Click here for West/Southwest IAF Key Victories in 2018

TMO Leverages $26.5 Million in Rental, Food & Utility Relief in Fort Bend County

[Excerpts]

"Rev. David Lee Sincere Jr. with Fort Bend Transformation Church, Advocacy Now Institute and The Metropolitan Organization was one of several county residents and officials who spoke at Commissioners Court about the need for rental, mortgage and utility assistance. He said he has received a number of phone calls, emails and stories from residents who require help."

[Photo Credit: Screenshot via Fort Bend County]

Fort Bend County Launches $19.5M Rental Assistance Program June 1st, Community Impact Newspaper

 


COPA, California IAF Fights to Support Essential, Undocumented Workers

[Excerpts]

In mid-April, Governor Gavin Newsom allocated $75 million in emergency assistance to undocumented immigrants impacted by the pandemic. Philanthropic organizations and private donors pledged an additional $50 million. 

But, undocumented immigrants still don’t qualify for the federal stimulus checks and can’t apply for unemployment insurance. They are also barred from the state’s tax credit program for low-income workers.  

“Governor Newsom has come out many times to talk about the value of the immigrant community, a recognition that the undocumented are part of California and deserve to be part of the California dream. And this... this is contradictory to leaving people out of that tax break,” said McManus....

Immigrant advocates say they’re not giving up, especially now. 

“At the same time that we can see the disparity right now. We also can see how much we benefit from them,” said Maria Elena Manzo, a COPA leader.

COPA’s Tim McManus says this fight is about recognition through policy, and putting money in people’s pockets.

“So forgetting about what you think about fairness or justice or morality, this is an economic stimulus. We're gonna recover stronger if all of California can land back on their feet sooner,” he said. 

[Photo Credit: Claudia Meléndez Salinas, Voices of Monterey Bay]

No Relief HereVoices of Monterey Bay 

The Fight to Short Up The Safety Net for Undocumented WorkersKAZU [pdf]


As Coronavirus Disproportionately Targets Latinos, DAI Organizes to Address Poverty & Vulnerability

[Excerpt]

On a balmy day at the St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church in East Dallas, parishioners working with the nonprofit Dallas Area Interfaith talked among themselves about problems they faced as they passed out food to a long line of needy people.

Rosa Garcia said she was already helping family cope with the deaths of two family members in Dallas when her husband found out two more relatives had died in Florida. “For immigrants, it is harder. We have to struggle three times harder,” Garcia said.

Nearby, a small woman named Cecilia with a white face mask set below bloodshot eyes took a break. She said she didn’t sleep much because rats and bugs have infested her apartment, and she must be on guard that they don’t bite her children at night.

Cecilia lives on a janitor’s wages. She asked that her surname not be published because she is undocumented and fears she’d lose her job. She can’t pay her rent and the landlord says it will be an extra $300 if she wants to change apartments....

[Photo Credit: Ben Torres, Special Contributor, Dallas Morning News]

On The Front Lines, Latinos Fight The Coronavirus, Poverty And Vulnerability As Contagion Rages Through Texas, Dallas Morning News [pdf]


Valley Interfaith Fights for Expansion of Housing Relief, Hidalgo Starts with $7.5M in Rent and Mortgage Support

[Excerpt]

Eddie Anaya, a member of Valley Interfaith, asked commissioners during the public comment section of the meeting to consider raising the program’s funding to $25 million.

“In just over three months, as of May 18, 2020, the Texas Workforce Commission reported 25,667 residents in Hidalgo County lost their job and filed for unemployment,” Anaya said. “Then there’s the other countless taxpayers and residents from Hidalgo County who are ineligible for unemployment, insurance or CARES Act benefits. Valley Interfaith is proposing that you help these families through a renter’s assistance program.”

Joe Hinojosa, a Valley Interfaith leader from Holy Spirit Church in McAllen, said the pandemic has been “incredibly painful” and noted that nearly 40% of Hidalgo County residents are uninsured.

Through the nonprofit, he also urged commissioners to increase funding for the Indigent Health Program. They are currently investing $6.1 million, Hinojosa said, urging them to increase it to $15.3 million, or 8% of the county’s total budget. Hinojosa also suggested commissioners loosen that program’s restrictions and allow families that are at 100% or below the federal poverty line to apply for healthcare assistance, as opposed to the current cutoff at 30%.

[Photo credit: Joel Martinez, The Monitor]

Hidalgo Co. Starts $7.5M Rent, Mortgage Relief ProgramThe Monitor [pdf]


TMO Leverages $26.5 Million in Rental, Food & Utility Relief in Fort Bend County

"Rev. David Lee Sincere Jr. with Fort Bend Transformation Church, Advocacy Now Institute and The Metropolitan Organization was one of several county residents and officials who spoke at Commissioners Court about the need for rental, mortgage and utility assistance. He said he has received a number of phone calls, emails and stories from residents who require help."

[Photo Credit: Screenshot via Fort Bend County]

City Mayors, Economic Development President, Fort Bend ISD Divided Over Division Of Federal COVID-19 Fund, Houston Chronicle [pdf]

Fort Bend County OKs Budget For Distributing $134M CARES Act Funds, Community Impact [pdf]

George Joins Others In Asking State To Extend Eviction Moratorium, Fort Bend Herald [pdf]

Fort Bend County Announces List Of CARES Act Funds Distribution Advisory Committee Members, Community Impact [pdf]

Fort Bend County To Host Workshop On Distributing $134M In CARES Act Funds, Community Impact [pdf]

Fort Bend County Launches $19.5M Rental Assistance Program June 1, Community Impact [pdf]


MOC Leverages Eviction Moratorium Extension Through June, Calls for More

[Excerpt]

Sami Mericle, a representative of the Marin Organizing Committee, thanked the board for acting to further protect vulnerable renters during the health emergency but urged supervisors to “continue to explore ways to keep workers housed for the duration of the public health crisis and the economic recession that is already upon us.”

“An additional month of breathing room will still not be enough time for households who have lost several months of income,” Mericle said. “Even once the shelter-in-place is fully lifted, we expect the demand for jobs such as gardeners, house cleaners and restaurant workers will still be diminished, leaving many people unemployed.”

 

Marin Supervisors Extend Moratorium On Residential Evictions, Marin Independent Journal [pdf]


DAI Fights for Poultry Plant Worker Protections in Irving

[Excerpts]

...workers who labor shoulder to shoulder at the plant and others fear the contagion has spread to more people in the Dallas area. Sick workers who do not get themselves tested could spread the virus when they are out and about or when they return to the plant.

“The workers at these plants are essential workers, especially now,” said auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly of the Dallas Catholic Diocese. “They help keep the food supply chain intact for all of us… They are particularly vulnerable because of the kind of work that they do and in greater need of protection at this time. Just as the state has done elsewhere in Texas, they should require testing of their employees for the safety of all."

....

Josephine Lopez-Paul, an organizer for Dallas Area Interfaith, said she is organizing a plan to assist those families. “It’s in our collective interest to protect these workers,” Lopez-Paul said. “The state also has a responsibility to these workers.”

[Photo Credit: Ryan Michalesko, Dallas Morning News]

Experts, Activists Want Virus Testing at Meat-Processing Plants to Prevent Community Spread, Dallas Morning News [pdf]

 


TMO Pushes for Extension of Harris Co. Eviction Moratorium

[Excerpt]

Seven [commissioners], plus the one Mayor Turner spoke to, said they plan to postpone eviction hearings until June. That’s great news to Mesias Pedroza, a leader with The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), who today was helping to pack meals for families with meals.

“Just right now we’re preparing for service giving food supplies to families and they come and say ‘hey we need help with rent. We can not pay for rent. We don’t have a job. What are we going to do? Where are we going to go?” Pedroza said.

As of Wednesday, there were 1,286 evictions pending in Harris County. Since March 18, 1,591 have been filed, according to data collected by January Advisers.

On Tuesday, TMO sent a letter to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo asking her to extend the moratorium on evictions which expired May 19. Judge Hidalgo has said that’s not in her power but she and county commissioners have allocated $30 million to help struggling families with relief.

“At TMO we believe they have the legal basis to do so because other counties have done so,” Pedroza countered. “There is ample discretion because the Texas Supreme Court they have said eviction orders may resume it doesn’t say that it shall resume.

[Photo Credit: KPRC Click 2 Houston]

Houston Mayor’s Tweet Sparks Optimism to Families Facing Evictions, Click 2 Houston [pdf]

Editorial: What Houston Must Do To Avoid Eviction Disaster, Houston Chronicle [pdf]


AMOS Pushes for Expanded State Investment in Mental Healthcare for Children and Adults

 

[Excerpt]

The Legislature made great progress in 2018 and 2019 in reforming Iowa’s systems of mental health care for children and adults. When fully implemented, Iowa’s children and their families, indeed all Iowans, will greatly benefit from their fine work. With that solid start, the necessary next step is providing adequate, predictable, sustainable funding for the new system. We understand COVID-19 has impacted Iowa’s budget, however mental health services for adults and children have become even more critical. In crafting Iowa’s next state budget, we ask legislators to consider:

Maintaining current funding amounts for adults and increasing funding for children’s mental health crisis services to include a statewide hotline, provide for local mobile crisis services for children, and to provide crisis observation centers specifically for children;

Lifting restrictions to enable dollar shifts in any region that has had insufficient funds to pay for adult and children’s mental health prior to COVID-19 and now faces cutting services;

Extending broadband so all people in Iowa can receive telemedicine services which includes mental health services;

Extending the cutoff for telemedicine and the reimbursement rate. Mental health concerns (including COVID related) will not end when confinements end but will continue post COVID physical health concerns;

Ensuring telemedicine reimbursement rates for mental health are mandatory for ALL insurers.

[Photo courtesy of AMOS]

Lawmakers, Please Don't Lose Momentum on Mental Health, Iowa Capital Dispatch [pdf]


TMO Calls for More Rental Aid As $15M in Houston Rental Assistance Dries Up in 90 Minutes

[Exerpts]

HOUSTON — The $15 million meant to help Houstonians pay rent is already gone. The money dried up in less than 90 minutes....

The Metropolitan Organization was hosting two application clinics this morning to help families without internet access apply. Large crowds waited in line starting at 5 a.m. Because of the issues with the site many families weren't able to apply before it was shut down.
....

"They designed a system to give away $15 million quickly and yes it was a success they gave away $15 million, but did it get to the people with the greatest need, I question that," said Joe Higgs, Executive Director of TMO.
....

As many as 30,000 tried to access the website, an indication of the need for rent relief in the wake of COVID-19, which has led to business shutdowns and skyrocketing unemployment. Housing advocates have said the money does not go far enough in helping renters.

Houston's $15 Million Rental Assistance Program Fills Up In 90 Minutes, Houston Chronicle

All Funds For Houston Rental Assistance Are Already Gone And Site Is Now Closed, KHOU 11 [pdf]

$15 Million In Rent Relief Claimed In Less Than 2 Hours, As Tenant Demand Creates Lag In Response, Houston Public Media [pdf]

Houston's $15 Million In Rent Assistance Runs Out In Just Two Hours, Click To Houston [pdf]