Newsletter: Celebrating Unity and Community
This week, I was fortunate to join District residents at the Anacostia Coordinating Council’s Multicultural Holiday Celebration to light the Kwanzaa candle for Umoja, which means unity. This community celebration was a wonderful moment to pause and reflect on the strength we derive from our shared experiences and from one another.
Unity is more than physically being together—it is coming together around common values and goals that benefit our entire community. It means recognizing that we have a stake in each other’s lives and understanding that community-wide problems require community-wide solutions. At OAG, we work hard every day to improve the lives of all District residents through efforts to reduce violence, put young people on the right path, ensure that parents receive child support, protect seniors, stop discrimination, preserve affordable housing, defend our immigrant community, and much more. This work is informed by the concerns residents across the District bring to my attention, and I’m inspired every day to ask myself what more I can do to promote the public interest for all.
This holiday season let's remember that we are one community and one family. It is up to all of us to work year-round to support each other, keep all our children safe, and ensure no one is left behind.
Karl A. Racine
WIN: Refunds for Tenants Wrongfully Billed for Utilities
In a big win for tenants, OAG secured a settlement that requires the owner of Park 7 Apartments in Ward 7 to pay more than $450,000 to over 470 low-income and vulnerable tenants who were wrongfully billed for water. Landlords must honor their promise to tenants if they agree that the cost of utilities are included in the base rent. If you are a current or former Park 7 tenant and have questions about this settlement, browse our factsheet or call OAG at 202-442-9828. Get tips from OAG on how to report problems with a landlord or housing conditions.
Promoting Safe Passage to Keep Kids Safe
OAG co-hosted its first Ward 7 meeting on safe passage this week, bringing together government, non-profits, faith leaders, parents and students working to keep District youth safe. Safe Passages leverage community members to protect students by accompanying them to and from school. During the 2018-2019 school year, team members with Cure the Streets—OAG’s violence interruption program—facilitated safe passage for students in the sites in which they operate. OAG plans to expand this initiative to its four new Cure the Streets sites. OAG also recently testified before the Council of the District of Columbia in support of the "Safe Passage to School Expansion Act," which supports safe passage strategies that help decrease crime and increase student attendance.
Suing DoorDash for Swiping Workers’ Tips
Last month, OAG sued DoorDash—an app-based food delivery company—for misleading District consumers into believing their tips would go directly to delivery workers, when instead the company pocketed them for profit. The complaint alleges DoorDash used tips to lower labor costs so that the more consumers tipped, the less DoorDash had to pay workers itself. OAG is seeking to recover millions of dollars in tip money and to impose civil penalties. To report scams, fraud, or unfair business practices, you can submit a consumer complaint to OAG by calling (202) 442-9828 or filling out an online form.
Fighting a Teen Public Health Crisis
OAG recently filed a lawsuit against JUUL, a major e-cigarette manufacturer, for creating a teen public health crisis by marketing its highly-addictive nicotine products to kids and misleading consumers about their highly addictive quality. In the last few years, JUUL’s online and retail sales to District consumers and its revenue have sharply increased, and now thousands of District teenagers use JUUL’s products. One principal of a District high school estimates that half of the school’s juniors and seniors use e-cigarettes. OAG is seeking to stop JUUL from engaging in these illegal practices that have dragged a new generation into nicotine addiction and to hold the company accountable. Learn the facts about vaping and how to talk with youth about its dangers.
Essay Contest Now Open: DC Youth Write to Stop Violence
To make the District safer for everyone, it’s important to have a comprehensive, “all-hands on deck” response from leaders across the District—and that includes the young people who see the impacts of this crisis up close. That’s the idea behind the “Do the Write Thing Challenge,” a national essay contest that gives middle school students the chance to speak out about how violence affects their lives, and share their ideas about what we all must do to stop it. This is the is fourth year OAG has sponsored this contest in the District, and essays are now being accepted through March 13, 2020. All essayists—along with their principals, teachers, and family—will be invited to a recognition celebration in April 2020. Click here to learn more about Do the Write Thing Challenge or here to register and submit and essay.
Protecting Low-Income Renters
In the District, it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against people who rely on housing assistance, including vouchers, to pay for all or part of their rent. This type of discrimination exacerbates the affordable housing crisis in the District. Recently, OAG announced a partnership with Zillow to target discriminatory online housing ads by implementing a new filter on Zillow.com that rejects online ads that include phrases associated with discrimination against housing voucher holders. If you experience discrimination of any kind, report it to OAG by emailing OAGCivilRights@dc.gov or calling (202) 727-3400. You can also file a complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights by filling out an online form or calling 202-727-4559.
Consumer Alert: Holiday Shopping Tips
Holiday shopping is in full swing and Americans are expected to spend over $750 billion this season. With this much money being spent on gifts, you can be sure that scammers are out in full force trying to steal your money and personal information. Read our tips to protect yourself from being scammed this holiday season.