Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program: UniteCT Information

by Tebben Lopez, Neighborhood Housing Services

As the COVID-19 pandemic systematically shut down businesses and caused many people to lose their jobs, the consequence of mass eviction loomed larger each month.

“With the severity of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program (TRHAP), administered by the Department of Housing (DOH), was a critically needed tool to address a catastrophic need,” Managing Director of the HomeOwnership Center, Bridgette Russell, explained, “Renters facing job loss and furloughs were suddenly unable to pay their rent, and TRHAP, along with the Governor’s mandated eviction moratorium, provided a short-term solution to quell an impending eviction tsunami.”

With the assistance of selected administrators and NHS of New Haven’s HomeOwnership Center, the state got to work distributing the funds. The Governor first set aside $10 million that grew in short order to $40 million by the end of the temporary assistance program in December.

The HOC began to work with individuals assigned to their department to bring them up to $4,000 in order to help them with back rent and forward-facing rent. In total, NHS assisted 448 families with over $1,415,000 in assistance. “After COVID-19 shut down my work, I was in a panic,” Monika C. shared. The program came at the perfect time, helping with her rent, and she was grateful to be accepted. “A huge thank you to NHS of New Haven and the Department of Housing for helping me through the process!”

“Helping tenants and landlords submit applications for the Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program was deeply meaningful and often very moving work,” HOC Coordinator, Robin Ladouceur, reflected. “The range of applicants with whom I worked was broad – from the older man who lost his job and could not find a new one in a job market that privileges youth; to the single mom of two who received a cancer diagnosis in the midst of the pandemic; to a young new mother faced with raising her daughter alone; to all the countless families touched by COVID-19.”

The prolonged nature of the pandemic means that the scale of need for rental assistance was and continues to be staggering. “At least 3-5 times per week I receive inquiries from individuals who passed through the TRHAP program asking if there are other ways to receive assistance, Robin said. “I am grateful to be able to say that a new State of Connecticut Department of Housing Rental Assistance Program will be commencing in March and everyone who went through TRHAP may be eligible to apply. More help is on the way!”

Tebben Lopez, Communications Specialist
(203) 562-0598 x224, 333 Sherman Ave. New Haven
www.nhsofnewhaven.org
@NHSofNewHaven

Vigil Honors Lives Lost to COVID in New Haven

by Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Accíon

In a vigil to commemorate one year of the COVID crisis, on March 22 the immigrant organization Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), along with Black & Brown United in Action, and Hamden Action Now remembered 186 lives lost in New Haven, including two of their loved ones, Nora Garcia and Ignacia Teniza.

photo: Frank Panzarella

To the crowd of sixty people, ULA announced a Rental Relief Fund and called for an economic recovery for immigrants. ULA released a report documenting the needs of their community and the urgent demand for an economic recovery to include immigrants. Since the pandemic began, ULA has mobilized nearly a dozen car caravans to the state capitol and governor’s mansion calling for COVID relief for “essential” undocumented workers, who have been excluded from unemployment insurance and federal stimulus payments.

While US Congress has failed to provide any relief to undocumented workers, the state of Connecticut last week launched UniteCT, a $235 million rental assistance program that is open to all residents regardless of immigrant status. At the same time, the state legislature is considering Senate Bill 956, which would open Husky health insurance to immigrants. The rental assistance fund comes after ULA and partner organizations negotiated for nearly one year with the Connecticut Department of Housing and distributed $2.5 million in a pilot program.

“Today as we remember Nora and Ignacia and the 186 lives lost in our city, we will call for a new day in Connecticut, when healthcare and economic security will be a right for all of us, not just for a few of us,” said John Jairo Lugo, Community Organizing Director of ULA.  “As we mourn the dead, we must denounce the deadly racial and economic inequities in this state, and we must fight for the living by creating a recovery for all that includes undocumented workers and families.”

For more information: Megan Fountain, (203) 479-2959, megan@ulanewhaven.org.

Letter to Judge Requesting Leniency in Sentencing of Mark Colville

by Promoting Enduring Peace

Mark Colville is scheduled to be sentenced April 9 for his participation in the Kings Bay Plowshares anti-nuclear action. The following letter was sent to the judge who will sentence him. For information: kingsbayplowshares7.org.

February 12, 2021

The Honorable Lisa Godbey Wood
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Georgia
801 Gloucester Street, Brunswick, GA 31520

Dear Justice Wood:

I write to you on behalf of the members of Promoting Enduring Peace, an organization founded in Connecticut in 1952. Our mission is to bring together the movements for international peace, planetary harmony, and social justice. We are best known for the American equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize, known as the Gandhi Peace Award, bestowed first on Eleanor Roosevelt in 1960, and since then presented annually to leaders of peace and progress such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Daniel Ellsberg, César Chávez, and Ralph Nader.

Since 1952 we have supported nonviolent ways to highlight the need to put aside weapons of mass destruction that threaten civilization. We are especially moved by peace advocates willing to pay a price to carry out their religious commitment to peace via nonviolent action.

In that regard, we implore you to show leniency in the sentencing of Mark Colville, regarded in our community as a great moral leader. We ask specifically that his sentence be time served.

We ask you to consider the nature of the time when Mark Colville and the other members of the Kings Bay Plowshares entered the Naval facility. They were responding in a noble and completely nonviolent way to the announcement of a $10 trillion “modernization” campaign of U.S. nuclear weapons, and when the President renounced virtually all U.S. weapons control treaties and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea. These few explained that they were desperate to warn the world that we were on a path towards nuclear war. We believe that all of us should follow their example in taking a stand against these supremely destructive weapons systems. But at the time of the Plow-shares action, no one else was listening.

Many of us in Promoting Enduring Peace personally know Mark Colville and can attest to his outstanding and merciful work for the homeless. His family home has been a soup kitchen for years. He has also made great efforts to stop torture everywhere. He has now served 15 months in prison.
Please understand the sacrifices he has made to help make us all safer. Please let him return to his family and his admirable work.

For peace and progress,

James C. van Pelt, President
Stanley Heller, Administrator

NHFPL Launches Laptop Lending Program

by Gina Bingham, NHFPL

The New Haven Free Public Library (NHFPL) announces the expansion of its mobile Wi-Fi hotspot lending program to include a laptop lending program, expanding free internet and computer access to patrons beyond the five public service locations.  Wi-Fi hotspots and Chromebook laptops are available for 3-week loan periods to adult (18+) NHFPL cardholders who are residents of New Haven and have accounts in good standing.  Devices not returned to the library within the 3-week loan period will be deactivated and a replacement fee will be charged to the borrower.

“The New Haven Free Public Library is committed to removing barriers to digital access and ensuring free internet access is accessible to all our patrons,” said John Jessen, City Librarian. “We are proud to further our work towards equitable access to technology to help bridge the digital divide within our city. While we realize that this is not a magic bullet, we support Mayor Justin Elicker’s efforts to bring connectivity to the entire City and want to deeply thank our partners at the State Library of Connecticut and at Verizon and T-Mobile for their contributions in ensuring all citizens of New Haven can more easily participate in the digital and civic life of the city.”

The Library’s Chromebooks were provided through funding made available by the State of Connecticut as part of the CARES Act.  Customers may call any New Haven Free Public Library location to reserve a Chromebook, a hotspot, or both with instructions available in English and Spanish.  Presentation of a valid photo ID and library card is required.

[To check out a laptop from the downtown Ives library, please call (203) 946-8130, ext. 114. For a laptop from a branch library, please call that branch directly.]

PACE to Hire Full-Time Staff Person

by Mark Scully, President of PACE

People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) will hire its first full-time staff person, as described below. If interested, please apply. For questions about the position, contact Bernie Pelletier (bernard.pelletier@comcast.net).

People’s Action for Clean Energy Program Manager

Position Description: Position Overview

The Program Manager will assume operational responsibility for several of its initiatives. This position will work closely with the officers of PACE and oversee interns and volunteers to direct the implementation of a range of programs, including: 100PercentCT, working with towns to assist their transition to clean energy; HeatSmartCT, a campaign to promote education and adoption of heat pumps; continued development of the PACE Energy Model; creation of a new PACE Clean Energy Dashboard on the PACE website; and Solar Canopies Project, helping towns and the state realize the potential of this resource.

Qualifications

The ideal candidate will be an excellent leader and will have experience in managing staff of different disciplines to produce results in a timely manner. Applicant must be self-driven, possess strong organizational skills and be capable of working independently, seeking guidance when needed. The candidate must demonstrate strong interest in advancing clean energy and a desire to work on concrete solutions based on data analysis. Good verbal skills as well as the ability to write with clarity and brevity are essential. The ability to work and communicate remotely via Zoom and other applications is a necessity due to the pandemic.

People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) is a non-profit engaged in promoting the transition to clean energy. For more information about PACE, visit its website at www.pacecleanenergy.org or phone (917) 843-7214.

Interested applicants should send their resumes to PACE4CT@gmail.com.

PACE, PO Box 134, West Simsbury, CT 06092

Virtual Women’s & Gender Studies Conference at SCSU, Friday and Saturday, April 23 and 24, 2021

This conference offers a creative, critical space for a two-day virtual inquiry across differences and communities into the intersections of gender, race, community, and conflict.  For three decades now, the feminist collective at SCSU has continuously hosted a national conference that reaches across communities and brings together minds and hearts for peace and justice. Keynote Speakers: Margo Okazawa-Rey, Professor Emerita, San Francisco SU, April 23, 7:30-8:30 p.m.; Loretta Ross, Associate Professor, Smith College, April 24, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

On April 24, from 3:45-5 p.m., Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven (JVPNH) will present the session Women Rising: Stories of Six Courageous Palestinian and Israeli Women. The six women will speak about how their lives have been deeply affected by the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, Palestine. JVPNH’s goal is to highlight the spectrum of responses that the women have had to the challenges brought on by the occupation, and to encourage discussion of those responses.

For more information, please contact wgs@southernct.edu  or visit https://inside.southernct.edu/womens-gender-studies/conferences/2021.

‘Outraged Elders’ Keep RBG’s Spirit Alive

by Melinda Tuhus, New Haven Independent, March 16, 2021

Dori Dumas wanted to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s birthday on March 15, so she pitched the idea to the other members of the core group of Outraged Elders. They showed up in single-digit windchill temperatures on the Green on Monday, paper lace collars around their necks, signs displayed around “the bench” across from the federal courthouse to signify the wisdom “the notorious RBG” dispensed in her decades on the Supreme Court.

Outraged Elders is the group of Black and white women who planned two COVID-safe Black Lives Matter rallies on the Green last summer to enable older residents who were staying home to avoid catching a deadly disease to safely express their support.

“As a group of women activists, we thought it most appropriate during Women’s History Month to honor the life and legacy of the honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg, ‘The Notorious R.B.G.’ on her birthday,” said Dumas, who is also president of the Greater New Haven chapter of the NAACP. “The bench is a reminder that we have to keep the pressure on. We have to use our power of the vote and keep pushing for laws that protect and advance equality, women’s rights and more,” she said. “The struggle continues, but the fight continues as well.”

The women used this outing to express support for many struggles, sometimes reading a relevant quote from Ginsberg. The Rev. Allie Perry promoted the efforts of Stop Solitary CT to pass the Protect Act to end solitary confinement in the state’s prisons.

Read the full article here: www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/outraged_elders_keep_rbgs_spirit_alive

PEP Calls for End to U.S. Support of Yemen Blockade

by Amina Masri, Promoting Enduring Peace

More than 5 million people are at the point of famine in Yemen. This is being caused in part because of the Saudi blockade of Hodeida, the major port where foreign aid enters the country. It’s also where fuel enters the country.  This past month there’s been video of long, long lines of trucks loaded with food that are stuck around the port of Hodeida. There has also been video of lines of ambulances. The vehicles are unable to move because they have no fuel. There are some 13 ships in waters near the port that have been inspected by the United Nations that have been stranded there for months. None has been allowed to unload in the port since late December.

Promoting Enduring Peace calls for several measures: the U.S. government should explain how it is involved now or in the past in the blockade; the State Department should publicly call for an end to the fuel blockade; the U.S. should stop delivery of all weapons to Saudi Arabia.

We ask U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy’s attention to this issue because for years he has been a critic of the Saudi war on Yemen. He recently called on the British government to join the Biden Administration in stopping the sale of offensive weapons to the Saudis. We ask him to speak out on the blockade.

For more information about this see the website pepeace.org where we also talk about another outrage in Yemen, the burning to death of at least 44 Ethiopian refugees by Ansar Allah (Houthi) forces.

COVID-19 Vaccine Info and Other State Updates

From Sen. Chris Murphy’s Office

All Connecticut residents over the age of 16 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 1 and can sign up for a vaccine appointment at https://portal.ct.gov/Vaccine-Portal [as well as through the Vaccine Administration Management System at https://dphsubmissions.ct.gov/OnlineVaccine or call (877) 918-2224 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also call the City of New Haven Health Department at (203) 639-2245, and Yale New Haven Health at (833) ASK-YNHH [(833) 275-9644)].

Starting March 19, Connecticut eased a number of COVID-19 restrictions. Among other changes, restaurants, retail stores, offices, libraries, houses of worship, indoor recreation (excluding theaters), gyms and fitness centers, museums, aquariums and zoos are allowed to operate at 100% capacity. Mask requirements and social distancing rules remain in effect.

Members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation, Gov. Ned Lamont and Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno announced the launch of UniteCT, a new state program to provide rental and utility assistance to qualified Connecticut households financially impacted by COVID-19. UniteCT may provide up to $10,000 in rental assistance and up to $1,500 in electric utility arrearage payments to landlords and utility companies on behalf of approved tenants. To learn more about the qualifications and apply for assistance go to bit.ly/UniteCT.

Connecticut’s Congressional Delegation, Gov. Lamont and CT Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon announced that CT’s airports have been awarded more than $8.8 million in federal grant funding under the COVID-19 pandemic relief plan passed by Congress in December.

Gov. Lamont and Attorney General William Tong are warning Connecticut residents to be on alert for potential scams related to COVID-19 vaccines. To protect themselves against vaccine-related scams: 1) Do not pay anything to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine; 2) Ignore sales ads related to the vaccine; 3) Beware of unsolicited emails or texts concerning the vaccine, including offers of rewards or payments; and 4) Do not share personal, financial, or health information with unfamiliar people.

Gov. Lamont announced that he has signed an executive order modifying certain state laws in order to allow expanded access to telehealth services to continue in Connecticut during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The filing and payment deadline for Connecticut and federal individual income taxes has been extended to May 17, 2021. For information on federal coronavirus relief, including help for small businesses, direct cash payments and more, visit murphy.senate.gov/coronavirus. This page provides answers to frequently asked questions and gives a summary of available programs and funding. For the latest information about keeping you or your family safe go to cdc.gov/coronavirus. For resources and information about Connecticut’s response, including updates about vaccine distribution, visit ct.gov/coronavirus.

What’s Your Story? People Get Ready!

https://www.peoplegetreadybooks.com

March 19, 2021

Like many small businesses across the country, a socially-conscious bookstore in New Haven has employed some creative strategies to stay afloat after the pandemic forced its doors to close, National Public Radio reported.

Delores Williams and Lauren Anderson are the co-founders of People Get Ready (PGR), which focuses on works by authors from underrepresented groups, including people of color and authors who are LGBTQ+, multilingual and/or Indigenous.

When the pandemic hit last March, Williams and Anderson found new ways to serve their community. Among other strategies, they’ve offered virtual read-alouds, upgraded their online store, and even have delivered books locally for free. The two say that books have provided their customers with comfort, growth and connection in a time that has forced us to be apart.

“The most important lesson we have learned is that we can’t go wrong if we stick to our founding mission, listen to what our neighbors tell us they need from us, and extend grace to one another as we figure out what it means to nurture an emerging business in these times,” Williams and Anderson write.

For more info, contact PGR at
119 Whalley Ave., New Haven, CT  06511
(203) 954-6678
https://www.peoplegetreadybooks.com

Never Ending Books Collective at 810 State St.

neverendingbooks.net

Never Ending Books Collective: We’re friends who value our city and what Never Ending Books has been to us and countless others, and who want to help shepherd it into New Haven’s future. And we want you to be a part of it!

Late last year, news broke that New Haven’s Never Ending Books — for years a sanctuary for artists, bookworms, and performers — was closing. We want to keep it open. And we need your help to make it possible.

The Never Ending Books Collective will create a community-driven, independent art and cultural center dedicated to keeping art at street level by providing an inclusive space for both artists and audiences, a curated print media selection, low-cost events, exhibitions, and more in a multi-use storefront.

That will mean more regular hours; a curated selection of used books for sale; a selection of art, literature, comix, zines, and more from local creators; and eventually, when it’s safe, a space for musicians and performers.

Check out the article from the New Haven Independent: https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/neb_collective.

Sign up for newsletters at neverendingbooks.net. For now our hours are Saturday and Sunday 3-5 p.m. There is also an art exchange those hours: bring in a piece of art and take one from the bookstore. More hours will soon be posted on the website. When you’re in the neighborhood, stop by 810 State Street. If we’re open, please come in!

The Friends of Kensington Playground April Update

by Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

Taking the Dwight neighborhood’s only public playground for housing amounts to environmental injustice. Our efforts to save Kensington Playground from development continue.

Friends of Kensington Playground lawsuit in State court:

  • The City of New Haven has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit (on the grounds of lack of standing).  One Friend owns her home and lives across the street, so we expect to win on that.
  • The Community Builders (TCB) has filed a motion to be a party in the lawsuit.  The judge has said no for now.

The Mayor said no to mediation at March’s neighborhood meeting, choosing instead to spend taxpayer funds needless-ly to defend a lawsuit.  There are win-win options. Mediation could be helpful.
We asked the national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to get involved. They have asked the City of New Haven to explain how people in the community were involved in consideration of the sale of the site and how a review of the site’s historic significance was done in advance of the decision to sell it.

Friends of Kensington Playground will be hosting several events in the park. Please come and please wear a mask. Food Pantry, Easter Basket Giveaway: Saturday, April 3, 10 a.m.; Park Spring Clean Up: Sat., April 10, 10-11 a.m.; Kids Bike Safety Clinic: Sat., Apr. 17, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.; Clothing/Household Goods Giveaway – May, date pending.

To get involved, learn more, donate, and sign our petition, please visit our website: KensingtonPlayground.org.

Protecting Dwight’s only playground from sale and development is costly, even though we have done as much of the work as possible ourselves. Please be as generous as you can. Don’t let the City take this playground for $1 with an illegal process. Take a stand for democracy. Fight environ-mental injustice. Require our city, state and federal governments to follow the law.

Campaign Forming to Stop Ruger Sales to Israel

by Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

A number of groups are joining to try to save Palestinians from being shot by guns produced by Sturm Ruger & Co. which is based in Fairfield. The guns are barbarically being used for “crowd control,” that is, Israeli soldiers are shooting .22 caliber rounds into leaders of and participants in demonstrations, killing some and maiming others. Internet searches have shown more than 60 times Palestinians were killed or injured by Rugers over the past decade. The last was a youth killed on his 15th birthday last December.

The Middle East Crisis Committee had an effort in 2018 trying to get Ruger to take responsibility for its gun sales. Letters were written to Chris Kiloy, Ruger CEO; an op-ed was published in the New Haven Register; and three CT groups banded together for a march to Ruger headquarters on a sweltering June day. A company VP met with activists for literally a couple of minutes and said the company was following all U.S. law.

A website is being prepared. See NoRugerGunsToIsrael. godaddysites.com. We’re working on an action on March 30th which is Palestinian Land Day and the day the Great March of Return began in the Gaza Strip 2018. That effort lasted well over a year. According to the UN, “214 Palestinians, including 46 children, were killed, and over 36,100, including nearly 8,800 children, have been injured.”No Israeli soldier was killed over all that time and only one soldier was injured.

We hope this campaign will be sustained and, in view of growing support for Palestinians among U.S. citizens, U.S. Jews, and even among Congress, will have more success.  #NoRugerGuns2Israel

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