Victory! ICE will Stop Immigration Raids at US Workplaces

by Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Acción, Oct. 18, 2021

Big news!  Thanks to our efforts, the Biden administration took action on one of our top priorities: ensuring that employers stop using immigrant status to silence workers.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it will no longer carry out mass immigration raids at U.S. workplaces.  Instead, DHS says they will crackdown on employers who exploit workers, rather than locking up workers who are victims of exploitation.

We demand that DHS include immigrant workers in every step of the new workplace enforcement program.

That’s why ULA’s worker leader Hermelinda Gutierrez has joined together with other workers from Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and more to form a Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) that will issue recommendations to the Biden administration.  The BRC are people who have experienced workplace abuse firsthand, and their voices must be heard.

We are close to winning good jobs and immigrant protections in Congress. But we need to keep the pressure on Senators to make sure that they include full funding for homecare services AND a path to citizenship in the Build Back Better act.

That’s why we’re calling our Senators. To add your voice, just dial: 1 (855) 637-5982. You’ll hear a recording – with options in English or Spanish – with instructions and talking points, and then you’ll be connected to your Senator’s office to leave your message. Once you hang up you’ll receive a text message asking you to dial again to be connected to your other Senator’s office. Please make both calls!

Unidad Latina en Acción, 37 Howe Street, New Haven, CT 06511. Building the power of immigrants to defend labor, civil, and human rights since 2002.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Shifts To Story

by Lucy Gellman, Arts Paper, Oct. 11, 2021

The drum coasted over the New Haven Green, a steady heartbeat as voices began to swell above it. Huddled around a microphone, members of Red Territory led each other in a round, the song catching on something as it wove upwards. Four dozen pairs of eyes turned toward the sound and listened. The smell of sage hung low in the air.

Monday afternoon, Native artists, activists, and storytellers gathered at a now-annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration on the New Haven Green. Organized by Norm Clement and Ricky Looking Crow, the event sought to create a space for Indigenous people to gather, celebrate, and share the stories of where they come from and who they are.

Lucy Gellman photo

Clement is a member of the Penobscot Nation of Northern New England and a confederate member of the local Quinnipiac tribe. Looking Crow is a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe of Northern New England, primarily Maine.

“I got a few things on my mind today,” Clement said early in the ceremony. “It’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day here in New Haven. People are still fighting to be recognized in this state, around this country, we’re still fighting to get rid of the colonizer’s day.”

“I think today is all about unity, about praying together. It’s about awareness of the day,” said Looking Crow as he and Clement laid out sage, sweet-grass, turkey feathers for smudging, and a large bag of tobacco for prayers. He motioned to the grass beneath him, where yellowjackets buzzed through patches of overgrowth. “This is our church.”

This year’s celebration came almost 15 months after the city’s Board of Education, which recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day, voted to change the name of Christopher Columbus Family Academy on Blatchley Avenue. The City of New Haven does not yet recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day; alders voted on “Italian Heritage Day” instead last September.

For over two hours, attendees approached a communal mic with the same message: We’re still here. We always have been. And we’re going to keep resisting.

[This article can be read in its entirety at www.newhavenarts.org/arts-paper/articles/indigenous-peoples-day-shifts-to-story]

Community Protest on New Haven Green Celebrates Indigenous People

Community Members Gathered on Tuesday to Celebrate Indigenous Culture and Call on Congress to Welcome Migrants.

by Brian Zhang and William Porayouw, Yale Daily News, Oct 13

On Tuesday, community voices rang out across the Green as New Haveners led a ceremony celebrating Indigenous culture and calling on Congress to welcome migrants.

The event — which was hosted by Black and Brown United in Action alongside Unidad Latina en Acción, or ULA — featured speaker presentations and dance performances. It culminated in a march to Representative Rosa DeLauro’s (D-CT) office — with demonstrators holding signs in opposition to anti-immigration sentiment — as well as the unveiling of a sculpture honoring Nepaupuck, a Quinnipiac warrior who was executed by colonists in 1639 on the same site as Tuesday’s protest.

“We’re more than dishwashers. We’re more than cleaners. We’re more than administrative staff,” said Catherine John, one of the event’s organizers and a leader of Black and Brown United in Action.
John Jairo Lugo, one of the event’s lead organizers, spoke to the lack of Indigenous curriculum in Elm City’s current education system — which he said capitalized on a colonizer perspective and left out Native history.

Connecticut has become the first state to require that public schools offer ethnic studies curriculum — which include topics such as the diversity of Latino cultures, the suppression of Indigenous languages in the Americas and the legacy of U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico.

Catherine John expressed similar sentiments, questioning how immigration could be “illegal” when the land was stolen in the first place. John said that Indigenous groups had inhabited the city for centuries and the term implied discrimination against migrants. Throughout the event, pamphlets and brochures titled “You’re Standing on Stolen Land” were passed out to public attendees.

According to organizers, the protest was also meant to capture the struggles of other marginalized groups. Lugo compared the deportation of undocumented immigrants to racial profiling of African Americans.

“It’s always the squashing of a culture that is not convenient to recognize,” said Ku’ Bibiri Sari, who is Taíno, explaining that racism persists across different times.

[This article can be read in its entirety at https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2021/10/13/community-protest-on-new-haven-green-celebrates-indigenous-people]

Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide Holds Speak-out

by Joan Cavanagh, Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide

Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide held a speak-out at the New Haven Free Public Library on October 2nd about legislation allowing doctors to legally prescribe lethal drugs for patients deemed terminally ill. Featured speakers were Anita Cameron, Director for Minority Out-reach at Not Dead Yet, a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination, and Dr. Andre N. Sofair, Professor of Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and a practitioner of Internal Medicine.

“The people that are wanting this are largely upper-middle-class professional folks and largely white,” said Ms. Cameron. “If you are poor, it’s easier [less expensive] to kill you than give you health care.” Her comprehensive presentation included her mother’s story. She “graduated” from hospice in 2009 and lived actively for 12 more years. In her state (Washington), medical assisted suicide is legal: “All she would have had to do was ask and she’d have been given the medication because she was deemed terminal.”

Dr. Sofair agreed with Cameron that “we doctors are not always as accurate in terms of [terminal] prognosis as we think we are.” Sympathetic to those who fear pain when seriously ill, he said that “this calls for improvements in medical care, palliative care and hospice care when needed,” not assisted suicide. “Purported safeguards” in states where the practice is legal “do not always work” and often do not help people “get the appropriate medical care that they need.”

“For many of us, [these issues] are profoundly personal and, in terms of political and social realities, absolutely terrifying,” said New Haven activist Elaine Kolb, who concluded the program with a spirited full rendition of her acclaimed song, “Not Dead Yet.”

Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide was formed by peace, justice, and disability rights activists; advocates for comprehensive, universal health care; and supporters of women’s reproductive rights. They believe that it is time for progressives to understand that state-sanctioned medical assisted suicide is an existential threat to the most vulnerable members of our population.

The program, videotaped by Stanley Heller, can be seen at:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=q44Lyo4utyM (Part 1) and
www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FVy5U77ilw (Part 2).

For whose humanity

by Davarian Baldwin, Yale Daily News OpEd, Oct. 11, 2021

Just [a month] ago, Yale launched what’s been called its “most ambitious” fundraising campaign ever. The $7 billion wish list does include requisite line items like faculty and student support, public health and of course racial justice. But the bulk of the price tag orbits around the lucrative research areas of data and computer science, biotechnology and engineering. The campaign is called “For Humanity.”

From a purely educational perspective, the claim of fund-raising for humanity makes total sense. An influx of cash would support classrooms and laboratories that train the next generation of leaders while also producing lifesaving discoveries for the future. But Yale’s “For Humanity” title is not actually indicative of higher education’s goodwill. Instead, it is a branding strategy, one part of an elaborate business model in which schools champion their public good status to shelter millions of corporate dollars and extract public funds from their host cities.

As Yale seeks to add $7 billion dollars to its already bulging coffers, students in New Haven attend classes without enough seats and use bathrooms with no soap. Such disparities are not by coincidence but point to the various ways that higher education prosperity is driven by the impoverishment of its host cities and towns. And therefore, when assessing this latest fundraising effort, we must ask: for whose humanity? […]

Under the cover of “educational purposes,” Yale’s graduate researchers work at stipend rates below their private market peers to churn out for-profit research in tax-exempt campus buildings for millions in royalties that feed the school’s tax-exempt $31 billion endowment. And this wealth regime is covered by a private Yale police department with public jurisdiction over the entire city but directed by the University’s interests. Some people call the area “Yale Haven.”

These financial arrangements bolster Yale and its corporate partners while New Haven schools and other public works remain hungry for property tax dollars. Yale will point out that it provides the city with a  $13 million Payment in Lieu of Taxes, which is the biggest of its kind in the country. But it has testified to another way of seeing the world, and I think we can lift that up and celebrate that.”

[The article can be read in its entirety at www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/peace_cairn]

Good Start, Ben & Jerry’s: Now Finish the Job! — Take Action

Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace NH

UPDATE: The international Work Group of the Central CT Democratic Socialists of America is holding a “Eat an Ice Cream for Palestine” on Sat. Oct 9 at 1 p.m. starting at the Ben and Jerrys store in New Haven. The store is at 159 Temple St., New Haven. It’s near the New Haven Green. We’ll take photos of ourselves eating or holding B&J ice creams followed by a walk to the New Haven Green and an informal discussion about Palestine. – Stanley Heller, DSA Int Work Group member.

On July 19, 2021, Ben & Jerry’s (B&J) announced that it is inconsistent with their values to sell their ice cream in the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). They will not renew their license agreement with their Israeli licensee when it expires at the end of 2022.

We at Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven and the New Haven Mending Minyan Havurah join with so many Vermonters in lauding this long-overdue decision by B&J’s, in particular because it was taken as part of B&J’s long-time advocacy for human rights and economic and social justice. But it does not go far enough. The very principles that drove B&J’s decision demand that the company withdraw from selling their products in both the OPT settlements as well as in the state of Israel itself. Furthermore, Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, must commit itself to ending ties with Israel for any action to be meaningful.

Here’s why:

  • Earlier this year, both the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued detailed reports which document Israel’s control over all the territory it administers as an apartheid regime. B’Tselem notes that “one organizing principle lies at the base of a wide array of Israeli policies: advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.” HRW notes that “deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” Both reports document apartheid conditions in both the OPT and in the state of Israel itself.
  • B&J ice cream is manufactured in Israel in Be’er Tuvia (adjacent to the town of Kiryat Malachi). Kiryat Malachi is one of four Israeli localities located on the lands of the former Palestinian village of Qastina, destroyed and emptied by Israeli troops in 1948. Be’er Tuvia is in southern Naqab about 20 miles from the Erez crossing into Gaza. B&J products are transported to the illegal OPT settlements on Jewish-only roads. The factory draws water from the Jordan River system and the Mountain Aquifer in the occupied West Bank, the two highest-quality water sources in the region. At the same time, Israel severely controls and restricts West Bank Palestinian residents’ access to water from those same sources, reducing it to a level which neither meets their domestic and agricultural needs nor constitutes a fair distribution of shared water resources. The apartheid regime practiced by Israel in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River requires that to be consistent with its social justice values, B&J terminate sales in all of that land. Israel considers its illegal settlements to be part of its state. We celebrate this first step, but it is not enough. Unilever must work to finish the job that the independent board of Ben & Jerry’s started and cut the flow of money to this apartheid state.

News Flash: Our Third District Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, has just introduced a standalone bill whose sole purpose is to gift Israel with yet another $1 billion so that it can continue to “defend” itself while it mercilessly besieges Gaza and conducts one devastating bombing after the next. This is on top of the $3.8 billion per year of our tax dollars that are already going for the same purpose.

This bill is being fast-tracked by the “Democratic” leadership and will almost certainly pass with “bipartisan” support, but we need to let Rosa know how outraged we are at this. Express it as soon as possible at (202) 225-3661.

Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) Stands with Afghan Families

Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) is currently welcoming evacuated Afghan families and are ready on 24-hour notice to receive as many as needed.

Please help us:

Donate to defray costs of essentials upon arrival emergent costs.  Irisct.org/donate.

Join a local community group in towns around the state and work with IRIS to welcome families in your community. irisct.org/communitycosponsorship.

Collect backpacks, school supplies, winter coats and waterproof winter boots. Our storage is limited at this moment. Please email info@irisct.org.

We Are in a Climate Emergency

Melinda Tuhus, CT Climate Crisis Mobilization (C3M)

In light of the release of the latest – and grimmest – report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, two dozen New Haveners gathered on the Green on Friday, Aug. 13, to raise the alarm locally.

The report says humans have definitively caused the warming of the planet, that it is accelerating, but that there is still a small window of opportunity to avoid the worst impacts, like global drowning from sea level rise. One banner pointed to the rise in sea level, which could be as much as 30 feet by 2100 without drastic action, putting New Haven and the entire Connecticut shoreline underwater.

Joe Foran came with his eldest son, Joseph, who is 7. Foran said that after listening to dire climate news on the radio every morning, “My two sons were upset and asked me to not play the radio before school.” Later he added, “We are not just avoiding the news altogether. We are struggling as a family with how we tell them the truth in a way that is not overly burdensome to their young minds and young souls. I think the real thing that makes a difference for the kids are actions like today, where they gain their agency and they aren’t just passive victims of the climate madness.”

The other focus of the rally was to point out that Chase Bank is the biggest funder, by far, of the fossil fuel industry and to call on Chase to specifically stop funding Enbridge’s construction of the Line 3 tar sands pipeline across Anishinaabe treaty territory in northern Minnesota.

As an organizer with CT Climate Crisis Mobilization (C3M) I went to Minnesota and was one of 700 people – and counting – to be arrested along the pipeline route.

Eluned Li, a member of Sunrise New Haven, went to Minnesota in June, where she observed peaceful water protectors being abused by the police departments that are paid by Enbridge.

Members of ULA (Unidad Latina en Acción) came, holding a banner featuring Berta Cáceres, an indigenous land defender in Honduras who was murdered for her courageous opposition to a dam project. The climate crisis and the migration crisis are linked, with many ULA members fleeing their homes in Central America due to the ravages of stronger hurricanes and devastating drought.

After the rally, participants carried banners down the block to stand in front of Chase Bank, chanting, “Hey, JP Morgan Chase: bad investment, big disgrace!” and, “If you want it drier, hotter, fund Line 3: wipe out more water!” The company is taking five billion gallons of water for construction in the middle of a drought. Participants passed out flyers asking New Haveners to contact CEO Jamie Dimon.

To get involved, contact Melinda Tuhus at melinda.tuhus@gmail.com or go to the website www.CTClimateCrisisMobilization.org or Facebook page CTClimateCrisis Mobilization.

[A version of this article with the above (donated) photo was published in the New Haven Independent Aug. 15. https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/climate_rally]

News from the Green Party of Connecticut

Ronna Stuller, secretary, Green Party of CT

As a unity of local chapters throughout the state, the Green Party of Connecticut is committed to the Four Pillars of all Green Parties worldwide: grassroots democracy, social justice, non-violence and ecological wisdom. In order to empower the political voice of the people – not corporate interests or their lobbyists – Green Party candidates accept contributions only from individuals, not from PACs. This year’s election we are running over a dozen candidates in municipal elections all across Connecticut.

Justin Paglino MD, Ph.D., of Guilford, was our 2020 nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in the third Congressional District. He has continued, on the local and national front, to advocate for a nonprofit healthcare system that serves everyone, as well as reforms that would strengthen our democracy, repair our environment, and invest in a peaceful future.

We invite readers to learn more about our organization at www.ctgreenparty.org or www.facebook.com/GreenPartyofConnecticut.  We also invite readers to consider changing their voter registration to Green Party, and/or to consider visiting your local Green Party of Connecticut chapter to learn more and get involved. You will be most welcome.

Statement by Justin Paglino

I am running again for the U.S. House of Representatives, for the seat currently held by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and I anticipate that my name will be on the ballot in November 2022. I intend to once again seek the nomination of the Green Party of Connecticut.

The factors that spurred my initial decision to run for this office are unchanged. Our national healthcare system still makes healthcare unaffordable for vast swaths of Americans. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, I support single-payer Medicare for All, the reform that would save $500 billion dollars and 70,000 lives each year. Recently New Haven passed a resolution declaring its support for Medicare for All, yet our representative in Congress is still not a cosponsor.

Our national energy policy is still completely inadequate to address the severe threat of climate change. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, I support the carbon tax and dividend policy we need to finally put a real limiting force on our untamed carbon emissions, while making the transition to sustainable energy affordable for all. Our nation still grotesquely over-spends on the military budget, and the City of New Haven recently passed a resolution declaring this to be the case. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, who voted against a 10% cut to the Pentagon budget, I support a 50% budget cut, with just transition programs in place to keep defense industry employees employed. We are in more need of windmill blades at this time than helicopter blades, but the skill sets to make these do overlap significantly.

Our nation’s runaway economic inequality continues to hurt. Although I give credit to Rep. DeLauro for fighting for the child tax credit, I would go further and call for a Federal Jobs guarantee and Universal Basic Income, as more progressive members of Congress have already done and Rep. DeLauro has not.

Our nation’s politics are deeply corrupted by corporate interests. Unlike Rep. DeLauro I accept no special interest money, only funding from individuals. Our two-party system discourages voters from voting their values, but I encourage voters to do exactly that, because if you don’t vote for something, you’ll never get it. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, I support Ranked Choice Voting, a reform that eliminates the spoiler effect and thus will allow multiparty democracy to flourish.

Please visit my website at justin4all.org to sign up for my newsletter, or to contribute to this campaign for healthcare, climate, peace, economic justice, and uncorrupted multi-party democracy.

Thank you.

Prescription for Whose Peace Of Mind?

Joan Cavanagh, Member, Second Thoughts Connecticut

Seven activists identifying as “Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide” presented an alternative viewpoint at a screening of Prescription for Peace of Mind: An Option for the Terminally Ill at the New Haven Free Public Library on Wednesday, August 11.

With signs reading “Suicide is Not a Medical Treatment” and “Medical Assisted Suicide threatens the elderly, the poor, the disabled, you,” they passed out leaflets with nine reasons to oppose legislation allowing doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients they deem “terminally ill.” Five went inside to raise their objections directly to the two filmmakers. The screening was sparsely attended.

Presented as part of the New Haven Documentary Film Series, the film makes no pretense of objectivity. In addition to the three individuals whose very sad stories are told, family members who have spoken in support of Medical Assisted Suicide (MAS) are also interviewed at length. In a statement perhaps unintended to be so revealing, one family member, a nurse who also attended the screening, said that her reason for supporting the legislation is that the hospice care for her dying father was so inadequate and unhelpful.

The film also features Compassion and Choices Connecticut Field Director Tim Appleton and Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D., Fairfield), long-time prime movers of MAS legislation in Connecticut. The voices of disability justice and other activists who testify before our state legislature annually and work continually to educate about the dangers of MAS are nowhere to be heard.

The five challenged this glaring and deliberate omission and discussed the dangers of MAS in detail, recounting painful personal stories of unyielding institutional pressure by the medical system to end life-sustaining treatment for their own loved ones. They cited cost-cutting imperatives by hospitals and insurance companies combined with prejudice against the disabled, the elderly, and the poor as twin threats that can only be further enabled by this legislation.

The most recent Assisted Suicide bill in Connecticut was voted out of the Public Health Committee for the first time in 2021, moving to the Judiciary Committee which chose not to bring it to a vote. Opponents fear another bill will be introduced next year.

SAVE THE DATE for an upcoming event Saturday, Oct. 2. “NOT DEAD YET” community sing-along and speak-out with Anita Cameron, Director of Minority Out-reach at Not Dead Yet (notdeadyet.org) and other invited speakers to be announced. NHFPL Community Program Room, 2-4 p.m., 133 Elm St. Fully accessible; masks required. Details  joan.cavanagh@gmail.com.

Groups Ask Rep. DeLauro to Withdraw Aid for Police Brutality in Colombia

by Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Acción 

On May 10, the Colombian community and organizations Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), Colombian Action CT, and Black and Brown United in Action visited the offices of Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro to deliver a letter asking her to stop military aid in the wake of 39 killings of civilians by Colombian forces.

Since April 28, Colombians have been on strike after the government announced tax reform that would raise the cost of living of the middle class and poorest sectors who were already devastated by the COVID crisis. Four days into the protests, the government withdrew the reform. However, the protests continued since the demands were much more: mass vaccination, economic aid to the poorest, demilitarization of the country, and dismantling of riot police forces.

In ten days of protest, human rights organizations have documented 49 protesters killed, 37 of them by state forces; 548 disappeared; 963 people arbitrarily detained; 12 victims of sexual violence by state forces; and 278 wounded, including 28 shot in the eyes, by Colombian forces.

The weapons, tanks, and training come from the United States, paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Colombia is one of the top 10 recipients of U.S. military aid, following countries including Afghanistan, Israel, and Iraq.

Connecticut residents asked Rosa DeLauro to raise her voice and join with her colleague, James P. McGovern (MA-02), who said, “I am deeply disturbed by the brutal Colombian National Police (PNC) response to peaceful protests over the weekend. This is part of a disturbing pattern of excessive use of force, killings and human rights violations against protestors in Nov. 2019, Sept. 2020 and April-May 2021… Peaceful protest and freedom of expression must be respected everywhere. U.S. aid to the PNC needs strong human rights protections and conditions. We should apply Leahy Law. No U.S. aid to Colombian riot control police that engage in gross human rights violations.”

“We hope that our congresswoman will use her influence and help us recruit more colleagues here in the state of Connecticut,” said John Lugo of ULA Connecticut. “We also asked her for an urgent meeting with the recently formed Committee of Solidarity with the Strike in Colombia, so that she can hear directly from the Colombian community and understand the gravity of the moment. In the past we applauded her when she voted against military aid in the 2000s.”

Unidad Latina en Acción, 37 Howe St, New Haven, CT 06511, (203) 606-3484 or (203) 479-2959
https://ulanewhaven.org.

Notes to PAR Readers

We urge you to check the internet for the many demonstrations protesting the bombing of Gaza. As of this printing, there were rallies and marches in Hartford, New London, New Haven, and Manchester, as well as in cities throughout the US and around the world. The New Haven rally and march on May 22 was in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Colombia, fighting for their right to life and self-determination. Video footage is available at thestruggle.org.

A reminder that PAR does not publish in the summer. The next issue you receive will be the September issue. If your subscription has expired with this issue, you will have a renewal form inserted in this issue. Please look for it and renew your subscription. We ask for $13, or whatever you can afford.

Please let us know if you find out that regularly-occurring meetings or events have resumed so we can list them in our calendar pages. E-mail us at parnewhaven@hotmail.com. Many of the previously regularly scheduled programs have changed frequency, gone on hiatus, or switched to Zoom. We want to keep our readers in the know so they have options for activism.

Are you computer-proficient? We’d like help on the Production Team. We currently use a combination of Word and Open Office for this newsletter, and are open to suggestions for other programs for layout. E-mail parnewhaven@hotmail.com and put “computer-proficient help” in the subject line. A stipend may be available.

Fair Haven Community Rises Up Against COVID

by Charla Nich, Vaccinate Fair Haven!

COVID struck people of color differently, devastating entire families and communities. COVID hospitalizations and deaths in Connecticut have disproportionately affected people of color – and the vaccination rollout is the same.

During the worst months of the pandemic, hospitalization rates were 3 times as high for people of color and death rates were 2 times as high compared to whites.  Currently. while 45% of white residents in Connecticut have been fully vaccinated, only 24% of Black and Latino residents have.

The state’s response to the crisis in communities of color has been horribly inadequate, highlighting the structural inequities that continue to exist. Since the outset of the pandemic, the state’s response to the hardest-hit communities of color has been neglectful and woefully inadequate. People of color continue to face structural barriers that the state has largely ignored – lack of access to vaccines, language barriers (a state website that continues to be largely in English), access to wifi, access to computers, and transportation challenges. This has led to the existing disparities that currently exist and that the state has failed to address.

Fair Haven fought back! Vaccinate Fair Haven! is a community-led effort and a response to the state’s neglect. It targeted a low-income zip code – a New Haven section rich with culture and largely populated by Latines and African Americans. This is the only such canvassing project in the country with the objective of knocking on every door in an entire zip code to bring trained bilingual health promoters to talk with residents about the importance of vaccination and schedule eligible residents on the spot – offering free transportation to those who needed it and in-home shots to the homebound.

Over 400 volunteers and 16 community groups tackled the disparity together. Volunteers were trained, “turfs” were assigned, and people walked and knocked on doors. From the March 13th launch and many days since, volunteers walked, knocked, called, and staffed the vaccination site. They left informational flyers behind at every single house. On May 5, VFH accomplished its mission – knocking on every single one of the 5,648 doors in Fair Haven.

Did Vaccinate Fair Haven! impact the COVID vaccination rates? Early results are promising. In January, 30% of the vaccinations the Fair Haven Community Health Center provided were for people of color, and in April 79% of those vaccinated were people of color. Across the state, 17% of first-time vaccinations were administered to people of color. In Fair Haven, 52% of first dose vaccinations were administered to people of color.

The Vaccinate Fair Haven! efforts to address the racial/ ethnic disparities by reducing the systemic barriers – language, transportation, information access, internet access – have resulted in greatly improved vaccination rates for our neighbors.

The Truth About Medical Assisted Suicide

by Joan Cavanagh, member, Second Thoughts CT

Cartoon created by Amy Hasbrouck of Not Dead Yet Canada

“Countries that have enabled euthanasia or assisted suicide have claimed that it has to be totally voluntary, cannot be due to financial or family pressures, cannot be due to untreated or unrecognized depression and cannot be due to untreated, poorly managed pain. They state that, and yet there is no evidence that those are not the major factors driving this.

“What it takes to adhere to those guidelines is incredibly expensive and time-consuming and doesn’t happen. That’s the situation in the Netherlands and Belgium and Canada. All the heartfelt adherence to restrictions that are announced when you first get the public to vote in favor of this go up in smoke once the practice is validated. And it’s always with the talking points that it’s about relief of suffering, that the person, even though he cannot say this, would agree that he would be better off dead.

“Ethically, do I think people should have the right to control the timing of their death? I do. [But] I think it’s dangerous public policy. It’s a dangerous path to go down with the claim that it is all about respect for autonomy, when the real drivers are getting rid of a painful and expensive burden on society…

“There was a recent case in Canada: a guy with neuro-degenerative disorder who was cognitively intact. In order to go home from the hospital, he needed 24-hour care, and the government would not pay for 24-hour care. He recorded hospital staff offering him medical aid in dying as an alternative. You think that doesn’t create pressure on people who already feel like burdens? They need to be met with a resounding commitment to continued relationship. Not: ‘You’re right. I agree you’d be better off dead. Here’s a prescription.’ That pushes someone who is struggling right over the cliff.”

–Excerpt from an interview with Dr. Diane Meier, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York Times Magazine, March 24, 2021.

Please contact your State Representatives and Senators and tell them to vote “NO” on H.B. 6425, “An Act Concerning Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill People.”

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

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