West/Southwest IAF Updates
Metro IAF Updates

Chicago IAF Housing Win Builds on Nehemiah Home Ownership Strategy

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:

[Excerpt]

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.


On the Passing of Msgr. John Powis

We are sorry to announce that Msgr. John Powis passed away yesterday after a long illness.  Msgr. Powis was a founding leader of EBC when he served as pastor of Presentation Parish in Oceanhill-Brownsville.  He then moved to Bushwick, where he led St. Barbara's Parish for many years.  Msgr. Powis was part of a small team of priests that led the negotiations with the late Bishop Francis J. Mugavero as EBC began its Nehemiah Plan in 1982 and 1983.  He was a relentless champion of the people of East Brooklyn and an unwavering partner to all the clergy and lay leaders of EBC and Metro IAF.  He loved the New York Mets, loved being a parish priest, loved Brooklyn, and loved EBC. 

His spirit and toughness inspired us all.

Mike Gecan, IAF Senior Organizer & Dr. David K. Brawley, EBC Co-Chair

Msgr. John Powis, Champion of Brooklyn’s Downtrodden, Dies at 87NY Times [pdf]

[Photo Credit: Linda Rosier, NY Times]


Christian Century Recognizes BUILD & Power of Relational Organizing

“The historical truth is that no single person—no matter how
gifted—has led complex social change on her own.”

-- BUILD leader Rev. Glenna Huber, Episcopal Church of the Epiphany

[Excerpt]

The pandemic made clear what we’ve previously known but rarely embodied: American cultural individualism is not sustainable. For people of faith, this individualism is not supported by scripture. Ever since the beginning, the Divine is recorded as creating with an eye toward relationships, and humans create in relationship with each other as well as their Creator....

This myth of individualism has even infected the way we talk about the social movements of the past. We love to tell stories of unilateral decisions by prophets “speaking truth to power.” We imagine Rosa Parks refusing to get out of her seat as a single, solitary event. We tell stories of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. looking to the heavens for a dramatic word. We imagine Harriet Tubman driving the underground railroad all by herself. These stories are not so much untrue as incomplete. They neglect the way that individuals were shaped by the institutions of their time and how that shaping gave rise to their courage. They ignore the teams of people whose collective efforts produced individual actions and leveraged those actions for larger change. The historical truth is that no single person—no matter how gifted—led complex social change on her own.

[In photo at podium Rector Glenna Huber (center) and Pastor Andrew Connors (right) stand with former BUILD cochair Bishop Douglas Miles, who died last month.]

Leveraging the Power of Relational OrganizingChristian Century


ONE Wake Leverages $375,000 for North Carolina Mobile Home Park Residents

ONE_Wake_Thumbnail_copy.jpg

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]




We Mourn Together: Bishop Douglas Miles

Bishop Douglas Miles (left) with Pastor PrenticeIt is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Bishop Douglas Miles, IAF Co-Chair and BUILD Co-Chair Emeritus, passed away August 3, 2021 after complications from heart surgery. 

Bishop was a giant of a man, pastor, leader and friend. For more than 50 years, Bishop Douglas Miles (in photo from left, marching with Pastor Prentice at right) has been on the front-lines of every major social change in Baltimore and every major fight led by IAF. 

As longstanding Metro IAF and BUILD Leader Carol Reckling said, “It’s almost unfathomable to grasp Bishop’s reach. One way or another he impacted every one of us."

We were blessed with one of the greatest. We are all part of his legacy. We miss him dearly and are reminded of the words from God to the prophet that Bishop often closed out actions with, "Whom shall I send, and who shall go for us? And the voice of the prophet responded, 'Here am I, send me.’”

Let us continue to answer the call and fight the good fight. As we grieve his loss, may his incredible prophetic voice, brilliant wisdom, deep laughter, and shared memory guide us.

Please hold his dear wife Rose Miles, sons Pastor Dante and Harvey Miles, his entire family, Koinonia Baptist Church and BUILD in your prayers.

Bishop Douglas Miles, Who Advocated for Baltimore's Impoverished Residents and Co-Headed BUILD, DiesBaltimore Sun [pdf]


California IAF Celebrates Victory on Tenant Protections

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]

Oped by Bishop Oscar Cantú: California Must Release Rent Funds and Stop Evictions, Mercury News 

Santa Cruz County Housing Advocates Seek State Eviction Moratorium ExtensionSanta Cruz Sentinel [pdf]

Local Leaders Ask for Extension of Moratorium on Evictions in CaliforniaTelemundo [en español] [pdf]

California IAF Action on Renter ProtectionCalifornia IAF

Hundreds of Advocates Urge Gov. Newsom to Expand SB91Good Times [pdf]

With Assistance Lagging, State Must Extend Rental Eviction MoratoriumSanta Cruz Sentinel [pdf]

Hundreds of Advocates Urge Gov. Newsom to Expand SB91The Pajaronian [pdf]

 


Time of Transition: Ernesto Cortes Jr. Moves to New Role as IAF Sr. Advisor

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. 

Sincerely,

IAF Co-Chairs
Georgianna Gleason
Bishop Douglas Miles
Bishop Joel Martinez


NJ Together Gets “Fair Chance in Housing Act” Signed Into State Law

June 18, 2021, New Jersey Together organizer Boris Franklin spoke at the state’s first event commemorating Juneteenth held at Calvary Baptist Church in Paterson. At the event, he shared his story and the stories of those directly impacted by the criminal justice system that we’ve listened to in Jersey City & Morris County in recent years.

Gov. Murphy then signed into law the “Fair Chance in Housing Act” that prohibits landlords from asking about a person’s criminal record and limits their use of background checks. The law will be the strongest of its kind in the country.

If you haven’t read the New York Times article profiling Boris’s story and the legislation when the bill passed both houses of the legislature, take a few moments to read it now.

New Jersey Together testified about this bill in Trenton, sharing stories we had heard about the impact on individuals and families we had met who had struggled to access housing because of a past criminal record.

Leadership on this campaign came from Fair Share Housing Center, with strong support from organizations like the Reform Action Center NJ, the NAACP, and many others. Legislative leadership came from Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Assemblywomen Shavonda Sumter, Senator Troy Singleton, Assemblywomen Angela McKnight & Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, as well as from Speaker Coughlin and Senate President Sweeney.

Bill to Help Former Inmates Find Housing A 'Game-Changer' for NJ, Gov. Murphey Says , USA Today


Years of Work by CONECT Culminates in Clean Slate Law for Connecticut

After three years of sustained organizing work by the leaders of CONECT, Gov. Ned Lamont signed the Clean Slate bill into law on June 10, 2021.

“Let this hard-fought win be a model for how states across the country can begin to end the continuing harm of mass incarceration, particularly in its targeting of Black and brown individuals, and build safer, more prosperous communities.” said Rev. Anthony L. Bennett, pastor of Mt. Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport and co-chair of CONECT.

Clean Slate is the automatic erasure of criminal records for certain convictions after between seven and 10 years, for individuals who remain free of the criminal justice system upon release from custody. There was a process to apply for erasure in Connecticut, but the application process was burdensome, costly, bureaucratic, and subjective.

To put this momentous win in perspective:

Clean Slate is a racial justice issue. In Connecticut, black people are 9.4 times more likely than white people to be incarcerated, and Latinx people are 3.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white people. The effects of this systemic racism would persist for decades to come without Clean Slate.

Clean Slate improves public safety. When people's records are erased, they gain access to jobs, housing, and higher education. Recidivism rates dramatically decrease as a result. That makes everyone safer.

Clean Slate boosts the economy. One 2016 study estimates that the collective national impact of the shackles of a criminal record reduces our GDP each year between $78 billion and $87 billion. Based on Connecticut's population, this means the loss of between $859 million and $958 million in economic activity each year in our state. Clean Slate will create job opportunities for thousands of CT residents, thereby expanding our state’s economic growth.

Read CONECT's letter, with Clean Slate allies, commemorating the victory and urging legislators to continue to support Clean Slate.

Gov. Ned Lamont signs ‘clean slate’ bill erasing criminal records of more than 300,000 Connecticut residents into law, Hartford Courant [pdf]

Gov. Signs Clean Slate BillCT News Junkie [pdf]


Texas IAF Blocks $10 Billion Dollar Corporate Tax Giveaway to Big Oil

[Excerpts]

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.”

Oil & Gas Companies Depend on Tax Subsidies and Job Creation Myths to SurviveTruthout  

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]

A Texas Law Offers Tax Breaks to Companies, but It's Renewal Isn't a Done DealTexas Tribune [pdf]

A Controversial Tax Program Promised High Paying Jobs. Instead, Its Costs Spiraled Out of ControlHouston Chronicle [pdf]

Losers and Winners from Chapter 313Central Texas Interfaith

The Unlikely Demise of Texas’ Biggest Corporate Tax Break, Texas Observer [pdf]



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