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Tell your Governor NOT to cancel Unemployment Benefits!

Written by admin on . Posted in Action Alert

Washington, DC – After what many see as a disappointing April jobs report, state officials in at least 11 states are threatening to cancel the additional $300 per week added unemployment benefits passed in the American Rescue Plan. These benefits, paid for solely by the federal government, are set to expire in September 2021. Governors are attacking the generous unemployment compensation and plan to end the additional subsidy in June. Below are the states that might see pandemic unemployment benefits cut before the rest of the country:

StateBenefit End Date
AlabamaJune 19, 2021
ArizonaJuly 10, 2021
ArkansasJune 26, 2021
GeorgiaJune 26, 2021
IdahoJune 19, 2021
IowaJune 12, 2021
MississippiJune 12, 2021
MissouriJune 12, 2021
MontanaJune 27, 2021
North DakotaJune 19, 2021
OhioJune 26, 2021
South CarolinaJune 30, 2021
South DakotaJune 26, 2021
TennesseeJuly 3, 2021
UtahJune 26, 2021
WyomingJune 19, 2021
All other statesSeptember 6, 2021

Background:
The first pandemic economic recovery bills, passed in bipartisan efforts in 2020, supplemented unemployment compensation benefits with additional federal support of first $600 then $300 to stabilize the US economy and avoid a depression. The new Biden administration bolstered this critical unemployment fund in March 2021 with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which provided $300 a week in from the unemployment compensation fund through September 2021. After what some consider to be a disappointing April jobs report, some legislators and Governors have stepped up to demonize the program, though economists have reported that these concerns about “too generous” benefits are simply not true.

Why you should take action:
The economy IS recovering with help of the American Rescue Plan, and recovery packages passed in 2020. Unemployment benefits, just like basic income programs, infuse money into the local economy. Households use the extra income to pay rent and utilities or to buy food and clothes for their kids. Here are more facts about the April jobs report and unemployment (thanks to our friends at the Economic Policy Institute):

  • Low-wage sectors—where workers are receiving a higher share of their prior income than in other sectors—saw much faster job growth than higher-wage sectors in April. This is exactly the opposite of what you’d expect to see if the $300 per week was keeping people from working.
  • Labor force participation rose rapidly in April, but the gains were all among men—women actually lost ground. Given that women still shoulder the lion’s share of caregiving responsibilities, this points to care needs being the thing holding back labor supply, not unemployment benefits. 
  • The disappointing net job gains in April were not due to a slowdown in hiring—hiring actually rose. The disappointing April job gains were due to a large increase in layoffs and other job separations among women (most often care-givers, especially for kids where schools are not yet open). 
  • Millions of workers still have legitimate health concerns about returning to work. But numbers show that for every 10% increase adults being fully vaccinated is associated with a 1.1 percentage point increase in employment. (Aaron Sojourner, Labor Economist)

Businesses are slowly opening, and will continue to do so after the CDC’s announcement that fully vaccinated people can resume most pre-pandemic activities. It will take time to get the economy back up and running. In the meantime, contact your Governor to say, “Don’t cut off unemployment! It puts needed cash in the pockets of hurting families, and helps stimulate our local economy!”

Extra cash has contributed to the economy rebounding, and taking away the benefits damages the ability for people to pay the rent or provide food. This philosophy will not incentivize Americans to return to work, but instead will further divide this country. Tell your Governor to #SaveUnemployment!

Unsung Hero: Dennis Ashton

Written by Brian Davis on . Posted in Blog

There are a few things I know for certain from my work life:

  1. Homelessness is a solvable problem.
  2. People who experience homelessness are stripped of their civil rights daily which is extremely demoralizing, and makes it that much harder to get back your stability.
  3. Pitchers should never be forced to bat in professional baseball.
  4. Dennis Ashton and Jim Schlecht of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) will always be there to help those struggling in Cleveland. 

Dennis came to the work helping people with government bureaucracy at one of the meal programs in Cleveland, showing particular prowess in getting people identification. He also volunteered overnight to stay at one of the winter shelters, a role that turned into a paid supervisory job. Then Dennis started doing outreach for the NEOCH. It was a part time position but he spent long hours driving around the streets of Cleveland looking for people who needed help or responding to concerned citizens who were worried about their neighbors living outside. 

Dennis Ashton checking on someone living outdoors in Cleveland.

The outreach system became more advanced in Cleveland with all the groups sitting at the same table on a regular basis to talk about strategies, housing options and the best approach with certain individuals in need of help.  They started to have real success getting to know everyone on the streets and building a trusting relationship, and then the pandemic hit. 

Dennis said that it “started out as if it was not real.” The overnight drop in center closed because of safety concerns.  The shelters started moving people out to try to de-concentrate and things began to look really bleak.  There was a ceremony to give out tents soon after the overnight drop in center closed at the church in hopes that the residents could make it on their own. The men and women were asking, “Where can we go with these tents?” Outreach staff were frustrated that all progress they had made over the last 7 years would be lost. It was decided then and there to try to put as many people as possible into hotels. The hotels were basically sitting empty and there were potentially hundreds who were going to be outside in the rainy spring of 2020. What started with just a few people and no money grew and grew. Private foundations and donors kicked in money to start this program under the leadership of NEOCH. Eventually, the County agreed to front the money for the hotels in order to de-concentrate the shelters until the federal CARES act funding was in place. Eventually, there were five hotels used with an additional space for families as well.  

The program was a huge success. Before the pandemic, it took time to build a relationship with those living outside and a great deal of coaxing to find the best solution for the individual to come inside.  Now, you could just drive to the campsite and say, “Who wants a motel room?” Then you would work with the person on their issues where you knew where they would be and they knew they were safe. The outdoor population went from a few hundred to a couple of dozen living rough in February 2021. It was difficult to move people into more stable housing because the system was mostly frozen for a year. There were very few evictions, no one was relocating out of their housing especially if there was a subsidy attached and nearly every permanent supportive housing unit was full in Cleveland. 

Dennis said it was a horrible year with many getting sick some of the more fragile died. But the federal relief for homeless individuals was successful in Cleveland because it started with a plan for safe private rooms inside. There were challenges with getting people identification and there were not nearly the number of volunteers helping with food or other supportive services that the system enjoyed before the pandemic. Getting food was never an issue for most because of the number of church based groups that served hot meals in Cleveland. All the places that afforded the opportunity for community shut down or were take out only. There were no Zoom meetings to check in with your friends that you saw at lunch every few days.

Dennis said that the local public hospital, MetroHealth, stepped up to provide testing and even sending nurses out to do health screenings. The Central Kitchen delivered food to all these hotels locally which was a huge escalation of their services. He said that all outreach were told not to transport people because of the safety of being in a car with someone potentially infected, but he just could not leave his friends out on the streets to tell them to walk the 3 or 4 miles to the hotel. Dennis said his biggest job was trying to keep people calm and not make them more scared than they already were. He worked from 6 a.m. until late at night trying to meet the needs of those without housing. Law enforcement were calling for outreach help more often and there were some sticky days when the curfew was in place and people who were outside were told to get inside or face a ticket for violating the statewide curfew. Dennis, the eternal optimist, said that everyone was doing the best they could over the last year. He said that unfortunately, the shelters have a bad reputation for a lot of people, and this hotel program gave everyone an option to go inside that we never had in the past. There were also so many people with special circumstances like pets that the system could finally help.  

Street Outreach during cold pandemic months.

In a crisis, there are people who really step up to meet the needs of their neighbors. Dennis Ashton of Cleveland, OH, is one of those unsung heroes in the local community. He went about his job getting people into housing during the pandemic without a lot of fanfare or assistance.  Overcoming the fear of infection while working to keep those on the streets informed and calm during this crisis is how Dennis went about his job.

There are many cities in the United States who could not figure out how to keep individuals experiencing homelessness safe or reduce the number of people staying outside during the pandemic. In my opinion, a large part of that is because they did not have a Dennis Ashton working in their communities. 

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.

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