In 2021 West/Southwest IAF affiliates continued to fight for families and the vulnerable in their communities, even through the ongoing pandemic. Read about their victories here.
Climate Change · Housing · Mental Health · Immigration · Taxes & State Finance · Labor Market Intermediaries · Pandemic Response · Disaster Response · Public Education · Recognition
Texas IAF Blocks Billions in Giveaways to Big Oil and Preserves State Funding for Public Schools
Texas IAF at Capitol. [Top Right Photo Credit: Eddie Seal/Intercept via Getty Images]
Texas IAF organizations successfully blocked the reauthorization of a longstanding corporate tax exemption that favored industrial and petrochemical companies. Killing the fossil fuel bill simultaneously preserved funding for public schools and challenged the influence of big oil and gas in Texas.
Together Louisiana has been engaged in a similar effort to reform their state industrial tax exemption program.
HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS
California IAF Revamps State Tenant Protections to Keep Low-Income Families Housed
This summer, over 600 California IAF leaders convened on Zoom to call for the extension of the state eviction moratorium and expansion of protections to allow greater flexibility with rental aid. Catholic Bishop Oscar Cantú (whose op-ed can be read here), Episcopal Bishop Lucinda Ashby and two state legislators joined the call. After hundreds of leaders contacted their elected officials, protections were expanded.
IAF Orgs in Oklahoma, California, Arizona and Texas Protect Families from Displacement
[Photo Credit: Catholic News Service]
As the pandemic and its economic impacts persisted into a second year, organizations from Oklahoma to Texas to California worked furiously to keep low-income families housed.
- VOICE-OKC and Tulsa-based ACTION leveraged over $26 Million for rental assistance in Oklahoma.
- Catholic press cites organizing efforts to keep people housed across West & Southwest US.
- TMO secured $11.3 Million in federal funding for rental assistance in Brazoria County.
- Marin Organizing Committee enacted moratoriums on rent increases (rent freezes) in the seven census tracts most affected by the pandemic in wealthy Marin County.
- One LA-IAF leaders protected 12 units of affordable housing near a Central LA synagogue.
- After state tenant protections changed, COPA leaders in Central California quickly mobilized to ensure renters accessed expanded support.
Central Texas Interfaith Secures Over $200M to Address Homelessness in Austin, Travis County
[Photo credit: Spectrum & Austin Chronicle]
After working to defend the dignity of people experiencing homelessness and preventing low-income families from displacement, over 100 Central Texas Interfaith leaders publicly celebrated the investment of $220+ Million in federal funding into homelessness prevention and support. They were joined by the Austin mayor and Travis County judge who recognized leaders' partnership and doggedness in addressing this and other regional challenges.
AMOS (Iowa) & Dallas Area Interfaith Expand Youth Access to Mental Health Support
AMOS’s (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) four-year long fight began with house meetings and ended with 100 AMOS leaders attending a Broadlawns Medical Center Board Meeting to compel the hiring of two mobile crisis responders trained to work with children and adolescents.
Following a spate of suicides, Dallas Area Interfaith is leading an effort to normalize conversations about mental health among parishioners and increase access to needed mental health services.
As Recognizing the Stranger Training Continues, Local Strategies Flourish
Valley Interfaith leaders with Bishop Daniel E. Flores. [Photo Credit: Joe Hinojosa]
With continued support from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and Mission & Ministry Impact (MMI), immigrant and nonimmigrant leaders participated in training and engaged in local action in support of low-income immigrants.
- 100+ leaders from 22 parishes heard Bishop Daniel E. Flores speak in 'Recognizing the Stranger' training sponsored by Valley Interfaith in the Rio Grande Valley.
- After receiving CCHD recognition for 2020 pandemic relief efforts, DAI leaders welcomed youth migrants to Dallas, and then sounded the alarm about conditions in the shelter.
- VIP leaders, with Daughters of Charity, engaged Spanish-speakers in door-to-door parish outreach about local vaccine clinics.
TAXES & STATE FINANCES
AZ Interfaith Network Proves Vital in Petition Drive Against Lowest Flat Tax in the Nation
Rev. Procter Murphy speaks at joint press conference [Credit: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services]
This summer, Arizona Interfaith Network and education coalition partners halted the lowest so-called “flat tax” ever enacted by a state. By demanding a referendum, the coalition of faith and school leaders stopped a reworking of Arizona’s tax code that would have reduced revenue by over $1 billion annually, harming public schools which constitute half of the state budget. The issue will return to the ballot in 2022.
LABOR MARKET INTERMEDIARIES
Study Verifies Outsized Impact of El Paso Project, Funding for Training Grows in Arizona & Texas
[Photo Credit: Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star]
According to a study by the Hunt Institute of Global Competitiveness at the University of Texas at El Paso, Project ARRIBA, a workforce initiative established by EPISO/Border Interfaith has an estimated $893 Million impact on El Paso.
As evidence of considerable local impact mounts, public sector support for IAF labor market intermediaries continues to grow. Texas IAF negotiated the inclusion of $4.23 Million for Adult Career and Education (ACE) in the state budget for the biennium, while Corridor Interfaith leaders leveraged $50,000 for a southward expansion of Capital IDEA into Hays County (Central Texas).
Pima County Interfaith (Southern Arizona) saw earlier efforts to expand local funding for Jobpath validated as $1 Million in federal ARPA funding was announced to be earmarked for the local intermediary.
West/Southwest IAF Orgs Lead Vaccine Equity Efforts in California, Arizona, Texas & Louisiana
Vaccination clinic at St. Brigid Catholic Church in South LA. [Photo Credit: Rafael Paz]
Spearheading local efforts like vaccination clinics, neighborhood walks and registration events, West/Southwest IAF organizations implemented strategies to bring vaccines to communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and with the least initial access to the vaccine.
- One LA brought vaccines to 900 seniors and essential workers in South LA.
- Together New Orleans leaders brought a marching band to their door-to-door walk in targeted neighborhoods.
- Dallas Area Interfaith engaged immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America in parish-centered vaccination clinics.
- The Metropolitan Organization brought close to 800 vaccines to low-income and unincorporated areas of Harris County.
- TMO's expansion project, Southeast Texas Faith & Community Leaders Coalition, brought vaccines to low-income areas of Jefferson County.
- In what the press is calling an "act of love," Valley Interfaith Project engaged Spanish-speaking neighbors in advance of a several clinics.
COPA-Powered Community Health Workers Reach 10,000+ Laborers Impacted by COVID-19
[Photo Credit: Jose Angel Juarez/Monterey County Weekly]
After COPA leveraged nearly $5 million for a pilot program, 100 trusted community health workers (mostly immigrant woman) were hired by Monterey County to support low-income workers. These women reached tens of thousands of laborers with prevention education, PPE and support during quarantines.
After Devastating Freeze, Texas and Oklahoma IAF Coordinate Relief and Demand Accountability
[Photo credit, Isabelle Baldwin, Catholic News Service]
February’s Winter Storm Uri knocked out power across many states, killing hundreds and endangering thousands. With households across Texas left without power for days, Texas IAF leaders first responded to humanitarian needs, and then pointed out how failures of public officials led to this widespread catastrophe.
In the weeks and months following this most costly storm in the history of Texas, residents were left with unsafe homes and expensive repairs. Bishops, clergy and leaders called on the state to weatherize the electrical grid before the next storm.
The storm also threatened outrageous utility bills for households, leading Oklahoma VOICE-OKC leaders to call for consumer protections against exorbitant costs passed down to them.
[Photo credits: Nathan W. Armes, Chalkbeat, Coloradans for the Common Good]
Across the network, organizations are engaging local parents, teachers and school leaders in conversations about how public schools can be responsive to the needs of students and families.
- Coloradans for the Common Good leaders challenged the inequity of an accountability system based on standardized testing.
- COPS/Metro in San Antonio launched a new working relationship with Southside Independent School District to promote fuller parent participation.
- Dallas Area Interfaith called for the inclusion of low-income families in plans to bridge the digital gap.
- HEB Foundation profiles COPS/Metro leader Virginia Mata, who retells the story of San Antonio's Westside with a fresh lens.
- San Antonio Express-News recognizes Ernesto Cortes and COPS/Metro as "visionaries guided by service" as Cortes transitions into a new role.
- AMOS chronicles the olympian story behind the establishment of Lauridsen Skatepark in Des Moines.
- After Amanda Gorman's inaugural reading, One LA & St. Brigid Catholic gain press attention for their community engagement.
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