Click here for West/Southwest IAF Key Victories in 2021
MOC Creates Permanent Housing for People Experiencing Homelessness in Marin County
Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) has for several years worked toward developing permanent housing solutions for unsheltered people. That goal was advanced Tuesday, as the Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to accept a state "Project Homekey" grant and move forward with a site in an abandoned nursing home, creating permanent supportive housing for 43 people.
Hundreds of leaders from MOC member institutions signed and shared the petition in support of the project, wrote letters to the Board, and spoke at the Board meeting both in person and over Zoom. While the project faced significant opposition, MOC demonstrated to elected officials that MOC leaders support and believe in this project.
[In photo: Former nursing home to be converted into permanent, supportive housing. Credit: Shary LaVars, Marin Independent Journal]
Marin Voice: In Support of ‘Housing First,’ Supervisors Should Push for Larkspur Homekey Site, Marin Independent Journal [pdf]
Texas IAF Orgs Impede Plans to Conceal Chapter 313 Data
Following an opposition campaign by Texas IAF organizations, Comptroller Glenn Hegar is backing away from his proposal to gut Chapter 313 reporting and accountability requirements in the program’s final year of existence. Hegar signaled the change Friday after significant pushback by Chapter 313 critics, including a press conference held by Texas IAF organizations in December, and a barrage of public comments submitted to his office against the proposal, with the largest portion coming from Texas IAF leaders.
During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Texas IAF, along with allies, stopped the reauthorization of Chapter 313, the State’s largest corporate tax subsidy program. Though the current program, which costs taxpayers $1-2 Billion per year, is set to expire in December of 2022, Comptroller Hegar had proposed in November to reduce the reporting requirements on jobs, wages, and overall costs to taxpayers.
“Comptroller Hegar has recognized the voices of voters from across the political spectrum, including our organizations, and now says the data we are concerned will continue to be available,” said Bob Fleming, a leader with The Metropolitan Organization, the IAF affiliate in Houston. “However, we remain vigilant because he says the rules will still be revised and made ‘more efficient’. Given the history of this failed and discontinued program, we need even more transparency and accountability, not less.”
[Photo Credit: Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle]
After Backlash, Texas Comptroller Abandons Plan to Hide Details of Controversial Tax Break Program, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
Network of Texas IAF Organizations, Press Release
AMOS Leaders Create New Child Crisis Support System in Iowa
In Des Moines, Iowa AMOS leaders organized a listening campaign in which they learned how the pandemic was wreaking havoc on the mental health of their children. They then launched a research campaign with 85 local officials and health system leaders to undergird the creation a new child crisis support system in central Iowa that includes: the hiring of two mobile crisis responders trained to work with children and adolescents by the Broadlawns Medical Center; a new Polk County Children’s Crisis Mental Health System including a warm line, community stabilization team, youth stabilization center; and youth-trained mobile crisis team. At a delegates assembly, leaders furthermore secured commitments from the Des Moines Police Chief to hire a mental health clinician within 911 dispatch.
Each piece required careful consideration and mobilization of community leadership to demonstrate political support. For example, 100 AMOS leaders appeared at a Broadlawns Medical Center Board Meeting to support the hiring of two mobile crisis responders trained to work with children and adolescents. During the hearing, one of the Trustees declared, "Wow, that's a lot of people."
AMOS leaders followed up on this and other plants of the program, inspired by thousands of Polk County residents who shared stories based on their experiences, conducted research, and organized postcard campaigns and neighborhood walks over 4 years to make new children's crisis support system a reality.
New Mental Health Resources Coming for Children in Polk County, Des Moines Register [pdf]
Polk County Unveils New Mental Health Services for Children, KCCI Des Moines [pdf]
In Memoriam: Michael Clements (1945 - 2022)
With sadness, we report the loss of Michael Clements, longtime IAF organizer. He served as organizer with TMO and predecessor organizations of One-LA during a career that spanned four decades.
After supporting farm workers [with United Farm Workers of America], Clements joined the Industrial Areas Foundation, the longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations in the nation, and moved to Houston to work for the organization... [Back in California], Clements crossed paths with Fred Ross, Sr....
Said Fred Ross, Jr., a Bay Area-based social justice organizer: “My father respected Mike and saw him as one of the up-and- coming organizers back in 1985.”
Said [Cardinal Roger] Mahony, “He was the epitome of a great community organizer backed up by his wonderful Catholic faith, especially the social teachings of the church, which he knew inside and out from the Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum in 1891 all the way to Pope Francis today.”
[Photo Credit: Scott Smeltzer, Los Angeles Times]
VOICE Gathers to Challenge Congressional Representatives to Condemn Jan. 6 Insurrection
Members of VOICE-OKC gathered in Oklahoma City to challenge the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation to condemn the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
"A small group braved frigid temperatures in Oklahoma City on Thursday to assert their support of democracy, a system they believe was threatened by the riot at U.S. Capitol a year ago.
"I am here today because I feel like our democracy...is really important for the people," said Maureen Harvey, chair of Voices Organized in Civic Engagement, or VOICE. "And our representatives are acting like nothing happened."
[Remarking on the grief felt about the Jan. 6 insurrection], "...many people saw this as an assault and not just against this country, not just against our seat of government and our democracy and free elections, but against their life's work," said the Rev. Diana Davies, of the First Unitarian Church in Oklahoma City.
[Photo Credit: Doug Hoke and Addison Kliewer, The Oklahoman]
Oklahomans Gather to Reflect on Anniversary of Jan. 6 Insurrection, The Oklahoman [pdf]
Texas IAF Calls On State Comptroller to Abandon Plan to Gut Chapter 313 Subsidy Accountability Requirements
"Lawmakers have ordered Comptroller Glenn Hegar to wrap up Texas’s biggest corporate tax break program, but he wants to give companies one last gift: an end to public accountability.
Activists, corporate relocation specialists and lawmakers are scrambling to comment on Hegar’s proposal that companies no longer report key data about their progress toward meeting the terms of their property tax abatement agreements.
Interfaith groups that fought the corporate giveaway that hurts Texas children demanded Hegar roll back his plan on Wednesday.
“What is the benefit of less accountability and less transparency?” San Antonio state Senator José Menéndez asked at a Texas Industrial Areas Foundation press conference. “The taxpayer should know how their money is going to be used and what they are getting in exchange.”"
Texas Comptroller Proposes Covering Up Corporate Welfare Program, The Houston Chronicle [pdf]
Network of Texas IAF Organizations, along with Public Officials, Hold Press Conference to Call on Comptroller Hegar to Abandon Attempt to Gut Chapter 313 Transparency and Accountability, Texas IAF
VOICE-OKC Denounces Oklahoma Corporation Commission for Failure to Protect Consumers During Freeze
[Excerpt from Guest Column by VOICE-OKC leaders]
"In the matter of the February Freeze and utility costs, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) is failing us.
OCC's own "Vision" promises to "hold itself and utilities accountable to the citizens of Oklahoma," but it allows secrecy and evades answering public questions.
VOICE is a coalition of churches and community groups concerned about issues affecting families, so we looked at OCC documents. Utilities don't profit from the February price spikes, so why secrecy? In the middle of the freeze, Oklahoma Natural Gas (ONG) asked the OCC on Feb. 16 to keep all price records secret. The OCC said yes after just 48 hours.
We now know that ONG put Oklahomans in debt by an extra $1.3 billion in just nine days.
.... VOICE-OKC made the common-sense suggestion that when home energy prices spike suddenly, consumers should receive real-time updates from utilities. Imagine how much more conservation would have occurred in February if utilities (as they knew) said "your price for energy tomorrow is going up by 500%." However, OCC has dismissed this idea; it's another example of OCC favoring monopoly corporations over consumers."
[Photo Credit: From right to left: Eric Jergensen, President of VOICE Action Fund and S. Bennet Goldman, a member of VOICE through First Unitarian Church of OKC. Via The Oklahoman]
Viewpoint: Oklahoma Corporation Commission Is Failing Consumers on Utility Price Hikes, The Oklahoman [pdf]
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 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.
Church leaders praise city, county for committing fed funds toward homelessness, Austin Monitor [pdf]
Central Texas Interfaith Leaders Share Plans for $200 Million, Will Be Used to Address Homelessness, CBS Austin [pdf]
Homeless Housing Plans, Spectrum News [video]
Several Austin City Council Members Concerned About Spending on Homelessness Services, KXAN [pdf]
Interfaith Group Calls for Immediate Action on Homelessness, Austin Monitor [pdf]
Headlines / Quote of the Week, Austin Chronicle [pdf]
Líderes Religiosos Exigen Que las Autoridades Locales Tomen Acción para Ayudar a Indigentes, Univision [video]
Central Texas Interfaith Calls on Austin-Travis Officials to Invest, Address Homelessness, CBS Austin [pdf]
Press Conference Footage, Central Texas Interfaith
VOICE Condemns Corporation Commission Conflict
VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement) of Oklahoma City condemns the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for apparent conflict of interest in campaign contributions they have received.
The three elected members of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities and numerous other industries, have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from those they’re tasked with regulating during their most recent election cycle, a CNHI Oklahoma [News] investigation has found.
“The rubber stamping so quickly has me worried that this world is just too cozy between regulators and the companies they’re supposed to be watching," said Steven Goldman, a member of VOICE, a coalition of groups that have come together to advocate for Oklahoma City-area residents. He became interested in the Commission after members of his Oklahoma City congregation started expressing concerns about increasing utility rates.
Goldman said he believes the Commission is more invested in protecting businesses over consumers and in limiting public access.....
"[R]oofing contractors face litigation from the Attorney General’s Office if they raise prices more than 10% after a natural disaster, but companies that increased natural gas costs by 1,000% have yet to face any consequences."
Questions Raised about Conflicts of Interest Involving Oklahoma Corporation Commission, CNHI News [pdf]
One LA Leaders Persuade City Planning Commission to Reject Demolition of Affordable Housing Near Temple
One LA leaders from Temple Beth Am played an important role in the Los Angeles Planning Commission's decision to reject a redevelopment project that would have eliminated 12 units of affordable housing in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, a desert for subsidized housing units. The proposed plan would have resulted in the demolition of 6 commercial properties and 12 units of rent stabilized housing to construct a 7-story hotel in their place.
Temple Beth Am leaders from One LA have been working with city officials to mitigate the loss of precious affordable housing. While not opposed to the redevelopment of the area, they expressed concerns about losing housing in a neighborhood where the local city council district office had confirmed that it did not have any housing units that could benefit from the city’s linkage fee program.
Nancy Goldstone, a leader with One LA and resident of Pico-Robertson said,
“This hotel project was going to eliminate affordable housing in an area where there is very little to none.
As a One LA leader it was important for me and our team to organize and have conversations with city officials to let them know that this project did not serve the interests or general good of the neighborhood.”
City Planning Commission Rejects Pico-Robertson Hotel Development, Urbanize Los Angeles