer screenings. The Cluster helped to find
meeting space for a rape victims' support group.
efforts were cited in over 50 published articles, and numerous
radio and tv stories.
recognition goes to New York Avenue Presbyterian Church which
continued to provide administrative office space and program
space to the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, as it has since
its inception in 1972. Special thanks also goes to Church of the
Pilgrims, Calvary Baptist Church, St. Thomas Episcopal Church,
Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, Mt. Vernon Place United
Methodist Church, St. Columba's Episcopal Church, and St. John's
Church of Lafayette Square for their provision of operating
space for Cluster activities. The Cluster's other members also
provide financial aid, volunteers, operating space, and Board
members for countless community endeavors. The Cluster's
membership grew to 39 member congregations with the entry of
Peoples Congregational Church, U.C.C.
Given so many
historic members, the Cluster served as a co-sponsor of a
national conference on the preservation and modernization of
historic sanctuaries, and their adaptation to mission/community
services. A number of its members served as tour sites for the
conference in October here in Washington, D.C.
Maxine Maye, Lincoln Temple, UCC Vice President: Mary Miller,
John Wesley AME Zion Church Treasurer: John Mack, First
Congregational Church, UCC Asst. Treasurer: Austin Dandridge,
Second Baptist Church Secretary: Jack Womeldorf, Church of the
Pilgrims Asst. Secretary: Marian Carrick, Second Baptist Church
Director: Terrance Lynch; Senior Outreach Worker: Julie Turner;
Associate Outreach Worker: Juan Carlos Benavides; and Associate
Outreach Worker: Sharon Winfield.
and Financial Reports
A listing of member
congregations and Directors is available upon request. The
Downtown Cluster of Congregations is independently audited
annually. Such audits are available upon request.