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PRESS ROOM: Amazon Commits an Additional $147 Million to Create and Preserve 1,260 Affordable Homes Primarily with Minority-Led Developers Across and Close to Washington D.C.

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The Amazon Housing Equity Fund has committed to create or preserve more than 10,000 affordable homes across the company’s hometown communities so far. Amazon’s commitment focuses on low-to-moderate income individuals and families, representing first responders, teachers, and service industry employees whose wages haven’t kept pace with escalating rents.
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Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund will support new developments in diverse and historically significant communities of color

ARLINGTON, VA — Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced a commitment of $147 million to create and preserve 1,260 affordable housing units in six of Washington D.C.’s eight wards and in nearby Maryland and Virginia communities – primarily in partnership with minority-led organizations.

This is the latest commitment from Amazon’s more than $2 billion Housing Equity Fund, which aims to combat affordable housing challenges and promote equity and inclusion in the communities the company calls home, including Washington state’s Puget Sound region; the Arlington, Virginia/Washington, D.C. region; and Nashville, Tennessee.

This announcement brings Amazon’s total commitment to help create or preserve affordable housing in the Washington, D.C. area to $992 million in support of over 6,200 affordable homes. This total includes Amazon’s marquee investment in Crystal House (which is over and above the $2 billion commitment), its $125 million transit commitment with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Amazon’s Real Estate Developers of Color Accelerator Programinvestments. Of this total, $696 million will be used to create or preserve nearly 3,600 units of affordable housing in partnership with minority-led organizations.

“We’re proud to work with a diverse set of experienced partners to create and preserve much-needed affordable homes that help keep long-term residents in the community while bolstering our diverse and historic neighborhoods,” said Catherine Buell, director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund. “By working with these diverse development organizations, we can create long-lasting and inclusive affordable housing closer to public transit and other amenities that will improve quality of life for residents while helping ensure families across Washington D.C. are not displaced from their communities.”

Since launching in January 2021, the Amazon Housing Equity Fund has increased the long-term committed multifamily affordable housing stock in Arlington by 22% (based on data provided by Arlington County). These newly announced projects will build on this success and increase access to affordable housing throughout Washington, D.C.

“Working with minority real estate professionals in this way is impactful community development at its core,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Amazon has taken the long view by standing with its partners and eliminating a significant barrier to entry for many real estate developers of color, access to capital. The Amazon Housing Equity Fund has empowered developers in the greater Washington D.C. area to expand opportunities for our neighbors through job creation and community revitalization.”

This announcement aligns with Mayor Bowser’s goal of creating 36,000 new housing units, a third of which will be affordable, by 2025. Each of these commitments will ensure the long-term preservation of affordability (generally 99 years, with limited exception) and makes housing available to individuals and families earning 30-80% of the area median income (AMI). Today’s announcement showcases partnerships with the following organizations:

The Congress Heights Apartments in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Ward 8, which will include the construction of 179 new affordable units for households earning between 30%-80% AMI.  The Apartments will be developed by National Housing Trust (NHT), which works to ensure that privately owned rental housing remains in the affordable housing stock using the tools of real estate development, rehabilitation, finance, and advocacy – all with sustainability in mind.

Carver Terrace Apartments, located in the Carver Langston neighborhood of Ward 5, will include the preservation of 320 affordable units for households earning between 30%-60% AMI.  These apartments will be preserved by Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners, a leading owner and developer of mixed-use properties and attainable housing.

The Residences at Benning Road will be the second affordable assisted-living community in Ward 7. This transit-oriented development, located at the former site of an Industrial Bank Branch (one of the first Black owned banks in the region), will create 156 new affordable apartments for households at 60% AMI within one block of the Benning Road Metro station.  The Residences will be developed by Gragg Cardona Partners, a company that has been working for over two decades on revitalizing DC-area neighborhoods by using public/private partnerships to bring about new investments in housing, commercial space, and community facilities.

4111 Kansas Ave NW, a newly constructed residential building (originally designed as condominiums), to create 40 new affordable units for households earning between 50%-80% AMI in Ward 4. With Amazon’s support, the property was purchased by So Others Might Eat (SOME), a nonprofit with comprehensive programs that are designed to help neighbors experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty find pathways out of poverty and achieve long-term stability and success.

325 Vine will be a newly constructed apartment building in Ward 4 and will include 102 affordable units for households earning between 60%-80% AMI and will feature the preservation of two historic homes. The property is located across the street from the Takoma Metro station. SGA Companies is a full-service firm specializing in transit-oriented, multifamily residential and mixed-use retail properties in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

S Street Village will be a new development with 90 units of affordable housing at 60% AMI in Ward 1. The site will be developed by Manna, Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing consultancy and developer committed to helping low-income and moderate-income persons acquire affordable, quality housing across Washington, D.C.,

The Mount Pleasant Preservation Project will consist of the preservation of Richman Towers, Sarbin Towers and Park Marconiin the Mount Pleasant community in Ward 1.  The Project will convert 165 apartments homes into affordable homes for households earning between 40%-80% AMI. Jubilee Housing is a nonprofit housing developer focused on creating affordable homes with onsite and nearby services in thriving communities.

Holmead Place Apartments consists of 100 homes in Ward 1, all of which will be converted in affordable, accessible residential units for households earning between 30%-80% AMI.  Wesley Housing provides safe, quality and affordable housing to across the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

In addition to these projects in Washington D.C., Amazon is providing funding to the following developers to create additional affordable housing in Maryland and Virginia:

A. Wash and Associates, Inc. and Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures (NREUV), are both Black-led real estate development organizations with deep ties to the Washington, D.C. area.  They are collaborating on 210 on the Park, which will be a newly constructed development containing 130 affordable units for households earning between 70%-80% AMI. The apartment complex is located a short distance from the Capitol Heights Metro station in Prince George’s County, Maryland and includes retail space that will offer discounted rates for local and minority businesses.

Montgomery Housing Partnership (MHP) is a non-profit organization serving the residents of Montgomery County, Maryland and neighboring communities. The organization is committed to housing people, empowering families, and strengthening neighborhoods. Since 1989, MHP’s mission has been to preserve and expand access to quality, affordable housing. MHP is developing Nebel Street, which will be a new construction development containing 163 affordable homes for households earning between 30%-80% AMI.

Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services’ mission is to reduce homelessness, increase community support, and promote self-sufficiency. Good Shepherd Housing has served the housing needs of Northern Virginia families and individuals for more than 40 years. They are acquiring 18 homes in the Colchester Towne Condominiums and will preserve these at 50% AMI in Alexandria, Virginia.

With today’s announcement, the Amazon Housing Equity Fund has committed to create or preserve more than 10,000 affordable homes across the company’s hometown communities so far.  Amazon’s commitment focuses on low-to-moderate income individuals and families, representing first responders, teachers, and service industry employees whose wages haven’t kept pace with escalating rents. To learn more about the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, please visit us here.

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company, Earth’s Best Employer, and Earth’s Safest Place to Work. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit amazon.com/about and follow @AmazonNews.

The post PRESS ROOM: Amazon Commits an Additional $147 Million to Create and Preserve 1,260 Affordable Homes Primarily with Minority-Led Developers Across and Close to Washington D.C. first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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FILM: Top 10 Must-See Black documentaries

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Below you will find a list of documentaries, based on the roots of African American culture, compiled by Word in Black partner, The Houston Defender. From “I Am Not Your Negro” to “High on the Hog,” each film offers up the origin stories of our most important activists, artists, athletes and traditions.
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By The Houston Defender | Word in Black

The AFRO’s October Special Edition is all about the roots of our culture, our family lineage and the return to old ways and traditions. Below you will find a list of documentaries, based on the roots of African American culture, compiled by our Word in Black partner, The Houston Defender. From I Am Not Your Negro to High on the Hog, each film offers up the origin stories of our most important activists, artists, athletes and traditions.

#10: Attica (2021) 

In September 1971, Attica Prison became the location of one of the largest prison riots in US history, taking place just weeks after revolutionary activist George Jackson was murdered by prison guards at Rikers Island, an act that initiated the birth of Black August and the prison reform movement. The constant abject cruelty and inhumane treatment doled out to the incarcerated (who were overwhelmingly Black and Latinx) by Attica guards (all White) created the context. The riot itself, and its aftermath, are something all human beings should be required to reckon with.

#9: Quincy (2018) 

If you’re Black, it literally doesn’t matter when you were born, what generation you’re a part of, or where you’re from. You’ve been impacted by the genius of Quincy Jones. We’ve all been influenced by the genius of Quincy Jones. The music he made, the albums he produced, the artists he developed, the movies he scored, and about a gazillion other things Jones did, means, as I’ve already said, if you’re Black, Quincy has had a hand in your life. Don’t believe me. What Black person do you know who isn’t a Michael Jackson fan, who hasn’t seen The Wiz, or who doesn’t have a family member who worships jazz music? Quincy Jones had his hand in all that and so much more. Directed by one of his daughters, actress Rashida Jones, this doc is most definitely a must see.

#8: Four Little Girls (1997) 

On Sept. 15, 1963, just 18 short days after the much-celebrated March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed by four members of a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated racist group. Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, four African American girls between the ages of 11 and 14 who had been attending the church’s Sunday school, were killed in the blast, an act of White domestic terrorism that served as a horrific and sober reminder that Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not enough to end the hold the myth of White supremacy had on so many. Director Spike Lee tells this powerfully compelling and important story as only he can.

#7: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (2019) 

For generations that came after the Baby Boomers, it’s hard for us to fully fathom how big a star Sam Cooke was. Think of the biggest singer of any generation. That was Sam Cooke in his heyday. And not only was he hyper-talented, but not only did he call some of the biggest names in Black history his personal friends (Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X just to name a few), Cooke was a man of the people. And he was heavily invested in the Civil Rights Movement and an advocate for Black self-determination and Black ownership. Cooke even pulled a “Prince” long before Prince—gaining ownership of his own music, something that was as rare then as it is today. This documentary chronicles Cooke’s life, rise to fame, and eventual end, though his influence never died.

#6: Thunder Soul (2010) 

Here’s a hometown entry. Thunder Soul spotlights the extraordinary alumni from Houston’s storied Kashmere High School Stage Band which the iconic Conrad Johnson led. These alums return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for the 92-year-old ‘Prof’, their beloved band leader who transformed the schools struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse in the early 1970s. This one will have you out of your seat and dancing in the streets. Check it out.

#5: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America (2021)  

In this documentary, criminal defense/civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson “draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America.” It’s that simple, and yet that complex. And it goes without saying; it’s a must see.

#4: Jeen-Yuhs (2022) 

No matter where you score on the Love Ye / Hate Ye scale, this 2022 documentary about his rise to superstardom is beyond compelling. I mean, who thinks to chronicle their every move from the moment they start pursuing their dream until they either give up on it or see it to fruition and beyond? Who does that? No one but this negro Kanye. He may be the only human being with an ego big enough to conceive of such a project. And believe me, the scope and scale of this documentary match that galaxy-sized self-obsession brahman has that make him both insanely talented and just plain insane at the same time.

#3: I Am Not Your Negro (2016) 

This documentary by Raoul Peck, director of Exterminate All the Brutes (2021) which made the first list of must-see documentaries, introduced the brilliance and unabashed Black of James Baldwin to a whole new generation. Described as a work that imagines the completion of Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House (about Baldwin’s personal reflections on and recollections of three of his personal friends who were killed during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), I Am Not Your Negro is about so much more.

#2: The Last Dance (2020) 

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to get caught up in the chronicling of the last run at an NBA championship by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls who had been told before the season began that the team would be broken up. The doc not only takes you on that 1996 Bulls’ championship ride, but it also digs deep into the past of players, coaches, and family members, spotlighting triumphs and tragedies that are part of the human story, not just the story of professional athletes.

#1: High on the Hog 

How African American Cuisine Transformed America (2021)

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for anything that celebrates our history, especially those things that connect us to our African roots and our Pan-African family. This documentary does all that and more. Because the main character is food. Our food. The stuff we grew up on. The meals many of us are eating right now, and never stopped eating since our youth. This beautifully filmed, beautifully narrated piece of art is full of both the familiar and the foreign; or rather, things we’ve come to believe are foreign to us, but are really part of our story and our heritage. And the okra on top? High on the Hog has a powerful H-Town connection. A few, in fact.

This list of documentaries based on the roots of African American culture was compiled by Word In Black.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades

NNPA NEWSWIRE — According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.
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Black Information Network | Atlanta Daily World

A new lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) alleges that the U.S. government discriminated against Black veterans for decades.

On Monday (November 28), the suit was filed by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic (VLSC) on behalf of Vietnam War veteran Conley Monk Jr, whose applications for education, housing, and disability benefits have been denied since he returned home from the war, per The Hill.

According to the suit, discrimination by the VA has left Black veterans without benefits more frequently than their white counterparts.

Yale’s VLSC said the lawsuit could “provide a legal pathway for Black veterans to seek reparations from the VA.”

“This lawsuit seeks to hold the VA accountable for years of discriminatory conduct,” Adam Henderson, a law student working with the VLSC on the case, said in a statement, per the Hill.

“VA leaders knew, or should have known, that they were administering benefits in a discriminatory manner, yet they failed to address this unlawful bias,” Henderson added. “Mr. Monk — and thousands of Black veterans like him — deserve redress for the harms caused by these negligently administered programs.”

According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.

VA press secretary Terrence Hayes said the agency is working to combat “institutional racism.”

“Throughout history, there have been unacceptable disparities in both VA benefits decisions and military discharge status due to racism, which have wrongly left Black veterans without access to VA care and benefits,” Hayes said. “We are actively working to right these wrongs.”

The post U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans For Decades: Lawsuit appeared first on Atlanta Daily World.

The post Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Through colorful pictures with vibrant imagery, young readers will easily get drawn into the exciting adventures of Bennett Mayco Wilson’s fictional yet exciting world and learn valuable childhood lessons together, when Bennet gets a basketball as a present from his father on his fourth birthday.
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‘A Basketball Hero is Born’ is a part of The Hero Book Series by Jerald LeVon Hoover, which aims to inspire youth to make a positive change in their communities and the world in general

Widely celebrated African American author, Jerald LeVon Hoover, is once again inspiring young people to make a positive change in their communities with the launch of a new children’s book. Titled A Basketball Hero is Born, the new children’s reading book contains colorful pictures that warm the heart and keep young readers glued to its pages.

The plot follows the exciting adventures of Bennett Mayco Wilson who gets a basketball as a present from his father on his fourth birthday. Affectionately naming the new basketball “Lucky,” the story unfolds as young Bennett tries to take his new best friend everywhere, including the dinner table, to school, and to bed when it is time for sleep.

Jerald L. Hoover

Jerald L. Hoover

Through colorful pictures with vibrant imagery, young readers will easily get drawn into Bennett’s fictional yet exciting world and learn valuable childhood lessons together. Currently available for purchase on Amazon, A Basketball Hero is Born is a part of The Hero Book Series by Jerald LeVon Hoover, which emphasizes instilling a love of sports and friendship in young readers.

About The Author

Jerald L. Hoover is a multi-talented individual with countless accomplishments in the creative, literary, and entertainment worlds. After winning an award for “The Best New Male Writer of the Year” for his fictional novel, My Friend, My Hero Jerald went on to be listed from 1994 – 1996 as a best-selling author among young Black writers in various African American publications. In 1995, he was awarded the Writers Corp Award by then-President Bill Clinton. In 1998, Jerald was inducted into the Mount Vernon Boy’s and Girl’s Club Hall of Fame. Since then, Jerald has won several other awards and is also an in-demand motivational speaker who overcame a childhood speech impediment.

The post BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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