Budget Hearing Testimony of Kimberly Perry, Executive Director, before the Committee on Housing

March 31, 2023
Person Testifying: Kimberly Perry
Title: Executive Director, DC Action
Testimony Heard By: DC Council Committee on Housing
Type of Hearing: Budget Hearing
Topic of Testimony: Budget Oversight Hearing for the Department of Human Services

Good morning, Chairperson White, and members of the Committee on Housing. I’m Kim Perry, executive director of DC Action. DC Action uses research, data, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. Our collaborative advocacy campaigns bring the power of young people and all residents to raise their voices to create change. DC Action is the home of DC Kids Count, Under 3 DC, DC Out-of-School Time Coalition, the DC Home Visiting Council and the Youth Economic Justice and Housing Coalition.

As a member of the Youth Economic and Justice and Housing Coalition and the Coalition for Nonprofit Equity, I’m here today to request that the Committee sufficiently fund the Department of Human Services so that it can come into compliance with the Nonprofit Fair Compensation Act of 2020. This law ensures all indirect costs are equitable and integrated into every contract and grant that DHS awards a nonprofit organization.

Councilmember White, you were a champion for this law and know it well. You understand that District grants and contracts for nonprofits rarely – if ever – account for inflation. Particularly in the case of youth homelessness direct service providers, this means our members have been operating at the same baseline contract amounts for too long. However, District contracts for for-profit entities regularly include enhancements and “cost-plus” pricing to ensure the entities’ operating expenses are covered on top of receiving a profit. Nonprofits do not receive similar funding.

So, for years, our members have cobbled together the resources needed to provide quality services, often at the expense of staff, organizational stability, and sustainability. Our members want to recruit and retain quality staff. They want to be able to do external evaluations of their programming to ensure efficacy. Our members want to have a deep and lasting impact on the issues we collectively seek to resolve. But this requires adequate resources.

The Nonprofit Fair Compensation Act is an important step in right-sizing and adequately compensating nonprofit partners for their “actual costs” of doing business here in the District.

However, the implementation of this legislation remains problematic. We continue to see a lack of standard language across grant and contract solicitations, including without references to the Act, or seeking to limit the percentage of indirect costs a nonprofit can request. We also know that the government did not properly budget for indirect costs in FY22 or FY23, and had not conducted a cost study prior to developing the FY24 budget.

Again, we ask for sufficient funding so the agency can come into compliance and help shore up this incredibly important sector so it can do its work in preventing and eliminating youth homelessness here in the District of Columbia.

Thank you. I look forward to answering any questions you might have. I can also be reached at kperry@dckids.org.