July 20, 2024

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser reverses course, awards more SNAP funding to residents

WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser averted a legal confrontation with City Council by reluctantly agreeing to additional food assistance funds as part of the District’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits program.

Bowser said she was reserved about the funding increase for the SNAP program given serious budgetary and spending concerns for the District. But the mayor said her Department of Human Services director advised her to go forward with the increase.

“I continue to be concerned about a budget maneuver that I think is not a good idea,” the mayor said at a news conference Thursday in response to questions about her administration’s reversal on Wednesday evening.

City officials said that 83,000 households and nearly 138,000 individuals are receiving SNAP benefits in the District.

Council members earlier this week threatened to sue the mayor and her administration for denying the additional benefits. Council voted to use budget surplus funds for the SNAP program after pandemic-era money from the federal government dried up.

“It wasn’t until they said that they didn’t want to talk anymore by virtue of threatening a lawsuit that we were going to continue pursuing discussion of alternatives in good faith,” the mayor said.

Rose Fabian of D.C. said she’s been on SNAP benefits for more than a year, in part because she cannot work regularly due to have a son with severe autism.

“As a single mom, we really need those benefits to pull through and move forward,” she said. “The benefits are very important.”

Fabian said that cost-of-living increases “makes it harder” for single parents, receiving benefits and cash assistance.

Phil Mendelson, the city council chairman who led the proposed legal fight against the Bowser administration, said that “the mayor’s decision was the right decision to make.”

“What’s most important here are the families, especially the families with children and the senior who depend on food stamps to SNAP program because this is about benefits for them,” he said.

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