No More Slumlords!

No More Slumlords! CAC Organizes Low-income Tenants in Housing Campaign

Imagine that your daughter is afraid to go to sleep at night.  Afraid not because of a boogieman under her bed or shadow monsters dancing on the wall, but afraid because mice constantly run across her bed and bite her.  This may be a nightmarish movie plot for many of us, but it was a horrific reality for residents of the Clay Arsenal Renaissance Apartments (CARA) in Hartford’s North End.

This past April, Rev AJ Johnson, community organizer for the Christian Activities Council (CAC), was informed by an administrator at Thirman Milner School – where CAC recently helped organized parents win a school safety campaign – that 1-year-old, Isabella Garces, come to school with mice bites.  By the time AJ reached out to her mother, little Isabella was in the hospital.  She had ingested the rat poisoning that her mother used to remedy the mice infestation.

The mice infestation in Isabella’s family’s apartment was so severe, that her uncle caught over 31 in two days.  However, Isabella’s family was not alone.  More residents came forward attesting to a severe infestation throughout CARA, owned by Emmanuel Ku out of New York.  Residents complained that management-supplied glue traps filled with dead mice littered their apartments. They also raised concerns about severe mold in bathrooms, incorrectly installed windows, underqualified and understaffed maintenance, and overall neglect of the property.  Despite Ku getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax abatements and $1.6 million in federal subsidies from Housing and Urban Development (HUD), CARA residents were stuck trying to raise families in hazardous housing.

With CAC’s help, CARA residents got organized!  After weeks of research, gathering testimonies of other tenants, and building solidarity amongst themselves, CARA residents – under the leadership of Milagros Ortiz, Joshua Serrano, and Teri Morrison – held a public meeting on July 11, 2017, at the Shiloh Baptist Church on Albany Avenue to call out Ku and demand better.  The meeting, heavily attended by the media, HUD officials, North End residents, and local clergy put unavoidable pressure on Ku.

Since this meeting, Ku’s management team has been working with HUD to address the various issues. They hired a rodentologist to address the infestation, have improved maintenance processes, and done necessary fixes to some apartment.  There is still more that Ku has yet to do. However, we must also ask how our city allows a nation-wide slumlord to secure HUD properties that, because of his negligence, causes harm and distress to low income families and neighborhoods.

*Featured photo courtesy of the Hartford Courant.

Media coverage of this housing campaign:

Hartford Courant

Governor Malloy signs criminal justice reform bills at Faith Congregational Church

Governor Malloy signs criminal justice reform bills at Faith Congregational Church

Flanked by community leaders, politicians and organizations across the political spectrum, Governor Dannel Malloy signed legislation to reform Connecticut’s criminal justice system on Wednesday at Faith Congregational Church in Hartford.

The governor signed a total of nine bills, which included reforms to the pre-trial bail system, requiring a criminal conviction in order for the state to forfeit an individual’s assets, and allowing barbers and hairdressers to obtain a state license despite having a prior conviction.

The governor was joined by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, Hartford mayor Luke Bronin, community leaders and organizations such as the ACLU and the Yankee Institute for Public Policy.

“Connecticut has gone from being a laggard in criminal justice reform to really being at the very forefront of criminal justice reform nationally,” Malloy said in his opening remarks.

Malloy said he chose the Faith Congregational Church because he initially announced his push for criminal justice reform at the church in 2015. Malloy said that these reforms, particularly bail reform, were the result of “years of work.”

The bail reform bill will eliminate cash bail for non-violent offenders who are arrested for misdemeanor crimes and who would not face prison time even if convicted. Previously, those who could not afford a cash bail had to wait in jail until their trial, which could sometimes take months.

Malloy cited the state’s declining crime rate and prison population as proof that Connecticut is making progress on crime, but said too many people are stuck in jail simply because they are too poor to make bail. He also pointed out that the issue adversely affects the Hispanic and African-American community.

“The idea of our fellow citizens sitting in jail as a result of their inability to pay a bond was terribly unfair,” Malloy said.

The governor cited one instance in which an individual could not afford a $1 cash bail.

2016 study found that 3,400 people were held in Connecticut jails pending trial in 2015. Of those being held, 690 had a bond below $20,000, the lowest surety bond level allowable in the state. Offenses ranged from sixth-degree larceny to marijuana possession, although some were held for more serious offenses.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated the legislation would affect 388 people being held in pre-trial detention. The cost to taxpayers is $120.10 per day for each person, meaning the new law could potentially save Connecticut millions per year.

 

Among those speaking at the ceremonial signing was Yankee Institute director of public policy, Suzanne Bates, who had testified in support of a number of the criminal justice bills, including bail reform.

“To achieve success, people need both freedom and security,” Bates said. “The great news about these bills is they do both. They enhance individual liberty and they do it without compromising public safety.”

Bates added the reforms will also help Connecticut’s fiscal problems. “Over-spending on courts and prisons is unjustifiable from an economic perspective, and at times even counterproductive.”

The bail reform legislation drew the ire of bail bondsmen from across the state whose industry is affected by the change. The Bail Association of Connecticut testified against the bill claiming it was unnecessary and would potentially let those with multiple offenses back on the street.

The bail reform bill received support from both political parties and garnered the large majority of votes in both the House and Senate.

Malloy concluded by saying “we are a better, safer, fairer Connecticut today than we have been in a long, long time and perhaps at any time in our history.”

 

African American health and social justice

Improving the health of African Americans in the USA: an overdue opportunity for social justice

  • Allan S. Noonan
  • Hector Eduardo Velasco-Mondragon and
  • Fernando A. Wagner
Public Health Reviews201637:12   https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-016-0025-4

Published: 3 October 2016

In 1928, Louis Israel Dublin wrote “An improvement in Negro health, to the point where it would compare favorably with that of the white race, would at one stroke wipe out many disabilities from which the race suffers, improve its economic status and stimulate its native abilities as would no other single improvement. These are the social implications of the facts of Negro Health” [1]. This compelling assertion remains valid to date. The fact that the African American population is the least healthy ethnic group in the USA is not due to chance. The first African Americans were brought to the USA in chains as slaves. The transport itself from Africa to the New World remains one of the best examples of the ability of one sector of humanity to destroy the health of another. Estimates of the death rate of slaves during the infamous “middle passage” are wide ranging, from approximately 9 to 35 %. Slavery associated deaths were likely much higher [23]

Thirty years after the (1985) Heckler Report was released, African Americans still endure unacceptable health disparities and lack the power over policy and actions that could make the changes to eliminate such disparities.

Read the entire article HERE.

Diabetic Foot Care

Image result for african american diabetic foot

credit: https://www.worlddiabetesfoundation.org/projects/india-wdf15-941

Diabetic Foot Care

If your toes are tingly, cracked or sore, if your feet are numb, cold or prone to infection, you could have diabetes-related foot problems. One study found that as many as 50 percent of people with diabetes have nerve damage to their feet.

  • Inspect your feet
  • Protect them from extreme temperatures
  • Wear comfortable, well fitting shoes
  • Prevent blood sugar spikes

Watch the slideshow here.

What’s the BEST diet to follow?

What is the best diet to follow?

Some general rules to follow for good health include eating less sodium and sugars, add more whole grains and fiber, eat colorful fruits and vegetables, don’t smoke, and exercise. According to US News, here are the best diets of 2017:

  • the DASH diet for heart health
  • the Mediterranean diet
  • the MIND diet
  • the Flexitarian diet
  • the MAYO Clinic diet
  • the TLC diet
  • Weight Watchers

Read the entire list here.

Click and Donate for FREE!

Have a Minute? Click and Donate for FREE!

Here are some ways you can make donations to worthy causes for just a few minutes of your time.

  • At http://greatergood.com you can click on one of many projects you might be interested in including autism, diabetes, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s and others. Clicks create donations which support specific projects. You can also shop for interesting goods which support those and related causes.
  • http://www.thenonprofits.com/ allows you to choose from 70 sites which include national and international sites
  • http://www.nicethingstodo.net/freeclicksites.html provides links to many sites in the USA and abroad
  • http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1490 is a vocabulary game, and for each answer to get correct, 10 grains of rice are donated. That isn’t much, you say? According to Freerice, it takes about 19,000 grains to provide sufficient caloric energy to an adult for one day. As of 2012, Freericers raised enough to almost feed 5 million people!

Most Americans Oppose White Supremacists, But Many Share Their Views

Image result for charlottesville demonstration

Most Americans Oppose White Supremacists, But Many Share Their Views: Poll

A new poll asked Americans about racism after the violence in Charlottesville.

CT Bans the Box

Image result for ban the box

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/ex-cons-unfairly-barred-jobs-ban-box-proponents-say-yes/

Connecticut Becomes the Third Jurisdiction in 2016 to “Ban the Box”