Metro IAF 2014 Victories

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(22 Organizations in MA, CT, NY, NJ, MD, DC, VA, NC, OH, IL, WI)
Gun Violence, Criminal Justice Reform, and Police Accountability
Affordable Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization
Jobs and Health Care
Youth and Schools
Immigrant Organizing and Local Actions





Connecticut Governor & Boston Mayor Support

CONECT leader Rev. Anthony Bennett leads DNSIB event with public officials in Bridgeport, CT.

Metro IAF launched Do Not Stand Idly By an innovative campaign to reduce gun violence by using the purchasing power of local, state and federal government agencies to leverage change in the firearms industry.  In 2014, Metro IAF began building a bloc of public-sector gun purchasers with the power to win changes in the way the gun industry designs and distributes guns in the United States.  Highlights include:
  • Meeting with top executives of Glock and SIG Sauer -- the two largest providers of police guns in the U.S. -- at a gun show in Nuremberg, Germany in March, and learning how these manufacturers view the U.S. market. 
  • Gaining the support of public officials in 69 jurisdictions in 13 states. These officials are Democratic and Republican, and include mayors, police chiefs, sheriffs, governors and county executives representing 23 million Americans and
  • Delivering a Request for Information (RFI) to the U.S. headquarters of seven major gun manufacturers on behalf of our growing group of allies in the public sector.  Cook County (IL) Sheriff Tom Dart described the RFI as a "set of reasonable questions that any gun purchaser should ask of the companies they buy guns from."  The RFI seeks information on the manufacturers' distribution practices and their capabilities in the area of gun safety technology.
  • Building relationships with key players in the emerging field of personalized guns, or "smart guns," and learning the specific challenges they face in moving their technologies to market.
  • Winning significant local and national press coverage: Washington Post. New York Times, New York Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Durham CAN in North Carolina won a nationally recognized police accountability agreement regarding traffic stops and biased policing toward African American residents. Police are now required to inform drivers in English & Spanish of their right to decline a vehicle search, and officers must receive written consent from drivers before searching their cars. Durham CAN worked with partners to analyze police data and show that the Durham police searched black male motorists at more than twice the rate of white males during stops, while drugs and other illicit materials were found no more often on blacks. Read more in the New York Times. 
GCC Leaders Demand Police Accountability and Reform in Cleveland

Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) wins Cuyahoga County law enforcement task force to stop crime guns from entering neighborhoods.  In response to GCC’s demand, Cuyahoga County Sherriff Frank Bova assembled law enforcement agencies to halt the pipeline of crime guns flowing into Greater Cleveland communities. Approximately, one out of three guns used in crimes in Cuyahoga County are purchased from three stores located in the county. After months researching how to act on gun violence locally, GCC summoned law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to collaborate and cooperate to identify, arrest, and prosecute gun sellers and buyers who break the law by establishing a multi-jurisdiction crime gun unit that would find guns, trace guns used in crimes and fully enforce the law. In September, Sherriff Bova formed the first-ever crime gun unit in the county.

Greater Cleveland Congregations at a 1,000 person public action challenged Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty to shut down the “felony factory” in Greater Cleveland and enact comprehensive criminal justice reform. In response to GCC’s call for reform, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty signed an “innovative and historic” agreement to ensure fair and equal treatment of all juvenile offenders. Previously, 90% of urban juvenile offenders arrested were sent to jail compared to half of suburban juveniles. As a result, now all youth offenders will be treated equally in Cuyahoga County no matter where they live. GCC is currently negotiating with Prosecutor McGinty to stop the practice of charging low-level, non-violent drug abuse as felonies. Instead divert offenders and treat drug abuse as a public health issue. 



Metro IAF leader shows mold and sewer pipe leak in her NYCHA apartment

Metro IAF: New York won a court consent decree that forces New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to make more than 19,000+ repairs that affect thousands of low-income tenants citywide.  Residents have waited in vain, sometimes for years, for NYCHA to answer requests to clean up toxic mold and fix other housing code violations.  More than 2,000 Metro IAF NY leaders challenged NYC Mayor & the new NYCHA chairwoman to make much-needed repairs to apartments severely damaged by mold and other disrepair. As part of the consent order, NYCHA must now address the problems within set time periods. It must inform all tenants that asthma is a disability — and that tenants afflicted with asthma are eligible for accommodations, like mold-free apartments. Finally, NYCHA must submit to federal court oversight for 30-to-36 months, so that tenants have a tool to hold the agency accountable if it fails to meet its obligations.  Read in the New York Times.  Metro IAF NY leaders also forced NYCHA to make another 500 repairs in more than 300 apartments throughout the city. 

New ShopRite in Baltimore’s Howard Park Neighborhood

BUILD celebrated the opening of the $30 million ShopRite Supermarket in the Howard Park community in northwest Baltimore. After 15 years of BUILD’s local organizing to deliver a quality supermarket to a food desert, the 68,000 square foot supermarket includes a health clinic, a pharmacy, and community rooms. The supermarket hired 250 employees, 40% of them full time, and approximately 80% from within 5 miles of the store. Read the Press.  
UPAJ & SWOP Leaders celebrate Reclaiming SW Chicago funding at action with IL Governor Quinn

United Power for Action and Justice (UPAJ) and its member Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) launched Reclaiming Southwest Chicago, a strategic effort to reclaim and rebuild the historically stable and vibrant neighborhoods of Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, West Lawn, and West Elston.  The neighborhoods were hit hard by foreclosures and vacant properties in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, but were blessed by vibrant institutions full of active residents interested in reclaiming their community as a place of hope and opportunity.  Through an intensive organizing effort, UPAJ and SWOP secured a total of $15 million of investment - $3 million from the Illinois Attorney General, approximately $1 million from the City of Chicago and an allocation of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority that will leverage over $7 million in private equity.  In October, at a 300-person action with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn they secured the final $4 million from the State of Illinois needed to begin construction on the first of a three-phased strategic and concentrated acquisition and rehabilitation of multi-family and single-family properties in Southwest Chicago. 
  WIN leaders support formerly homeless youth, testifying to DC Council on the need for action to end youth homelessness.

Washington (DC) Interfaith Network leaders organized with partners Sasha Bruce, LAYC, Covenant House, and DC Alliance of Youth Advocates to pass the End Youth Homelessness Amendment Act in the Spring 2014, with funding for additional emergency beds for youth under age 24 that could serve an estimated 150+ youth a year, 10 additional longer-term transitional placements, the right to hypothermia shelter for youth, coordinated intake, enhanced street outreach, and an enhanced youth count to make sure fewer homeless youth slip through the cracks.  DC has one of the highest per capita youth homelessness rates in the US.  
VOICE Leaders Demand JP Morgan Reinvest To Rebuild Blighted Communities

Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community (VOICE) won $75 million+ in grants to equity restoration funds to rebuild communities blighted by foreclosure in Prince William Virginia & across the country in the Department of Justice (DOJ) Bank of America & Citibank Toxic Mortgage Backed Securities (TMBS) settlements. VOICE organized, with support from Senator Mark Warner (VA), to press DOJ to include these mandatory grants to help restore homeownership rates in low wealth communities hardest hit by foreclosure.  VOICE has organized for the last 24 months to hold 3 financial institutions (Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, & General Electric) accountable for the foreclosure crisis in Prince William County, VA, which had over 27,000 foreclosures, the highest in Virginia. 


Metro IAF affiliates won new money for affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization: 
  • Action in Montgomery (MD), AIM won a $7 million affordable housing funding increase, raising total county investment to $45 million for FY 2015.  AIM’s organizing created the Housing Initiatives Fund, the first in Washington DC region, which has invested over $400+ million in affordable housing over the last 15 years, resulting in the production and preservation of over 6,000 affordable housing units.  
  • Washington (DC) Interfaith Network WIN secured $40 million, increasing the District of Columbia’s affordable housing investment in 2014-2015 to $79 million.  During the 2014 Mayoral elections, WIN also secured pledges from all the candidates to increase DC affordable housing funding to $100 million annually from FY 2016-2020.   WIN then spent the spring, summer, and fall talking with, educating, and securing commitments from 7,500+ DC residents to vote.  On January 8th, new DC Mayor Muriel Bowser reported to 950 WIN leaders packed into St. Augustine’s RC that she will keep her campaign pledge to WIN and allocate $100 million to affordable housing in her FY 2016-2017 budget.
  • Justice United won $689,000 to capitalize a housing trust fund in Chapel Hill, NC, home to the University of North Carolina. In response to a severe shortage of affordable housing in Orange County Justice United catalyzed the creation of the Affordable Housing Coalition, a round table of all affordable housing service providers and advocates in the county. Working with the Coalition in 2014 JU won an annual allocation of $689,000 in Chapel Hill property tax revenue for affordable housing preservation and development.  


DuPage United, WIN, PATH, BUILD
High Wage Jobs in IL, MD, & DC

Students train for high wage manufacturing jobs in DuPage Co, IL
  • DuPage United in suburban Chicago won $200,000 to launch Career Connect Metro West, a non-profit established to help connect and train unemployed and underemployed people to quality living-wage jobs in Chicago’s western suburbs.  DuPage County alone has an estimated 50,000 working poor who need a way to be prepared for and connected to quality living wage careers in growing employment sectors that lack qualified candidates for existing openings.  Career Connect's first effort will be to target the mid-skills jobs gap in the local manufacturing sector.  Over the next 10 years, DuPage County’s 1,700 manufacturers will need to replace 9,000 retiring employees. Manufacturing companies have turned down business due to lack of skilled workers.  Starting pay for these jobs are about $12-15 per hour and with on the job training receive about $20 per hour within a year or two.   To date, Career Connect has recruited at total of 232 people, approximately 35% people of color and 30% women. All 232 candidates will be added to a database for employers to search for potential new workers. Career Connect has provided Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC), the training provider, with 48 quality candidates for welding and CNC programs (computerized manufacturing training). Currently, 14 of the individuals accepted have started training, 15 individuals are filing for funding with WorkNet DuPage, 9 are being tutored in math in order to begin training, and 1 graduated and is now employed full time.
  • BUILD organized to ensure 82% local hiring for new development in East Baltimore. BUILD brokered a $1 million agreement between The Reinvestment Fund-Development Partners and Humanim to support hiring East Baltimore residents and returning citizens.  BUILD is organizing to replicate this TRF-DP/Humanim model partnership with employers who care about improving public safety across the city over the next year by hiring the most “ready” ex-offenders. BUILD’s goal is to secure employment and training for 150 workers over 3 years.

Howard County/READY Youth build rain garden. DC residents apply for water tunnel jobs.
  • PATH in Howard County, MD won over $500,000 to fund and to expand the Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY) program to include a year-round crew of six young adults, in addition to the 45 full-time, living wage summer positions to construct green infrastructure. This remediation is mandated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.  Over the last three years, PATH through READY has secured over $1.5 Million in stormwater infrastructure funding to create 125 full-time living wage summer job positions for young adults and to address over 21 acres of storm-water runoff.  PATH's ongoing actions and accountability to create the READY youth conservation corps is giving students job experience and helping to train a new generation of environmental leaders.
  • Washington Interfaith Network (WIN DC) leaders organized for increased local hiring in living wage and green jobs on public works projects, and ban-the-box legislation for returning citizens.  Before 550 WIN leaders in February 2014, every candidate for DC mayor (including Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser), committed to vote for Ban the Box, put pressure on DC Water to increase local hiring to 15% on DC’s $2 billion water pollution project, and include local hiring and wage accountability in a major utility project financed with city support. At the same action, DC Water General Manager Hawkins pledged to increase local hiring on major contracts, and implement a Green Infrastructure training/ jobs pilot.   WIN then spent the spring, summer, and fall talking with, educating, and securing commitments from 7,500+ DC residents to vote.  On January 8th, new DC Mayor Muriel Bowser reported to 950 WIN leaders packed into St. Augustine’s RC that she will keep her campaign pledge to WIN and compel DC Water to hire more DC residents.

                                        HEALTH CARE 

GBIO Leaders Demand Health Cost Containment at MA Statehouse
  •  GBIO in Boston fought successfully to implement a 2012 law it won placing 3.6% rate cap on medical cost increases in Massachusetts.   In 2013-2014, cost growth declined to 2.1% statewide without reducing quality of care-- a radical reduction from previous years.  In addition, GBIO led the public review process that concluded with a court order preventing the expansion of the largest and most expensive hospital system that would have further inflated medical costs.   In 2006, GBIO won comprehensive universal health care reform in Massachusetts, producing low cost and high quality health care insurance for 450,000 previously uninsured residents of the state, and some measure of insurance as well for undocumented immigrants.  This became the model for the national Affordable Care Act.  However, because of a concentration of high cost teaching hospitals and medical schools in Greater Boston, health care costs in the state as a whole continued to rise at unsustainable rates.  This not only threatened the viability of the 2006 reform, but with 40% of the state budget dedicated to health care, it also threatened the funding for a wide variety of other important safety net provisions. 
  • CONECT Wins $66 Million Savings for Blue Cross / Blue Shield Customers -- Over the summer, CONECT worked with the Department and Healthcare Advocate to invoke a 2011 deal, which CONECT helped to forge, calling for public hearings when health insurance companies request rate increases of 15% or greater. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield requested rate increases of 17% for five plans for 2015 in the late spring, and under the 2011 deal, a hearing was set for late June.  CONECT leaders attended, shared their concerns, questions, and stories.  Ultimately, after the hearing, Anthem's requested rate increase was ruled excessive and knocked down to a .1% decrease instead.  Given that Anthem has the largest market share in CT, the ruling affected 66,000 policies, saving $66 million for Anthem customers in 2015!  


Common Ground Leaders Prepare To Walk the Streets To Sign Up
Milwaukee Residents for Healthcare

CommonGround Healthcare Cooperative (CGHC) in Southeast Wisconsin started by Metro IAF member CommonGround in Milwaukee is one of the most successful healthcare coops financed under the early stages of the Affordable Care Act.  CGHC has enrolled over 30,000 Wisconsin residents so far. Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative is the health insurance solution for thousands of small businesses, nonprofits, individuals and families throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. CGHC is a nonprofit, member-governed cooperative dedicated to delivering quality, comprehensive health insurance at a competitive rate.  Common Ground leaders are working to develop ways that CGHC can be a vehicle for organizing small business owners & their employees around healthcare and other family quality of life issues.  See Wall Street Journal Graphic about CGHC’s performance.



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ommonGround Leaders Demand Billionaire Milwaukee Bucks Owner Wes Edens
Southeastern Wisconsin's Common Ground created the Fair Play campaigndemanding public money to fix public school athletic facilities in Milwaukee if tax dollars were used to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team. New York Times (NYT) reported, " Common Ground— a splendid coalition of churches, community groups, mosques and synagogues — stifled the temptation to shout “No!” to the prospect of funneling precious tax dollars to billionaire owners and millionaire players and coaches. We like pro hoops, they said. But our children’s playing fields and recreation centers and schools are in dreadful shape. (The Milwaukee school system projects a $23 million funding cut this fall). If we’re to invest in an arena, let’s insist on a roughly similar amount for our recreation centers and public school playing fields." Turns out that the Bucks Billionaire owner Wesley Edens also owns Nationstar mortgage which owns hundreds of blighted and abandoned properties that Common Ground is demanding that he work with CG to fix up before any city funding for an arena is approved. Read about it in the NYT and Huffington Post. 
In 2014 Boston's GBIO secured $72 million for the demolition and re-building of the Dearborn Middle School (in “turn-around” status) into a state-of-the-art STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Academy for 6th through 12th grades.  Public schools in Roxbury, one of the poorest sections of Boston, overwhelmingly African-American and immigrant, have suffered physical and academic neglect for decades.  This will be the first STEM school in the Eastern half of the United States built from the ground up with the state-of-the-art labs needed for a STEM curriculum. Dearborn MS will now serve as a beacon of hope for decent public education in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Boston.

  • Durham CAN won universal free breakfast for all children in the public schools, the hiring of additional bilingual personnel, and the revamping of the mechanism to gather input from Durham residents on the district's budget. 
  • Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) organized and won $2.1 million in facility improvements to three schools and organized 6,176 voter contacts in 32 days to educate voters about the importance of voting and the importance of a $200 million school bond renewal levy on the ballot, which passed.

EBC has organized marches to persuade officials to contribute to Heckscher Playground in Bushwick.
  • East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) has organized marches to persuade officials to contribute to Heckscher Playground in Bushwick. EBC organized two processions with over 750 leaders, and called upon City Council Members to provide funding for a new bathroom and a new turf field in neighborhood parks, winning $5 million in new capital funding to renovate two East New York neighborhood parks. 
  • BUILD in Baltimore celebrated the groundbreaking of the expansion of the Rita R. Church Community Center including an additional 11,500-square-foot gymnasium and an outdoor terrace. Earlier, BUILD organized hundreds of residents calling for increased investments in youth recreation and secured $4.5 million in city funding for this expansion. BUILD also won a total of $315,000 to revamp Ambrose Kennedy Park in East Baltimore. In addition to preventing closure of the school, BUILD secured $200,000 in capital improvements from the City of Baltimore to renovate the basketball court.
  • VOICE in Northern Virginia organized Latino mothers at a 800-unit mobile home park as well as parents, coaches, and students at two local high schools to win $3 million for a new playground and athletic fields in South Fairfax County an area with the highest concentration of low income students in Virginia’s wealthiest suburb where most of the recreation investments are disproportionately made in affluent areas


                  Supporters say it will make driving situations safer                CONECT Leaders Celebrate Immigrant Driver’s Licenses Victory
38,000 Apply for Immigrant Driver's Licenses in Connecticut in First Two Months.  CONECT's 2013 legislative victory to allow all CT residents, regardless of immigration status, to get a driver's license has started taking affect in a big way.  When 2000 people turned out for a legislative hearing back in March of 2013, CONECT knew this issue impacted thousands more.  In just the first two months since the application process began on Dec. 1, 2014 more than 38,000 people have made appointments at the CT Department of Motor Vehicles.  CONECT leaders continue to work with the CT DMV and do education sessions in its immigrant congregations to assure a smooth implementation of the law and a positive outcome for everyone.
MT & SBC Help Secure NYC Municipal IDs
Manhattan Together (MT) and South Bronx Churches (SBC) organized to support New York City producing its own Municipal ID card that any resident of the City could get. Scores of leaders turned out to public events and testified in support of passage as well as met with key City officials to ensure the program was designed in a way that would work for everyone. The IDs program is now in place.  For years, many members of Metro IAF NY congregations, who had trouble getting official identification cards, had serious difficulty interacting with police, schools, hospitals, banks, and other organizations. Metro IAF member congregations in MT and East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) with many such members, especially undocumented immigrants, started issuing their own ID cards. After organizing and building relationships with police and other local officials, these cards helped people tremendously in their own communities. However, they were not secure in the rest of the City AND now they are!  In 2015, MT and SBC leaders will work to ensure that as many members of our congregations and communities that want them can get access to them. 
1,100-person African Immigrant Caucus/AIM Electoral Assembly held in June.

Action in Montgomery County Maryland (AIM) played a major role in helping to build the African Immigrant Caucus (AIC), a new organization dedicated to building power for African immigrants in the DC region.  In June2014, AIM helped AIC organize their first-ever action with 1,100 African immigrants and many of the main Maryland Gubernatorial candidates.  The Washington, DC region is home to the largest concentration of African immigrants in the country.  Yet, despite their large numbers, African immigrants in this region have historically lacked organized political power.  Baltimore Sun coverage of AIC Electoral Assembly here.


  •  EQUAL leaders in Queens, NY won many important victories from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to alleviate or prevent flooding, including the installation of 3 Reverse Seepage Basins, which create a place for the water to drain quickly and prevent flooding. The DEP has removed more than 1,500 tons of garbage and dirt from existing catch basins that had rendered them ineffective. 
  • Justice United (JU) in Orange County, NC ran successful tenant organizing campaigns in two low-income housing developments across Orange County. Leaders canvassed 150 doors alongside low-income tenants who identified mold, crumbling infrastructure, violence, and absentee management as top issues. JU built power sufficient to win firm commitments from management and owners for: mold abatement, rehabilitation of problem units, support for community watch programs, and responsive on-site managers.
  • VOICE in Northern Virginia preserved more than 240 affordable rental-housing units by organizing with tenants, and stopped upscale re-development and the displacement of 350+ low-income seniors at Fellowship Square in Reston, VA.
  • HOPE in Lexington NC, after a 4-year campaign, won new community centers in African American neighborhoods long-neglected in this rural county half way between Charlotte and Winston-Salem.
  • Jersey City, NJ has a new sponsoring committee to organize a Metro IAF affiliate, scheduled for launch in the next 6-12 months. 
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