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Metro IAF at Work During Covid-19 

New Jersey Together Calls Out Repeated Failures in New Jersey's Treatment of People in Prison

On Sunday, May 17th, the Star Ledger released a blistering editorial demanding immediate action from Gov. Murphy at this moment to save lives in New Jersey prisons. The editorial links to New Jersey Together's work around universal testing and its video of families telling their stories. The following day, New Jersey Together leaders called for Gov. Murphy to act, provide transparency, and fire those responsible for delays on testing & furloughs.

Jersey City Together Wins $52.7 Million for Jersey City Schools and Stops Last Minute Attempts at Cuts

On Monday, May 11th, the Jersey City Board of Education voted unanimously to add $52.7 million to the Jersey City Public Schools budget. This comes after months of advocacy by Jersey City Together, which launched their campaign in January 2020. 

The victory increases local investment in Jersey City Public Schools by 39%. It comes after months of work with the superintendent to present a courageous budget and a board meeting, the previous week, where the majority of the board openly discussed significantly cutting the proposed investment. JCT's Education Team & parent allies mobilized, called & emailed, and wrote a focused OpEd about the needs. The evening of the vote, 41 people (out of 43) called in to support the proposed budget. It passed unanimously.

Wake Helps Secure $25 Million to Prevent Evictions

The morning on May 18th, ONE Wake delivered 183 community leaders to a press conference action to publicly support the allocation of an initial $5 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds for rental housing assistance.

Just a few hours later the Wake County Commissioners unanimously passed a funding plan that reflected our interests: the plan includes the $5 million for rental housing assistance and eviction prevention expenses between now and June 30, and an additional $20 million will be held in reserve for housing related expenses between July 1 and December 31.

The press conference action was our second action in two weeks, following ONE Wake's delivery of a record breaking 753 public comments in support of the same issue. Together we have helped support the allocation of an urgently needed $5 million in funds to address a looming eviction crisis, as well as over $2 million to support families experiencing homelessness. 

This week the County is disbursing the $2 million mentioned above to partner agencies who will help execute aspects of the House Wake Strategic Plan that include rapid rehousing and street outreach to high risk, unsheltered residents.

Next week the County Manager's office and the Emergency Operations Command will meet to develop policy for the disbursement of the initial $5 million for rental housing assistance and eviction prevention. 

ONE Wake will closely monitor this process. The County Housing Department has agreed to work with ONE Wake to help connect Wake County residents in need with these new resources.  

Congratulations to all leaders who supported this effort!  

You can review the County's CARES Act Funding Plan  for more information. The $5 million for rental housing assistance is part of the $6.994 million Housing and Homelessness Services line item, which is listed under the larger "Community Response and Resiliency" category.

For additional media articles in Spanish read here, here and here

NC Congress of Latino Organizations Fighting for Families

Covid-19 meeting done prior to stay at home orders
The NC Congress of Latino Organizations engaged 1,400 leaders from five different Counties in developing a collective agenda as a response to the Covid-19 epidemic. The Latino Congress launched simultaneous actions in order to address the new pressures impacting families.

NC CLO and Parents Organize and Win Access to Technology and Additional Bilingual Staff 

In Forsyth County leaders of 17 NC Congress of Latino Organizations institutions won commitment from the School Superintendent to ensure additional access to technology and wi-fi for immigrant children. Both the Superintendent and the School Board Chair committed to fight for several additional bilingual staff members in the current budget cycle.

NC CLO with Hundreds of Parents Organize to Improve Their Schools

School Board meeting done prior to stay at home orders
In Durham County with the support and help of NC Congress of Latino Organizations,  320 parents and students gained commitment from the Durham Public School Superintendent  to include in the 2020-2021 budget funding for an additional interpreter. The Superintendent had recently launched a new department to serve as a bridge between immigrant families and the schools.

NC Metro IAF and Families Fight Evictions

In Wake County 480 families who live at a large trailer park demanded and won reductions in the rent, elimination of late fees, written contracts and access to mailboxes as a result of negotiation with the owner of the property. Residents fought and won displacement from their homes due to a planned transportation project.

OC Justice United and Families Fight for Better Conditions

100+ leaders from OC Justice United and mobile home parks entered into negotiations with landlords to address serious health concerns around failing septic systems and wells that prevent families from engaging in the basic washing necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

CONECT Is Busy During the Pandemic

CONECT is Pressing for Humane Release of Prisoners

Working with allies, CONECT  has called on Gov. Ned Lamont and Corrections Commissioner Rollin Cook to come up with a pro-active, safe plan for the release of prisoners in CT who are nearing the end of their sentence, who are pre-trial and not yet convicted of lower level crimes, and those who have underlying medical issues that put them at risk during this pandemic. CONECT has also called for careful planning, so that potential inmate releases do not leave people homeless during this crisis. Though CT's prison population has dropped significantly in March & April, these numbers are not much higher than a normal month and are not part of a proactive plan.  Much more needs to be done immediately, as CONECT leaders laid out in their recent Op-Ed in the Hartford Courant and loved ones expressed in a recent video created by CONECT. As of May 28th, 853 inmates and 378 Corrections staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 7 inmates have died from COVID-19. After pressure from CONECT and others, the state is testing all inmates, so these numbers will undoubtedly grow.

CONECT is Pushing for Unemployment Coverage for Employees of Religious Institutions 

Working with member congregations that run day care centers, CONECT has pressed both the CT Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby and Connecticut Senators and Representatives in Washington, DC to ensure that the new federal CARES Act will extend coverage for unemployment benefits to laid off or furloughed employees of religious institutions. Employees of religious institutions are usually exempt from paying into unemployment insurance systems and thus not eligible for benefits. However, the CARES Act extends unemployment benefits to many other categories of workers not usually covered, such as consultants and free-lancers, and CONECT is working to see that day care workers, custodians, and other staff that may get laid off during this crisis can access unemployment benefits as well. Federal guidance has now been issued to include these workers in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.  

CONECT also heard from several leaders who applied for unemployment in the earliest days of the pandemic that they were stuck in a catch-22 after the Department of Labor changed its filing rules. 2200 people across the state were similarly unable to file online under the new rules and unable to reach anyone via telephone to resolve this issue. CONECT also raised this issue with the Department of Labor successfully pressed them to address it immediately.
Metro IAF, is part of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the nation’s first and largest network of multi-faith community organizations. Our 23 member organizations have deep-roots in the political and financial power centers in the eastern United States and Europe.
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