(CNSNews.com) – In her inaugural address on Monday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she will focus on “six big areas” in her third term, including revitalizing downtown D.C. — “because it is the economic engine that allows us to invest in our schools, our safety net, and our public works. It is the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg,” Bowser said.
She wants to “bring people back to our downtown,” including federal employees, many of whom are still working from home, a COVID-era development.
“We need decisive action by the White House to either get most federal workers back to the office most of the time or to realign their vast property holdings for use by the local government, by non-profits, by businesses and by any user willing to revitalize it,” Bowser said.
“America wins when the place where people come to join and change the world is buzzing,” she said. “We’ve partnered with this White House successfully many times; I know we can do it again for what matters most.”
“Emphasizing the availability of telework for federal jobs may lead to better recruitment and retention. That’s according to the Office of Personnel Management’s latest report to Congress on agencies’ telework status.
“Many agencies say promoting telework can make it easier to attract high-quality job candidates. During fiscal 2021, about 47% of the federal workforce was teleworking at least some of the time. Though the report only covers 2021, OPM is now collecting its next round of telework data for an upcoming report on fiscal 2022.”
Bowser, in her address, said converting office space into housing is the key to producing a more “vibrant” downtown.
“Right now, 25,000 people call downtown home. Here’s our goal: we will add 15,000 residents over the next five years, and 87,000 more before it’s all said and done. So, that’s right, we have a new 100,000-resident goal,” Bowser said.
At Tuesday’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about Bowser’s call to either end work-from-home for federal employees or let the city have the vacant government buildings:
“So I haven’t checked with the team to see if anybody has talked to her about this,” Jean-Pierre said. “But increasing the supply of affordable housing is a priority of this administration. As you know, we’ve talked about it many times over this past two years…
“…So, you know, I don’t have any announcement to make from here or to — any response, really, to Mayor Bowser. But clearly this has been a priority for this President, which is why he put forth this plan — this action plan.”
The reporter asked about President Biden’s views on “the future of federal work in D.C., for the federal workforce, in terms of employees working at home versus working in the office…?”
“I don’t have an announcement to make at this point,” Jean-Pierre said:
“Look, we — you know, we listen to the experts, right? We certainly follow — follow the science and listen to the experts. I just don’t have anything to announce today on any changes to that — you know, to that particular — you know, as it relates to federal buildings and federal workers.
“But, look, just to reiterate what the President said: We are in a different place than we were when he walked into this administration. He put together a comprehensive — a comprehensive COVID vaccination plan that made a difference, that helped put our economy back on its feet.
“And look at us today. I remember…some of you were here for Jen’s first briefing. There were 14 of you masked up. And look where we are two years later. We are in a different place. And so, I think that’s important to note.”
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