On December 23, 2021, Metro IAF affiliates Manhattan Together (MT) and South Bronx Churches (SBC) reached an agreement with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to extend robust legal protections against mold, leaks and other excess moisture to tenants in buildings that are part of NYCHA’s Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) program. Roughly 62,000 units will be converted to private management through PACT, a federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.
These protections are part of the consent decree reached in the Metro IAF federal lawsuit, Baez v. NYCHA. The agreement includes:
- NYCHA requirement that managers address all open mold and excessive moisture repair requests within 60 days after they officially enter RAD/PACT. Following this period, private managers must clean up all mold and excessive moisture complaints within 30 days.
- Building managers must submit monthly reports identifying all unresolved mold complaints -- and a plan to resolve them -- to NYCHA, an independent data analyst and a special master who are already part of the court agreement. If the plan is inadequate, the Special Master can order stronger action.
- RAD/PACT tenants will regain their ability to register mold complaints with the independent mold and leak Ombudsman hired under the consent decree. This Ombudsman’s office has already compelled NYCHA to make almost 7,000 repairs. They will investigate every mold case in a RAD/PACT building that hasn’t been resolved by the required 30-day deadline.
This victory came from the hard work by leaders from MT, SBC and East Brooklyn Congregations, as well as the pro-bono legal team from Proskauer Rose, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.
Metro IAF’s clergy, tenant and community leaders are working to ensure that tenants in RAD/PACT buildings exercise their rights and will work with NYCHA and developers to ensure the agreement will be executed.
[In photo: Bernard Smith, Rev. Bertram Bennett and Rep. Ritchie Torres speak at Metro IAF rally.]
At Urging of CTI, Travis County & City of Austin Invest $200+ Million into Homelessness Prevention & Support
After years of working to protect the dignity of people experiencing homelessness and preventing low-income families from displacement, Central Texas Interfaith (CTI) leaders celebrated the investment of $220+ Million in federal funding into homelessness prevention and support.
Over 100 CTI leaders were joined by City of Austin Mayor and Travis County Judge Andy Brown who expressed appreciation for the organization's partnership and doggedness in addressing key regional challenges. Leaders relayed how this effort was connected to a multi-year effort that resulted in passage of an affordable housing bond in 2018, $40 Million in rental assistance during the first year of the pandemic, and now over $217 million in federal dollars into homelessness prevention and support.
Elected officials further committed to identifying sources for additional rental assistance as eviction moratoriums lift.
Homeless Housing Plans, Spectrum News
Interfaith Group Calls for Immediate Action on Homelessness, Austin Monitor [pdf]
Press Conference Footage, Central Texas Interfaith
Over 100 Metro IAF public housing leaders and allies from the Melrose and Courtlandt houses and the surrounding community gathered to celebrate the installation of affordable community Wi-Fi at the Melrose houses. Thanks to Metro IAF’s partnership with Bloc Power and People’s Choice Communications, all 1,244 families who live in the Melrose and Courtlandt Houses can now get internet at no cost if they sign up for the Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit, as well as a laptop for only $11.
“Internet access is no longer a luxury, it's a right and a necessity,” said Fr. Sean McGillicuddy, Pastor of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church and a leader with Metro IAF. “Hundreds of my parishioners live in the Melrose and Courtlandt houses, and I’m thrilled that we have been able to work with key partners like BlocPower, PCC, and Representative Torres to help them and their neighbors get access to high-quality internet they can afford.”
“When school was closed because of the pandemic, many children in our community couldn’t get to their classes because the internet was too expensive or the signal wasn’t good enough,” said Angela Medina, a Melrose resident working with Metro IAF, PCC, and BlocPower to reach out and educate her neighbors about the program. “I’m proud to help ensure no one ever has to go through that again, and I am excited about the new lower price for Internet access, which will help so many people to afford things like food, medicine and other necessities.”
Thanks to the work of Metro IAF and partners, the same service is available to an additional 400 families in other low-income and supportive housing buildings in the Bronx. Metro IAF is working to sign up everyone who is eligible, begin installation in two more New York City Housing Authority developments, and find other opportunities to expand this network to people living in other low and moderate-income housing.
[In photo from left: Angela Medina, Fr. Sean McGillicuddy, Rep. Ritchie Torres, Bernard Smith]
New York City Broadband Housing Initiative Gets First Completed Project, Broadband Breakfast [pdf]
Community-Owned WiFi Completed in Two Bronx NYCHA developments, Amsterdam News [pdf]
A Bigger and Stronger Network/“Una Red Más Grande y Más Fuerte, Bronx Free Press [pdf English] [pdf Español]
Wi-Fi Installed for Residents at 2 NYCHA Complexes in the Bronx, News 12 The Bronx
Washington Post Profiles Nehemiah Strategy as 'Revitalization Without Gentrification'
This summer, United Power for Action & Justice (UPAJ) secured $27.6 Million in commitments and land towards the building of 2,000 Nehemiah Homes on vacant lots controlled by the city in severely blighted areas on the city's south and west sides as part of its Reclaiming Chicago campaign. In a press conference with Mayor Lightfoot, Illinois Senate President Harmon and other local officials and allies, UPAJ announced the following advances:
1) Chicago Mayor Lightfoot's commitment of the first 250 city-owned vacant lots (the first of 1,000) in North Lawndale and $5.3 million in TIF funds for site remediation from the city of Chicago;
2) $12.25 million from private investors (e.g. banks, wealthy individuals, and family foundations) towards a 0%, 5-year revolving construction loan fund to build homes at scale. UPAJ's goal is to secure $25 million in funding to allow for the construction of 100 Nehemiah homes at a time.
3) $10 million line item in the Illinois State Budget for grant funds for homebuyer subsidies. This is enough to assist approximately 300 new homebuyers in purchasing 300 new constructed homes.
UPAJ's Reclaiming Chicago campaign is modeled on the Metro IAF Nehemiah Housing strategy which has built more than 6,500 homes for first-time home-buyers, creating over $2 Billion in wealth and with a foreclosure rate of less than 1% in New York, Jersey City, Baltimore, Chicago, Prince George's County, Philadelphia, Memphis and Washington DC. This strategy was recently profiled by the Washington Post:
IAF [was] instrumental in one of the most successful experiments in affordable housing.
In the early 1980s, New York City Mayor Ed Koch agreed to sell 16-square miles of abandoned lots in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood to a group of local churches for $1 per lot. The city also offered $10,000 deferred payment loans to perspective [sic] home buyers. Around 1,250 homes were initially constructed with prices starting as low as $50,000. The project — called Nehemiah homes — created a critical mass of development and equity in the neighborhood that continues today.
More than 4,500 Nehemiah homes have been built since the 1980s in the New York City area, generating more than a billion dollars in total homeowner equity, according to the developers. The project has a less than 1 percent foreclosure rate, and a study conducted by Nehemiah found that children who grew up in the development earned 53 percent higher wages than their parents.
[In top photo: Kevin Sutton, North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council and UPAJ leader. In photo at right, new affordable housing in North Lawndale neighborhood. Credit: Joshua Lott, Washington Post]
A New Model for Affordable Housing, Washington Post Reports [podcast]
Residents of a 50-unit mobile home park in Wake Forest, NC organized through ONE Wake to secure $375,000 in relocation expenses from the Town of Wake Forest and developer Middleburg Communities. As a result, each household in the park will receive roughly $12,500.
Six months ago, residents of the mobile home park received notice that their park would be closed to make way for the development of a 275-unit upscale single family home development. Since then, resident leaders have organized their power for a series of actions, including a July, 2021 press conference with over 200 people that brought developer Middleburg Communities to the negotiating table.
On September 21, over 50 residents and ONE Wake leaders rallied outside of the Wake Forest Town Hall and successfully urged their Town Commissioners to vote yes on rezoning conditions that hold the developer accountable for compensating residents for their displacement.
This campaign was one in a series of mobile home park campaigns organized by IAF affiliates in North Carolina to respond to the pressure from major developers, global investment firms, and hedge funds that have begun to purchase and flip parks all across the state.
Wake Forest Approves New Homes, with More Money to Move Mobile Home Park Residents, Raleigh News & Observer [pdf]
Leaders Applaud AB832 for Keeping Families Housed & Rental Assistance Flowing
Thousands of leaders across California Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations celebrated a new deal announced by the Governor and state legislators to extend the state’s eviction moratorium and rent relief program that was set to expire June 30, 2021.
The California IAF specifically applauds State leaders for:
- Extending the eviction ban to September 30, 2021
- Paying 100% of overdue rent and utilities paid for landlords and tenants
- Providing up to18 months of rental assistance for past and future rent
- Allowing either tenants or land lords to receive funds
- Forestalling evictions until rental assistance applications are attempted
On June 3rd, 2021, over 600 California IAF leaders convened on Zoom -- along with Catholic Bishop Oscar Cantú (whose op-ed can be read here), Episcopal Bishop Lucinda Ashby and two state legislators -- to call for an extension of the eviction moratorium and expansion of SB91 to allow more flexibility with rental assistance distribution to keep families housed. California IAF organized hundreds of phone calls and emails to State Senators, Assembly members and the Governor asking for more time and flexibility to get funds to families who missed rent due to the pandemic.
“California IAF leaders are pleased our state legislators acted to protect our families from eviction and provide 100% of rent owed. Our thanks go to Senators Caballero, Durazo, Laird and Weiner and Assemblymembers Chiu, Bloom, Reyes and Santiago for leading the charge on behalf of our families," said Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El, Aptos. "We would have preferred a 6 month extension, but we will turn our focus now to local organizing meetings so our families understand their rights and how to apply for rental assistance.”
“By sharing our stories with state agency staff and legislators, our recommendations were accepted to allow for easier income verification and tenants with informal leases to be included as eligible for assistance. By making future months of rent available, this will allow tenants like me to be able to cover my rent while I pay off the debts to my family and credit card that I took on to keep my landlord paid,” said Lourdes Rios, COPA leader in Santa Cruz County.
Central Coast Reacts to the Extension of the Eviction Moratorium, Noticias Ya [video in Spanish]
Santa Cruz County Housing Advocates Seek State Eviction Moratorium Extension, Santa Cruz Sentinel [pdf]
Local Leaders Ask for Extension of Moratorium on Evictions in California, Telemundo [en español] [pdf]
California IAF Action on Renter Protection, California IAF
Hundreds of Advocates Urge Gov. Newsom to Expand SB91, Good Times [pdf]
With Assistance Lagging, State Must Extend Rental Eviction Moratorium, Santa Cruz Sentinel [pdf]
Hundreds of Advocates Urge Gov. Newsom to Expand SB91, The Pajaronian [pdf]
JOE RUBIO TO BEGIN AS IAF CO-DIRECTOR
Dear IAF Leaders, Organizers, Allies and Friends --
After over 50 years organizing and building the West/Southwest IAF region, Ernesto Cortes Jr. will be transitioning from IAF Co-Director to a new role as IAF senior advisor. Mr. Cortes officially submitted his transition plan to our Board in January, and he and the IAF Board have carefully planned this process over the past year.
We are also pleased to announce that Joe Rubio, long-time IAF senior organizer, will succeed Mr. Cortes as Co-Director effective July 1, 2021. Mr. Rubio, who has organized and supervised IAF projects in Texas, Arizona, and Colorado, will join Martin Trimble, IAF’s other Co-Director, who succeeded Mike Gecan in 2019.
The IAF Board is deeply grateful for Mr. Cortes’ leadership and work to build the modern IAF in the West/Southwest, developing some of the most powerful and enduring non-partisan, broad-based citizens’ organizations in the country. We are gratified that, as a senior advisor, he will continue to offer seasoned guidance for organizer formation, leadership training, and development of the region.
Under Mr. Cortes’s leadership, the West/SW IAF has grown to 30 member affiliates, beginning in the early 1970’s with the founding of Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) in San Antonio, which pioneered institutionally based membership organizations. Since then, West/Southwest IAF won transformative victories to bring billions of dollars in major infrastructure improvements, education finance reform, health care, immigrant rights, and workforce training, among others. These victories have dramatically changed the face of communities throughout the region. Even more importantly, these IAF organizations have identified and trained thousands of leaders who learned to enter public life and create long-term change.
As you all know, there is only ONE Ernesto Cortes, and his contributions have been irreplaceable. We look forward to honoring and celebrating Mr. Cortes’ IAF leadership at a collective celebration sometime in the near future when we can all gather together in person.
Bishop Douglas Miles
Bishop Joel Martinez
When organizers set out to overturn Texas’s giveaway program for the oil and gas industry, they had a long game in mind. Over 20 years, the tax exemption program known as Chapter 313 had delivered $10 billion in tax cuts to corporations operating in Texas — with petrochemical firms being the biggest winners. This year, for the first time in a decade, the program was up for reauthorization. Organizers decided to challenge it for the first time.
At the beginning of last week, as Texas’s biennial legislative session approached its end, the aims of organizers remained modest. “We thought it would be a victory if the two-year reauthorization passed so we could organize in interim,” said Doug Greco, the lead organizer for Central Texas Interfaith, one of the organizations fighting to end the subsidy program.
At 4 a.m. last Thursday, it became clear that something unexpected was happening: The deadline for reauthorization passed. “The bill never came up,” Greco told The Intercept. Organizers stayed vigilant until the legislative session officially closed on Monday at midnight, but the reauthorization did not materialize....
“No one had really questioned this program,” said Greco, of Central Texas Interfaith. The reauthorization was a once-in-a-decade chance to challenge it. “We knew in our guts that the program was just a blank check, but we also are very sober about the realities of the Texas legislature.”
....As legislators met in a closed session to hammer out the bill, Greco heard from a colleague. “One of my organizers said there’s 20 oil and gas lobbyist standing outside this committee room,” he recalled.
Former Gov. Rick Perry, an Energy Transfer board member, tweeted his support for reauthorization. But as last week of the session ticked by, the bill didn’t come up. “It became clear that the reputation of the program had been damaged,” Greco said.
In 19 months, Texas’s subsidy program will expire, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over.
“We know there’s going to be a big conversation over the interim — we are under no illusions that this is not going to be a long-term battle.”
Organizers, though, recognize that the subsidy’s defeat marks a shift: “The table has been reset.”
In Blow to Big Oil, Corporate Subsidy Quietly Dies in Texas, The Intercept [pdf]
Texas Legislature Dooms Chapter 331, Which Gives Tax Breaks to Big Businesses, Business Journal [pdf]
Missed Deadline Could Doom Controversial $10B Tax-Break Program, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
Losers and Winners from Chapter 313, Central Texas Interfaith
The Unlikely Demise of Texas’ Biggest Corporate Tax Break, Texas Observer [pdf]
Arizona Interfaith Network Leverages Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for Arizona Schools in Passage of Prop 208
Through an intense mobilization campaign that engaged voters across the state, Valley Interfaith Project, with Pima County Interfaith, Northern Arizona Interfaith Council and a coalition of education allies, leveraged passage of Prop 208 which will restore millions of dollars to K-12 education funding.
[Excerpts from Jewish News below]
“Quality education is at the core of who the Jewish people are and how we have survived for thousands of years,” said Rabbi John Linder of Temple Solel, a member of the Arizona Interfaith Network Clergy Caucus. “And we look at quality education as reflecting the common good of the community.”
AIN was among five organizations that worked for the last four years to pass the Invest in Ed initiative. Other coalition organizations include the Arizona Center for Economic Progress, the Arizona Education Association, Children’s Action Alliance and Stand for Children.Read more
In September 2023, 900 children at South Lake and 600 children at Burnt Mills Elementary Schools will walk through the doors of new, safe, and welcoming buildings, heads held high and proud. 1500 children who have usually been left behind because they are Black, brown, and immigrants. Their teachers will be able to teach in classrooms without leaking ceilings, without cleaning rodent droppings, without overcrowding in a sea of trailer classrooms.
Over the past 10 years, Montgomery County has invested more capital dollars in the wealthiest district- Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac- than any other district. Action in Montgomery's congregations and public schools fought together over the past two years to ensure that the children of South Lake and Burnt Mills were not once again neglected. Hundreds of parents and AIM congregations worked for over two years to tell the story of a dilapidated structure that wasn't good enough. They successfully got South Lake and Burnt Mills prioritized by the Superintendent and the Board of Education in the fall of 2019 only to have the County Council renege on their commitment to AIM. In May 2020, the Council voted unanimously to delay South Lake because of COVID even while other schools in wealthy districts remained on schedule.Read more