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Big City Mayors Call On State To Allocate $20 Billion To Curb Homelessness

“We know how to fix this problem. Each of our jurisdictions has done detailed analyses and have regional plans in the Bay Area,” Schaaf said.

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California’s Big City Mayors, a coalition of mayors from the 13 largest cities, are calling on the state to allocate half of its $40 billion surpluses to local governments to curb and end homelessness.


  The Big City Mayors coalition includes Mayors from Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Stockton.

 The ask: $4 billion per year, five-year investment for a total of $20 billion in flexible funding as part of the state budget.


     “There’s no question it’s a big investment,” coalition chair and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said at a virtual news conference on April 29. “But spending half of a surplus on the biggest problem we faced in California, and making that commitment last for a half-decade, that’s money well spent.”


    With the combination of the state’s $26 billion in federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan and the record surplus, mayors see this as a unique opportunity to make drastic impacts for the state’s 161,000 unhoused residents.
 

  Mayors are calling the surplus a “generational opportunity,” because, economic challenges make it difficult to identify an ongoing revenue source.


    If approved, the funding would be roughly 10 times greater than any funding the cities have received in the past, Sacramento Mayor Darell Steinberg said.


      Steinberg said that even with a fraction of what they are asking for now, cities have been able to house hundreds of residents with state money from Project Roomkey, Project Home key, and other initiatives.


    In a letter to the state senate and assembly leaders, mayors wrote that through Project Home key, cities were able to create transitional housing at $148,000 per unit.


    “Based on the average cost of our Project Home key success, a four-year allocation of $16 billion that we’ve outlined could create more than 100,000 homes–or enough to permanently house nearly every Californian who entered a homeless shelter in 2020,” the letter reads.


      Steinberg also said that additional resources could support those dealing with rent struggles, prevent evictions and prevent people from losing their homes – essentially preventing homelessness.
      “Imagine a California with these kinds of investments,” he said.


      Mayors emphasized that the funding would need to be flexible because every city has unique ways in addressing and combatting the homeless.


           San Francisco used its state funding to create more than 9,000 permanent housing placements through initiatives like purchasing hotels, its Mayor London Breed said.


    Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf also touted her city’s success by pointing to a couple of “unique initiatives” that have allowed the city to double the number of residents sheltered over the last year.


     Initiatives include creating safe RV parks, buying and transforming an old college dormitory into housing, and even purchasing single-family homes to create a haven for homeless seniors to live together.


      “We know how to fix this problem. Each of our jurisdictions have done detailed analyses and have regional plans in the Bay Area,” Schaaf said. “We just need the resources.”


    Schaaf pointed to the regional Bay Area action plan created by nonprofit All Home that seeks to shrink the region’s homeless population by 75% in three years by following the 1-2-4 framework.


    Essentially, this means for every single unit of interim housing built, there should be two units of permanent housing and four units of homeless prevention interventions to keep people housed.


    The last part of the framework, which could look like accelerated cash payments, income-targeted rental assistance, and other housing support, is the most important aspect she said.


      “What we’re seeing is we’re getting people out of homelessness, but new people are becoming homeless at a faster rate,” Schaaf said.


     She continued that a solution to homelessness is what residents wanted too.
 Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln echoed this sentiment as well.


    “Over 80% of Stockton residents view homelessness as a humanitarian crisis affecting the quality of life for all Stocktonians,” Lincoln said.


    In San Jose, the city utilized state funding to build three interim housing sites on neglected public land within months, Liccardo said.


    “Building apartments in the Bay Area typically costs about $700,000 per apartment unit and requires four or five years to build in a development cycle,” Liccardo said. “We’ve shown we can do this… in less than six months at a fifth of the cost.”


So how likely is it that the Big City Mayors get their request met?
Well, already State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Speaker Anthony Rendon have voiced their support, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.


    The $4 billion yearly funding for housing and homelessness is also listed as budget priorities, released earlier this week, for both the state assembly and state senate.


      If passed, the funding would likely be split between cities and counties, with more funding going to entities with more homelessness, Liccardo said.


    “The allocation typically is based on a formula that combines both point in time, homeless counts and population and so we expect those kinds of formulas to continue,” Liccardo said. “And we’ll be certainly advocating to ensure that the hardest hit cities, after all, its large cities that have suffered most from homelessness, are in fact, front and center.”


    It won’t be an easy road, but the mayors said they are hopeful.
“We just have a sense of optimism here,” Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said. “We can begin to move the needle, we can begin to make a change.”

 

 

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Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.
The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Entertainment and Culture Editor

The documentary She Had A Dream by Tunisian filmmaker Raja Amari premieres on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange series tonight at 8 p.m. EST on WORLD CHANNEL. Season 14 of the acclaimed documentary series captures Black artists and activists shaping and reclaiming culture, advocating for change and mobilizing for brighter futures. She Had A Dream offers an intimate portrayal of one young Black Tunisian woman’s quest for political office and her fight against racism and oppression in a society that often seeks to overlook both.

The documentary follows Ghofrane, a 20-something Black woman from Tunisia as she walks the path of self-discovery of young adulthood while running for political office in a homeland where many still view her as an outsider.

Watch the trailer below:

A dedicated, charismatic activist and a modern, free-speaking woman, Ghofrane in many ways is the embodiment of contemporary Tunisian political hopes still alive years after the Arab Spring. She Had A Dream follows Ghofrane as she works to conquer her own self-doubts while attempting to persuade close friends and complete strangers to vote for her. As audiences follow her campaign, they also follow the dichotomies of her life as a woman striving for a role in politics in the Arab world and as a Black person in a country where racism is prevalent, yet often denied.

“The 14th season of AfroPoP shines a light on the collective power, strength and resilience of Black people and movements around the world,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, AfroPoP executive producer. “Viewers will see artists use their platforms to push for progress and human rights and see ‘ordinary’ people do the remarkable in the interest of justice.”

Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.

She Had A Dream airs on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange Monday, April 11 at 8 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel and begins streaming on worldchannel.org at the same time.

AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is presented by Black Public Media and WORLD Channel. For more information, visit worldchannel.org or blackpublicmedia.org.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena.
The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BBC Africa is reporting Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is facing a water shortage because of changing weather patterns and aging water facilities. The article reports, “Residents in informal communities like Kibra pay private vendors for water, meaning they now control the supply and access to water in the community.” The privatization of water access has led to an increase in the exploitation of women and girls in exchange for water.

“Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena. Check out the 2018 ANEW documentary short below:

The water crisis and the sexual exploitation of girls and women as a result of the water crisis shows no signs of slowing down.

To read more about this crisis, visit BBC Africa‘s series of articles and videos on Kenya’s water crisis and the Water Integrity Network’s (WIN) study on sextortion.

This news brief was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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COMMENTARY: San Jose Congressman Norman Mineta: The Reparations Hero for Asian Americans

Congressman Norman Y. Mineta will forever be known as the man who got justice for the people incarcerated by the Japanese internment during World War II. He got reparations passed in a Republican administration.

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On Thursday May 29th, 2014 the Federal Triangle Partnership celebrated Asian Pacific Heritage Month with a program that featured the keynote speaker Norman Mineta, former Secretary of both the Department of Transportation and the Commerce Department. Additionally, he was a member of the U.S. Congress for twenty years. photo by James Tourtellotte
On Thursday May 29th, 2014 the Federal Triangle Partnership celebrated Asian Pacific Heritage Month with a program that featured the keynote speaker Norman Mineta, former Secretary of both the Department of Transportation and the Commerce Department. Additionally, he was a member of the U.S. Congress for twenty years. photo by James Tourtellotte

By Emil Guillermo

When the Democratic candidates began the 2020 presidential campaign, there was a buzz about reparations for African Americans.

And then, the buzz died.

I mention that because last week, former San Jose Mayor and 13th District Congressman Norman Y. Mineta passed away at age 90.

Mineta will forever be known as the man who got justice for the people incarcerated by the Japanese internment during World War II.

He got reparations passed in a Republican administration.

Think about that. Reparations, the BIPOC holy grail. After Mineta got it done in 1988 under Reagan, it’s never been replicated.

Looking back, it seems like a magic trick. But it wasn’t. It was just hard work and politicking.

That’s why we all should revere the man who died somewhat appropriately in the first week of May, the month now known as Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Mineta was one of the first Congressional boosters to stretch what was originally a week, and then coined it Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

His passing on May 3, 2022, is an important marker on the significance of diversity and representation at the highest levels of government, politics, and elected office.

Born in San Jose to Japanese immigrants, Mineta lived through every major moment in modern Asian American history.

For the barriers he broke, and the policies he established, he was simply the community’s father figure.

He was Mr. Asian America.

For a short-time, I got to be close to him.

In the 103rd Congress in 1993, I was Mineta’s press secretary and speechwriter.

I had been at NPR where I hosted “All Things Considered.” When I left that position, I thought as a Californian in Washington, I should at least get to know how democracy gets done from the inside. Ideally, I figured you can cross the line into the netherworld of politics once. You can even cross back from whence you came. Once. But Norm was no ordinary politician.

He was the embodiment of Asian America in public life.

He was our hopes and dreams. Our cries and sorrows. From the time he was a Cub Scout incarcerated with other Japanese Americans during World War II to the time he served in government, Norm was there for all of us.

He was our fighter and our redeemer when he co-sponsored the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, that got justice for internees. More than $1.6 billion was paid out to 82,200 Japanese Americans, according to the New York Times.

That was always the difference maker. Norm was in the fight to rectify the historical transgression that gives Asian Americans our moral authority to this day.

There were other Asian American politicians, of course. But few had the career arc of Mineta, who first served locally in 1971 as mayor of San Jose. He was the first Asian American mayor of a major U.S. city.

In 1974, he was first elected to Congress, leaving in 1995, when the divided government began to shape up with an aggressive GOP led by Newt Gingrich.

But Norm re-emerged in government with more Asian American firsts, as Commerce Secretary in the Clinton Cabinet, and then Transportation Secretary under G.W. Bush. Two administrations. Two different parties.

The Norm I knew was the 1993 Norm. The people’s Norm.

The Norm who drove a modest white Dodge Colt because he wanted an American car. I knew the guy who worked all day, then carried a huge bag of homework to read through for the next day. I knew the guy who was in the post-flow triumph of the Civil Liberties Act, always diligent, persistent, and searching for a way to make things better.

That’s what I learned about Norm the most. Remember, this was in the early ’90s. Washington was getting nastier, more divisive, and gridlocked.

But Norm had friends like the late Republican Sen. Alan Simpson. They met as Boy Scouts in Wyoming. One incarcerated at the internment camp, the other free. Later as congressmen, they stood for a kind of bipartisanship that is rare these days.

That was perhaps the most significant political lesson I learned from Mineta. Legislation is one thing, but we’re all still human beings. And the goal is to turn adversaries into friends and to have your friends stay friends. You keep the channels open. You create new alliances, like the ideal public-private partnerships.

The point is, Mineta was always seeking solutions, working together with others to make things better.

He passes as the country is bitterly divided on everything. His life should serve as a playbook on how to keep the fragile nature of our democracy whole.

Remember Norm Mineta. He was the Democrat who got reparations passed in a Republican administration.

Today, that would make him a political Superman.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his talk show on www.amok.com Twitter@emilamok

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