During her first year as Mayor, the District saw a 40% increase in homicides. In July 2015, Bowser attributed the spike in violence to the sale of synthetic marijuana and proposed measures granting police additional authorities for a crackdown on stores selling the substance. After violence continued unabated, in October 2015 Bowser proposed legislation allowing law enforcement officials to perform warrantless searches of violent ex-offenders. The bill was widely opposed by citizen’s groups and the D.C. Council.
Bowser pledged to end chronic homelessness in the District. During the winter of 2015, the District saw an increase in homelessness of 250 percent from any previous year as families were sheltered in hotel rooms. In February 2016, Bowser unveiled a plan to provide housing for homeless families following the closure of DC General. Without any community consultation or input, Bowser announced the location of one shelter in each of the District’s eight wards and refused to say how the sites were selected. In March 2016, it was revealed that many of the sites selected were connected to Bowser’s contributors. Under Bowser’s plan, the monthly cost per unit was $4,500 on average each year for at least the next 20 years.
In February 2016, Bowser’s appointee as medical director of the fire department resigned from her post after one year on the job. Explaining her decision, Jullette Saussy said that she could not be complicit in a failed agency and that its performance was putting Washingtonian’s lives at risk. In response, Bowser’s spokesperson said that she was committed to achieving change.
In 2015, Bowser’s allies formed FreshPAC, a political action committee intended to advance her agenda. The initiative was the first PAC in District politics so closely aligned with a sitting mayor and created by a former campaign treasurer. Thanks to a legislative loophole regulating off-year fundraising, FreshPAC accepted unlimited contributions. Bowser supporters had quickly raised more than $300,000 and had a goal of collecting $1 million by year’s end. FreshPAC was chaired by Earle “Chico” Horton III, a lobbyist for a major corporation that sought Bowser’s support. Many of the highest donors participated in a trip to China with the mayor. Following outcry from the Washington Post, members of the D.C. Council, and other stakeholders, FreshPAC was shut down in November 2015. Bowser said she thought FreshPAC was a good thing but its message was distorted