Liberty Community Services at New Haven Libraries

Liberty Community Services offers one-on-one consulta-tions at NHFPLs for those with basic needs (jobs, food, shelter, and health and wellness issues).
Ives Main Library, 133 Elm Street
* Mondays to Fridays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
* Saturdays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Fair Haven Branch Library, 182 Grand Avenue
* Thursdays, 5-7 p.m. * Saturday, April 6, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Wilson Branch Library, 303 Washington Avenue
* Tuesdays, 5-7 p.m *Saturdays, April 13, 27, 10 a.m.-1p.m.

The Great Migration: Then and Now — 45th People’s World African American History Events Feb. 24

Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

“The Great Migration: Then and Now — Fleeing Terror, Searching for Jobs and Equality,” is the theme of the 45th People’s World African American History Month celebration on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. at the Troup School, 259 Edgewood Ave., New Haven. The day includes a march at 2:30 p.m., arts and writing competition, guest speaker, drumming and dance.

Some stories will be told of the many African American families in New Haven who trace their roots in the city to the great migration from the South in the 1930s and 40s when companies like Winchester recruited workers to come up from North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. They were fleeing Ku Klux Klan terror and looking for a better life.

Stories will also be told of the migrants from Central American countries coming to New Haven and the United States today, fleeing terror and economic devastation in their countries and hoping to find new opportunities for their families.

The “Jobs for Youth — Jobs for All” march will call on Yale to meet its signed commitment to hire from neighborhoods with high unemployment such as Dwight, Dixwell, Newhall, Fair Haven and the Hill. The march leaves the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe St., at 2:30 p.m. and will wind through the Dwight neighborhood to Troup School, 259 Edgewood Ave., for the 4 p.m. program.

Guest speaker Chauncey K. Robinson, journalist and social media editor of peoplesworld.org from Los Angeles, California, believes that writing and media, in any capacity, should help to reflect the world around us, and be tools to help bring about progressive change. She says she seeks to make sure topics that affect working-class people, peoples of color, and women are constantly in the spotlight.

The program will include drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and African dance with Ice the Beef. Ice the Beef Youth supports each other through education, dreams, goals, and talent by meeting, sharing stories, laughing, joking, and expressing feelings. They are on Facebook.

Prizes and acknowledgments of entries to the Arts and Writing Competition grades 8 to 12 will be presented. Students are asked to reflect in artwork, essay, poetry, rap or song about grandparents or great-grandparents who came up from the South in the past, or about someone who came up from Latin America or elsewhere recently. “What did they find? How can we continue the struggle for good jobs and equal rights to fulfill the dreams of those who came and made New Haven home?  What are your dreams for a better life?” Entry deadline is Feb. 14. For information e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com.

During the Great Migration (1916 to 1970), six million African Americans left the South. They moved to cities like New Haven in the North and the West. They were fleeing discrimination, lynchings, denied rights and a lack of jobs. They were searching for a better life for themselves and their children.

As they settled they found that segregation and racism were not just in the South. The migration gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement and before that to the art, literature and music of the Harlem Renaissance that stirred the country and the world.

Artist Jacob Lawrence created a series of paintings about the Great Migration in 1940. He said, “And the migrants kept coming…their struggles and triumphs ring true today. People all over the world are still on the move, trying to build better lives for themselves and for their families.”

In 2018 famed activist and scholar Angela Davis said, “I believe that the major civil rights issue of the 21st Century is the issue of immigrant rights.”

Why Run for Mayor? by Wendy Hamilton

Wendy Hamilton, NH homeless advocate and mayoral candidate

PAR readers may remember the article Wendy wrote in the Feb. 2018 issue of PAR about homelessness and Mark Cochran. Mark died shortly after Yale New Haven Hospital discharged him in winter with no place to go. Wendy has filed the paperwork to run for mayor and has asked if we would share her concerns with our readers.

One day I just felt fed up with the chaos, the lies, the crazy spending, the near bankruptcy, the greed, the lack of compassion, the apathy…

Justin [Elicker] and Liam [Brennan] were sitting on the fence. I decided to commit to the research and the signature-collecting because I want to be heard at the Democratic primary debates coming this fall.

After making a list of city problems, I saw they fit into four categories–Housing, Budget, Safety, and Transportation.

Housing is no longer affordable for the masses without job security and bank loans for the working poor. The cost of living increases during years of flatline wages and a widening wealth gap. Developers and slumlords are getting all the breaks. Homelessness exists in every town and city and is growing despite what mass media says. Foreclosures and evictions are everyday occurrences.

The Budget is a runaway train growing by $100 million plus with our current mayor in office. We are in debt and near bankruptcy. The biggest contribution comes from our property taxes. Biggest expenditures are police, fire, and school systems, all of which need revamping with fair and intelligent contracts and pensions. We also have a huge yearly debt payoff. Yale, on 50% of the town land, only pays about 1/33 of the yearly take. The state offers a little better money but not enough.

Safety, which includes physical elements like crime, fire, pollution of air and water and climate change, is also a desirable feeling for the public to have and many don’t feel safe here for many reasons. Our police and firefighters require contracts to make them feel safe and appreciated. City residents require a civilian review board that can address their problems by affecting real change. We need to stop treating the homeless, the addicted, and sex workers (mostly homeless women) like criminals. We need year-round hazardous waste collection and cleaner parks that operate for the public benefit, not just the lucky few. We need to get housing quickly for those living on the street.  We all need affordable medical care.

Transportation is a city theme. We have trains, buses, major highways, bike and pedestrian trails, and a harbor. We are part of East Coast Metro which includes several huge cities.  The age of automobiles is over, but city hall hasn’t figured it out yet. 25% of us have asthma. Our air is just plain dirty. Bike travel is on the rise fortunately (I am 70 and own 2). Bus routes and schedules need to be examined and improved here. Many here can’t afford a bike or a car or a cab. Cab service is pricey and undependable here. A $40 million boathouse that took years to build on its own pier lies empty and unavailable to us even though our taxes paid for it — a colossal waste.

I have a lot of work ahead of me.

NHS Seeks Fundraising and Development Specialist

Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven promotes home ownership for people of all income levels. We provide education and financial coaching. We rehabilitate homes and help residents take charge of their neighborhoods. Our holistic approach to social justice merges community building with direct service. NHS New Haven is a member of the national NeighborWorks America Network.

The Fundraising & Development Specialist is a part-time 20 hour/week position which will be part of communications & development team to reach funding goals and develop strategies for donor engagement.

For more information, please contact Rebekah Fraser, Communications & Development Manager, at rfraser@nhsofnewhaven.org, (203) 562-0598 ext. 224.

Report Offers 44 Routes to Affordable Housing

The Affordable Housing Task Force has released its final 21-page report in preparation for a vote on Thursday, Jan. 24.

The report proposes 44 different recommendations for how the city and the Board of Alders can best address New Haven’s affordable housing crisis.

Click here to download a copy of the report.

The housing panel, which the Board of Alders created in March 2018 after a public debate about the conversion of the Hotel Duncan and the loss of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) dwellings downtown, convened six public meetings between June 2018 and January 2019.

At the most recent meeting, the group previewed some of the recommendations detailed in the final report, which the body will vote on on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chambers on the second floor of City Hall before delivering the report to the Board of Alders to review and draft legislation around.

Read the whole story here in the New Haven Independent: Report Offers 44 Routes To Affordable Housing | New Haven Independent

Christian Community Action continues to serve the community after 50 years

Christian Community Action has been serving the community for over half a century. The support of friends and neighbors like you is what makes this work possible. CCA is able to provide help, housing, and hope to families that are homeless in New Haven because of the various individuals, businesses, houses of worship, civic groups, schools and foundations that have committed themselves to reaching those in need. Read more about us at ccahelping.org.

CCA Thanksgiving Basket Drive:
Donations of Turkeys, Canned Goods, and Pastas are in high demand
Please refrain from donating glass items
Drop off donations at:
168 Davenport Ave. New Haven, CT 06519
By: 11/14/2018 at 5:00 P.M.

Coalition for People Takes on Housing Issues

by Paula Panzarella, Coalition for People

Earlier this year, dozens of people who have been supporters of the Coalition for People and attendees of its annual meetings were asked what topics they would like the group to focus on. There was no lack of issues, and within the responses, various housing concerns were mentioned numerous times. Gentrification, rent control, homelessness and lack of affordable housing were the specifics on people’s minds.

At our March 6 meeting, we decided that housing issues would be a key focus of our work at this time. One of the most vivid examples of the lack of affordable housing occurred last December. Mark Cochran, a homeless man who needed detox, was discharged from the hospital to the street after two days. He died soon thereafter.

We want to hear about your concerns and continue the discussion to develop an action plan on

    1. Lack of affordable housing in New Haven;
    2. Homelessness; and
    3. People without a place to live being discharged from the hospital to the street.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, April 17, 2 p.m. at the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Ave. For more info and your suggestions please call Paula at (203) 562-2798.

My Homeless Diary I, II and III

by Wendy Hamilton, advocate for the homeless

I

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m sitting on my couch reading EVICTED by Matthew Desmond. An hour ago I had bought DD coffee at the train station and watched at least a dozen homeless men and women trying to sleep upright on the benches. They are not allowed to recline or unfold. I recognize some of them. The scene is heartbreaking.

Yesterday a skinny homeless teenager wearing only a cotton shirt and a dirty blanket walked through the station. I offered him money, but he refused.

Every day I meet new faces on the street and greet old ones. I pass out small amounts of money to a few knowing that at best it will buy some time in a warm place. I fantasize organizing a small group of these folks to sit with me every day in the mayor’s office (large waiting room) to shame the city into doing something. There are large empty buildings with heat including City Hall right in the center of New Haven.

The “shelters” are inadequate and awful, away from the city center. Yale Corporation and the city and the city hospital exclude the homeless and even though there are charities and outlets for food and clothing, the most important tool for survival, housing, is denied. We all lose our humanity as a result.

II

New Year’s Day — temp is 14F — I walk to the train station for coffee at 8 a.m. Amongst the homeless trying to rest is an elderly white man, scabs on his face, babbling and grimacing, wearing only a thin jacket and PAPER pants, no hat. I ask one of the station police to call an ambulance telling him I am a nurse, and he tells me one just dropped this man off. “He was discharged.” We looked at each other.

I then walked the mile to YNHH ER off York St. It was 9 a.m. and holiday-quiet. Two nurses stood by the reception desk, and I asked for the name of the head doctor of the ER. One of these women wore a vest that said Jessica, Emergency. She started to write down the useless number for “patient relations.” I said I wanted a name so I could write a letter of complaint. She refused and called the two hospital guards (private police) who grabbed me under the armpits and threw me out the front door. Two women patients near the entrance saw this. Luckily I landed on my feet. One cop, C. Larson, told me to get off hospital property.

Later that day I wrote a letter to Dr. Gail D’Onofrio, head medical doctor for the ER at YNHH. No reply so far.

I also found out via the internet that a Baltimore psycho-therapist named Imamu Baraka had a similar experience in his city. Homeless people are denied medical care and hospital admission. I am a witness.

III

Bad news: In January, at a community board meeting, I learned “MC,” Mark Cochran, had died before the holidays. You can read his story in the New Haven Independent at http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/lead_march_cochran. He was 55, a beer drinker and a chain smoker, small of stature, friendly, and a lifelong local. He succumbed to 20 years of homelessness, slogging through heat and cold until it killed him along with his habits.

Yale New Haven Hospital refused to admit him for more than two days. YNHH might have given him more time literally and figuratively. I told them he needed a long stay on a locked down detox ward before he could get housing of any kind. I did mention a heart problem and possible skin disease. I was shown the door. Two days later he was back on Chapel Street.

He was also failed by the local housing system which insists on rules, regulations, and endless delays before subsidized housing is granted or made available. It is slow torture. Even Kafka would be shocked by its cruel complexity.

Good news: I met a young homeless man who is going to Gateway Nursing School, and I offered to help. And Bea C. who is head of SWAN (Sex Workers Allies Network) has been traveling to other cities, networking, and has expanded that group, I found out. Most New Haven sex workers are homeless people.

Recruiting for Justice, Housing & Health Study

Greetings! JustHouHS is pleased to announce that they are ready to start recruiting participants for the Justice, Housing & Health Study (JustHouHS) in New Haven.

As you may know, this study will explore the linkages between criminal justice experiences, access to stable housing, and health, with a particular focus on HIV risk.

They are looking to recruit 400 low-income residents of New Haven to take a survey in our office every six months for two years. Participants will be compensated with a $50 gift card for each visit. Community members that have been released from prison in the past year are especially encouraged to call.

Thank you for your interest in our research and help with recruitment! Alana Rosenberg and Penelope Schlesinger on behalf of the JustHouHS research team

Justice, Housing & Health Study, 129 Church St., Suite 813. Tel (203) 764-7335

Mary Johnson, March 29, 1922-Aug. 13, 2017

It is with great sadness that the Progressive Action Roundtable Planning Committee informs our readers that Mary Johnson, a founding member of PAR and leader, strategist and active participant in most of PAR’s committees, has passed on.

We dedicate this issue of our newsletter to Mary. Without her guidance, ideas for informing the public and each other of rallies and events, optimism in the struggle for justice and her persistence in fighting for people’s rights throughout the years, there may not have even been a Progressive Action Roundtable. We all owe so much to her.

Frank Panzarella, “Mary was the den mother for most of the New Haven activist community.”

Mary was directly active in many of the organizations that are PAR-affiliated. She was also active in most of New Haven’s progressive organizations. She most likely was a founding member of many.
She was a great political and personal influence on many. PAR encourages our readers to send in their reminiscences of her. In the words of Frank Panzarella, “Mary was the den mother for most of the New Haven activist community.”

A memorial is being planned for her with details upcoming.

Visiting MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellows Talk About Challenges of Poverty, Housing and Family Stability

by Vada Crosby, Christian Community Action

On April 25 at 5:30 p.m. at Hill Career Regional High School, 140 Legion Avenue, New Haven, Christian Community Action is excited to host From Compassion to Action: The Road to Hope, a candid conversation about the pathway to family stability. This event is free and open to the public.
The featured speakers are Matthew Desmond, Ph.D., and Juan Salgado, recipients of the 2015 MacArthur “Genius” grant awards. The MacArthur Fellowship is awarded to individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work, and the prospect for more in the future.

Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Social Sciences and co-director of the Justice and Poverty Project at Harvard University. He is the author of the award-winning book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, a New York Times best-seller, a nonfiction finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, and the winner of the PEN America/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction.
Salgado, a renowned community leader, is president and CEO of Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago, an organization that adapts principles of contextualized learning to equip immigrants and their families.

This discussion will raise awareness of issues affecting urban centers across Connecticut, a state where the cost of living is high, quality housing stock is limited and even families whose heads of household are employed are at risk of homelessness. Beverly Gage, a professor of 20th century American history at Yale University, will moderate.

The event’s host, Christian Community Action, a non-profit agency, has been an advocate since 1967 for New Haven families that are homeless as well as many others struggling with the challenges of poverty. CCA’s programs include an emergency shelter, transitional housing, a food pantry and a variety of support services, including job search assistance, family counseling, and workshops.

For more information, please contact Vada Crosby, CCA Marketing Associate, at (203) 780-8379 or vcrosby@ccahelping.org, or visit CCA at ccahelping.org or http://www.facebook.com/ccahelping. Christian Community Action, 168 Davenport Ave., New Haven, CT 06519.

First Cohousing Community in CT to Start Building this Spring

by Marie Pulito, Rocky Corner cohousing

rocky-corner-gh_renderingSince 2006 there has been an active group in the New Haven area working towards building CT’s first cohousing neighborhood. The group known as Green Haven finally won zoning approval in the town of Bethany last June for their project and officially bought the 33-acre former dairy farm in September.
The neighborhood will be called Rocky Corner after the historical name for that section of Bethany. This corner was where the original town schoolhouse was built and where the c.1750 farmhouse still remains.

Rocky Corner will consist of 30 individual homes. Residents will share the land and a common house where community activities will take place. In this common house, meals will be cooked together and shared. An arts and crafts room will allow residents to create together. A full woodworking shop will be available to all. All rooms will be multi-functional so that the dining room can become a dancehall or theater, a lounge can be a yoga studio, a conference room can be a private music room.

All buildings will be extremely energy efficient with thick insulated walls, passive solar heat gain from the south facing windows, mini-split heat pumps as back up for heating and for cooling.

The property will be used for the community’s own growing of food; annual vegetables, orchards, berry bushes, edible yards. Sections of the property may be leased to residents who want to do organic farming.

Planned as a multi-generational and multi-economic neighborhood, people of all ages and financial backgrounds are welcome to meet us, see the land and decide if living in an intentional community is for them. Multi-generations will help the community thrive. Children will be safe to run and play in the pedestrian center. Adults will be respected for their knowledge and the skills they can teach to others. We are applying for affordable status for 9 of the 30 homes so hopefully these homes will be subsidized by the state.

If you are interested in learning more, contact Marie Pulito (203)393-1245, www.rockycorner.org.
Our Vision: Rocky Corner is a vibrant cohousing neighborhood. We nourish respectful relationships among our members as well as with the natural environment and the wider community.