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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!

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.

No Return to Large Congregate Shelters in America

Written by Brian Davis on . Posted in Action Alert

National Coalition for the Homeless Action Alert
Date: April 15, 2021
WHO: Local Continuum of Care Collaborative, Balance of State Coordinators, and HUD officials
WHAT: No Return to Large Congregate Shelters in America

As we come out of the pandemic and the emergency protocols put in place, we need to learn from our past as we rebuild the system for a homeless safety net.  The virus has devastated our community with job losses, evictions, outbreaks and loss of life.  It has also provided an opportunity to start over and learn from our mistakes of the past.  We cannot provide the least expensive large congregate shelters as the only choice for housing in a community.  With so many under threat of eviction, we need to implement bold plans to avoid a second national disaster of a wave of homelessness.  The hotel/motel program was a success in many cities and provided a dignified platform to begin building trust and finding long term alternatives.  The National Coalition for the Homeless is calling on all advocates to push for creating alternatives to large shelters that often strip people of their dignity.  

There are millions of dollars coming into the community provided by the American Rescue Plan, and the local community will need to implement plans to prevent evictions and provide housing to all those in need.  NCH is asking that the 2020 health crisis prompt a larger look at shelters and housing for those experiencing homelessness to transform them back to short emergency services and not long term housing solutions.  We hope that you will look at the entire system to make dramatic changes so that anyone entering the shelter system is brief and provides a path back to housing. NCH is urging that we offer people assistance tailored to their needs and no longer force them to bend to the one size fits all approach of the past.  The most important recommendation is to end the gymnasium size congregate living shelters without privacy and with all the problems that occur when we stuff too many people into a confined space. 

Other recommendations for local or state Continuum of Care Committees:

  • Build into the contacts an incentive system to move people into housing within 30 days of presenting.
  • Limit intake restrictions so that the process is simple and speedy without barriers to access or a long questionnaire that includes a detailed history, and there should be many points of access.
  • Work with local advocates to implement a city wide ban on government funded institutions discharging anyone into a shelter. 
  • Increase all local housing subsidies so that the family/individual can afford housing at the market rate and not be stuck in housing that pays the landlord less than market rates. 
  • Reduce hostile discharges from the smaller shelter system.  The discharge policies for homeless social services should be focused on restorative justice model and not a punitive system that results in a high number of evictions.  Force a high bar with much bureaucracy and greater transparency with the goal of moving people into a better situation instead of so many lateral moves or discharges onto the streets. 
  • Work with local groups with leaders who have experienced homelessness to collect and report feedback from those using the homeless social service that would result in meaningful oversight. We are not asking for token input of 1 or 2 homeless individuals but real empowerment of leadership groups to provide real involvement by those who have experienced homelessness. This entity needs to be staffed by those who have experienced homelessness and supported by public funding.  This so called “homeless ombudsman’s office” should be visible within the social service system to accept complaints and have the authority to act on those complaints.  
  • A comprehensive review of all agencies policies and procedures to assure that there are tough standards against harassment of clients or staff.  There are good models available and every social service provider should have strong policies with clear consequences for those who violate these standards. No need to contract with a consultant.  We are asking for common sense protections to be put in place for every group receiving public money.
  • A new project to hire currently homeless individuals as so called “mystery shoppers” to report directly back to the Continuum boards on the facilities and care that residents or clients are receiving. 
  • Once a problem is discovered there is due process for the agency, but the investigation and adjudication must be swift and consequential.  We believe these new policies should be published and that complaint process be transparent with the specific names withheld but all other information be released to the public. 
  • Again work with grassroots leadership development groups such as the Homeless Unions or those homeless led groups to provide current and formerly homeless individuals a meaningful role in deciding on local priorities for funding. These community leaders with lived experience should be consulted on how resources are divided within the community.  They should have a bigger role than the other communities of interest such as other homeless service providers, government or housing providers. It is our experience that when consulting people who have utilized the shelter system, the reliance on congregate living facilities is greatly reduced.  No one wants to have to sleep on a cot in a gymnasium without privacy because it only adds to the trauma of homelessness and strips a person of their dignity. 
  • NCH always recommends the importance of peer networks to ending homelessness.  We believe that for a large metropolitan area there should be a safe place for people currently experiencing homelessness can go to learn from those who lived through the trauma of homelessness.  We believe that there is no greater use of public resources than a mentoring network of trained individuals with lived experience who can help people who have recently lost their housing navigate the complicated system and can help to avoid the pitfalls or dead ends that often slow a person’s ability to find stability.  

Planning is already underway. Make your voice heard that Big Shelters with endless rows of bunk beds are fine for military boot camps, but we are the most advanced society on the planet and need to treat those living within our borders with dignity and respect.  Large congregate living shelters did not work and we should never go back to those days of addressing homelessness.  Let us know if you find success with this message in your local community.

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