About Us

The Alliance was originally formed in opposition to a proposed beverage tax in the District of Columbia.  We remain in opposition to a beverage tax given its harmful impact on DC’s working families and local businesses. Thanks to powerful testimonies from many of our more than our coalition’s 400 members, the tax was withdrawn, and we continue to advocate on behalf the DC’s small businesses.

As the city continues to address the repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alliance is committed to uplifting small businesses and employees. We continue to engage with local business owners to understand the challenges they face, provide information about the latest resources that are available to them, and help them navigate government processes.

The Alliance for an Affordable DC pledged to protect locally owned businesses when we launched our coalition – and we continue that fight.

Our Mission

Through partnerships and ongoing community engagement, the Alliance for an Affordable DC aims to educate and empower coalition members and supporters to advocate for an agenda that prioritizes working families and small businesses in DC.

Our Vision

We want to establish the Alliance as a platform that can lift up the voices of our members and partners and provide them with the tools and capacity to fight for an affordable DC for everyone.

Our Impact

  • We’ve spotlighted our Alliance members on our social media channels and e-newsletter to help drive potential customers to their businesses.
  • Since July 2020, we’ve reached thousands with updates, resources, and member testimonials on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Our map of members has driven traffic to websites and members.
  • Power in numbers: Of our 400 members, 53% are restaurants, 42% are convenience stores, and 4% are cafes and bakeries.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a member?

Fill out this simple form with your information and that’s it! Membership is completely free. You’ll receive emails that share updates and information on how you can support DC’s small businesses.

What are the benefits of a membership?

As part of a larger coalition, your voice will be amplified and therefore able to make a difference for the greater good.

Locally owned businesses receive:

  1. Access to resources like grant applications and deadlines, with updates delivered to your inbox.
  2. Placement on our member map, where customers can find your business hours and contact information.
  3. The opportunity to be featured on our social media channels.

What do we know about the potential impact grocery taxes can have on businesses and the economy?

We’ve seen the detrimental effect that similar taxes have had across the country — just look at Philadelphia. According to a study by Oxford Economics, Philadelphia has lost nearly 1,200 jobs and experienced $80 million in local economic losses since their beverage tax went into effect. Philly residents took their grocery dollars to stores located right outside the city, causing Philly-based businesses to close.

Similarly, in Cook County, Illinois (home of Chicago), stores near the county border saw the worst decline. A total of 75% of Cook County retailers surveyed had beverage sale declines of 20%. All for a tax that researchers say does not curb consumption.

In Seattle, the price of several non-taxed sugar-free beverages also increased, including diet soda, diet energy drinks, bottled tea, and prepared coffee.

When a city enacts a local grocery tax, who really pays for it?

You do! The tax increase gets passed onto consumers, hidden in the prices of everyday grocery items. Excise taxes hurt working families the most. The cost of living in Washington, DC is already among the highest in the nation, and hard-working families don’t need yet another financial burden.

Does Washington, DC need to incorporate taxes on everyday grocery items in order to fund health initiatives?

Given that DC ended 2020 with a budget surplus of $526 million, we don’t need another tax. DC needs support.

Low-income communities have less money to spend on groceries generally, in addition to fewer food and beverage options. Charging them more for their limited choices in food deserts with limited transportation options won’t change their buying behavior; it just means they will be stuck paying more for the same items available to them.

The road to pandemic recovery will be long and unpredictable. So far, the DC government has been generous in helping small businesses through programs like the Streatery Winter-Ready Grant Program and The Bridge Fund. These grants and loans have been necessary for keeping local businesses afloat. A tax that specifically targets the small businesses that the DC government is providing life support to is nonsensical and self-defeating.

The Alliance for an Affordable DC hopes that DC Council will act in the interest of small businesses and working families in DC as we navigate the city’s recovery together.

Do local food or beverage taxes improve health or reduce obesity?

Taxes on common grocery items like beverages have never really improved public health. In Mexico, obesity rates have increased since the imposition of a beverage tax there. And a tax in Berkeley, Calif., led to an increase in calories consumed from untaxed high-fat beverages.

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