CREATING AND DEFENDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Kenyan McDuffie understands the importance of protecting, creating, and preserving affordable housing for District residents. As our Attorney General, Kenyan will prioritize housing enforcement measures with principles of fairness taking head-on unscrupulous landlords. As the people’s lawyer, Kenyan will expand access to affordable housing by ensuring developers fulfill their legal obligations and commitments to build and preserve affordable housing under laws he wrote as D.C. Councilmember.
As your next Attorney General, Kenyan will continue leveling the playing field by prioritizing tenants’ rights and holding accountable developers, which violate the law.
Land Sales to Developers: The D.C. Government is the largest landowner in the District. When D.C. sells land to private developers, however, very little is required of the new owner to help low-income households, who face the greatest housing challenges. Kenyan wrote and passed a law ensuring that every sale of D.C.-owned land to private developers requires the new project to include affordable housing for lower income households. Now, thousands of D.C. residents enjoy truly affordable housing in new developments across the city. As Attorney General, Kenyan will ensure developers satisfy their legal obligation to create affordable housing units in new projects from District sales and advocate for policies that strengthen the District’s ability to monitor these requirements.
Funding and Preserving Affordable Housing: D.C.’s most effective tool in creating and preserving affordable housing the Housing Production Trust Fund is historically underfunded. Thus, D.C. struggles addressing the affordable housing crisis. Kenyan authored legislation and successfully fought to make sure that the District dedicates half of all future surplus funds to the D.C. Housing Production Trust Fund, providing hundreds of millions of dollars to help build, renovate, and preserve affordable housing units. As Attorney General, he will work to preserve the homes created by this fund by taking on unscrupulous landlords and continuing to be a strong advocate for affordable housing.
Protecting Tenants’ Rights: When faced with eviction: Most low-income tenants arrive to housing court without an attorney, a zealous advocate. Whereas, landlords arrive to housing court 90% of the time with a lawyer, while tenants are represented in less than 10% of cases. This puts tenants at an incredible disadvantage. That’s why Kenyan authored the Expanding Access to Justice Act and created the “Civil Gideon” program, which provides low-income residents with free legal representation in landlord-tenant court. While residents can now receive the representation that they need in housing court, Kenyan will also have tenants’ back by holding landlords accountable for creating dangerous and uninhabitable conditions in an attempt to force an unlawful evictions.
Ending Housing Discrimination Based on Criminal and Arrest Records: Historically, landlords in the District had been allowed to arbitrarily deny tenants housing based on arrest records or prior convictions. One in every ten individuals who become incarcerated have recently been homeless, and many of those returning citizens return to society homeless as well. That’s why Kenyan authored “ban-the-box” legislation, passing a law prohibiting landlords from inquiring on a prospective tenant’s criminal background or arrest history before making a conditional offer of housing to the applicant. The law also helps innocent people facing criminal charges and those who are overcoming the challenges of re-entry into society secure housing. As Attorney General, Kenyan will work with the Office of Human Rights to hold landlords accountable for unlawful discrimination and continue to advocate for policies that provide our returning citizens a chance to rehabilitate and acclimate back in society.
ADDRESSING CRIME AND MAKING D.C. SAFER
Addressing Root Causes of Violence: Modern, data-driven and transparent law enforcement is an integral part of addressing crime and violence. But policing in a vacuum cannot serve the full extent of public safety efforts. That is why Kenyan authored and passed the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act, which uses the CURE Violence model, a public health approach to violence prevention and intervention. The NEAR Act utilizes cognitive and family-based therapy and wraparound services; engages those who are at high risk of participating in, or being a victim of, violent crime by providing evidence-based counseling, mentorship, and workforce development; prioritizes community policing and mandates open access to data to increase oversight and improve police department practices, including requiring the collection of data on felony crimes, stop-and-frisks, and use of force; and provides additional training for police officers on community policing, prevention of bias-based policing, and cultural competency.
After the Council passed Kenyan’s NEAR Act, the current Attorney General implemented a similar model: Cure the Streets. As Attorney General, Kenyan will not only continue but build on this program based on proven data to help combat crime both in the courts and in the community.
Juveniles in the Justice System: The Attorney General is tasked with seeking justice in crimes committed by juveniles. For too long, however, the juvenile criminal justice system has relied on adult-justice tools and practices, which can be ineffective in reducing crime and providing rehabilitation for our youth. It is imperative that our next Attorney General exhaust every resource to hold criminals accountable and help prevent crimes from taking place in the future. The next Attorney General must also ensure our children are not condemned to a fallen life because of youthful mistakes.
As a lifelong Washingtonian, former prosecutor, and current lawmaker, Kenyan knows firsthand the importance of implementing and enforcing sound public policy, which works in tandem with our law enforcement partners and court system. That is why he ushered into law comprehensive juvenile justice reform. Kenyan’s legislation reduces D.C.’s school-to-prison pipeline by expanding voluntary victim-offender mediation services, eliminating the use of disciplinary segregation known as solitary confinement, and providing age-appropriate sentencing, including banning the use of juvenile life without parole sentences. The law also improves oversight of juvenile justice agencies and services by creating a data-driven approach with a focus on addressing the root cause of crime. As Attorney General, Kenyan will be vigilant, emphatic, and judicious in pursuing justice for families in the District of Columbia.
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE FOR ALL OF D.C.
As Attorney General, Kenyan will build on the environmental laws he enacted to hold polluters accountable and further equal access to clean air and water for all District residents.
Shutting Down Pollution Hotspots: For over 30 years, the privately-owned W Street Trash Transfer Station in Brentwood plagues nearby communities with excessive exhaust from heavy vehicles, noxious smells, and rodent infestation. Kenyan’s legislation and determined advocacy led to the District being able to exercise eminent domain against the trash transfer station. This long-suffered environmental injustice will finally be shuttered permanently under the Attorney General’s authority.
Reducing Air Pollution and Childhood Asthma: According to the American Lung Association, D.C.’s childhood asthma rate is significantly higher than the national average. Asthma has a strong association with air pollution, and African Americans have a 36% higher asthma rate than their white counterparts. Kenyan established D.C.’s first ambient air quality and air pollution program. As a result, residents can alert the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) about polluters that release harmful emissions and violators are assessed steep penalties. To further enhance air quality enforcement, Kenyan successfully advocated for additional funding to hire more inspectors, which refer air quality violations to the Attorney General’s office. As Attorney General, Kenyan is ready to hit the ground running when it comes to air quality enforcement and ensure neighborhoods across the District have access to breathable, clean air.
Combating Climate Change through Equity and Opportunity: Climate change is a global crisis and its effects are significant. As temperatures rise and weather patterns change, nations grapple with efficient and effective ways to protect the climate. In D.C., we will face warmer average temperatures; up to 2-3 times as many dangerously hot days; long, hotter, and more frequent heat waves; more frequent and intense heavy rain events; and higher tides as a result of rising sea level. We cannot wait for Congress to take substantive steps and must act locally to slow climate change, particularly in reducing one of its prime contributors: energy use.
Kenyan shepherded into law one of the most aggressive clean energy standards in the nation. Importantly, Kenyan ensured increased funding for low-income families to access renewable energy and energy efficiency resources. The law also helped to prepare locally-owned and employed companies with the tools to compete for D.C.’s clean energy contracts. As Attorney General, Kenyan will guide agencies and public bodies in the District’s efforts to go 100% green. Kenyan will engage climate working groups and help shape future regulations that continue to make the District a leader in clean energy policy.
PROTECTING OUR SENIORS
As a Councilmember, Kenyan established the Senior Advisory Council to increase contact and prioritize finding solutions for our aging population. He also improved transportation options through Seabury Resources for Aging and passed legislation to reduce seniors’ taxes and protect seniors from fraud and abuse. He also introduced legislation helping seniors age in their homes by helping with groundwork around their homes.
As Attorney General, Kenyan will vigorously go after criminals and companies that exploit our seniors and rob them of their livelihood.
Preventing Financial Exploitation: Financial abuse of vulnerable populations, especially seniors, is a growing problem across the country: In D.C., a recent survey found 14% of those surveyed reported financial abuse at the hands of family members.
As Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Kenyan was instrumental in the Council’s adoption of a law that protects our seniors from financial exploitation. The law creates criminal and financial penalties for those that take advantage of our senior citizens and strengthens the Attorney General’s ability to investigate culprits that exploit vulnerable adults and senior citizens. As Attorney General, Kenyan will continue to work with senior citizen advocate groups and our local and federal partners to implement greater protections for the District’s most seasoned citizens. Above all, Kenyan will utilize the very law he ushered in to vigorously go after bad actors that financially exploit seniors.
UPLIFTING OUR FAMILIES AND CHILDREN
Eliminating Structural Poverty: Kenyan is helping District families establish financial security and afford a higher education with his innovative “Baby Bonds” program. Upon turning 18, a child born into a low-income household in the District may use the funds for higher and technical education, entrepreneurial business development, financial investment, property ownership, and retirement. As Attorney General, which overseas D.C.’s Child Support Services Division, Kenyan will not only ensure that our children receive the financial support that they are legally entitled to but also continue advocating for additional programs that set kids up for success regardless of their parents’ custodial status.
Keeping Children Safe in the Home and Community: Children who are, or feel, under threat have a much more difficult path to success and often have trouble learning, developing healthy relationships and maturing at a recommended pace. They are often the target of serious violent, vehicular and sexual crimes as a result of their age. That is why Kenyan is a champion for the funding of D.C.’s Safe Passage program, which creates greater security for student routes to and from school and builds on in-school programs like conflict resolution and mediation services. As Attorney General, Kenyan will build on this important program and work with law enforcement, the Department of Transportation, community members, the D.C. Council and Mayor to prioritize enforcement around schools and children’s routes to and from their homes.
Providing Justice to Sexual Assault Victims: The Attorney General represents survivors of domestic violence and stalking by pursuing civil protection orders. On the Council, Kenyan convened and managed the Sexual Assault Victim Rights Task Force to provide consistent access to independent, community-based advocates, who can speak up when a child simply cannot do so. In addition, he advocated for removing statutory time limits to ensure sex offenders are brought to justice. As Attorney General, Kenyan will build on his work as a legislator to create a stronger voice for marginalized victims and help to hold offenders accountable.
SUPPORTING OUR SMALL AND LOCAL BUSINESSES
Reducing Disparities in Government Contracting: Small, local minority and women-owned businesses often have more difficulty getting traditional funding, hampering their ability to grow or, in the COVID-19 crisis, even stay open. Equally troubling, businesses owned by minorities have experienced deep and ongoing disparities in D.C. government contracting, despite the demographics of the city. That’s why Kenyan established the Equity Impact Fund to provide investments in eligible businesses that experience barriers to accessing capital from traditional sources. The Fund provides financing to resident-owned, minority- or women-owned, socially or economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs. In addition, Kenyan passed a law that establishes an entirely new classification for businesses, equity impact enterprises, that are owned by an individual who is, or a majority number of individuals who are, economically disadvantaged or have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias. The law also unbundles large, complex contracts so that qualified small businesses can compete for subcontracts. In his work as Attorney General, which advises the District’s Chief Procurement Officer on procurement laws, Kenyan will continue to ensure that District government contracts are issued fairly and equitably.
DEFENDING WORKERS’ RIGHTS
Creating More Pay Transparency: Today, women earn 84 cents on the dollar compared to men for doing the same job. Unfortunately, wage disparities often go undetected and exacerbate inequality in the workplace because of strict policies implemented by employers that not only forbid but punish those who discuss the topic freely. That is why one of the best tools to address wage disparity is protecting the freedom of workers to discuss their pay. Kenyan authored and passed legislation to protect workers who discuss their compensation with their peers from retaliation by their employers. As Attorney General, Kenyan will continue to champion policies that create more transparency and a level playing field for workers.
Combating Worker Misclassification and Wage Theft: Worker misclassification and wage theft have long been concerns that Kenyan has actively sought to address as a lawmaker. One of the first bills Kenyan advanced through his Committee created a presumption that construction workers are employees, not independent contractors. The bill also created a private right of action for employees who were misclassified by their employers and deprived of certain workers’ rights under the law. Building on those protections, Kenyan similarly co-sponsored a law that creates penalties for employers who fail to pay earned wages and establishes additional protections for workers, including prohibiting retribution by an employer against employees who file a complaint. As Attorney General, Kenyan will continue to prioritize protecting workers from wage theft and misclassification by holding bad actors accountable and defending workers’ rights.
Protecting Excluded Workers: Every person has a right to be respected, treated with dignity and compensated fairly for their work. Low-wage immigrant workers, especially the undocumented, are some of the most vulnerable contributors in the District economy. As a result, certain employers will exploit their immigration status and conceal resources available to them. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged on and ravaged the nation’s workers, many undocumented workers found themselves disproportionately excluded from the available relief programs. That’s why Kenyan advocated and successfully secured millions of additional funding for excluded workers faced with economic hardships due to the pandemic. As Attorney General, Kenyan will build on his legislative record of securing vital resources to excluded workers and fight to enforce the protections he helped to put in place during his time on the Council. He will remain laser-focused on ensuring employees are observing the laws for sick and safe leave, wages and overtime pay in a non-discriminatory matter.
STRENGTHENING THE OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL
Paid for by McDuffie 2022
Patrick Swygert, Jr., Treasurer.
3725 17th Street NE, Washington, DC 20017
A copy of our report is filed with the DC Office of Campaign Finance.