What You Need to Know about Capitol Hill BID – Non-profit Praised by Bowser and Allen
by Larry Janezich
Tuesday morning, at the annual meeting of the Capitol Hill Business Improvement District (BID) in Hill Center, Mayor Bowser and CM Charles Allen raised the profile of the event substantially by their presence.
The politicians, flush from the excitement of Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the DC United Stadium on Buzzard’s Point (Bowser still wearing the DC United scarf she wore the previous day) mustered praise for an organization which contributes substantially to the viability of the Capitol Hill Community and simultaneously works to address problems of homelessness and criminal recidivism, while being substantially funded by Capitol Hill business owners investing in their own community.
Bowser began her remarks by speaking about the previous day’s groundbreaking, and continued, referencing “the 1000 new residents arrive in the city every month…the city will be over 800,000 residents again over the next 20 years…our private sector is outpacing government as a source of jobs…we’ve had the best financial quarter in the city’s history…an audit of the past two years of my administration is clean – no internal weaknesses…economic development is my passion … attracting more retail and restaurants…providing good salaries.” You get the point.
She went on to cite the CH BID, acknowledging the organization’s contribution in providing extra service to the community beyond what the city can provide – specifically, snow removal from business-district sidewalks and at bus stops during the January blizzard of 2016…”I don’t believe in closing the city…over time we’ll change the perception of the effect of snow on the city, but we’ll have to pay to change the perception.” She saluted the BID, noting that it had paid for the snow removal effort.
For his part, Allen joked about his youthful appearance which, he said, had prompted him to grow a beard and then echoed Bowser’s remarks on the BID’s service contribution, praising the BID’s efforts to “push things in the right direction.” He committed to partnering with BID, and “working every single day to make a better community.”
And yet, there was so much more to be said.
The Capitol Hill BID – one of ten in the city – is a nonprofit organization established in 2008 to maintain and beautify Capitol Hill’s commercial corridors. Its funding comes from assessments of its 500 member commercial property owners, at a rate of .15 cents per $1000 of assessed property value – e.g., $1500 for a $1 million dollar property. In 2016, assessments accounted for $1,302,408 of the CH BID’s revenue.
It was the first BID in the city to pilot public space recycling and work-rehabilitation programs. The CH BID’s signature “Ready, Willing & Working” (RWW) program provides the manpower behind its “clean team” comprised of some 50 formerly homeless and incarcerated individuals – the “men in blue” – who provide street cleaning services throughout the city through BID contracts. Currently the CH BID contracts with Capitol Hill, Barracks Row, Capitol Riverfront and Southwest DC. The newly formed Eastern Market Main Street is also a potential customer. In 2016, revenue from contracts amounted to $2,046,652.
Some three-fourths of the clean team members are permanent employees, with city-provided health and retirement benefits. One fourth of the team members are temporary employees many of whom become full time employees as positions open up. BID President Patty Brosmer later told Capitol Hill Corner that turnover is low; nearly half of the current clean team has been in place since 2008. She also cites a 70% recidivism success rate for employees who have been in RWW for three months.
BID collaborates with CHAMPS, BRMS and Market Row by promoting its members, providing marketing services, streetscaping, sponsoring events and contracting for cleaning services.
The BID kicks off the winter holiday season with the lighting of the Capitol Hill Community Tree and Menorah Lightings on the northeast quadrant of Eastern Market Metro Plaza. In addition, the BID collaborates with community and city organizations on Capital Bikeshare and the DC Circulator.
For 2016, the CH BID’s total revenue and support amounted to $3,457,204, while its expenses were $3,271,804.