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Ask Publix to take a stand against violence

Written by Brian Davis on . Posted in Action Alert

National Coalition for the Homeless Action Alert
Date: May 3, 2021
WHO: Todd Jones, CEO of Publix Supermarket Company
WHAT: Condemn the actions of Law Enforcement for beating a homeless man in your Miami Store

The National Coalition for the Homeless is calling on Todd Jones, CEO of Publix, to terminate the employment of Miami police officer and Publix security guard, Alexander Garcia Contreras, who was caught on video at your Miami Publix supermarket beating a homeless man, Willie Barber for the alleged crime of stealing a sandwich. We want the police officer fired from both Publix and from his day job in law enforcement and brought up on assault charges.  No one is above the law and no one should act as judge, jury and executioner especially in a matter of a $5 chicken sandwich. 

Publix officials have to be aware that because of the pandemic, there are lines of traffic waiting to get food in almost every city in America.  So many have lost their jobs and much of their income that food insecurity is a huge issue right now.  We can all agree that stealing is wrong, but it does not justify the disgusting display of violence released on that bystander video in the Miami Publix.  We are aware from local activists that Publix is often the first group willing to give during a natural disaster and are the backbone in many communities of the anti-hunger programs, which makes it all the more surprising that they have yet to publicly condemn the actions of the officer and to end his employment after 16 days. 

We are concerned that in the time of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Duante Wright that there was not better training around use of force in shoplifting cases.  We are concerned with the Publix hiring and monitoring of its security personnel considering the seven use of force incidents by Officer Contreras over the last five years.  We believe that corporations in South Florida might need to reconsider employing Miami Police Department in security positions if their officers are so quick to escalate a situation into a violent confrontation. 

NCH is asking the Publix CEO to condemn these actions, fire this officer and tell the public what actions they are taking to assure that this will not happen again.

Will they offer training to their security personnel? Will they look into the history of the use of force by the police officers in their employment?  Will they work to weed out racism from their security staff?  

We are asking all of our members to call the Communications Department of Publix with this simple message to deliver to Todd Jones CEO:

  1. Fire the law enforcement officer in that Miami Publix who beat Mr. Barber.
  2. Compensate Mr. Barber for his pain and suffering inflicted by this Publix security employee. 
  3. Implement an updated training message to all Publix employees that you will not tolerate a violent response to shoplifting, because it endangers the lives of customers and employees alike. 
  4. During the orientation process as well as on-going training modules that Publix will work to eliminate inherent bias and racist tendencies by all employees.  

Post on social media @Publix, or send a message to Maria Brous, Director of Communications for Publix, at 863-688-1188 x55339 or maria.brous@publix.com, and ask her to forward the message to Todd Jones.

New Jersey Executive Chef Dedicates His Life’s Work to Helping the Homeless

Written by admin on . Posted in Blog

During a time when our nation needs it most, Executive Chef Cardie Mortimer wants to help us find unity in the kitchen. The culinary therapy cookbook, Keep on Cookin’ contains 280 pages full of recipes and stories about life, love, and laughter. “Keep on Cookin’ was written intentionally to bring families and friends back to the heart of the home, the kitchen.” – Executive Chef Cardie Mortimer.

Executive Chef Cardie Mortimer graduated from the New Orleans Culinary Institute in 1978 and has received numerous teaching and culinary certifications of the past 42 years. In New Jersey alone, he has served as a popular instructor at King’s Cooking Studios in Short Hills, Adult School of Montclair, the Adult school of Continuing Education in West Caldwell, and was the 1995 Master Teaching Professional at Chef’s Lab in Montclair.

Donate $100 and we’ll send Mom a copy of Cardie’s soulful cookbook!

Over the years, Chef Cardie has acted as an advisor, sous chef, and Executive Chef in many northern New Jersey restaurants and in Birmingham, Alabama, and Savannah GA. He was also a guest chef in two Emeril Lagasse restaurants in Las Vegas. Some of the world-class chefs Cardie has worked alongside include Robert Irvine, Neil Dohery (Cisco Foods), Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudehomme, Sean Roe, Dana D’Anzi Tuohy, and Kevin Belton (New Orleans School of Cooking).

Celebrity chef Maria Liberati describes Cardie as a chef that cooks with soul. Outside of the kitchen, Chef Cardie believes giving back is another great way for us to come together. His relationship with a homeless man named Charlie inspired him to gift all proceeds from Keep on Cookin’ to support the National Coalition for the Homeless, and other organizations working to end homelessness. 

Resources in the American Rescue Plan of 2021, and How to get your Economic Impact Payments

Written by admin on . Posted in Blog

Our April Town Hall (click here for more on the Town Hall Series) featured a look at the American Rescue Plan passed by the 117th US Congress and signed into law on March 11, 2021 by President Joe Biden.  The first speaker was Janne Huang, Outreach Campaign Strategy Manager at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (www.cbpp.org).  Huang has worked over the last year to assure that low income and especially homeless people have access to direct financial assistance provided in the three COVID Relief packages passed over the last year.  She began her discussion by describing the $1,400 stimulus funds and the additional resources for families as life changing for many, and so it was critical for groups to help people access to those dollars.  Ms. Huang wrote an article for CBPP last year which is still relevant for the March COVID relief package:

The easiest way to help those without income access these funds are to file an IRS tax return for 2020 tax year.  Those incarcerated individuals are also eligible, and you should claim everyone residing in your household to get the full benefit.  The American Rescue plan also offers an advance on child tax credit that can be as much as $3,000 per child as part of your refund in 2021.  The local 2-1-1 system has lists of local programs which can help individuals file their taxes for free.  Agencies can get a tool kit from the IRS to help people file their taxes and can answer some common questions about the COVID relief funds.  Huang described the IRS Get-My-Payment website, which can help with filing and tracking those checks. https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

There is also a process in which an agency can be trained to be a local assistance center to offer tax filing assistance.  The agency can then work with clients to answer some questions, securely upload income and banking documents then the IRS will take over and assure the client gets their recovery funds.  Individuals do not need a bank account either to receive the help, they can get debit cards or actual physical checks.  Those just add time to the processing.  The IRS has even made it possible to receive assistance through phone peer to peer payment apps like Venmo.  We learned at the Town Hall that shelters in which many people are using as an address sometimes slows down the processing.  Local shelters can register with the local IRS office to clear up the confusion.  Also, the use of PO Boxes sometimes will slow down the processing of these payments. 

Other resources for assisting someone with, or obtaining EIP payments:

The other presenter was NCH Board President and Minnesota advocate, Sue Watlov Phillips who provided a broader look at the American Rescue funds and how they can be used for creating programs to assist with housing and support services.  Huang’s presentation focused on the benefits for the individuals while Watlov Phillips focused on the funds available to non-profit agencies.  Some of this is up in the air since the rules for use of these funds will not be released until the fall, but these are assumptions based on the past two emergency allocations from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The big difference in these funds is they do not rely on the limited definition of homelessness HUD uses in most of their programs because it includes those at risk of homelessness, domestic violence victims including those fleeing an abuser who is stalking them and veterans who may not be able to be served by the VA.  Click here to find out how much your community is receiving here is the HUD site with the dollar figures for the $5 Billion in HOME program for people experiencing homelessness.

The important message here is that there is a great deal of money coming to the local community for reducing the impacts of homelessness and you need to be involved in how that money is distributed.  Advocates, including people who have experienced homelessness and/or housing crises in the local community know how to best utilize these dollars, and they need to be at the table. Nearly every big city and larger metropolitan county/parish has a “continuum of care” committee which will most likely oversee how these dollars are spent.  Some are managed by a local governmental body while others have a private company or non-profit which oversees the committee.  There are typically social service providers, children’s programs, legal assistance programs, housing entities, advocates and typically a couple people with lived experience.  They typically have public meetings and other community input.  For rural communities the states take the lead in managing these funds in what is typically called “the balance of state” advisory boards.  Again, these are typically public entities like housing development agencies who coordinate these groups.  Get involved and push for housing over shelters.  Push those entities to think broadly about the problem and do not push people down only one path.  Give people experiencing homelessness dignified programs that can quickly and safely move them back to stability.  We need your voice at the state and local levels to advocate for effective alternatives.  

There will also be $5 Billion in Emergency Housing Vouchers which will also include a broader definition of homelessness.  Public Housing Authorities will be receiving notification of this in the next 4-5 weeks, which will hopefully be facilitated on an aggressive technical assistance model. 

Finally, there is a proposed 15% increase in the HUD budget for fiscal year 2022 which would hopefully be in place by October 2021.  

More resources on the FY22 budget here

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