5 Programs We’re Watching in the DC Budget
Rachel Rintelmann shares Legal Aid DC's top priorities for the District's 2025 budget.


Despite her language of shared sacrifice,” Mayor Muriel Bowser has proposed a 2025 budget that slashes the social safety net and disproportionately harms low-income Black and brown District residents. She has proposed cuts to critical programs that meet basic needs and help move people out of poverty and achieve economic stability. 

The only cause for celebration in an otherwise bleak budget was the mayor’s decision to fully fund the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (an increase required by federal law). The budget does include some increased revenues. But even these increases harm low-income residents by raising sales taxes—as opposed to property or income taxes raised from wealthier residents. 

It is now up to the DC Council to consider the mayor’s budget and hopefully find solutions in which the “shared sacrifice” isn’t disproportionately carried by low-income families. As the budget cycle continues in the coming weeks, here are the top things we’re watching for at Legal Aid DC: 

1) Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

The mayor’s proposed budget cuts funding for ERAP by $42 million, which would leave the program with $20 million—less than half of last year’s budget. ERAP is a lifeline for low-income families facing eviction. Last year, the mayor’s budget proposed cutting ERAP funding to just $8 million. Thankfully, the Council restored program funds to $43 million and then added $33.5 million in federal funds, for a total of $76.5 million, $62 million of which the Department of Human Services allocated for direct assistance. The program must continue to be funded at similar levels this year, or thousands of families facing an emergency will be left with fewer protections from eviction.

2) Housing Vouchers

The mayor’s proposed budget fails to fund any new housing vouchers even though housing in the District has become increasingly unaffordable. The waitlist for subsidized housing is in the tens of thousands, despite having been closed for more than a decade—a massive demand for assistance that is being unmet.

3) Give SNAP A Raise

Last year, a much-needed increase to Supplementary Nutritional Assistance (SNAP) benefits was funded through excess revenues. Despite the Administration's best efforts to derail implementation of the increase, the funds made their way to families in need, helping ensure that they could put food on their tables. The mayor’s proposed budget would eliminate that increase entirely. As a result, families will see a cut in their benefits in October, and they will be forced once again face difficult choices between paying bills and putting food on the table.

4) Access to Justice

The Access to Justice Grants program funds critical legal services for low-income residents through organizations including Legal Aid DC. The mayor’s budget proposed a 67 percent cut to this program, reducing funding from approximately $31.5 million in 2024 to $10.5 million in 2025. Last year, the Council restored full funding to Access to Justice after the mayor proposed a similarly drastic cut. The Council must act once again to ensure that residents facing eviction, domestic violence, housing issues, problems with public benefits, and more don’t have to navigate the court system alone.  

You can easily contact Council about restoring this funding by using our email template.

5) Other Programs for Low-Income Families

The mayor’s proposed budget would devastate a range of programs designed to put more money into the pockets of low-income DC families, including:

The Pay Equity Fund: Cuts will lead to salary reductions of up to 40 percent for 4,000 early childhood educators;

The DC Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The budget puts a halt to planned increases to EITC, resulting in lost potential income to low and moderate wage earners;

DC’s Baby Bonds Program: The budget cuts 75 percent of the funds allocated to the Baby Bonds program, meaning that fewer children will benefit, and that those who do benefit will receive less financial support.

In the past few years, DC has passed groundbreaking laws that, combined with existing safety net programs, create a real opportunity for the District to be a leader in racial, economic and social equality. Instead, the Administration has proposed a budget that is—yet again—balanced on the backs of low-income Black and brown DC residents. 

Legal Aid urges the Council to restore critical funding and move the District toward fulfilling its promise.

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