Dec 8, 2021 - News

Council postpones encampments vote, renames Wilson High

A sign of Woodrow Wilson High School outside its building.
Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

On Tuesday, the D.C. Council postponed an attempt to halt the clearing of existing homeless encampments and advanced a redistricting map.

Driving the news: The actions came during hours of debate and voting on a long agenda of legislation.

Council member Brianne Nadeau, who wrote the bill, has been critical of the Bowser administration’s pilot program to clear encampments, though she supports providing the homeless permanent housing.

  • The Bowser administration has defended the pilot as offering apartment units or hotels to all people living in tents. The pilot sets specific deadlines for clearing encampments and collects data on its effectiveness.
  • Council members who wanted a pause say many people living at encampments leave the sites before scheduled clearings, meaning they often move to other encampments and don't get connected to housing.
  • “What is happening on the ground is chaos,” council member Robert White said Tuesday, before nine lawmakers voted to postpone the legislation until Dec. 21.

In other news:

✏️ Lawmakers approved renaming Woodrow Wilson High School to Jackson-Reed High School, capping off months of debate.

  • The new name honors Vincent Reed, the first Black principal of the high school, and Edna Jackson, the school’s first Black teacher, the Washington Post reports.

💉 D.C. students will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it receives full FDA approval, under a bill approved by the council.

  • Students 16 and over have until March 31, 2022 to receive the vaccine, while those who are younger are exempt until the FDA gives full approval.

📍 The redistricting map will still have a final vote later this month, with the opportunity for further tweaks.

  • The biggest changes affect the boundaries of Ward 6, currently the largest ward, and wards 7 and 8, two of the District's poorest wards with the smallest populations.
  • Ward 8 will gain booming Navy Yard to rightsize the population imbalance. An 11th-hour tweak gave Ward 7 more land after an uproar that the originally proposed map would keep the ward as the smallest in the city.
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