First New Councilperson in 17 Years
WASHINGTON – It has been 17 years since residents in Ward 1 and the communities of LeDroit, Shaw, U. Street, Pleasant Plain and Columbia Heights have had a councilmember other than 69-year-old Jim Graham.
Brianne Nadeau, an 11-year-resident of Ward 1 who had served an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner before running for office, is the new face, serving as Ward 1's councilmember.
In one of her first sit-down interviews with the media since being sworn in, Nadeau spoke about her plans during her tenure and how she expects to achieve her short- and long-term.
Nadeau said her number one priority remains the one broadcasted repeatedly in her campaign ads: increasing affordable housing.
“When I talk about affordable housing, the first thing we need to do is quantify how many units we need, and the Urban Institute is working with us on that right now,” Nadeau, 34, said.
The Urban Institute, a Washington research organization focusing on urban issues, estimates that roughly 22,000 housing units will need to be built in the District for those earning $35,000 to $40,000 annually. Nadeau said a possible destination in Ward 1 for placing affordable housing units is Georgia Avenue and Columbia Road where the previous Bruce-Monroe Elementary School once stood.
“From my perspective it’s quantifying the issue, monetizing it, so if we need that many units, how much is it going to cost?” she said, “then devising a plan
for building it.”
Nadeau said she is also looking for tax relief for seniors who own property and are now being squeezed by increasing property taxes. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\Nadeau said she is seeking ways to make property taxes lower and more reflective of seniors’ income.
“A lot of times people own their own property, but the taxes start going up and up and up and up,” she said. “That’s when it ends up pushing people out.”
Nadeau said she also wants to create ‘Senior Villages,’ “where seniors in a certain geographic area come together and pull resources so they can have certain services, like maintenance around the home.”
“My vision for the way they would develop in Ward 1 is that they would also have a youth engagement piece,” she said. “The young people would help out with things around the house, while seniors provide mentoring.”
Nadeau said she plans to responsibly help manage financial resources in Ward 1, while planning measures to assess a quality education by implementing better work force training, specifically in the public school system.
Although Ward 1 has the highest concentration of charter schools in the District, residents continue to press her about education when she hosts her regular Coffee Talks and Community Conversations, Nadeau said.
“We need people to feel like we own these schools,” she said. “This is our neighborhood school. We want to be proud of it. We want to support it and we want to be engaged with it.”
The councilwoman said she wants to alleviate traffic on 16th Street by creating a designated bus lane, and is also considering a proposal that would bring a streetcar to Georgia Avenue.
Nadeau said she is also working on an effort to help small businesses in the face of escalating gentrification.
“An idea that I have is creating a fund for down payment assistance for small business owners to help them buy their buildings . . . because part of the reason people are getting pushed out is because of rising rents,” she said.
“Same thing for residents. Rents go up. People who can’t afford it have to move further and further out until they’re no longer in the District.”
Nadeau said she is clear that she needs to prove herself during her first four-year term, which includes a need to create results.
“I’ll really be pushing for an outcome driven government, not just output driven, meaning it’s not just how many people you serve in a homeless shelter, [but] how many people you actually help move into more stable situations,” she said.