On December 13, 2018, Executive Director Yesim Sayin Taylor was quoted in a Washington City Paper article on the District’s First Source law:
As D.C. undergoes a boom of new commercial and residential construction, the question of how to make First Source more effective has become particularly urgent. This year, Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) and Trayon White (Ward 8) have criticized developers responsible for large projects in their respective wards for their apparent failure to comply with First Source for Adams Morgan’s The Line Hotel and Anacostia’s Maple View Flats, respectively. (White even held a protest this summer against the developer’s hiring practices.)
But executives, particularly in the construction industry, tell City Paper that beyond even the question of enforcement, the First Source law as written is flawed.
“First Source is essentially a feel-good thing we do to say that developers have done something for D.C. residents. But it makes criminals out of employers [who are unable to comply with it], and embarrasses the government,” says Yesim Sayin Taylor, the executive director of the D.C. Policy Center.
“There is a gap between what is on the market and what we have demand for,” Sayin Taylor says, “and First Source is not helping fill those gaps.” As far back as 2010, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute reported in a paper co-authored by now-At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, who oversees DOES, that “there is a skills mismatch between DC residents seeking work and jobs available.”
Both Patterson and Sayin Taylor point to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s development of a D.C. infrastructure academy at the University of the District of Columbia as the kind of good investment that will help foster economic parity. But Sayin Taylor points out that programs like these are sending workers out into “a regional labor market with very localized interventions.”