GLAA defends public funding for DC Center(Note: similar letters were sent to each D.C. Council member.)
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.
P.O. Box 75265, Washington, DC 20013
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Honorable Vincent Gray, Chair
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Dear Chairman Gray:
We are submitting this for the record of your July 24 hearing to revisit the Districtís budget. Mayor Fentyís proposed cut to close the budget deficit will cause needless harm to the DC Center, which serves the cityís LGBT community, just when its mission has begun to flourish.
The DC Center is the only D.C. member of CenterLink, the national association of LGBT community centers. According to data from the 2000 Census, the District ranks among the top five metropolitan areas in the number of same-sex couples. Each of the other fouróNew York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicagoóhave long-established LGBT community centers with annual budgets ranging from $2 million to $43 million. Each of these community centers purchased a building and has received considerable support from its city.
The Mayorís proposed sixty percent cut would decrease the Centerís building fund from the approved $500,000 to $200,000, and would decrease funding for the Centerís Crystal Meth Working Group from $150,000 to $60,000. We note that the city has no substance abuse prevention grant for adults, or the Center would apply for it. The amount originally approved for the DC Centerís building fund is modest compared to those in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. The Centerís current space limits its capacity to meet the community need.
Our city deserves an LGBT center on par with other leading gay population areas. After multiple attempts to establish a permanent community center over the years, the current Center has taken hold, and has been in existence for over five years. Its weekly e-mail goes to over 7,000 District residents. The Center is a growing and vital part of the District community.
GLAA is an advocacy group, and our lack of any financial interest in the District budget is essential to preserving our independent voice. The DC Center, by contrast, is service-oriented, and has stepped up to fill needs that were not being addressed by our cityís overstretched volunteers. Please do whatever you can to preserve funding for this invaluable organization.