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Fri Aug 14, 2015

NY IAF: NYCHA Repairs Make Leaks Worse -New York Daily News

....Llumi says NYCHA has done nothing but give her the runaround since Memorial Day.  “They send someone who looks at the problem, who says they’re going to send someone else to fix it, and that’s where it stays,” she said.

In her kitchen, water collects in the ceiling, forming a hubcap-sized bubble in the ceiling paint that’s soft to the touch. “You can’t cook,” Llumi told the Daily News. “The water falls on your food.”

She placed buckets in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in both bedrooms. Sometimes the water — which has worked its way through the dirty roof — hits her skin and causes rashes. And gravity has drawn the water down into the apartments below since this problem started 11 weeks ago.

Under that apartment, the stove also sits right below an alarming gash in the ceiling where the recurring drip has eaten away the plaster. Tenant Barbara Solomon says the stove “pops and sizzles” when rain hits the outlet that feeds it juice.

Tenants say NYCHA caused the problem itself when the agency began working on the roof parapets back in the spring. Before that there were no indoor rainstorms.

“They damaged the inside of the building when they were fixing the outside of the building,” said Solomon, who recounts numerous calls in vain to management requesting repairs. Solomon says NYCHA told tenants roof repairs are in the works — but not for the immediate future.

Tenants say NYCHA has done nothing all summer to plug the leak they apparently created. As a result, every time there’s rain in the forecast, tenants in a column of apartments below Llumi’s get out their impressive collection of plastic buckets.

“What’s happening in the King Towers echoes what we are seeing all over the city,” said Michael Stanley, an organizer with Metro Industrial Area Foundation, a housing advocate group that’s been critical of NYCHA for years

“Too often, NYCHA doesn’t show up, but even where they are supposedly fixing things, the repairs are usually so ineffective that nothing is really resolved or  the problem even gets worse,” Stanley said.

 
Wed Jun 17, 2015

Durham CAN -news observer

Hundreds stand up to protect families from the effect of market forces
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nearly five hundred Durham CAN leaders met with 24 elected leaders representing city, county, schools and state government.

What is at stake: Ensuring elected leaders sided with families in their fight against market forces to secure affordable housing and job training. A proposed light rail project has significantly increased property values and rent.

CAN leaders demanded and won support from the Mayor, City Council and County Commissioners for the use of two publicly-owned parcels of land for the construction of affordable housing. Leaders celebrated victory on living wages for thousands of future transit related jobs.

During the action, CAN leaders gained commitments from the Durham Police Chief and the Director of the City of Durham Office of Economic and Workforce Development on the implementation of policies to reduce police profiling and the creation of a job training program for thousands of transit related jobs respectively.

Tue Jun 9, 2015

BUILD leads community engagement in Baltimore -NPR

                                                     A Baltimore police officer attempts to secure a crime scene with tape at the scene of a shooting at the intersection of West North Avenue and Druid Hill Avenue in West Baltimore, Md., on May 30. Local media have reported more than 35 murders in the city since the April rioting over the death of 25-year-old resident Freddie Gray.

http://www.npr.org/2015/06/05/412226667/baltimore-community-engagement-e...

http://www.npr.org/2015/06/04/411917414/since-freddie-gray-s-death-viole...

Wed May 27, 2015

GCC Media Roundup: Criminal Justice Reform -Cleveland Plain Dealer

MEDIA ROUNDUP: GREATER CLEVELAND UNITE: WE CAN’T WAIT! CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACTION MAY 26, 2015 (As of 5/27)

NATIONAL:

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/us/cleveland-police-accept-use-of-force-rules-in-justice-dept-deal.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/25/us/71-arrested-in-cleveland-protests-over-officers-acquittal-police-say.html

Rachel Maddow/MSNBC:  http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/watch/doj-issues-reforms-for-cle...

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/videos/justice/2015/05/26/cleveland-doj-police-mclaug...

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/27/cleveland-clergy-michael-brelo_...

The TakeAway/ WNYC/Public Radio International: http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/amid-protests-cleveland-looks-heal/

WCBE (NPR/OH Public Radio): http://wcbe.org/post/hopes-and-expectations-surround-police-reform-agreement

Star Tribune (Minneapolis): http://www.startribune.com/ap-source-cleveland-justice-department-reach-policing-deal/304958701/

WLWT (Cincinnati): http://www.wlwt.com/news/cleveland-us-justice-department-announce-police-settlement/33223910

The Dispatch (Columbus): http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/national_world/2015/05/26/church-leaders-march-for-equal-treatment.html

 

LOCAL:

Cleveland.com http://photos.cleveland.com/4501/gallery/greater_cleveland_congregation_1/index.html#/0

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/05/credit_cleveland_for_...

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/05/greater_cleveland_congregation_2.html

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/05/cleveland_congregations_march.html

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/05/letter_writers_urging_police_r.html

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/05/area_churches_plan_tuesday_ral.html

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/05/cleveland_congregations_set_to.html

WKYC: http://www.wkyc.com/story/news/local/cleveland/2015/05/26/group-to-hold-peaceful-march-in-cleveland-michael-brelo-verdict/27950815/

News 5: http://www.newsnet5.com/news/local-news/cleveland-metro/cleveland-pastors-promote-criminal-justice-reform-voter-empowerment-following-brelo-acquittal

19 Action news: http://www.19actionnews.com/story/29156206/cleveland-area-churches-protest-officer-verdict

Cleveland Jewish News: http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/news/local_news/hundreds-march-for-change-in-cleveland-division-of-police/article_b11b33ca-03eb-11e5-997f-53bf77e8f033.html

http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/news/local_news/deal-with-the-issues-don-t-mute-the-response/article_86729afa-00b2-11e5-9c90-a3268834cff0.html

News Net 5: http://www.newsnet5.com/news/local-news/cleveland-metro/leon-bibb-cleveland-community-members-and-police-are-all-under-the-same-umbrella-and-it-has-holes

Fri Mar 6, 2015

Greater Cleveland Congregations Leads Momentum for Police Reform -Cleveland Plain Dealer

                                     

Momentum Appears to be Building toward Meaningful Police Reform in Cleveland

For all the anger and mistrust swirling around the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and the release of a critical U.S. Department of Justice report on the use of excessive force by Cleveland police, voices are being raised in clear expectation that meaningful change can be achieved.

These voices come from within the community and from City Hall, where Mayor Frank Jackson has become increasingly forthright about his determination to negotiate a meaningful and -- from his perspective -- fair consent decree with the Justice Department.

The public's input is equally important, and it is heartening to see the Greater Cleveland Congregations, a collection of faith communities, join the dialogue over police reform. They've made a number of recommendations they would like included in a consent decree.

"We see a chance to seize an opportunity, an opportunity to shape changes within the Cleveland police department," Louise McKinney of the Greater Cleveland Congregations said last month during a gathering at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, where her organization handed over its proposals to Jackson and U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach.

Many of the GCC's suggestions make sense, including a greater push toward bias-freepolicing, more diversity on the police force, improved hiring practices and a commitment from both the Justice Department and the city to help pay for the much-needed reforms.

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/momentum_appears_to_be_buildin.html

Fri Mar 6, 2015

GBIO on Boston Marathon Bombing Trial -Huffington Post

In the wake of the April 2013 attack, which killed three and injured nearly 300 others, it quickly became public that Tsarnaev had embraced a radicalized strain of Islam -- sparking a national discussion about homegrown terror that has only intensified since the rise of the Islamic State group in the Middle East.

The Muslim American community felt a backlash. Anti-Islamic hate crimes made up13.7 percent of all hate crimes in 2013, compared to 11.6 percent in 2012 -- an increase Pew Research blames in part on the Boston marathon bombing.

The Islamic Society of Boston's mosque in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Tsarnaev and his older brother had reportedly attended services, came under fire in the aftermath of the bombing. Some accused the mosque and its affiliated Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center of fostering extremists, an accusation to which local faith leaders have roundly objected.

"ISBCC has responded to allegations," said Burns Stanfield, pastor of Fourth Presbyterian in Boston and president of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. "I'm convinced that the charges are not accurate."

Stanfield has built relationships with a wide array of Boston interfaith leaders over the years, he told HuffPost over the phone. After the bombing in 2013, the leaders quickly fell back on these relationships to address the community's need for healing. GBIO hosted an event in a church basement shortly after the bombing, inviting community members to reflect on the ways in which violence of all types affected their lives.

"At the end we turned to our neighbor and prayed with one another," Stanfield said. "That was really powerful."

Almost a year later, GBIO gathered 250 interfaith advocates at the Cambridge mosque to discuss "restrengthening" the community. When the call to prayer sounded, Stanfiend recalled, Muslims and non-Muslims alike took 10 minutes to pray and reflect in their own ways.

"It was a very moving moment of just being quiet and being in respect with the way our partners lived their life of faith," he said. "It speaks to what we consider to be the longterm work of knowing each other and trusting each other and building relationships."

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/06/boston-marathon-trial-muslims_n_6810942.html

Mon Dec 8, 2014

Policing and the Domestic Arms Race -New York Daily News

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

...Low-income communities of color are faced with a long-standing dilemma. At one extreme, we are underpoliced. You call the police, and they take their time arriving — or don’t show up at all, leaving our communities to fend for themselves.

At the other extreme — the one that has now erupted into view — we are overpoliced. We call the police, and they show up primed for battle, uninterested in distinguishing friend from foe. Case in point: Six armed officers confront an unarmed Eric Garner and can’t manage to arrest him without a take-down that proves fatal.

To be fair, most of our experience with the NYPD happens between these extremes. Many of our congregants’ interactions with NYPD officers are positive. But the extremes persist — in parts of New York and nationwide.

...One huge difference between their daily situations and those of their American counterparts: Cops in the U.S. face heavily armed populations. Unlike in Europe, where gun ownership is restricted and carrying a weapon is virtually unheard of, a police officer in the United States never knows when he or she will encounter a person with a gun who is willing to use it to avoid arrest.

Ask any cop about their greatest fear — better yet, ask any cop’s spouse — and you will hear the same answer: getting shot. European cops have no such fears.

For decades, we’ve had a domestic arms race in the U.S., driving police to equip themselves with greater firepower. We must de-escalate this arms race. It’s why we’ve asked Mayor de Blasio to sign onto our campaign and join 67 other jurisdictions to use their combined purchasing power to promote dramatic change in the gun industry.

 

Fri Nov 21, 2014

Durham CAN on Police Policy -The New York Times

…After having initially rejected protesters’ demands, the city abruptly changed course and agreed to require the police, beginning last month, to obtain written consent to search vehicles in cases where they do not have probable cause. The consent forms, in English and Spanish, tell drivers they do not have to allow the searches.

Durham, home to Duke University, has a rich history of civil rights and social movements, a legacy reflected in the well-organized coalition that pushed for changes. Activists agreed not to call for the resignations of any police or city officials, who could be replaced with more politically savvy executives who might still resist changes. They pressed instead for systemic changes no matter who was in charge. Written consent to search, they said, would reduce disparities and end coercive tactics that the police used to search even in the absence of true, willing consent.

In city hearings and at news conferences, the activists paired abuse allegations with the search data.

“We started with the anecdotes, and then added the scholarship,” said the Rev. Mark-Anthony Middleton, pastor of Abundant Hope Christian Church and one of the leaders of a prominent community group, the Durham Congregations, Associations & Neighborhoods. “We didn’t allow the conversation to devolve into one person’s job.”

Pastor Middleton said community groups remained prepared to work with the chief of police, Jose L. Lopez Sr. “But he has to understand who runs the city,” he added. “He sure does now.”

Mon Nov 10, 2014

Actions to Deliver RFIs to Gun Manufacturers Across Country -Associated Press

Metro leaders visit seven gun manufacturers and investors in New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Georgia to deliver RFIs to some of America’s largest gunmakers, including Colt Manufacturing and Sturm Ruger in Connecticut and Glock’s U.S. headquarters in Georgia. Press roundup below:
 
New York / New Jersey
CBS New York:
 
Bergen Record:
 
News12 Westchester:
 
Talk of the Sound
 
Connecticut
New Haven Register:
 
Fox CT:
 
NBC Connecticut:
 
Eyewitness News 3 (WFSB):
 
NewsTimes / Connecticut Post:
 
Hartford Courant:
 
National
AP Teaser (example below, published on 20-30 sites across country)
Fri Nov 7, 2014

Orange County Justice United: Tenant Organizing -Chapel Hill News

Orange County Justice United Tenant Organizing, Hillsborough NC
 
Orange County Justice United is organizing alongside a team of low income residents and religious leaders to address the substandard living conditions in Gateway Village, a 64 unit Section 8 development in Hillsborough, NC. 
 
Residents and religious leaders have canvassed every unit in the development and held a series of community meetings to identify 13 top concerns - which include serious issues around health, safety, and inadequate management. 
 
A team of leaders presented resident demands to Gateway Village Regional Manager Debra Iafrate on Tuesday, November 2. In the coming weeks Justice United will bring the owner of the development (Robert Diedrich of Bloomfield Hills, MI) to the table for negotiation. 
 
Wed Oct 29, 2014

Durham CAN Action with Schools, Police -Durham News

 — At a gathering of nearly 500 people this week, Durham CAN members applauded changes in Durham Public Schools and the Durham Police Department that the organization has helped negotiate with officials.

The police will now be required to get written consent before searching vehicles, said Mark-Anthony Middleton, pastor of Abundant Hope Christian Church and a member of CAN (Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods).

“Durham is now a national model for what it looks like when citizens that are informed, committed and organized get together to do something,” said Middleton, who led a CAN coalition to address race in policing in Durham.

CAN also announced at Tuesday night’s assembly that after meetings with new Durham Public Schools Superintendent Bert L’Homme, the district’s universal breakfast program will be expanded to all schools.

CLICK HERE for more news coverage in the Herald Sun.

CLICK HERE for more news coverage in The Triangle Tribune. 

 

Wed Oct 22, 2014

Common Ground Toughens its Stance on Buck's arena funding -Huffington Post

The savvy grassroots organization, Common Ground, an affiliate of the national Industrial Areas Foundation, is taking on wealthy Wall Street hedge fund owners who want several hundred million dollars of tax money to help pay for a new arena for the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, a franchise they recently purchased for $550 million.

Common Ground, much to the dismay of Milwaukee's old guard downtown business leaders, has caught the attention of local and national media by fashioning a modern morality play, casting in sharp relief the choice between private greed and public need. I witnessed a scene from the evolving play in Milwaukee on Sunday.

On Sunday afternoon, Common Ground toughened its stance. After being ignored by the Bucks' new owners who months ago promised to meet with them, the Common Ground delegates voted to fight against any public funding for a new arena.

In Milwaukee, elected officials have been reticent about opposing the use of public funds for a new basketball arena. Nobody wants to be accused of losing the Bucks if it comes to that. Neither do most elected officials want to be on the wrong side of the wealthy leaders of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. So almost single-handedly, the tenacious Common Ground organization is changing the local conversation by forcing the community to consider that maybe its values and priorities are not the same as the values of a couple of Wall Street hedge fund owners and their local counterparts. Common Ground's leaders know what they're up against, but they're hopeful realists. One might say they're practicing the audacity of hope.

Mon Oct 20, 2014

Common Ground calls for Fair Play with Milwaukee Bucks Arena Funding -New York Times


Then there’s another proposal. Southeastern Wisconsin Common Ground — a splendid coalition of churches, community groups, mosques and synagogues — stifled the temptation to shout “No!” to the prospect of funneling precious tax dollars to billionaire owners and millionaire players and coaches.

We like pro hoops, they said. But our children’s playing fields and recreation centers and schools are in dreadful shape. (The Milwaukee school system projects a $32 million funding cut this year). If we’re to invest in an arena, let’s insist on a roughly similar amount for our recreation centers and public school playing fields.

Keisha Krumm, an organizer for Common Ground, offered brutal realism. “They are going to get their arena — I don’t have any doubt about that,” she said. “So let’s get something out of it.” “Our children are twisting their ankles, hurting their knees playing here?” Ingram said. “And they want us to build an arena for the N.B.A. athletes even as they say they can’t afford this?”


When Common Ground released its proposal last month — based on a careful study of recreation centers and fields in the city and surrounding suburbs — the owners told the press they would happily talk with the group. That has not happened. Common Ground members spoke of receiving heated phone calls from Ted Kellner, a prominent business leader and minority owner in the Bucks, wondering why they were complaining. In the schools, a woman spoke of having her contract dropped after officials complained she was working with Common Ground.


Wed Sep 24, 2014

Durham CAN: Affordable Housing -INDY Week

Some people came because they were afraid of being uprooted from their homes. Others were concerned about local businesses being run out of their neighborhoods. Other people said they just loved trains.

Although the first train on the Durham and Orange counties’ light rail system won’t leave its station for another 10 to 15 years, “We’re seeing changes in neighborhoods now,” said Selina Mack, director of Durham Community Land Trustees, a nonprofit that preserves and creates affordable housing. “Now is when the planning is happening. Now is when decisions are being made.”

The meeting involved several community groups—Durham CANDurham Community Land Trusteesand the Coalition for Affordable Housing and Transit—plus the city planning department the Triangle Transit Authority, which is spearheading the 17-mile, $1.8 billion project.

However, to ensure that the system benefits everyone, not just the wealthy, city and county officials and advocacy groups have to establish a bulwark against high-end development run amok. Earlier this year, City Council and County Commissioners passed a resolution setting a goal that 15 percent of housing within a half-mile of transit stops will be affordable. To reach that goal, some housing will need to be created; other will need to be preserved. 

“It’s very difficult to come up with affordable housing once the high-end development is built,” said Ivan Parra of Durham CAN. “Unless we are the table we will lament the same problems that have occurred in Charlotte.”
 

Thu Aug 28, 2014

GCC in Plain Dealer Op-Ed on Illegal Guns -Plain Dealer

Gun-trace data is essential to unlock the DNA of the epidemic of illegal guns in our cities. There is no better way to stop the illicit trafficking in weapons than to make those who manufacture, buy and sell weapons more accountable and those transactions more transparent. How?

Make it easier to trace guns, via technology (serial numbers that can't be erased, for example) and federal laws mandating that gun-trace data be shared with local jurisdictions and, where it won't compromise an ongoing criminal investigation, with the public.

Was a weapon recovered at the crime scene? What type of weapon? Was a gun trace initiated? Did the trace lead to a source – a gun show, a pawnshop, a federally licensed dealer – or did it dead-end in a home burglary or an off-the-books transaction?

"In order to deal with the crisis of gun violence strategically, we have to know where are the guns coming from," Donna Weinberger wrote in an email. Weinberger, a psychotherapist, is co-chair of the Gun Violence Reduction Team of the Greater Cleveland Congregations, a nonpartisan coalition of more than 40 churches, synagogues and faith communities that has targeted illegal gun traffickers.......

Wed Aug 6, 2014

German Gun-Maker on Smart Technology in the Washington Post -The Washington Post

UNTERFÖHRING, Germany — In nearly 30 years at Heckler & Koch, a legendary German gunmaker, Ernst Mauch designed some of the world’s most lethal weapons, including the one that reportedly killed Osama bin Laden. A state regulator once called him a “rock star” in the industry.

Now the gun world sees him a different way: as a traitor. The target of their fury is the smart gun Mauch designed at Armatix, a start-up near Munich. The very concept of the weapon has been attacked by U.S. gun rights advocates even as it has helped Mauch resolve a sense of guilt that has haunted him his entire career. 

The Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a group pushing manufacturers for better gun safety, recently met with Mauch in Germany and hope to bring him to the United States to persuade police chiefs to buy his company’s guns. The idea: If the technology is good enough for police officers, it should be good enough for consumers. Armatix is developing a 9mm smart gun targeted at the law enforcement market. The company hopes to offer other controls besides a watch, including a version that responds to voices.

“The idea of a smart-gun maker who has lots of experience making guns is intriguing because he’s not just some fly-by-night guy trying to do this,” said Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, a member of the group that met with Mauch. “Law enforcement officials have been quietly saying that if he comes over, they’d be willing to meet with him.”

Tue Jul 15, 2014

Manhattan Together Holds NYCHA Accountable to Promises on Mold -City Limits

 

It’s been six months since two community groups and the New York Housing Authority signed a landmark settlement agreement to address mold and moisture problems in public housing units and three months since a federal judge ordered the new rules into effect. Yet, Blanche Moore’s bathroom inside her eighth-floor apartment at the DeWitt Clinton Houses in East Harlem remains a textbook case for how to grow mold....

Community groups are beginning to spread the word about the mold and moisture settlement. Monique George, the NYC organizing director for Community Voices Heard, a group with a long history of working in public housing, says CVH has done “mold surveys” at five buildings in two public housing developments, and plans to conduct hundreds more.

“We’ve been door knocking,” George says. “Step two will be to actually document the cases.” Manhattan Together, South Bronx Churches, along with Metro IAF’s East Brooklyn Congregations, plan to engage thousands of public housing residents across the city on this issue.

“This (settlement) is a tool for us,” says Michael Stanley, lead organizer for Manhattan Together and South Bronx Churches. “It was always clear to us that this settlement by itself would not be enough … We have to make sure the rules are followed.”

 
Mon Jul 7, 2014

EBC Wins Park Improvements -News 12 Brooklyn

East Brooklyn Congregation winning battle for Bushwick playground improvements: A two-year battle for improved parks in Bushwick is finally starting to pay off. 

Several improvement projects are on the way thanks to residents from the East Brooklyn Congregation, a group of churches and nonprofit organizations, who have been rallying local leaders for better playgrounds.  Residents have spent two years lobbying for better park conditions for kids.

Wed Jul 2, 2014

East Brooklyn Congregations Works to Fix Parks -New York Times

    

In the quest for park equity, many residents in poor neighborhoods have seemed to have little recourse for the sorry state of their cracked basketball courts and out-of-service bathrooms.

But a group in Brooklyn has taken its fight to the streets — and playgrounds — using the kind of tactics more often associated with civil rights protests. In lobbying for capital improvements for two parks, East Brooklyn Congregations, a coalition of churches and nonprofit groups, has organized marches and demanded meetings with elected officials.

Last week, the group held a rally on the steps of City Hall. Adriane Williams, a parishioner at St. Barbara’s Church in Bushwick, exhorted Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose central campaign theme was righting inequality, to address the city’s open spaces.

“Mr. Mayor, you talked about a ‘tale of two cities,’ ” she yelled to the small crowd. “Well, let me tell you about a tale of two parks.” She then compared Central Park with Bushwick’s Heckscher Playground, a one-acre park on Linden Street at Central Avenue, which unfurls in the shadow of a housing project, and asked, “The question is: Are you just the mayor of Central Park or are you going to be the mayor of Heckscher Playground also?”

The group began its campaign for park equity by documenting the problems in a half-dozen parks in Bushwick. In spring 2013, representatives from the group met with Kevin Jeffrey, the parks department’s Brooklyn borough commissioner, and handed him a list of 32 items.

Over the past year and a half, two dozen maintenance problems from the list, including a missing toilet seat, burned-out light bulbs and a broken water fountain, were fixed across the six parks.

The remaining issues, however, were too large to be treated as maintenance issues and required capital money. Now East Brooklyn Congregations is seeking commitments for capital improvements for Heckscher Playground and Green Central Knoll Park, including new turf fields for both and, at Green Central Knoll, lights and a new bathroom.

 

Sat Jun 28, 2014

EQUAL Wins Storm Sewers -Times Ledger

Some southeast Queens residents, especially around St. Albans, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens, get the chills every time thunderstorms are looming. Heavy rain, to them, basically means flooding in their homes, lawns and streets.

E. Thomas Oliver, a Laurelton resident for more than 40 years, basically had to pump water out of his basement “24 hours a day, seven days a week.” Rain was bad news.

Thomas added that when it rained, he like his neighbors had to move their cars to higher ground. “I lost a brand new car to flooding. That time the water was up to the hood of the car,” he said. “Every time it rained, I got water in my basement, and the neighborhood looked like a lake.”

To tackle this chronic problem, the city Department of Environmental Protection started work a few years ago to upgrade the sewer system, a targeted solution designed with the collaboration of Empowered Queens United in Action and Leadership.

Thomas is a leader of the group, and he pointed out that the city agency has initiated “three of the five well-thought strategies that we designed and documented.”

In his case, the floods are finally gone, but not before DEP cleaned catch basins filled with debris.

Now the city agency has begun working on a project to install storm sewers and catch basins at 119th Avenue between 192nd and 195th streets in St. Albans. According to DEP, the infrastructure will cost $1 million and should be completed by this fall.

“We are pleased to collaborate with EQUAL on these important projects that will bring new storm sewers to reduce chronic flooding,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd.

Fri Jun 27, 2014

New Jersey Together Wins Affordable Housing -The Jersey Journal

  

 

 

 

 

 

David slew Goliath. They became allies. And now Goliath is helping David build affordable single-family homes.That's the short version of how a community group came to begin building the Jackson Green Homes – 22 single-family homes across the street from the Hub shopping center on Martin Luther King Drive – with the help of a multinational conglomerate.

For eight years, Interfaith Community Organization and Honeywell International were bitter opponents in federal court. The community group, which is being reorganized under the banner Jersey City Together, sought to force the corporate goliath to remediate the 32-acre Roosevelt Lanes site off Route 440 – the largest known chromium site in the city – after Honeywell absorbed the company responsible for the actual pollution.

The three- and four-story homes that comprise the $7.2 million Jackson Green development are being sold for between $112,000 and $204,000 — a price that families earning 80 percent of the area's median income, or $61,000 for a family of four, can afford, Jersey City Together leaders said.

Several resources, including the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund and federal HOME funding, were tapped to keep the homes affordable. In this regard, the revolving loan construction fund is key, officials said. The fund gets replenished every time a buyer goes to closing, so the builder doesn't have to use conventional bank financing, which would dramatically drive up costs.  

 

Wed Jun 18, 2014

300 Gather to Demand Kindergarten in NY -lohud

Last week, supporters of a grass-roots effort to require kindergarten in New York rallied at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church in New Rochelle to call on the state legislators to support a bill that would do just that.

The group, Westchester United, drew nearly 300 people to the church to thank state Sen. Jeff Klein for his support for Assembly bill 5786 and Senate bill S5056 and to ask other legislators to follow suit.

In speaking to the crowd, the Rev Bruce Baker of All Soul's Parish in Port Chester, said,  "We're asking Speaker (Sheldon) Silver and Governor (Andrew) Cuomo to do the same thing that over 40 states, New York City, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, and Utica have done: Guarantee Access to Kindergarten!"

Heriberto Contreras, of St Gabriel's Church, added, "With Senate Majority Leader Klein's full endorsement, we've made real progress in a world that's designed to obstruct and stop ordinary people like us from accomplishing anything."

Mon Jun 16, 2014

VOICE Op-Ed on Requiring Banks to Rebuild Communities Devastated by Foreclosure -The Hill

By Rev. Clyde Ellis, Rev. Keith Savage and Father Gerry Creedon

Hannah Senft, Candy Savannah and Ron Taylor have been neighbors for more than 20 years in Georgetown South, a community of 800 townhomes in Manassas, Virginia. It’s a diverse, working-class suburban neighborhood about 30 miles from the White House.

And it’s being decimated.

Many communities suffered in the housing crisis and, for residents of Georgetown South, there’s no end in sight. Not only did J.P. Morgan Chase and other predatory lenders flood the market with subprime loans that were structured to fail, they turned Georgetown South into a place where absentee landlords allow their properties to fall into squalor as the neighborhood struggles to rebuild. 

 
......
 
VOICE has already secured $30 million in commitments from Bank of America, General Electric and the Virginia Housing Development Authority to rehabilitate blighted properties and develop new housing in neighborhoods like Georgetown South. To date, J.P. Morgan Chase has refused to participate.

Used properly, the DOJ settlements create a powerful opportunity to help rebuild devastated communities like Georgetown South and others nationwide and to find justice for the millions of Ron’s still struggling. The question is: Will President Obama and Attorney General Holder compel bankers to really clean up their mess?

 

Tue Jun 10, 2014

GBIO Acts on Health Care Costs -The Boston Globe

Saying it’s worried that mounting medical costs are squeezing family and government budgets, a group that is representing dozens of Boston-area religious congregations wants the state Health Policy Commission to determine whether a pending deal between Attorney General Martha Coakley and Partners HealthCare System will make health care more affordable.

Leaders of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization hope to bring more attention to a tentative pact that would allow Partners to complete a takeover of South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, while placing limits on how much the state’s largest health care provider can charge for services and restricting its expansion for five to 10 years.

“This agreement has potentially very significant implications for efforts to control health costs,” the interfaith organization’s president, the Rev. Burns Stanfield, pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in South Boston, wrote in a letter to the Health Policy Commission.

“We believe that the [commission] should review and evaluate the agreement, and then render a judgment as to whether in your opinion it is, or is not, in the interests of the Commonwealth.”

The interfaith group waded into the debate over medical care prices last September when it invited leaders of the area’s largest hospitals and health insurers to a meeting at Temple Israel in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area — and grilled them on what they could do to blunt the impact of soaring health costs.

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