DC Council to consider creating ‘baby bonds’ for families making under $132K

A proposal is on the table before the D.C. Council to establish trust funds that would be funded by the District for children in low-to-middle income families.

During a Monday news conference ahead of the council’s Tuesday legislative meeting, Chairman Phil Mendelson said his colleagues will take up Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie’s bill that would create so-called “baby bonds.”

The District would put $1,000 into a child’s fund starting at birth each year until the child turns 18, when the money can then be accessed for several specific purposes, including education or to buy a home.

“This is a way that we can help with wealth-building among those who come from, or are born into, poverty,” Mendelson said. “I think that’s transformational.”

Under McDuffie’s bill, children whose families make under $132,000 a year would qualify.

Mendelson said a child could potentially have even more than $18,000 upon one’s 18th birthday, depending on interest accrual.

The council is set to take its first of two votes on Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed $17.5 billion budget during Tuesday’s session.

Mendelson is also making other budget changes, which will include adding almost $11 million in funding to the mayor’s Access to Justice initiative for total of almost $23 million.

Access to Justice provides free civil legal services for the poor in areas, such as tenant eviction cases.

The council will also take up funding for a new position: Deputy Auditor for Public Safety, which was recommended by the D.C. Police Reform Commission to improve police accountability.

Additional budget changes on the table include approval of Bowser’s idea to infuse $400 million into the Housing Production Trust Fund, which is meant to construct and maintain affordable housing

Mendelson also said the council will take up creation of several “pipelines to jobs” programs through the University of the District of Columbia in areas, such as information technology, nursing and teaching careers.

Bowser submitted her budget proposal on May 27. Based on the Home Rule Act, the D.C. Council has 70 days to take action with two votes.

Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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