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Thousands of Californians Face Homelessness With Eviction Freeze Set to End

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With the federal COVID-19 rent protections provided in the CARES Act about to expire, any plan to assist tenants who have fallen behind on their payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, would have to be drawn up by state or local governments. 

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the Judicial Council

In California, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the Judicial Council, said, during a public meeting June 24 that the council would “very soon resume voting to terminate the temporary orders having to do with unlawful detainer evictions and foreclosures.” 

The Judicial Council, which regulates the state’s court system, placed a temporary emergency rule on April 6, which stops judges from processing evictions for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 state of emergency. If the court votes to terminate the rule, it would be rescinded effective Aug. 14, 2020. 

Nisha Vyas, senior attorney at the Western Center on Law and Poverty spoke at a press conference held by Ethnic Media Services. In her presentation, she detailed some mechanics of the Judicial Council’s rules and she explained how its rescission would hurt California renters. 

“We’re extremely concerned about this, as the Legislature and governor have not yet acted to put something in place that will prevent the massive wave of evictions that will begin when this rule is lifted,” Vyas told California Black Media over email. 

“When the rule is withdrawn and the moratorium lapses, we expect this massive eviction crisis, and if we allow the evictions to simply start again without any long-term assistance, it’s going to have a devastating impact on renters, and in particular communities of color.” 

Lifting the statewide eviction moratorium would disproportionately affect Black Californians. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Housing Survey, 64.4% of African Americans in California are tenants. Also, 57% of Black renters have lost income since mid-March this year, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. 

According to another U.S. Census Bureau Housing Pulse Survey conducted in June, only about 46 % of Black renters in California were confident that they could pay July’s rent. The other 54% – which accounts for hundreds of thousands of African American households – have none to moderate confidence that they will be able to keep a roof over their heads. 

During the public meeting, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye also said that the Aug. 14 deadline would give the state Legislature the chance to pass legislation regarding tenant protections. 

AB 1436, authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) protects tenants from eviction due to non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic; allows landlords and tenants to work out payment arrangements for no more than the amount the renter owes; shields the tenant from negative credit reporting and protects his or her ability to rent in the future; and places the eviction process under the authority of civil courts; among other provisions. It also gives a 15-month grace period for unpaid rent after the COVID-19 state of emergency ends. 

The bill passed the Assembly unanimously in May 2020 and is currently under review in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is sponsored by multiple housing justice organizations, including the Western Center, PolicyLink and Housing NOW California. 

According to Vyas, solving past due rent disputes in civil court rather than through the evictions process would be better for renters. Eviction proceedings are typically fast-tracked, with nearly 75% of eviction cases resolved within 45 days of filing, and many low-income tenants cannot afford an attorney. 

“The advantage is that tenants would be able to remain in their homes. They could handle the rent payment dispute with the landlord in a proceeding that doesn’t put them at risk of homelessness. It would also prevent unnecessary and harmful interactions with law enforcement since lockouts are performed by sheriffs,” said Vyas. 

Through e-mail, Vyas also pointed out that Californians would need assistance on the federal level as well, preferably through monetary rental assistance. But on the state level, Vyas said, AB 1436 is a necessary step. 

“AB 1436 is a chance for communities and individuals to tell their state legislators here in California to stop the new wave of evictions to keep us all safe and housed. It is, I want to stress, the first step of many that we need to take to bring more equity into housing in California. But this is a great way for people to become engaged.”

 

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WATCH LIVE! — NNPA 2023 National Leadership Awards Reception

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Welcome to the NNPA 2023 National Leadership Awards Reception
The post WATCH LIVE! — NNPA 2023 National Leadership Awards Reception first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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OP-ED: Delivering Climate Resilience Funding to Communities that Need it the Most

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Just last month, FEMA announced nearly $3 billion in climate mitigation project selections nationwide to help communities build resilience through its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) national competition and Flood Mitigation Assistance program. In total, more than 50% of these projects will benefit disadvantaged communities, and in particular, 70% of BRIC projects will do the same.
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By Erik A. Hooks, FEMA Deputy Administrator

We know that disasters do not discriminate. Yet, recovery from the same event can be uneven from community to community, perpetuating pre-existing inequalities. Recognizing these disparities, FEMA and the entire Biden-Harris Administration have prioritized equity when it comes to accessing federal programs and resources.

The numbers tell the story.

Just last month, FEMA announced nearly $3 billion in climate mitigation project selections nationwide to help communities build resilience through its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) national competition and Flood Mitigation Assistance program. In total, more than 50% of these projects will benefit disadvantaged communities, and in particular, 70% of BRIC projects will do the same.

These selections further underscore the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to equity and reaffirm FEMA’s mission of helping people before, during and after disasters, delivering funding to the communities that need it most.

Building on this momentum and our people-first approach, FEMA recently announced the initial designation of nearly 500 census tracts, which will be eligible for increased federal support to become more resilient to natural hazards and extreme weather worsened by the climate crisis. FEMA will use “Community Disaster Resilience Zone” designations to direct and manage financial and technical assistance for resilience projects nationwide, targeting communities most at risk due to climate change. More Community Disaster Resilience Zone designations, including tribal lands and territories, are expected to be announced in the fall of 2023.

These types of investments have, and will yield a significant return on investment for communities nationwide.

For example, in my home state of North Carolina, the historic community of Princeville, founded by freed African American slaves, uses BRIC funding to move vulnerable homes and critical utilities out of flood-prone areas.

In East Harlem, BRIC dollars will provide nature-based flood control solutions to mitigate the impacts of extreme rainfall events in the Clinton low-income housing community.

While we are encouraged by these investments, we know more must be done.

Not every community has the personnel, the time or the resources to apply for these federal dollars. Fortunately, FEMA offers free, Direct Technical Assistance to help under-resourced communities navigate the grant application process and get connected with critical resources. Under the leadership of FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, this assistance has been a game-changer, reducing barriers and providing even more flexible, customer-focused, tailored support to communities interested in building and sustaining successful resilience programs.

In Eastwick, Philadelphia, FEMA’s dedicated support helped the city with outreach to multiple federal agencies. Together, we built a comprehensive community-led flood mitigation strategy. When applied and implemented, this will make this community more resilient to hazards like flooding, which was negatively affecting many neighborhood blocks.

In DePue, Illinois, we worked hand-in-hand with communities to improve their ability to submit high-quality funding applications for hazard mitigation projects. We are happy to share that DePue is the first Direct Technical Assistance community to be selected in the BRIC national competition. And, we know they will not be the last. Thanks to this assistance and their ambition, DePue was awarded more than $20 million to build a new wastewater treatment plant, which will reduce flooding and raw sewage back-up into the basements of homes.

In total, our agency is working with over 70 communities, including tribal nations, to increase access to funding for mitigation projects that will make communities more livable and resilient.

With extreme weather events becoming increasingly intense and frequent due to climate change, we must keep pressing forward and continue investing in ways to better protect ourselves and our neighbors. And we are encouraged that local officials are engaging with us to learn more about the benefits of the BRIC non-financial Direct Technical Assistance initiative—just last week, we saw hundreds of participants nationwide register for a recent webinar on this important topic.

We want to see even more communities take advantage of this initiative, and, ultimately, obtain grants for innovative and forward-looking resilience projects. To that end, FEMA recently published a blog with five steps to help local communities and tribal nations learn more about the benefits of this non-financial technical assistance to access federal funding. I hope your community will take action and submit a letter of interest for this exciting opportunity and increase meaningful mitigation work throughout the country.

With the pace of disasters accelerating, communities can utilize federal resources to reduce their risk and take action to save property and lives. FEMA stands ready to be a partner and collaborator with any community that is ready to implement creative mitigation strategies and help build our nation’s resilience.

The post OP-ED: Delivering Climate Resilience Funding to Communities that Need it the Most first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Tale of Two Underground Railroad Communities

ARIZONA INFORMANT — Prior to the Civil War, many communities in the Ohio River Valley were a part of an elaborate system that provided resources and protection for enslaved persons from Southern states on their journey to freedom. Once someone crossed the Ohio River, they traveled along unknown terrain of trails to safe houses and hiding places that would become known as the Underground Railroad. 
The post Tale of Two Underground Railroad Communities first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Christopher J. Miller, Sr. Director of Education & Community Engagement, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Christopher J. Miller

Christopher J. Miller

September is International Underground Railroad Month.

This proclamation began in the State of Maryland in 2019, and now more than 11 States officially celebrate one of the most significant eras in U.S. history. With the signing of Ohio HB 340 in June 2022, Ohio became the 12th state to designate September International Underground Railroad Month.

Many history enthusiasts and scholars hope the momentum of the proclamation spreads to other states so that all our forebears of freedom are remembered.

Examining this era, you find that the Ohio River Valley is instrumental in the many narratives of freedom seekers. These stories are critical to our understanding of race relations and civic responsibilities.

Before the Civil War, many communities in the Ohio River Valley were part of an elaborate system that provided resources and protection for enslaved persons from Southern states on their journey to freedom. Once someone crossed the Ohio River, they traveled along unknown terrain of trails to safe houses and hiding places that would become known as the Underground Railroad.

Gateway to Freedom sign

Gateway to Freedom sign

The Underground Railroad was comprised of courageous people who were held to a higher law that confronted the institution of slavery with acts of civil disobedience by helping freedom seekers elude enslavers and slave hunters and help them get to Canada.

Many communities were a force for freedom along the more than 900-mile stretch of the Ohio River Valley, but I would like to focus on two significant communities.

Southern Indiana was a major part of this history. It was originally believed that there were from Posey to South Bend, Corydon to Porter, and Madison to DeKalb County, with many stops in between.

In further examination, the Underground Railroad in Indiana was a web of trails through the forests, swamps, briars, and dirt roads. The city that is often overlooked in reflecting on the history of the Underground Railroad is New Albany, Indiana.

By 1850, New Albany was the largest city in Indiana, with a population of 8,632. Free Blacks accounted for 502 of that population. Across the river, Louisville was Kentucky’s largest city, with a population of 42,829. A quarter of the 6,687 Black population were free in Louisville.

Town Clock Church (aerial view)

Town Clock Church (aerial view)

Louisville and New Albany would grow to become a significant region for Underground Railroad activity. People like Henson McIntosh became a prominent community member and major Underground Railroad conductor. McIntosh was one of approximately ten Underground Railroad agents in New Albany who used their wealth and influence to impact the lives of freedom seekers crossing the Ohio River.

The Carnegie Center for Art & History is an outstanding resource that continues to preserve New Albany’s role during the Underground Railroad era. Approximately 104 miles east along the Ohio River is another institution that plays a critical role in elevating the profile of the Underground Railroad on a national scope.

Inside Town Clock Church New Albany Indiana safe house

Inside Town Clock Church New Albany Indiana safe house

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio.

By 1850, Cincinnati would grow to be the 6th largest city in the Union, with a sizable Black population.

The Freedom Center is prominently located in the heart of a historic Black community called Little Africa. Although the community no longer exists, its legacy lives on through the Freedom Center.

As with New Albany, the community that resided along the banks of the river served an important role in the story of the Underground Railroad. Little Africa was the gateway to freedom for thousands of freedom seekers escaping slavery.

Although there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, Ohio had the most active network of any other state, with approximately 3,000 miles of routes used by an estimated 40,000 freedom seekers that crossed through Little Africa.

Despite the growth of enslavement leading up to the Civil War, communities such as Little Africa and New Albany reveal the realities regarding race relations and a model for the dignity of human life through their respective efforts to be kind and resilient friends for the freedom seekers.

For More Information:

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – https://freedomcenter.org/

Cincinnati Tourism – https://www.visitcincy.com/

Carnegie Center for Art & History – https://carnegiecenter.org/

Southern Indiana Tourism – https://www.gosoin.com/

The post Tale of Two Underground Railroad Communities first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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