Reclaim Contra Costa’s Future Voter Campaign
The Initiative to Fund California's Future (Prop 30) would raise around $7 billion to fund education and public safety. If this measure does not pass, our communities will be deeply affected by further budget cuts to education and public safety. That is why CCISCO Leaders and volunteers are conducting phone banking, precinct walks, and poll checks to ensure we reach our goal of turning out 6,000 voters on November 6th. Over 15 congregations and institutions throughout the county will be anchoring this effort.
Over the last few weeks and until the November election, CCISCO will be hosting phone banks from Monday-Thursday from 6pm-9pm at our Antioch (202 G St.) and Richmond (1000-B Macdonald Ave.) offices. We will also be organizing weekly canvass walks to get the word out about Prop. 30 and make sure our community goes out to vote on November 6th!
Click here: To sign up for phone banking or canvass walks
Saturday, September 29th – 9:00am – Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, 684 Juliga Woods St., Richmond, CA 94804 (directions)
Saturday, September 29th – 9:00am – St. Anthony Catholic Church, 971 O'Hara Ave., Oakley, CA 94561 (directions)
Contra Costa Unites to Move Forward and Invest in People, Not Prisons
Martinez, California- The Contra Costa Community Corrections Partnership took an important step forward in postponing the proposed jail expansion and investing in alternatives to incarceration at their executive committee meeting this morning. A broad and diverse group of faith and community leaders packed the meeting and every speaker during the public comment period applauded the movement to halt the jail expansion.
"I'm prepared today to say let's hold off on the West county sprung structure expansion or whatever you want to call it, if that helps to move the discussion forward," Sheriff David Livingston stated during the CCP meeting. The move was met with praise from both other CCP members and sustained praise and applause during the public comment period. During the meeting Sheriff Livingston also cited the importance of moving forward on funding critical re-entry services.
In addition, the Community Corrections Partnership Executive Committee established a process to define their operational plan to guide funding allocations. The committee is scheduled to meet next week and is charged with bringing back recommendations within the next 60 days. CCISCO faith leaders from around the county and formerly incarcerated leaders who have transformed their lives gave passionate testimony in support of the new direction.
"In his statement of the meaning and purpose of his public ministry, Jesus declares that he would invest his resources in people, not prisons, and he called this good news for the poor," Rev. Kamal Hassan, pastor of Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church stated during the meeting. "Telling us that you would like to create more jail cells for our mothers, fathers, daughters and sons is not good news for the people of Contra Costa County. This is because a society that invests its scarce resources in jails has to also commit to filling those jails and keeping them filled. Incarceration then becomes an obligation and recidivism an expectation. On the other hand, a society that invests in bail reform, human services, housing, and jobs for ex-offenders makes community based solutions an obligation, and safe return and reintegration an expectation. This is good news for the people of Contra Costa County."
At the close of the meeting State Senator Loni Hancock emphatically stated, "This has been an extraordinary meeting, and I hope everyone realizes what a tribute to democracy this whole process has been. I am in awe of you guys, I'm in awe of this community and the testimony you've given. And the fact that it is really coming together with such promise for developing a whole new system. The whole promise of AB109 is not to replicate the failed system of the state level, but to build a new system that will break the cycle of crime and poverty and violence and put people on another track. Everybody talks about it almost nobody has done it successfully, and it sounds to me like Contra Costa is on the road to doing it successfully. You will make history if you do that, you will be a model for other places that are struggling with these tough issues. Just thank you, every single one of you for what you've done here."
Jeff Rutland, a leader with the Safe Return Project which has been playing a leading role in the push to halt the jail expansion stated at the meeting, "We look forward to working with Sheriff Livingston to develop alternatives to incarceration and re-entry services so that we never have to build a new jail structure in Contra Costa County." The next Community Corrections Partnership meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 4th in Martinez.
Contra Costa Community Calls for Investments in People, Not Prisons
Martinez, California – The meeting of the Contra Costa Community Corrections Partnership was standing room only as a broad and diverse alliance of community and faith leaders clearly voiced their opposition to the proposed jail expansion and advocated that the CCP prioritize investments in bail reform; services; housing; and employment. Carrying signs that said 'Invest in People, Not Prisons,' 'We Support Chief Magnus,' and 'Sheriff Livingston, Do the Right Thing' community leaders took their turn commenting and every single speaker during the public comment period voiced their firm opposition to the proposed jail expansion.
During the meeting a statement written by Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia was read where he voiced his opposition to the proposed jail, stating that any decision to fully fund the West County Detention Center is "premature." In this statement he went on to say that "reducing recidivism, increasing public safety and decreasing costs are best achieved through implementing our Countywide Re-Entry Strategic Plan rather than enlarging our West County Jail by 150 beds."
This sentiment was expressed throughout the public comment period as Eli Moore of the Pacific Institute and the Safe Return Project stated, "The community opposition is centered on the controversial proposal to expand the West County Adult Detention Center by an additional 150 beds. It is vital that the CCP endorse and approve the recommendations from the Community Advisory Board to invest in bail reform; pre- and post-release services; housing; and transitional employment."
While the vote on the realignment budget was delayed, the need to quickly pass re-entry programs throughout the county was mentioned by nearly every speaker. As Andres Abarra member of the Contra Costa Community Advisory Board and Safe Return Project stated, "I don't want the vote to be delayed too long, just due to the fact that there are people coming out right now, that need services. Especially a place to stay, you know without a place to stay you can't have a job to go to. So we need to support getting that vote, because we need that money in the community today."
Follow us on our Facebook page for all the latest news on the continuing struggle against Jail expansion in Contra Costa
To see all the latest news coverage, see our Scoop.it page "Invest in People, Not Prisons"
East County United Against Violence Launches First Night Walk
On Sunday, June 3rd, nearly a dozen congregations and faith leaders from East County gathered at St. John Lutheran Church in Antioch to walk united against the violence affecting their communities. Over 60 community members came together to send a clear message of peace and unity as they walked over 2 miles in the Hillcrest area praying for families, communities, and an end to the violence impacting East County.
"This idea came out of our monthly clergy gatherings, where we all decided that the wave of violence had gone too far and that we had to do something different about it, " said Rev. Linda Vogelgesang, Pastor of St. John Lutheran Church who hosted the first of monthly night walks.
"I was very excited about the turnout from our participating congregations and the organized manner in which the night walk was carried out, I am very much looking forward to the next night walk," said Rev. Paul Taylor, Pastor of Antioch Christian Center.
Other participating institutions included: St. George Episcopal Church; St. Ignatius of Antioch Church; Islamic Center of the East Bay; East County Shared Ministry (Pittsburg Community Presbyterian Church & First Congregations Church of Antioch); Grace Bible Fellowship; Holy Rosary Church; International Christian Ministry; and Antioch Church Family. ]
Upcoming Night Walks:
Sun., July 8th @ Antioch Church Family (55. E 18th St., Antioch)
Sun. August 12th @ East County Shared Ministry (Pittsburg Community Presbyterian & First Congregational Church of Antioch – 200 E Leland Rd., Pittsburg)
September 9th @ International Christian MInistry (605 Madill St., Antioch)
Community Organizations Host Citizenship Drive in East County
On Saturday, May 19th, over 100 people lined up outside the O'Hara Park Middle School Gymnasium as they waited to register for the East County Community Citizenship Drive. At the drive, hosted by CCISCO; You, Me, We=Oakley!, and International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA), nearly 50 legal permanent residents were able to complete their naturalization application (N-400) and are on their way to becoming U.S. Citizens. Over 25 volunteers helped make this possible by assisting with the application, fee waivers for those that qualified, and preparing any supporting materials that were needed. Various attorneys were also on site to provide individual consultations as well as review every application that was completed. In attendance were community members from various backgrounds including various African countries, Cuba, Mexico, Pakistan, and even a gentleman from New Zealand!
The drive began with a presentation by IIBA and Catholic Charities of the East Bay on the Citizenship process, benefits and obligations and equipped applicants with all the information they'd need to complete the required forms. Volunteers then took the applicants through a checklist to ensure they were fully eligible for citizenship and then sent them to an attorney consultation if any questions came up. If they qualified, the applicants were also assisted in filling out the $680 fee waiver when they completed the application. Every application was then reviewed by an attorney and the applicants then received study materials for their civics test. In addition to the study materials, the Liberty Adult Education team and Opportunity Junction were on hand to register the applicants for ESL and Civics classes. Lastly, the applicants were able to register to participate in a Citizenship Supporter Program sponsored by You, Me, We=Oakley! where the applicants will be paired with a volunteer who will walk with them through the Citizenship Process and even help them study for the Civics test.
Food and beverages were donated for the volunteers by Los Panchos of Pleasant Hill and by Guzman Legal Firm from Concord. Oakley Starbucks also offered a special deal on the coffee that helped fuel all of the volunteers throughout the event. The Oakley Unified Elementary School District contributed an excellent location and staff to help with the logistics.
Without a doubt, the citizenship drive was truly a community event that brought together a diverse group of organizations/institutions, volunteers, businesses, and of course applicants who are now on their way to becoming citizens of the U.S. and becoming fully functional members of our community and civic life.
Community Leaders Come Together to Call for one Richmond to be Alive, Free, and United
On mothers day weekend a spark was unleashed in Richmond as hundreds of community leaders and city officials came together at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church to call for one Richmond to be Alive, Free, and United. Sponsored by CCISCO, the Safe Return Project and the Pacific Institute this event was meant to bring people together across racial, cultural and religious differences to create a greater sense of unity in the community as we work towards confronting the serious set of issues facing Richmond today.
Throughout the event we heard research and powerful testimonies related to decreasing gun violence through the Cease Fire-Life Lines to Healing movement, on creating a first stop welcome home center in Richmond for formerly incarcerated peoples, on the importance of continuing to fund adult education so those most at risk have access to classes which can help them create a better future, and finally we heard testimony from on ending mass deportation and incarceration in Contra Costa County as the community called for the county to stop turning undocumented immigrants over to ICE. As Nora Gonzales, whose husband was nearly deported two weeks ago stated, “Today, I am here because I witnessed the pain a mother goes when anti-immigration laws are imposed on immigrant communities. I do not wish that any mother suffer from this. The future of this society is the children. What can we hope of a society that is torturing children because they are being separated from their parents by massive deportations and incarcerations. Stop turning fathers and mothers into ICE is the right thing to do."
After the testimonials each of the officials in attendance were asked to articulate their views on these issues and one by one Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, Contra Costa County probation officer Philip Kader, Richmond City manager Bill Lindsey, Chief Chris Magnus of the City of Richmond Police Department and Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin each showed their support on these important issues. Bill Lindsey after reading directly from our recently published report Alive, Free, and United stated, “Your doing so much, and so when I am presented with ideas that you’ve helped to work on how can I possibly say no. What you’re doing is working, your ideas are working and I want to keep that partnership going.” In addition to this in summarizing her support for these issues Mayor McLaughlin stated, The One Stop center is something I fully, fully believe is needed…and funding it is essential. For funding the service provisions for Cease Fire, absolutely…In terms of a community benefits agreement with the Berkeley Lawrence National Labs, absolutely…. I can’t wait to be a sponsor of bringing Ban the Box to the city council, so that we can expand that to vendors working in the city."
In the coming months CCISCO leaders plan on continuing to fight for a Unified Richmond as we engage in negotiations with the Contra Costa Sheriff this month, help to introduce legislation to expand ban the box as a county wide initiative in the next 60 days. We also plan on meeting with the Community Corrections Partnership to ensure funding for the first stop welcoming center and transitional employment, and we are just beginning to gear up for our massive civic engagement campaign where we are going to speak with 10,000 Richmond voters this fall before the 2012 election.
Read or download our report on Scribd here: Alive, Free, and United: A Community-Driven Strategy to Save Lives and Build Opportunity in Richmond by Reducing Gun Violence and Ending Mass Incarceration & Mass Deportation
Help Save Lives and Keep Families United – Richmond, May 12th
We would like to invite you to our upcoming action in Richmond, "Take Action to Save Lives and Keep Families United" on Saturday, May 12th, 2012 from 10:00am to 12:30pm at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, 684 Juliga Woods Street in Richmond.
Since last summer, CCISCO and Safe Return Project leaders have worked hard to achieve a significant impact, including the passage of a 'ban the box' resolution in the city of Richmond, passage of a Municipal ID, a new towing policy, and helping to launch the Richmond Ceasefire-Lifelines to Healing movement in Richmond.
At the action, we will continue discussions about a strategic approach to ensuring that all Richmond residents live in a safe environment with opportunities for youth and adults to succeed. Clergy and community leaders will be presenting their vision and agenda to bring equity and justice around a critical set of issues that impact the future of Richmond. We will be highlighting our agenda to make Richmond a land of peace and opportunity, including:
- Strengthening the Ceasefire-Lifelines to Healing movement by funding the service strategy for those most at-risk of gun violence and strengthening collaboration of all key stakeholders;
- Creating a safe return for formerly incarcerated residents by funding the "first stop welcoming center" in Richmond and expanding the "ban the box" legislation to city vendors;
- Keep families united by stopping cooperation with ICE holds at a county level;
- Negotiating a community benefits agreement with the new Lawrence Berkeley National Lab coming to Richmond; &
- Protecting funding for adult education.
We will also be announcing our plans to launch an aggressive civic engagement campaign to contact over 10,000 Richmond voters about our agenda. These are urgent issues that are of vital importance to the future of our city. At the action, we will be announcing our organization's commitment to enact these important proposals for change and we are inviting public officials to respond to our proposals at the event.
Please Register for this event on Facebook HERE
If you have any questions about the event please contact Claudia Jimenez at (510) 414-9025 or via email at email@example.com or Eugene Jackson at 510-593-8994. We thank you for your commitment to improving the lives of Richmond residents and we hope to hear from you soon.
CCISCO Leaders Build Bridges at Multicultural Training with Alvin Herring
On April 28th a diverse group of CCISCO leaders from across the region spent the day confronting the legacy of structures of oppression that keep communities divided. Leaders from diverse backgrounds spent the day building a shared understanding of one another’s journey and deepened their commitment and capacity to building bridges across difference. The training was led by Alvin Herring, director of PICO Louisiana and former CCISCO lead organizer in West County. The training was a powerful expression of the promise of diversity and equipped leaders to understand their own story and connect across difference. Throughout the day, leaders went through a series of exercises which allowed them to truly see each other and to learn deeply about the struggles that each of their community faces based on our racial, gender, class, and religious differences. Leaders explored the “structures of opportunity” that are intertwined with the structural intersections of oppression that we live with in the United States everyday
Antioch Home Owners Bill of Rights Action
(Antioch, CA.) On Monday, April 16th, faith leaders, community members, and struggling homeowners gathered in one of the blocks hardest hit by foreclosures in Antioch to speak out in support of the Homeowners Due Process Bill, authored by Senators Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord and Fran Pavley D-Los Angeles. The bill, SB 1471 would provide additional due process protections to California homeowners.
Struggling homeowners have been getting the run-around for far too long. As Jose Vega, who lost his home in Pittsburgh stated at the press conference, "Just the toll that it can take on a family, the emotional torture. It just hurts…It was like 24/7, all I could think about was stopping this foreclosure." Like Mr. Vega’s family, we have heard about the many challenges that people face in communicating with one person at the bank that will be held accountable for their loan modification application. It is time to make sure this happens and SB 1471 will do just that.
Thousands of homeowners across Contra Costa have experienced the failure of their banks to provide them with professional and consistent service as they have applied for loan modifications and undergone the foreclosure process. These homeowners have faced, and continue to face, challenges with their banks around issues of robo-signing, multiple points of contact giving inconsistent information and the failure of homeowners to be able to determine which entities claim to have an interest in their property. Consequently, some homeowner's have needlessly lost their homes and been subjected to processes by the banks that lack integrity.
Today more than 180,000 families in California are facing foreclosure, and as Sen. DeSaulnier stated, "It's still a challenging and troubling time. Unfortunately, it's too late for some to be able to stay in their homes, but there are still many homeowners that can be helped we will not let this injustice happen in our communities anymore." The Homeowner's Due Process Bill will ameliorate some of these problems to create the needed permanent reform that Californians need and deserve.
Governor Brown Joins 250 California Clergy to Announce Pledge to Mobilize 100,000 New Voters for the 2012 Election
(Sacramento, CA) On April 26th over two hundred and fifty inter faith clergy from two-dozen denominations and faith traditions from throughout California meet with Governor Jerry Brown at the California state capitol in Sacramento. The clergy, including eight leaders from CCISCO, called this meeting with Governor Brown to launch their campaign called, the "Land of Opportunity,” to reach out to 100,000 new and infrequent faith voters, urging them to vote and to support new revenue in California. The leaders held a press conference with Gov. Jerry Brown to chart a new course for the state, announce this unprecedented voter mobilization effort among people of faith, and to show their support for the Compromise Revenue Initiative that generates desperately needed funds for California.
This event in Sacramento was just one of a series of ten gatherings held by PICO federations across the country last week. PICO – the largest network of faith-based community organizing groups in the country – is launching its most ambitious civic engagement effort ever this spring. At gatherings in hard-hit states like California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio, thousands of PICO leaders announced their plans to get 1 million Americans to the polls to vote for economic fairness. These launch events are just the beginning of efforts through 2012 by CCISCO/ PICO clergy and community leaders to organize religious congregations by lifting up PICO’s “Land of Opportunity” vision – a vision that calls for re-building an American economy that creates opportunity for everyone.
For a summary of the days actions and media coverage click here.
99% People Power Takes Over the Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting
It was a beautiful day to speak the truth on the streets of San Francisco as what is being called the shareholder Spring sprung into action. CCISCO worked with a large coalition of faith, labor and community organizations to form the 99% Power coalition as more than 1500 of us marched through the streets of San Francisco, more than 200 activist shareholders and proxies trained for the meeting from 15 states, 40 clergy prayed for Wells Fargo to change their ways, and we received media coverage from throughout the world.
As people of faith we feel it is important that we raise our prophetic voices when injustices are committed against any people. As the Revrand Dr. Richard Smith from the Episcopal Church of St. John's in San Francisco stated at the rally sponsored by SFOP/ CCISCO and PICO National at the beginning of the protest, "At this time the San Francisco area faith leaders welcome you and all the shareholders of Wells Fargo to end your current unjust, unethical, family hurting practices. We invite you to resurrect a new Wells Fargo, with new life giving practices throughout the country like: enacting widespread principal reductions on homes that are underwater, ending low cost loans to immigrant detention centers, reforming the pay day loan industry, paying your fair share in taxes and supporting the California Home Owners Bill of Rights, instead of lobbying against it."
For a summary of the days actions and media coverage please click here
Richmond Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing Movement Is Growing
Something powerful is taking root in Richmond. The Richmond Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing movement is growing stronger each day. CCISCO leaders and our allies have held dozens of small group meetings in congregations, schools, businesses and homes attended by over 470 Richmond residents in the past two months. Dozens of clergy have begun meeting each month to help anchor our movement and clergy and community leaders are walking the Richmond neighborhoods most impacted by violence each Friday evening to bring the message of Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing: we want everyone in our community to be alive and free!
IN THE MEDIA:
Safe Return Project Breaks Down Barriers to Employment
The reaction to the powerful community action in July has resulted in major progress on a critical priority for the Safe Return Project. The City of Richmond and City Manager Bill Lindsay have moved forward with addressing a barrier to employment for Richmond residents returning home from incarceration. Starting this month, the city's application form will no longer feature a check-off box asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime.
The change is the first step in a campaign to “ban the box” in Richmond – the box in question being the one that people with a criminal record must check when they apply for jobs and housing, and benefits from food stamps to student loans.
Advocates argue that the ubiquitous question about criminal history is an unfair – and often insurmountable — barrier for people returning to their communities after serving time in prison, ultimately adding a sentence to the one already served, increasing the chance of recidivism and placing a burden on families, communities and law enforcement.
“A person with a job is less likely to reoffend,” said Jeff Rutland, an organizer with the Safe Return project, a group of Richmond advocates, all of whom have served prison time themselves. Safe Return was launched in 2010 by the Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety, Pacific Institute and CCISCO, which trained Richmond residents who have experienced incarceration to become community researchers and advocate and organize for policy reforms to reduce recidivism and help residents reintegrate into the broader community.
IN THE MEDIA:
Move Our Money Movement Spreads Across Nation
CCISCO leaders and our allies in PICO National Network and the New Bottom Line campaign and the Occupy movements launched a powerful coordinated campaign which has moved billions of dollars out of Wall Street Banks across the country. On Monday, November 7, dozens of clergy and hundreds of CCISCO leaders packed into St. Ignatius Church to celebrate the progress of this movement. Nearly two years ago, St. Ignatius helped to lead the call to divest from Bank of America to protest their failure to keep families in their homes. Their work has helped to spark a movement that is transforming the country. At the action, leaders called on Contra Costa County to introduce a responsible banking policy and State Senator Mark DeSaulnier committed to keep fighting for statewide responsible banking legislation.
“When we come together we can create great change,” stated Fr. Robert Rien, pastor of St. Ignatius and CCISCO leader. “Two years ago many of our congregations began to come together to hold banks accountable—we have helped to spark a movement that is changing the country—we’ve locked arms and challenged the greed of large Wall Street Banks. We’ve marched together, we’ve closed our accounts in protest of their practices, we’ve occupied shareholder meetings and bank lobbies. We have even gone to jail to stand up for our values.”
In just one week since launching the “Move Our Money” campaign, everyday Americans, congregations, community groups and even millionaire businessmen aligned with The New Bottom Line, closed accounts worth almost $50 million at Bank of America and other Wall Street banks. The New Bottom Line plans to move $1 billion from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and other big banks to community banks and credit unions to hold Wall Street accountable and invest in institutions that support local communities.
While the launch of the Move Our Money campaign coincided with Bank Transfer Day on November 5, this week was just the beginning of The New Bottom Line’s efforts to divest $1 billion from Bank of America and other Wall Street banks. The New Bottom Line is continuing to:
Support and work with community groups, congregations, unions, and other organized groups that want to move their money. The New Bottom Line is providing a toolkit for groups at www.newbottomline.com/move_our_money. More clergy will announce they are divesting congregation funds from the big banks next week.
Introduce 50+ resolutions in cities and towns around the country to divest from the big banks and move taxpayer dollars to community banks and credit unions. The New Bottom Line is supporting local groups with a toolkit including sample legislation at www.newbottomline.com/move_our_money and working with on the ground partners to pass legislation over the coming months.
Provide support and resources that allow individuals and community groups to self-organize public events and actions to move money out of the big banks in their community at www.moveourmoneyusa.org. The website provides tools for creating and promoting events, the how-to’s of putting together a successful action, and a report back form for groups and individuals on the total amount of money moved.
IN THE MEDIA:
AG Kamala Harris Stands Strong Against Wall Street Banks
CCISCO and PICO California and Re-Fund California allies applaud California Attorney General Kamala Harris for fighting for the strongest settlement possible for homeowners. CCISCO leaders and our allies have been working closely with AG Harris to ensure that homeowner’s interests are protected and that Wall Street banks are held accountable. AG Harris recently pulled out of the 50-state bank settlement negotiations because the proposed deal failed to provide enough relief to California homeowners and last week she called on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to stop punishing California homeowners and to stop obstructing principal reduction. Her announcement continues her record of leadership on this issue and we encourage her to stay strong as the negotiations continue.
IN THE MEDIA:
Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing Movement Advances in Richmond
A broad coalition of community residents, clergy, service providers, and law enforcement officials are working together to launch a powerful new movement to reduce gun violence and save lives in Richmond. Over the past month, more than 190 CCISCO leaders have gathered to build their vision for Ceasefire in Richmond. At the training, leaders committed to holding over 25 small group meetings over the next six weeks to engage 500 Richmond residents in a dialogue to help shape the Ceasefire/Lifelines movement in Richmond.
“This isn’t going to be easy,” Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine told more than 70 people at a training at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church on August 15th. “But we are going to save lives and there is nothing more powerful than that.”
Richmond Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing is a community-driven collaboration with law enforcement to reduce gun violence and save lives. It is a strategic approach to reduce recidivism among people at highest risk of violence and prevent incarceration. The approach helps build the capacity of the community to connect with young people at greatest risk and provide opportunities to help them change their lives. Richmond Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing is not a program—it is a movement to create a culture of peace and reconciliation between the community, law enforcement and public systems.
The Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing strategy has proven to reduce homicides from 30% to 70% in the near-term and has dramatically reduced recidivism in cities across the country.
“We cannot arrest our way out of these problems,” said Tom Kensock of the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office. “Ceasefire is a strategy where we can save lives and make the community safer without putting more people in jail.”
"Ceasefire is about the community taking control and telling those people most involved in shootings: we love you and we want to walk with you, but the shootings have to stop,” said LaVern Vaughn, Richmond resident and CCISCO organizer. “We need to take control of our community.”
On Saturday, September 10, Rev. Jeffrey Brown, one of the founding members of Operation Ceasefire in Boston will meet with clergy leaders in Richmond and on Thursday, September 15 at 7:00pm there will be another Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing training at Nevin Community Center, 598 Nevin Avenue in Richmond.
Safe Return Project Organizes Successful Action to Move Richmond Forward in Addressing Re-entry Population
Richmond, CA – There is a 70% recidivism rate for formerly incarcerated individuals in Richmond that has impacted families for generations, that statistic is about to change.
Over 150 community members came together on July 23 at the Richmond Recreation Center to hear research and explore solutions and get public commitments from City Officials to create more opportunities for formerly incarcerated residents.
In the next couple of months 250 inmates will be released and rejoining their communities in Contra Costa County. These individuals will be coming back to Richmond and if public officials follow through with their commitments, they will be greeted with opportunities to change their lives for the better.
The Safe Return Project is ensuring that these commitments will be followed through.
This action was organized by the Safe Return Team which consists of five formerly incarcerated Richmond residents who are working towards solutions to the recidivism issue in their communities. They conducted research, interviewed 500 residents, and surveyed 104 individuals on parole and probation. The Safe Return Project came about through a collaboration between the Office of Neighborhood Safety, the Pacific Institute and CCISCO.
The focus for the coming months will be:
Ban the Box, which will be championed by Council Member Jeff Ritterman in the Fall;
One Stop Service Center for formerly incarcerated residents coming to Richmond;
Housing with a pre-release component and a Section 8 voucher upon successful completion of reentry;
Creation of a support group for formerly incarcerated residents and community members.
CCISCO Leaders Rejoice as Richmond City Council Passes Municipal ID Ordinance
Richmond, CA – On July 5, hundreds of community members gathered at the Richmond City Council chambers in support of a municipal identification ordinance. After much deliberation and public commentary, the ordinance passed unanimously.
The voices for support came from various community organizations and individuals who believe that by providing an identification that benefits everyone, Richmond residents will become empowered to volunteer, participate and be united as one city.
"This is the first step in the right direction," said CCISCO leader Hector Jauregui, "With this win, we will continue to move forward together as one community."
Council Member Jovanka Beckles introduced the ordinance and was seconded by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.
Also in support of was law enforcement, "The Municipal ID will help our streets become safer," said Chief of Police Chris Magnus, "This is a good thing."
In the coming months, the City of Richmond will create a competitive process to find the best third party financial institution to make the Richmond Municipal ID a reality.
West County Leaders Launch Richmond NOW: A Total Plan for Safety & Opportunity
On Thursday, June 2nd, over 500 community members gathered at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church to present Richmond NOW: A Total Plan for Safety & Opportunity. This plan outlines 8 specific steps to address some of the most pressing problems in Richmond involving safety, welcoming communities, education, and youth empowerment. CCISCO Leaders from 9 different local organizing committees drafted and presented the research report and proposals at the action. The research report was followed by heartfelt testimonies of members from the community being directly impacted by these issues. Afterwards, Dr. Alvin Bernstine, the hosting Pastor, called on the faith leaders and public servants of Richmond to stand up and demonstrate their support for the proposed actions by signing the Richmond NOW Community Covenant. At the end, there were over a dozen signatures including those of Police Chief Chris Magnus, Councilmen Jeff Ritterman and Nat Bates, City Manager Bill Lindsay, Office of Neighborhood Safety Director DeVone Boggan, West County Unified School District Board Members, and a representative from the Office of Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.
Here are the key proposals that were presented on Thursday night:
VISION & VALUES: Community centers need to provide safe and healthy spaces for young people to gather and should offer programs that meet the needs of the entire community. We believe that every Richmond resident—young and old—should feel safe, welcome and nurtured by our community centers.
ACTION: The Richmond City Manager and Richmond City Council need to allocate adequate funding in this year’s budget to expand programming at the Nevin Center.
VISION/VALUES: We believe that every child in Richmond deserves to have a nurturing relationship and guidance with at least one adult outside of their family. There are no “throw-away” children in Richmond.
ACTION: WCCUSD needs to follow through on its commitment to adequately fund and staff the coordination of the program and to ensure that all students at Kennedy and Richmond High School who desire and need an adult mentor have access to one.
CEASEFIRE/ LIFELINES TO HEALING
VISION & VALUES: The community of Richmond is taking responsibility for protecting its youth and neighborhoods. Everyone has a right to feel safe in their own community.
ACTION: The Richmond City Council, the Richmond Police Department, the Office of Neighborhood Safety, and the broader community need to adopt Ceasefire/Lifelines as the comprehensive youth violence prevention and intervention strategy for the city of Richmond.
RICHMOND MUNICIPAL IDENTIFICATION
VISION & VALUES: We believe that in order to make our city is a unified Richmond we must welcome all our residents into our larger society. We come from different backgrounds, experiences and cultures and we believe that we can come together and celebrate our diversity through our collective action to change our city for the better.
ACTION: We want the Richmond City Council members to adopt an ordinance enacting Municipal Identification for the City of Richmond.
VISION/VALUES: We believe that our youth can pave the way for a better tomorrow. The opportunity to get ahead and be prepared for college and a career is something that we value greatly. All children deserve the opportunity to succeed and fulfill their dreams.
ACTION: We need the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board needs to commit to finding ways to increase the number of mentors, job internships, and materials to the Academies at Richmond High School and Kennedy High School.
VISION: We believe that all community residents must be afforded the opportunity to learn. Education is the cornerstone of our democracy because an educated adult population translates into an educated young population.
ACTION: We need the WCCUSD Board to commit to work with CCISCO to ensure that we prevent harmful cuts to Adult Education and to find creative ways to ensure that Adult Education does not disappear from our community.
VISION VALUES: We are a community that believes in the financial and economic interdependence of all families. We also believe that a hardship to one group is a hardship to all. Richmond residents want to provide for their families.
ACTION: We have the commitment of Chief of Police Chris Magnus to work with CCISCO to create a towing policy that is fair and humane. We are asking our City Council representatives to support our effort in creating a policy that will not hamper our families’ progress and financial independence.
VALUES & VISION: We are a community that believes in renewal. We value restorative justice and the intentional work of re-connecting members of our community that are seeking ways to give of themselves to make our community better.
ACTION: We ask all of our public officials–particularly those in law enforcement, job development, adult education and city government to join the Safe Return Community Research Team and members of the community in establishing the appropriate ordinances, policies and funding initiatives that will lead to the development of a One-Stop Service Center (one offering services in housing, jobs, education, transportation, healthcare and other basic needs) for those returning from incarceration.
Hundreds Rally as Richmond City Council Passes Resolution on Municipal ID
Richmond, CA – On Tuesday, June 7, CCISCO leaders from St Mark's Church along with hundreds of community residents gathered at the Richmond Civic Center in support of a municipal identification resolution.
During the course of the meeting, residents formed a line, held their signs high and walked into the council chambers in silence. As the City Council watched the seemingly endless line of supporters who walked in and out of the chambers, it was clear that Richmond is ready for a municipal identification.
Council member Jovanka Beckles introduced the resolution which directed City staff to "review a proposal by the Richmond Municipal ID Coalition, and prepare pertinent modifications, and prepare an ordinance for the Council's review on July 5th 2011."
The comments made at the City Council meeting focused on creating a city which is inclusive of all people.
"When we divide the world between 'us' and 'them' it takes away our common humanity," said Council Member Jeff Ritterman, "The solution is to see people as people…as fathers, mothers, sons and daughters because everybody wants to be part of the community they live in."
After more positive comments from Richmond residents and by City officials, the Richmond City Council voted unanimously to approve the resolution. CCISCO leaders cheered in celebration as the vote came to a close.
"The Richmond Municipal ID is for everyone," said St. Mark's Church CCISCO leader Hector Jauregui, "We are one united Richmond and the passage of the resolution tonight is the first step in bringing us closer to making the Richmond Municipal ID a reality."
The Richmond Municipal ID Coalition is a group of various organizations in Richmond, including CCISCO, who are working towards a safe and secure Richmond Municipal ID available to all residents.
Richmond NOW: A Total Plan for Safety & Opportunity
CCISCO Leaders in West County are gearing up this week for "Richmond Now," A Total Plan for Safety and Opportunity. This community meeting will take place on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church (684 Juliga Woods Street in Richmond). Join a diverse group of over 500 Richmond residents who are leading this comprehensive campaign for a better Richmond. Click here to view a flier for the event and RSVP on Facebook to attend!
At the action, we will be discussing a strategic approach to ensuring that all Richmond residents live in a safe environment with opportunities for youth and adults to succeed. CCISCO leaders have developed this plan out of thousands of conversations within our own congregations and in alliance with the broader community. On June 2nd, we will be highlighting a comprehensive set of issues, including:
- Expanding mentoring opportunities for Richmond youth;
- Creating safe spaces at community centers for Richmond families;
- Strengthening pathways to opportunity at Richmond high schools;
- Creating new city policies to integrate immigrant families;
- Launching the Ceasefire Initiative to reduce violence in Richmond;
- Protecting education opportunities for Richmond adults; and
- Providing a safe return for Richmond residents returning home from incarceration.
These are urgent issues that are of vital importance to the future of our city and we are inviting public officials to respond to our proposals at the event.
Come and show your support for a better Richmond!
CCISCO Welcomes Six New Member Congregations
Over the course of five weeks, CCISCO held exploratory sessions in East and West Contra Costa County to engage new congregations and present our faith-based community organizing model. The training sessions were attended by dozens of clergy and lay leaders who were interested in learning about how community organizing can be a tool for putting our faith in action. Current leaders shared their stories of success and spoke on the impact of community organizing in their lives. We also presented the imperative need to organize based on the suffering and disparities in our communities.
Through a reflective and thoughtful process, various congregations were invited to consider becoming member congregations of CCISCO. At the end of this process, we are proud and excited to welcome six new members:
- Antioch Christian Center
- Antioch Church Family
- St. Ignatius Catholic Church
- Temple Baptist Church
- REACH Fellowship International
- Word Impact Christian Center
Hundreds Demand a New Bottom Line from Wells Fargo at Annual Shareholders Meeting
More than 400 people marched through San Francisco’s Financial District last week to demand that Wells Fargo change corporate policies that bankrupt families, dismantle neighborhoods, and empty public coffers. During the bank’s annual shareholder meeting, a delegation of homeowners and clergy including CCISCO leaders, addressed Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf to demand an immediate foreclosure moratorium. Unlike other national banks, Wells Fargo has not changed its foreclosure procedures despite numerous confirmed reports of “robo-signing” and other illegalities in the foreclosure process. You can watch two videos of the event by clicking here and here.
“Today is very personal for my family. Since 2005, I have been fighting Wells for wrongful foreclosure,” said San Leandro resident Donna Vieira. “But through this process, I have learned that I am not alone. A quarter of foreclosures in this country happen right here in California and 700,000 families are in foreclosure right now. We need these banks to have a new bottom line that includes investing in our communities.”
According to the U.S. Department of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, at the end of 2009, there were 350,169 Wells Fargo homeowners eligible for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). As of Feb 2011, only 77,402 homeowners received permanent modifications. This is a mere 22% rate of modification, more than 2 years into the program (www.makinghomeaffordable.gov). Meanwhile, Wells Fargo received nearly $43.7 billion in federal bailout funds, according to a widely cited study by Nomi Prins of Demos, a nonpartisan think tank. Furthermore, Wells Fargo reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010 that it paid CEO John Stumpf more than $17 million, including a $14 million bonus.
The shareholder actions are part of The New Bottom Line Campaign fueled by a coalition of community organizations, congregations, labor unions, and individuals working together to build a movement that challenges established big bank interests on behalf of struggling and middle-class communities. Together, we work to restructure Wall Street to help American families build wealth, close the country's growing income inequality gap and advance a vision for how our economy can better serve the many rather than the few.
The New Bottom Line campaign includes PICO National Network, National People’s Action (NPA), Alliance for a Just Society, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and Industrial Areas Foundation of the Southeast (IAF-SE) and dozens of state and local organizations from around the country.
SELECTED MEDIA COVERAGE:
West County Leaders Adopt “Richmond NOW,” a Total Plan for Safety & Opportunity
On April 19th, over 70 people gathered in the Iron Triangle at the West County Leadership Summit. At this meeting, community leaders shared stories and presented a series of issues they wanted to tackle to make Richmond a better and safer place. At the meeting, the leaders decided to adopt a comprehensive plan that addressed the issues of violence, education, jobs, immigrant integration, and mentoring. The engaged group also set a date for a community action to present and discuss the issues and solutions for a better Richmond.
The action is scheduled for Thursday, June 2nd at 6:00 pm at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church. At the action, we will be discussing a strategic approach to ensuring that all Richmond residents live in a safe environment with opportunities for youth and adults to succeed. CCISCO leaders have developed this plan out of thousands of conversations within own congregations and in alliance with the broader community. At the action, we will be highlighting a comprehensive set of issues, including:
- Expanding mentoring opportunities for Richmond youth;
- Creating safe spaces at community centers for Richmond families;
- Strengthening pathways to opportunity at Richmond high schools;
- Creating new city policies to integrate immigrant families;
- Launching the Ceasefire Initiative to reduce violence in Richmond;
- Protecting education opportunities for Richmond adults; and
- Providing a safe return for Richmond residents returning home from incarceration.
PICO East Bay Leaders, Rep. Luis Gutierrez Come Together in Oakland to Call for Administrative Relief for Immigrants
Oakland, CA—On Thursday, April 29, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) joined over 1,200 OCO, CCISCO, BOCA and COR leaders to highlight immigrant testimonies and to call on President Obama to halt unnecessary deportations which tear families apart. The faith community in the East Bay came together for a common cause.
“The purpose of our meeting tonight is to shed light on the crisis affecting our communities,” said OCO Co-Chair Fr. Jesus Nieto, “The thousands of families that have been separated due to unnecessary deportations in California and across the country, as well as the lack of a federal solution to our broken immigration system, has created this crisis—it is time we unite together to ask President Obama for some relief.”
There was heart wrenching testimonies from leaders like CCISCO leader Bianca Rojo, which underscored the suffering that is caused when families are broken up. Rojo, saw both her parents deported at 15. “I had to become the mother and the father for my younger brother, we moved from place to place, sometimes we didn’t even have any food to eat.”
Congressman Gutierrez heard the testimonies from African, Korean and Latino leaders and applauded their bravery for telling their stories at the risk of deportation. “The current political climate in Washington D.C. has prevented immigration reform to pass. It is time that President Obama keep his promise, it is time to provide some administrative relief, he has the power to do it,” said Gutierrez.
Congressman Gutierrez made Oakland one of his 20 stops across the country for the "Change Takes Courage" tour. The tour is designed to gather signatures on a petition to President Obama asking that he use powers already available to him under existing law to spare certain immigrants — those with deep equities in the United States and without a criminal history — from deportation.
According to Department of Homeland Security, half of the immigrants deported were not convicted of a crime. This troubling statistic has created fear within immigrant communities and has put to question President Obama’s campaign promise of overhauling the system.
“We want to put an end to the deportations which separate hard working families, to stop the deportation of students who only wish to contribute to our great nation, and stop deportations which destroy our communities and leave them paralyzed,” said Pastor Michael McBride from BOCA, “We want respect and dignity, and for that reason we come together to let everyone know that our immigrant communities are flesh and blood. This is what our faith teaches us.”
The event was organized by PICO East Bay which includes: OCO-Oakland Community Organizations, BOCA-Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action, CCISCO-Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization, and COR-Congregations Organizing for Renewal.
CCISCO Joins Launching of State-Wide Campaign to Make Wall Street Pay Their Fair Share
During the week of March 14, CCISCO, PICO California, together with allies at ACCE, California Reinvestment Coalition and SEIU, launched a statewide campaign to pass a package of new state legislation aimed at protecting homeowners from fraudulent bank foreclosure practices and making banks pay their fair share for the housing and foreclosure crisis that has devastated the budgets of families, local communities, and the state.
The package of legislation includes:
- The Homeowner Protection Act (SB 729) which will require lenders to finish attempting a loan modification with each borrower before continuing with the foreclosure process.
- The Title Transparency bill (AB 1321) which will require that all deeds and transfers of mortgage loans be recorded with the County, so that borrowers can confirm in public record who actually holds their mortgage.
- The Foreclosure Fee bill (AB 935) which seeks to incentivize loan modifications by adding a disincentive to foreclosing – a $20,000 fee. This fee begins to allow communities, cities and the state to recoup some of the fiscal costs that result from each foreclosure. The revenue will be collected in a state fund and will go to Public Safety, Public Education and Local Governments.
To kick off the campaign, the coalition released a new report, "Home Wreckers: How Wall Street Is Devastating Communities," which brings to light the full impact of the costs of foreclosure for each county, a total that adds up to a minimum of $650 billion and as much as $1 trillion. This report is the first time the full set of costs to homeowners and taxpayers have been quantified in California – the hardest hit of all states with the most number of foreclosures.
On March 19, CCISCO joined Oakland Community Organizations (OCO) and PICO California, and ACCE, at a large town hall meeting with city and state elected officials in east Oakland, which has been rocked by foreclosures and is now dotted with vacant, bank-owned homes. In addition to building support for the state legislation, community and faith leaders lifted up local strategies that the city and county can take to protect homeowners and hold banks accountable. Watch homeowners giving testimony from the action by clicking here.
CCISCO Leaders Join National Rally to Hold Banks Accountable
On Monday, March 7th, 4 CCISCO leaders joined a PICO delegation and 600 people from National People's Action for a series of actions on the Attorneys General conference, Bank of America and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the OCC is the federal regulator for the big four banks). You can see pictures from the day's events here.
CCISCO leaders Karen & Eugene Matthews, Donna Vieira, and Rosario Frisse along with other PICO le adersRob Goodman (Faith in Community), Jose Gonzales (PACT), and Lilian Cabrera (OCO) all had an opportunity to give their testimony and call on the AGs and regulators to step up their pressure on the banks. Here are links to video of their testimony.
- Donna Vieira – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkmrsv6rQsA
- Lilian Cabrera & Rosario Frisse – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IePmzcHUZyk
The timing could not have been better for our action at the annual conference of the National Association of Attorneys General. A delegation of PICO and NPA leaders went inside the conference to confront the AGs and was able to get the Iowa deputy Attorney General to come out and address the 300 person crowd outside. We definitely sent a strong message.
To see our solutions for holding big banks accountable visit crimeshouldntpay.com (http://crimeshouldntpay.com/bottomline)
Richmond Leaders Celebrate Grand Re-Opening of Nevin Community Center
On Saturday, March 5th, CCISCO leaders joined over 2,000 Richmond residents at the grand re-opening of the Nevin Community Center in the Iron Triangle Neighborhood. Food, games, activities and an official unveiling of the new programs now offered at the center were part of the morning's events.
Last June, after speaking to community members who voiced concerns about drugs, alcohol and inappropriate activities around the center, CCISCO launched a campaign alongside other community groups to renovate the center to make it an ideal place for the young people of Richmond and the Iron Triangle.
New educational and community programs have been established at the center and will create more engaging activities for people of all ages. Richmond residents will now have classes, GED preparation programs for adults, activities for senior and English and computer classes. Security has also been established and the center has been painted and renovated to provide a safe atmosphere for the community.
PICO Leaders Make Case For Pro-Immigrant Policies
Washington D.C. – On February 16, 2011 over 75 PICO faith leaders from across the country gathered in Washington D.C. to discuss ways to win policies that support immigrant integration in a manner that is reflective of our collective faith values.\
Leaders Gaby Baños and Cheryl Nickerson represented CCISCO at the historic national convening. Once there, they participated in developing national priorities on immigration issues which are rooted in local organizing campaigns.
"There was a great deal of work that was completed at the task force convening in Washington D.C. A lot of great research was unveiled and it was noted that the formation of a national task force itself a victory," said Cheryl upon returning from the gathering.
"The Califoria group was large enough to take on issues that were affecting fellow Califorians. Alot of momentum has been built and even with the current Congress, we can still be effective through voter registration, voter education, by working on the DREAM Act and by working with the White House."
The top national priorities for the PICO Immigration Task Force are
- a strong voter registration and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) effort
- administrative relief for DREAM students and a revision to the S-Comm program
- opposition to eVerify without comprehensive immigration reform.
The long term goal for the PICO National Immigration Task Force is to work towards an immigration reform that is just, humane and that brings all communities together.
Big Banks Are at it Again, Don’t Let Them Get Away With It!
The big banks are at it again. First, they committed widespread mortgage fraud against millions of Americans. Then they began fraudulently kicking millions out of their homes. And now, they’re pressuring state Attorneys General to let them off the hook for their crimes!
Join thousands of people this Thursday, February 3 in calling your state Attorney General to demand a strong settlement against the big banks.
Last week, homeowners in Iowa met again with state Attorney General Tom Miller, who is leading the nationwide investigation into the foreclosuregate scandal.
When AG Miller met with CCISCO and PICO leaders in December, he said he would put bank executives in jail for the crimes they've committed against the American people. But last week, he was much less willing to make bold statements. This must mean one thing: AG Miller and the other 49 Attorneys Generals are being pressured by the big banks to make a settlement that lets them off the hook. We can't let the big banks get away with their crimes. We need to fight back.
A few minutes of your time on Thursday will go a long way in sending a message to the Attorneys General that we’re watching their work closely and we won’t settle for anything less than deep penalties for the big banks and justice for millions of homeowners. Click here to find out the number to the your state's Attorney General and call now!
For more information, visit: www.crimeshouldntpay.com
Contra Costa Leaders Gather at Annual Leadership Summit
On Saturday, January 15th, a diverse group of representatives from local organizing committees (LOCs) gathered at St. Mary's College in Moraga to evaluate the organizing in 2010 and plan their work over the next 12 months. The day was filled with assessment, relationship-building, and strategic planning for 2011. CCISCO leaders set goals for their regions and campaigns and devised strategies to accomplish these goals in the next year.
The Leadership Summit consists of a leadership team that is formed by elected representatives from each local organizing committee in the active congregations CCISCO currently organizes in. This team meets annually to asses CCISCO's work over the past year and create organizing plans for the year. This leadership body is also in charge of nominating new members to the Board of Directors when vacancies exist.
An integral part of this gathering is to build and strengthen relationships amongst leaders from across the county working on a broad set of issues. Leaders also reviewed their work over the past year through a presentation of their accomplishments including on issues such as bank accountability and foreclosure prevention, health care access, violence prevention, immigrant integration and access to quality jobs. The leaders present also had the opportunity to break out into regional and issue groups to set goals for their campaigns and regions.
Community Leaders Launch Mentoring4Martin to Create Opportunity for Youth and Reduce Violence in Richmond
On Thursday, January 13, 2011 over 130 concerned Richmond residents gathered at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Alvin Bernstine and the Voice For The Village Coalition, to launch the most visionary mentoring initiative in the city of Richmond. The program – Mentoring for Martin – will provide concerned adult mentors for Kennedy High School youth who have expressed a need for adult guidance and support. In attendance on the 13th were Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, City Manager Bill Lindsay, Police Representatives Captains Kagan and Williams, Director of Neighborhood Safety Devone Boggan and Be a Mentor Inc. President Bob Goetsch. Each of these city officials pledge their support for the program and committed to recruiting mentors among their staffs and municipal workers.
"Martin King once shared out of the pages of his youth: 'My parents taught me something very early. Somehow they instilled in me a feeling of somebodyness, and they would tell me over and over again that you're just as good as any child,'" said Rev. Dr. Alvin Bernstine, "Many of the children within our community need someone to tell them, impress upon them, and show them that they are as good as any child–Mentoring4Martin is an opportunity for all of Richmond to assess, consider, and commit to making sure our young people will live with a powerful sense of 'somebodyness'."
The goal of the Mentoring for Martin program is to match a trained, caring, concerned adult mentor with every high school-aged youth in Richmond. Mentoring for Martin is as a part of a comprehensive youth violence program organized by CCISCO trained leaders at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, St, Marks Catholic Church, Easter Hill United Methodist Church, Word Impact Christian Center and Temple Baptist Church. These churches, brought together by CCISCO two years ago in response to a steep rise in youth violence in Richmond, developed a citizen-led approach to stemming youth violence – the Voice for the Village – that includes a mentoring component, a re-entry program for youth returning to the community from incarceration, jobs readiness and employment for youth and a coordinated violence intervention program involving the Office of Neighborhood Safety, the local police and organized citizen groups.
CCISCO Leaders Celebrate Full Funding For New Clinic in Oakley
Oakley, CA – On Monday, December 13th, La Clinica de La Raza’s Board of directors formally approved their expansion into the City of Oakley by opening an additional health care clinic. After securing an additional $450,000 from Kaiser Permanente's national board, the fully funded project was ready for board approval. In addition to Kaiser, other supporting stakeholders that contributed to the start up and three years of operational costs, were John Muir, and Sutter Delta. Meanwhile, La Clinica also awaits a response from a federal grant for new start-up clinics. If awarded, this grant would enable La Clinica to also offer dental services at the new facility in East County.
The next steps include applying for all required federal and state approvals and licensure to operate the site, recruitment and hiring of staff.
"Our hard work has paid off! It feels great that we persisted and achieved something that our entire community will be able to benefit from," said St. Anthony's leader Violeta Tapia. "Winning affordability as part of health care reform and ensuring these benefits and services are available here in our own city is a great blessing," she concluded.
The much needed health care clinic upon opening its door is expected to serve 1,300 patients in its first year and provide the following medical services at an affordable sliding scale rate: laboratory services, immunizations, and health coverage enrollement.
The goods news was first announced by La Clinica CEO, Jane Garcia alongside Fr. Olman Solis Pastor of St. Anthony’s at last weeks special city council meeting . The council was thanked for having been ardent supporters since the CCISCO committee first identified the need and campaign to bring primary health care services to town.
CCISCO Leaders in Richmond Revitalize Nevin Center
Richmond, CA – The work of CCISCO, and a determined group of Richmond citizens, concerned about the lack of safety and programming at the Nevin Community Center, (located in the Iron Triangle Neighborhood) came to fruition recently in a decision by the City of Richmond to fund a number of initiatives that will make Nevin a model for the entire community.
City Manager Bill Lindsey, aided by senior recreation department officials, agreed to make sweeping changes to the Nevin Community Center that will insure that the center is safe for all users, is adequately staffed by well-trained workers, includes a comprehensive package of programming and activities that provide services for young children, teens, young adults, and seniors and solicits and incorporates resident feedback and involvement.
CCISCO trained local leaders have been working on bringing improvements to the Nevin Center for several months. Over the better part of the last year local residents have been engaging their neighbors across the Iron Triangle about problems and challenges at the Nevin Center. They have held large town hall meetings; held 1 to 1 listening sessions with each other throughout the neighborhood; and have been gathering in each other’s homes to envision a neighborhood community center that better serves the people of the Iron Triangle. Along the way, they have strategically engaged local officials and have worked as partners in developing a plan to make the center a better place for all residents and a model that the City of Richmond can be proud of.
CCISCO leaders, in the Iron Triangle, have partnered with the city on other local initiatives such as litter control, street paving projects and increased police patrols. They were particularly proud of this effort because of the respect shown by city leaders for their efforts and the level of cooperation they received in the process. Recreation officials and CCISCO leaders will be planning a public unveiling of the “new and improved center” in early 2011, stay tuned for details!
CCISCO Leader Ken Kelly Joins National Meeting with AG, Miller Says: “We Will Put People In Jail”
Des Moines, IA– On Tuesday, December 14th, CCISCO Leader Ken Kelly joined more than 100 people from 15 states representing community, faith, and labor organizations, foreclosure victims and struggling homeowners from across the country in a meeting with Attorney General Tom Miller. Participants urged Tom Miller to make a strong settlement that includes loan modification and principal reduction as the primary tools for cleaning up the mortgage mess created by the banks.
The lead Attorney General in the 50-state foreclosure investigation, told homeowners at risk of foreclosure today that he supports a settlement with the big banks that requires significant principal rate reductions, loan modifications, compensation for citizens defrauded of their homes, and criminal prosecutions against big bank executives who broke the law.
“We will put people in jail,” Miller said, in response to questioning. “One of the main tools needs to be principal reductions, just like in the farm crisis in the 1980s…There should be some kind of compensation system for people who have been harmed…And the foreclosure process should stop while loan modifications begin. To have a race between foreclosures and modifications to see which happens first is insane.”
Miller also agreed to continue to work with grassroots community, faith, and labor groups from across the country and agreed that the Bank Accountability Campaign’s members are stakeholders who deserve a seat at the table.
“Attorney General Miller made it clear that he sees this investigation as a chance to clean up the foreclosure crisis that has ransacked our communities for over three years now and continues to push down housing values for everyone. He stated that loan modifications will be a core component in any settlement,” said Gina Gates, a foreclosure victim with PACT-PICO in San Jose, California.
“The stakes are high. A strong settlement is the best hope to hold Wall Street banks accountable and prevent millions more Americans from losing their homes,” said Mikael Broadway, from IAF in North Carolina.
“The big banks have repeatedly weakened efforts to get to the root of the foreclosure crisis,” said Ken Kelly. “They’ve failed to live up to their promises and outright ignored the rules of the game, with little to no consequences. The Attorneys General have a chance to change this.”
This is the first of a series of similar meetings with the state Attorneys General who are on the investigation’s executive committee. Participants in the meeting included borrowers who have lost their homes unjustly, other homeowners in danger of foreclosure, clergy and community advocates from 15 states – including Iowa, California, Illinois, Washington, New York, Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Massachusetts, Kansas, Michigan, Montana and Oregon. The participants presented a stack of homeowner testimonies to Mr. Miller and made it clear that this investigation is their best hope for resetting the housing market and helping millions avoid foreclosure.
The group also staged protests that afternoon at the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage headquarters in West Des Moines and at branch of Bank of America in Des Moines to highlight the massive bonuses that bank executives will receive this month while millions of homeowners face foreclosure. They plan to lift up a new report showing that restoring equity to underwater homeowners would cost the big banks $73 billion, approximately one-half this year’s bonus & compensation pool.
The growing activity from homeowner groups comes amidst a turbulent time for big banks, especially Bank of America, with both investor lawsuits and the Attorneys General investigation pending, and some analysts beginning to predict the eventual need to restructure America’s largest bank in 2011.
The meeting with AG Miller was organized by PICO National Network, National People’s Action, SEIU, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Alliance for a Just Society, and IAF Southeast.
Senate Defers The DREAM, Leaves Immigrant Youth In The Shadows
Washington D.C. – On Saturday, December 18, after a win in the House of Representatives, the DREAM Act did not garner enough votes to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. What this means for our country is that the resource of educated youth whose only desire is to serve, will remain untapped.
The vote in the Senate was 55 (Yes) to 41 (No), with 5 Democratic Senators voting “No” and 3 Republicans voting “Yes”. 60 votes were needed in order to move the legislation forward and avoid a filibuster.
This stunning defeat in the Senate will delay justice once again, however, the fight for fair and humane immigration reform will continue for the long haul. Given the state of the economy and the desire for putting our country back on track, CCISCO leaders recognize that, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
DREAM Act Passes in the House of Representatives
Congressman George Miller spoke at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass at Queen of all Saints Church in Concord about the merits of the DREAM Act on December 12, 2010.
Washington D.C. – On Wednesday, December 8, the U.S. House of Representatives held an historic vote of 216-198 on the DREAM Act which has added momentum to this legislation as it reaches the next hurdle, the U.S. Senate.
CCISCO leaders rejoiced at the news that the DREAM Act has moved forward on to the Senate, where a cloture vote is expected early next week.
The DREAM Act is a bipartisan measure that would enable high-achieving young people – immigrants who have been raised here, have worked hard in school, and then pursue higher education or serve in the military – to achieve the American Dream. The DREAM Act allows qualified young people who lack immigration status to earn their citizenship and give back to the only country they know as home.
After numerous phone calls, postcards, press conferences, prayer vigils, and town hall actions, organized by CCISCO leaders at various churches across Contra Costa County, three members of Congress, Rep. George Miller (CA-7), Rep. John Garamendi (CA-10), and Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-11) supported the DREAM Act with an affirmative 'YES' vote.
"In this economy, we need the best, brightest, the most capable and most qualified to be a part of the American workforce," said Congressman George Miller, "This legislation will allow a limited group of very capable, high achieving young people to help contribute to the economic well-being of this country…I urge the Senate to pass the DREAM Act so that it may become the law."
Faith & Community Leaders Urge Passage of the DREAM Act, Call on Rep. McNerney to Vote Yes!
On Monday, November 29th, CCISCO faith and community leaders gathered in front of the office of Congressman Jerry McNerney to call on Congress to pass the DREAM Act and urge Mr. McNerney to vote yes on the legislation when it comes up for a vote in the House of Representatives.
Currently, thousands of hard working young people who were brought to the United States as infants or children can now be locked up in federal detention centers and deported to a country they've never known. This is a reality for up to 2.1 million current and graduated high school students in America, a fourth of them here in California. Each year, 65,000 students–honor roll members, excelling athletes, and gifted artists–graduate and hit a roadblock as they are forced to live in the shadows and work low-paying jobs.
"I just want to have a normal life, because right now I don't feel I have that, " said Margarita, a 24-year old student from Brentwood. Margarita graduated from Los Medanos College with two Associate's Degrees in Math & Science and Arts & Humanities and now attends Cal State East Bay, where she is studying social work. "I don't want to live in the shadows anymore. We are here and we will continue to fight for the DREAM Act until it passes," she concluded.
The DREAM Act could stop the injustice by giving students who have grown up and graduated from high school in the United States the opportunity to earn legal status through higher education or military service.
By passing the DREAM Act, not only would 2.1 million American students be able to pursue higher education or military service, but research shows that our government could collect $3.6 trillion over the next 40 years.
Call 1-866-945-0566 and urge your Senators and Representatives to vote YES on the DREAM Act as a common-sense way to help Margarita and up to 2.1 million students succeed and contribute to America.
Richmond Joins in National Day of Action, Demands Wells Fargo Stop Stealing Homes
On Thursday, November 18th, over twenty five CCISCO leaders, joined by ACCE, gathered in front of the Wells Fargo branch in Richmond to protest Wells Fargo's theft against their community. They demanded that Wells Fargo be accountable for the 55,000 homes they recently admitted to wrongfully foreclosing on.
Richmond City Mayor Gayle McLaughlin also spoke at the event, and reiterated that the City stood with homeowners and not with Big Banks. The City will be exploring a Responsible Banking Ordinance, that would require banks to demonstrate that they are investing in the community and working with families in good faith to help eligible homeowners obtain permanent loan modifications, in order to receive the City's deposits or investments.
After presenting the facts, including that 50% of the 94801 zip code, the largest in Richmond, is in foreclosure or with a sub-prime loan, CCISCO leaders demanded that Wells Fargo place a moratorium until a thorough investigation of their foreclosure proceedings was completed. The group then proceeded to march into the branch where they delivered a letter to CEO John Stumpf requesting a meeting and detailing CCISCO's demands.
CCISCO will continue the fight against big banks next Tuesday, November 23 at the Wells Fargo Corporate Headquarters in San Francisco as they join regional allies to demand that Wells Fargo be accountable for their theft against the community and families.
CCISCO Leaders Join National Delegation in Meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner
On Wednesday, November 3rd, CCISCO leaders Ken Kelly, Berenice Ramos, and Pastor Mario Howell were part of a delegation formed by PICO and other national allies in a meeting with Tim Geithner, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. They took with them stories from around the country and presented five specific steps that the Administration can take right now to keep many more families in their homes and stop foreclosures. This was the first time that Secretary Geithner met with so many homeowners, clergy and housing counselors who had first-hand experience with the foreclosure crisis.
The meeting was the culmination of two years of work by PICO, a national network of 45 faith-based community organizations. Almost two years ago, PICO members stood outside the Treasury Department building with 180 people, demanding that the Department implement a broad loan modification program. In October of last year, PICO members sat down with Michael Barr and Herbert Allison, top-level Treasury Department officials with control over consumer protection and the TARP. They brought with them a stack of photos and stories of people experiencing problems with HAMP and losing their homes in the process. As a result of that meeting, PICO and National People’s Action held eight field hearings across the country this spring, to bring attention to the Treasury Department of the horror stories out there. Treasury officials attended the field hearings, and the coalition continued to ask for a meeting with Geithner.
At the meeting, their basic message to the Treasury Secretary was that it’s time for a new approach to the foreclosure crisis. PICO sent a detailed memo on what they saw as the next steps to fix the broken process. They want a nationwide freeze on foreclosures as the foreclosure fraud scandal is investigated; a senior-level official tasked just with fixing the housing crisis; a reset to the housing market with an “aggressive” principal reduction and forbearance plan, including cram-down, a mandate for Fannie and Freddie to reduce principal on all the loans they own, and making principal write-downs mandatory in HAMP; and actual accountability and penalties for servicers violating HAMP.
Mr. Geithner agreed that the recommendations were practical, made sense, and were substantive suggestions and committed to sending a written response from the Treasury to the proposals.
The group also asked for a moratorium on foreclosures, especially for those who are already eligible or already enrolled in HAMP. "We advocate for a temporary, very targeted, moratorium in foreclosures to send a clear message to the American public that the Treasury does care about due process," Kelly said. "It would also send a clear message to the market that the administration wants to get to the root of the problem which includes faulty documentation."
The group got a commitment for a written response to all their proposals within the next 30 days and will be meeting in person with Michael Barr in Washington DC in December.
“Faith, Hope, and Vote” Active Citizenship Campaign Launched by CCISCO Leaders in Richmond
On Saturday, October 16th, over 40 leaders from different faith and community groups in Richmond launched the "Faith, Hope, and Vote" campaign. The campaign involves registering eligible citizens to vote and ensuring that they make their voices heard on Election Day. The volunteers knocked on thousands of doors registering new voters and dropping off information on how and where to vote for those recently registered. The efforts also focused on educating citizens on the importance of voting and civic participation and was concentrated in the Iron Triangle Neighborhood. This event was part of a larger campaign that involves other areas in Contra Costa County such as Antioch and Oakley.
City of Antioch Tells Bank of America: “Not With Our Money!”
Last November, CCISCO leaders asked the Antioch city council to introduce a resolution that would move the city’s investments out of big banks that have demonstrated a disingenuous effort to help homeowners who have stable income and meet HAMP guidelines to modify their loans and retain their homes.
"They listened, and they acted!" said CCISCO leader Karen Matthews at a press conference on Saturday, October 30th, where dozens of Antioch residents gathered to witness as members of the Antioch City Council formally announced their divestment from Bank of America for its unsatisfactory track record of helping families stay in their homes and providing permanent loan modifications to eligible homeowners.
Research shows that Bank of America was and continues to be the bank with more subprime loans than any other single bank. Currently, and according to national HAMP numbers from the U.S. Treasury, Bank of America loan modifications are still at an abysmal 21%.
Unfortunately, we have not seen significant action from the Treasury or the White House to hold these banks accountable. Local governments, however are starting to take action with community organizations and beginning to make a real difference. In San Jose, PACT leaders announced that the city has diverted $1 billion based on the bank's poor record of modifying loans to stop preventable foreclosures. In Los Angeles, LA Voice leaders were joined by over 800 community members at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church last week, where they called on the City Council to pass a "responsible banking ordinance" that would move city deposits out of banks that refuse to help homeowners and small businesses and into responsible banks that are investing in the people of Los Angeles.Watch coverage of the event here.
This is just the beginning however, we need more cities, our county and our state to follow suit and also move their money out of institutions that do not uphold our values and who are not investing in our families and communities.
Justice for Immigrants and PICO Network Come Together at National Convening to Discuss “Immigration in a New Congress”
Schiller Park, IL -Last week more than 240 clergy, laity and faith leaders from 37 states met in Illinois at the Justice for Immigrants/PICO Conference entitled "Immigration in a New Congress." The event consisted of faith perspectives, research results, and best organizing practices. It was an opportunity for Catholics to gather and discuss the post-election results and the feasibility of comprehensive immigration reform, the DREAM Act or AgJOBS in the coming year.
Fr. Daniel Groody (www.nd.edu/~dgroody) from the University of Notre Dame gave a presentation on Catholic Teaching and Migration, which underscored the Catholic faith tradition of migration from the bible to present day. His discourse focused on the many factors that affect migration patterns around the world. Whether it is economics, environmental disasters or political realities, migrants seek refuge and a stable life.
CCISCO leader David Lopez from Immaculate Heart of Mary in Brentwood attended the convening along with PICO leaders and organizers from across the country. During workshops and break out sessions, they presented their best organizing practices which ranged from the "opting out" of S-Comm in Santa Clara County and San Francisco County, local towing issues, and immigrant integration efforts which include bridge-building workshops consisting of immigrant and non-immigrant participants.
Also participating in the conference was Assistant Director of Detention Policy and Planning Phyllis A. Coven from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The presentation from Ms. Coven focused on ICE's work to improve conditions at detention centers and the online upgrades in helping to locate family members who have been detained. After her presentation, Coven was asked about opting out of S-Comm and said she was not authorized to discuss the issue of S-Comm.
Towards the end of the conference, there were regional break-out sessions which focused on local attempts at highlighting the issue of immigration at local parishes, working to build bridges between communities, parish organizing and the upcoming opportunity for DREAM Act in the lame duck session.
Key outcomes from the conference included the difficult political reality facing comprehensive immigration reform in the years ahead and the tremendous opportunity in building capacity to keep the issue at the forefront. Other key highlights included:
a) The growth of Latino Catholics across the country and the significance of their vote in this past election;
b) The importance of developing uncommon allies – business, law enforcement, and other faith denominations;
c) Widespread interest in community organizing from many Dioceses across the country; and
d) Lifting up our common faith values and reminding ourselves that this is God’s work
Several research meetings were conducted by PICO leaders during their staying Chicago which included Sisters of Mercy, Pat Murphy and JoAnn Persch regarding their work in detention centers and their ongoing vigils. A second research meeting was conducted with Joshua Hoyt of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights around their successful immigrant integration strategies over the years.
JFI and PICO are collaborating to engage Catholic parishes in helping welcome new immigrants and create a just and humane immigration system. For more information: visit www.justiceforimmigrants.org and www.piconetwork.org or contact Jaci Braga (firstname.lastname@example.org).
CCISCO and REDI Host Candidates’ Forum in Richmond
On Thursday, September 30th, CCISCO and the Richmond Equitable Development Initiative (REDI)* hosted one of the largest candidates forum in this electoral year. The diverse crowd gathered at Easter Hill United Methodist Church to listen and meet the candidates running for Mayor and City Council in Richmond. The event began with a welcome by Pastor Alvin Bernstine and an introduction of REDI and its platform and past accomplishments.
Eight out of the eleven candidates attended and presented their proposals for the City of Richmond. The candidates were allowed a couple of minutes to introduce themselves to the audience. Thereafter, there were four questions that were asked by residents and dealt with some of the issues most impacting Richmond: youth services, jobs, the environment and foreclosures. All of the candidates were allowed to response to each of the question and then concluded with closing statements.
The forum was a powerful display of community engagement and reflected the diversity in the City of Richmond and was simultaneously translated into three different languages: Spanish, Laotian, and Mien. At the end of the night, residents walked away not only with a deeper understanding of the candidates and their platforms,but also with a stronger sense of commitment to be involved in their community and the importance of voting and challenging others to vote.
*REDI is: Association of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Asian Pacific Environmental Network-Laotian Organizing Project (APEN-LOP), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organizing (CCISCO), East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), Faith Works/ Richmond Vision, Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) and Urban Habitat.
CCISCO and PICO Reach Milestone in the Bank Accountability Campaign: Banking on a New Economy Summit
From September 21-23rd, 55 leaders and staff from CCISCO and 12 other PICO federations and 3 PICO state-wide networks gathered in Chicago – together with 175 other community and labor leaders from over 60 grassroots organizations spanning 25 states – to learn about creative local organizing handles to hold big banks accountable and move forward a collective campaign focused on the nation's 4 largest banks (Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase & Citibank), with the goal of winning a national lending agreement that could potentially bring billions of dollars into our communities.
The most exciting highlights of the summit were the bold vision shared by everyone for building a new and just economy; a recognition that the first step on this journey is challenging Wall Street’s stranglehold on our economic and political systems; and the recognition that no single organization – or network – can do this alone. "I felt great seeing over 200 people gathered for the same purpose that we have been fighting for this long," said CCISCO leader Nely Rubio upon returning from the Summit. "It's a wonderful feeling to realize that we are not in this alone, that there is such a strong commitment from all these other organizations to hold banks accountable for the injustices they are committing and that if we work together and strategically we will make a difference," she added.
It was amazing to see the level of collaboration and mutual recognition that permeated the summit. This campaign is sparking an unprecedented alignment of community organizing networks, labor unions, research and advocacy organizations, and other allies united in an effort to win. Everyone at the summit recognized just how ground-breaking this level of collaboration is in the field of organizing.
You can download: 1) a description of a “Big Bank Roadmap for Repairing the Economy,” which is the set of demands that we seek to negotiate with the big banks and 2) a document that outlines what we seek to build and a vision for how we would work together.
While bringing the nation’s biggest banks to the negotiating table will take long-term, sustained pressure, the campaign has the potential to tap into the economic pain we are all seeing in our local communities; channel this pain into inspiring collective action; and ultimately bring home significant monetary wins from the nation’s biggest banks, as well as challenge the role that corporations like big banks are playing in undermining our democracy.
Community Leaders Come Together for a Healthier Richmond
On September 25th, over 130 residents and civic leaders gathered in Richmond to help craft a plan for improving the health and safety of the community. The event was hosted by Healthy Richmond, a collaboration of organizations including CCISCO, and individuals that came together in 2009 to begin a ten-year process to improve the conditions in the community that impact health. These conditions include access to quality health care, levels of crime and safety, quality of schools and neighborhoods for children, and economic development.
Healthy Richmond was formed in response to The California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities initiative, a 10-year commitment to invest over $1 billion in 14 communities across the state to demonstrate improved health status for children and provide an evidence-base for its approach to creating healthy communities through prevention. The plan being developed by Healthy Richmond will inform The Endowment's grantmaking in the community for the next several years.
At the beginning of the meeting, residents from the targeted neighborhoods in North Richmond, Iron Triangle, Coronado, Pullman, and Belding Woods had a chance to learn more about the history and background for the initiative. Following this, the participants joined one of four different workshops that addressed: health care access, education, safety and violence prevention, and economic development. In these workshops, they were able to provide input on the types of changes they want to see happen and developed strategies to create those changes.
Congressman George Miller, who has championed health care access for Richmond and Contra Costa, also attended the convening and addressed the audience first about health care reform and the benefits that Richmond could expect. The Congressman also talked about the importance of community engagement in creating meaningful change in Richmond and encouraged residents to stay involved. Finally, at the conclusion of the event, residents were asked to join and commit to working in this long-term effort with the strategies they to create lasting improvements in their community
The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment makes grants to organizations and institutions that directly benefit the health and well-being of the people of California. To date, The Endowment has awarded over 11,000 grants across California totaling more than $2 billion. For more information, visit The Endowment's Web site at www.calendow.org. Click here for more information about the Healthy Richmond Initiative.
Oakley Clinic Action ‘Brings Health Care Home’
Oakley, CA – On Wednesday, September 15, 2010, over 200 community members packed the recreation room of St. Anthony's Church to get an update on a health clinic effort that has been in the making for three years. With more than 85% of the funding secured for the clinic along with the Affordable Health Care Act passed six months ago, the clinic is expected to help fill a huge community need.
"We want to celebrate the near fulfillment of a community clinic in Oakley," said CCISCO leader Gabriela Banos-Galvan, "We want to recognize the steadfast supporters and community partners whose unwaivering support will soon improve the quality of life of thousands of East County residents."
The audience broke out in loud applause as the health clinic so many have worked hard to complete is almost a reality.
According to the research report presented at the action, there are more than 132,000 uninsured residents in Contra Costa County alone. This clinic would benefit the local and surrounding community of Oakley and as the Affordable Care Act . The legislation which takes effect on September 23, 2010 will:
- Expand health access to 106,500 residents in Contra Costa County
- Prohibit health insurance companies from discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions
- Require health insurance companies to extend coverage to children up to age 26 years old who are part of their parent's health plan
- Prohibit health insurance companies from dropping health coverage when someone gets sick
- Prohibit health insurance companies from placing a lifetime cap on patients with chronic or catastrophic illnesses
Update: At a recent press conference held on September 20, 2010, Representatives George Miller and John Garamendi thanked CCISCO for their work in the community on the issue of health care. Both Congressmen were instrumental in helping to make health care affordable and expand coverage to thousands across Contra Costa County residents.
Families Converge on Banks to Demand Wall Street Pay for Economic Damage Caused to Communities
RICHMOND, CA – On Tuesday, August 10, 2010 CCISCO leaders joined ACCE and SEIU at a press conference at Chase Bank in one of many statewide actions held today to draw attention to the damage Wall Street has caused families in California. Their demand to Chase and other banks was simple: stop foreclosing on families, cancel toxic interest rate swap deals at no cost to taxpayers, and restore small business lending to pre-crisis levels.
"We are here today because California's families continue to pay the price for Wall Street's recklessness," said Vernell Crittendon from ACCE, "And we are also here to say: enough is enough!,"
Families delivered a "Final Notice" bill to Chase as well as a letter highlighting the cost of unregulated practices that has devastated Richmond and has left the city struggling to keep schools open and create new jobs. This includes $13.9 billion from foreclosures, $50 million from unpaid property taxes, $1.5 billion from toxic interest rate swap deals, and $1.2 billion from job losses and cuts to small business lending. The total, $16.68 billion, comes at a time when Wall Street is paying out more than $140 billion in pay and bonuses while families continue to lose their jobs and homes and teachers, first responders, and health care services are cut.
"Across the state, neighborhoods are reeling from devastating cuts to vital services like health care, education, and public safety that disproportionately impact the most vulnerable people in our communities–seniors, children the disabled, low income households, and communities of color," said CCISCO leader Jose Vega, "To make matters worse, while we are making sacrifices to help the state recover from this economic crisis, the banks are not doing their part to fix it!"
At the conclusion of the press conference, the bank confirmed to families who had gathered that the letter they delivered to Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, was received via fax.
"Because of the banks and their recklessness, I have lost my job and am in jeopardy of losing my home," said CCISCO leader Anthony Allen.
The letter delivered to Chase will serve to remind the bank that their decisions have a real human impact.
CCISCO Hosts Press Conference to Demand Chase Stop Foreclosing on Families!
CCISCO and PICO National Network leaders and their allies are continuing to press forward to hold Chase accountable and Wednesday's press conference will be the launch of a new campaign to expose Chase's horrific record and take dramatic action to divest billions of dollars from JP Morgan Chase.
At the event, CCISCO will present proposals for reform that will help keep families in their homes and rebuild the neighborhoods that have been devastated by the harmful practices of Chase and other big banks.
Out of the 600,000 Chase borrowers who were offered trial loan modifications last year through HAMP and the company's own programs, less than 15 percent were approved for a permanent change in terms. The figures are even more dire looking strictly at HAMP. Only some 7,100 Chase mortgage holders have received permanent modifications out of more than 156,000 trials started under the program, or less than 5 percent (see chart below for modification data by mortgage servicer). In January of this year, JPMorgan Chase, announced fourth-quarter profits of $3.3 billion. HAMP's overall numbers also underscore banks' blanket resistance to changing mortgages. According to a November report from the Treasury Department, just over 31,000 out of 1 million homeowners who were offered trial modifications received permanent alterations.
DATE: Wednesday, July 28, 2010
TIME: 11:00 am
LOCATION: Chase Bank located at 5050 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94618
CCISCO Leaders Urge Treasury to Hold Banks Accountable
On June 23, over 500 CCISCO and PACT leaders urged the U.S. Treasury Department to hold banks accountable for modifying loans to stop the foreclosure crisis that continues to devastate our community and economy.
The Treasury is responsible for implementing President Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) that promised to help 3-4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure. Fewer than 10% have received permanent loan modifications.
Treasury Policy Director Laurie Maggiano agreed to:
Make HAMP more inclusive of homeowners in need of loan modifications.
Get back to PACT in writing within 30 days after taking all the stories, research, and demands for change back to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
Click here to see a video of the event.
Get Involved! Visit www.ourmoneyourvalues.org to join our divestment campaign.
IN THE NEWS:
Oakley Clinic One Step Closer to Reality!
On Tuesday, June 22 the Oakley Redevelopment Ageny voted in favor of a resolution that brings La Clínica de La Raza one step closer to opening a health clinic by authorizing City Manager Bryan Montgomery to enter a guaranty agreement regarding the lease for the health clinic.
Father Olman Solis, CCISCO Clergy leader and pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church, spoke before the agency at the meeting, thanking the board members for their continued support of the project that has been a work in progress for five years. He presented the board with a poster inscribed with signatures of many of the church's parishioners as a thank you for its efforts.
Vice Mayor Jim Frazier also informed the audience that Radback Energy, Inc., a company seeking to build a power plant in Oakley, has pledged $5,000 to La Clínica to help bring the much needed clinic to Oakley.
IN THE NEWS:
Make Children a Priority, Not the Banks!
On Wednesday, June 23 over 800 CCISCO and PICO leaders in California converged on the State Capitol to call on state officials to make children a priority in our state budget.
Several youth shared their experiences attending poorly funded schools and spoke to the critical role community violence prevention and health care programs have made in their lives and lifted up these contradictions:
California spends $375 million on youth prisons – the same amount it spent 15 years ago, although the number of youth incarcerated has shrunk by over 80%.
Healthy Families Program has been cut from $380 million in 2006 to a proposed $114 million this year.
Education has been cut by $1,000 per student per year over the last 3 years. California currently only spends $7,400 per student per year.
That day, PICO leaders met with their state legislators as well as key offices throughout the Capitol, including representatives of the State Treasury, where leaders shared their experiences with unscrupulous bank lenders and called upon the state to make banks do their fair share to close the state budget gap. After that meeting, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer agreed to meet directly with PICO leaders before the end of July.
Click here to see video from the Action in Sacramento.
CCISCO Organizes Press Conference in Concord, Rep. Miller Issues Statement Supporting Immigration Reform
Concord, CA – On Tuesday, June 22, CCISCO leaders from Queen of all Saints held a press conference and delivered 700 postcards asking Congressman George Miller to support and help move comprehensive immigration reform forward.
Testimonies were given by faith leaders on the separation of families due to the broken immigration system which highlighted the moral case for comprehensive immigration reform.
Congressman George Miller issued a statement at the press conference which read:
MILLER STATEMENT ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
"Washington, D.C. - Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) today issued the following statement regarding comprehensive immigration reform:
"Comprehensive immigration reform is an important issue for our country. As you know, Arizona recently passed legislation that has thrust the issue of immigration into the national spotlight. And there are some very real concerns about the constitutionality of that law."
"Our country should address the future security of our borders and the well being of all immigrant communities through comprehensive immigration reform, not state-by-state laws. The people who come to this country for a better life are also contributing to our society to make our country great. And they shouldn't have to live in fear or be separated from their families. We must enforce our current laws while working for meaningful reform. This means the Congress must work toward a comprehensive policy that ensures that people obey American laws and have a path to work toward becoming citizens, that addresses the backlogs and delays in the legal immigration process, and that secures our border.
"I am a strong proponent of comprehensive immigration reform. I am also a proud co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which could provide a good first step toward reform by ensuring that children who are simply hoping to go on to college and work toward a better life do not live in fear of being punished by their parents' mistakes."
Chase Executives Commit to Meet with CCISCO & PICO Leaders
CCISCO & PICO Leader exposes Chase at Shareholders' Meeting and gains commitment to a meeting with top Mortgage Division Executive
On Tuesday, May 18th, CCISCO Leader and Contra Costa homeowner Jose Vega traveled across the country to participate in Chase Shareholders' Meeting. Mr. Vega, addressed Chase CEO Jaime Dimon and related this personal struggle to obtain a loan modification through Chase. After sharing how his house was foreclosed in spite of being eligible for a modification and after making six trial payments, Mr. Vega requested that the CEO meet with community leaders to address these issues. Mr. Dimon in return, agreed to have his top executive in the Mortgage Division of Chase meet with Mr. Vega and a delegation of CCISCO and PICO leaders.
"To me this was a moral victory," said Mr. Vega upon returning from New York. "He finally agreed to have meeting to talk about ways to fix what is obviously a broken system," he added.
CCISCO and PICO leaders are hopeful that Chase will come to the table to address the bank's inability to help families keep their homes, but will continue to escalate the divestment campaign through our online portal: www.OurMoneyOurValues.org until Big Banks begin to act in good faith and stop preventable foreclosures.
Click here to see the follow-up letter to CEO Jamie Dimon
For more information on PICO's national bank accountability campaign visit: www.piconetwork.org
CCISCO & PICO Leaders Unite for Immigration Reform
On Sunday, June 6, 2010, CCISCO and other PICO organizations together with the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign are coming together for a day of actions whose focus is to present the moral case for comprehensive immigration reform and to highlight the need for administrative fixes from unfair deportation policies. Thousands are expected to participate in five actions in five regions in California. The events are a response to the lack of movement on behalf of the President and the Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
The lack of legislation to fix our broken system of immigration has resulted in individual states considering, or as in the case of Arizona, passing enforcement-only state legislation which does not serve to solve the issue, but instead scapegoats hard working immigrant families.
Both Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have been invited to attend and support the issue of comprehensive immigration reform as well as stand together with the faith community. Actions across the country will be echoed in Denver, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
The local event will be at Mission High School located at 3750 18th Street in San Francisco and will begin at 3:00 PM
PICO Network Statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform:
As members of the PICO National Network, we represent over 40 different religious traditions that, while diverse, are united by the principle that every human being is created in God’s image and merits respect.
We call upon our elected representatives in the Senate and in the House to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation that keeps families together, ensures a pathway to legalization and citizenship, protects due process and workers rights, includes the DREAM Act, and adopts smart and humane enforcement strategies
We are a faith-based network that has a keen remembrance of history. We have witnessed, and been a part of, communities that have suffered dramatically under the rule of draconian enforcement strategies. We believe that no one should live in fear of being stopped and questioned by the police simply because of the color of their skin or the clothes they wear.
Legislation recently signed into law in Arizona that would do precisely this. We don't want to turn back the clock in our nation's progress. We also know that enforcement-only strategies have proven to be ineffective. We refuse to let this happen to fellow members of our faith community . . . our own brothers and sisters. These types of broad enforcement strategies undermine our values and tear our families apart. We value legislation that upholds the rule of law, yet we need legislation that respects our values.
The immigration system as a whole is broken, and we don't need just piecemeal fixes. Our country urgently needs comprehensive immigration reform that lifts up our core faith values including human dignity, family unity, and human rights. We will continue to lift our voices and the stories of our communities to call for just and humane reform.
CCISCO Leader Jose Vega Goes to New York to Challenge Chase CEO Jaime Dimon
As the SEC reportedly begins criminal probes, community leaders demand that Chase cease abusive bank practices and stop lobbying against financial reform.
CCISCO leader and Pittsburg homeowner Jose Vega is traveling to New York today to participate in Chase's Shareholders' Meeting. Mr. Vega will represent the thousands of homeowners that share the terrible reality of losing their homes because of the bank's unwillingness to work with families to help them obtain loan modifications. He will address CEO Jaime Dimon and ask that he agree to meet with community leaders to discuss Chase's unwillingness to work in good faith with distressed homeowners and negotiate solutions to help families save their homes.
Since last year, Chase has advanced foreclosure proceedings on his home four times despite qualifying and applying for a loan modification under the federal HAMP program. Although he made six timely payments on his trial modification, Mr. Vega was denied a permanent loan modification. Last month, while he was on the phone negotiating with a bank executive, he received a visit from a Realtor who informed him that his house had been foreclosed on and he had been assigned by the bank to sell it.
"Chase was insincere in their efforts to assist me in keeping my home, most angering is the fact that they stole additional money from me over a course of six months!"states Mr. Vega.
Mr. Vega is going to New York City as part of a national action to challenge JP Morgan Chase and CEO Jaime Dimon. He will be joining many other housing advocates, labor leaders, and homeowners in calling attention to JP Morgan Chase's role in opposing financial reform; failing to keep families in their homes; and deepening the economic crisis.
"They have made this the most stressful, frustrating experience of my life, not only for me but for my wife and two children who cry for not knowing whether we will be able to stay in our home or not," said Jose Vega. "We worked hard to achieve the American Dream, and now that dream is being taken away from us by the greed of these big banks."
The event in New York City marks another step in CCISCO and PICO's Bank Accountability Campaign to help keep families in their homes, end predatory lending, and help rebuild our communities after the economic devastation.
Arizona Law Sparks Response from Faith Community
CCISCO and PICO Network to begin organizing June 6th Actions across California, Colorado, Massachusetts and New York
Despite the overwhelming sentiment of anger and outrage at the recent SB 1070 law passed, faith and hope are still very much alive in Arizona. The law has served to create mass confusion and fear within the immigrant community in Arizona, yet a core group of community members who started a 24 hour vigil that has lasted for weeks, prays with and shares their message with each and every person they encounter.
“Tell everyone what you saw here, carry this flame with you and tell them we appreciate their support,” said Rosa Maria, who has been praying since the beginning when only seven people gathered at the Capitol, that number has increased and the message has been carried throughout the country.
The injustice is not only reserved within SB 1070. The legislation has given the green light for an anti immigrant sentiment that has ranged from subtle to overt. Television stations in Phoenix are painting a one sided view of immigrants as criminals and people driving by the Arizona Capitol scream out obscenities as peaceful parishioners pray.
As a way to stand in solidarity, CCISCO sent organizer, Apolonio Morales, to Phoenix as a way to capture a first-hand account of the injustice and to help organize. The stories that came back with him underscore the need for comprehensive immigration reform as well as the incredible sense of community.
“Whenever people ran out of food or water at the Capitol,” said Morales, “there was no shortage of donations and no shortage of hope and inspiration.”
That flame and passion for change has reached Contra Costa County. CCISCO and the PICO Network are planning a day of actions across the state on Sunday, June 6th. Here in the Bay Area, PICO affiliates are working together to push for a practical solution to the immigration issue which upholds faith values and denounces Arizona’s draconian approach.
CCISCO will also work in solidarity and follow the example of Arizona residents and the Reform Immigration FOR America who have launched the “Faith. Hope. Vote!” campaign. Over the next 90 days, the campaign will register thousands of new voters in Arizona to get their voices heard. CCISCO will begin registering voters and participating in get out the vote strategies for the mid-term elections.
Whether legislation on comprehensive immigration reform is introduced or not, organizations all across the country are moving forward and continue pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. The stakes are too high especially with SB 1070 being replicated in different states.
Just recently, the Richmond City Council voted unanimously to protest SB 1070 through a resolution introduced by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Vice-Mayor Jeff Ritterman which prohibits the travel of City staff to Arizona until the unjust law is repealed. The resolution refers to a previous action by the Richmond City Council on February 6, 2007 reaffirming its support for comprehensive immigration reform that is fair, just and humane, and affirming non-cooperation with ICE.
Cities are planning similar resolutions all across the country. The struggle for comprehensive immigration reform continues forward in the face of adversity.
Rebuke by Wells Fargo CEO Prompts Broad Coalition to Step Up Campaign
San Francisco—Faith, labor and community groups vowed to step up their efforts to change Wells Fargo’s banking practices after the company’s CEO John Stumpf said no to their requests and the pleas of foreclosure victims at the annual shareholder meeting. “The only way to get Wells Fargo to take us seriously is by organizing our money,” stated Domingo Delgadillo, a leader with CCISCO and the PICO National Network. “We are prepared to organize more than $10 billion in deposits and accounts with Wells Fargo and move it to financial institutions that will truly serve our interests.”
About 800 people filled the streets of San Francisco's Financial District on Tuesday April 27, marching to Wells Fargo's annual shareholder meeting where they rallied outside as CEO John Stumpf and top executives met with shareholders at the Merchants Exchange Building. A delegation of 20 leaders and foreclosure victims with proxies attended the meeting, demanding changes to corporate practices that have bankrupted families and public coffers. The coalition representing the largest networks of labor, faith-based and community organizations in the country called on Wells Fargo to help families stay in their homes, keep small business open, and access affordable credit instead of funneling millions into the pockets of lobbyists obstructing democracy and fairness. All these requests, delivered personally to the bank’s executives and board of directors inside its shareholder meeting, were met with a no—including Stumpf’s point-blank refusal to meet with coalition leaders to negotiate a solution to these problems.
See the Letter to CEO John Stump Here.
"Wells Fargo's rejection of our reform proposals is an insult to millions of California workers who have suffered at the hands of the big banks," said Art Pulaski. "It's time the banks were held accountable for the economic disaster they created. We're not going to stop our campaign until Wells Fargo and the other giant financial institutions pay to help rebuild California." “We are here to mourn the loss of things near and dear to our hearts of every American. The loss of jobs, the loss of our homes. Wells Fargo: things are not well with us. Many years ago, bandits would rob the stage coach, but now the stage coach is robbing us!” said Rev. Dr. Mario Howell, clergy leader with Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization and the PICO National Network. “There is a storm of epic proportions that has been raining on California’s communities and communities across the country for over two years now,” said Kimberly S. Jones of the California Reinvestment Coalition in her speech to the shareholders. “By objective standards, Wells has fallen short and can do more—much more.” The coalition called on Wells Fargo to:
- Stop predatory and discriminatory lending by eliminating racial disparities in lending and ceasing to market high-cost loans to people of color, and ending the bank’s payday loan product and financing of payday lenders.
- Keep families in their homes by declaring a moratorium on foreclosures for all owner-occupied homes until it has provided permanent loan modifications to at least 50% of eligible families under the HAMP program; and stopping all evictions of tenants in foreclosed properties.
- Help rebuild neighborhoods by offering bank-owned properties for sale to nonprofit and public agencies for affordable housing instead of to private investors.
- Pay its fair share for economic recovery by investing in good loans and jobs for communities devastated by the foreclosure crisis.
The coalition is urging Congress to pass robust financial regulatory reform and is working with labor unions, churches, cities and individuals to divest $10 billion from Wells Fargo by the end of this year. Across the country, religious congregations, denominations, and labor unions are leading a movement to close accounts and investments with large banks and financial institutions that are not responsive to their demands.
For more information, see www.ourmoneyourvalues.org
The march in San Francisco was the first of a series of major actions this spring to demand big banks start putting America's economic recovery ahead of their oversized profits and bonuses. Thousands of Americans in more than a dozen cities are converging on banks this week, including a huge rally on Wall Street this Thursday. The mobilizations are the largest grassroots demonstrations against Wall Street since 5,000 Americans converged in Chicago last fall in a "Showdown" with the American Bankers Association.
- Alternet News-Protesters Launch Showdown with Monster Banks, Demand Wells Fargo End Predatory Lending
- ABC 7-Protesters Converge Outside Wells Fargo
- CBS 5-Outraged Homeowners Protest SF Wells Fargo Meeting
- NBC Bay Area-Financial District Host Bank Meeting, Big Protest
- SF Appeal-Over 1000 Expecte to March on Wells Fargo Shareholders Meeting At Noon Today
- People's World-Unions Community to Wells Fargo: We Are Not Your ATM!
CCISCO & PICO Launch “Our Money, Our Values” Campaign to Reform the Big Banks
Massive Online Mobilization Coincides with Shareholder Meeting Protests in Three Cities
As the Senate takes up financial reform, faith groups are kicking off a grassroots movement to hold big banks accountable – online, and in person with protests on Wall Street and at Bank of America and Wells Fargo's Annual Shareholder Meetings next week. Faith, labor and community groups will hold protests with thousands of people in New York City, San Francisco, and Charlotte to demand that big banks take responsibility for their role in the financial crisis, keep families in their homes, and invest in communities. Protestors will be asked to join the “Our Money, Our Values” campaign via text message, and faith groups will reach out to an additional 100,000 people of faith online to join the campaign, which will empower individuals to channel their frustration with the big banks into action to make a case for struggling families.
This online hub—www.OurMoneyOurValues.org—sponsored by CCISCO, PICO National Network and Faithful America
- will amplify the efforts of faith and community groups working to negotiate with big banks by using millions of dollars of individuals’ and congregations’ money as leverage to urge banks to change their harmful practices. The website will bring together individuals, congregations, and organizations that have had enough of banks’ pumping up their profits at the expense of the well-being of local communities.
“The business model of big banks seems to be to make money from squeezing their customers and Wall Street gambling without producing anything of value. It’s time banks become part of making the economy work, not just profiting off of our hard times,” said Rev. Dr. Mario Howell, clergy leader with CCISCO.
Faith groups, along with labor and community groups, will march through San Francisco’s financial district on Tuesday, April 27, arriving at Wells Fargo’s annual shareholder meetings to demand changes from the bank’s top executives and call for an end to practices that bankrupt families and public coffers, while benefiting those most responsible for our economic turmoil. On Wednesday, April 28, a similar rally will be held at Bank of America’s shareholder meeting in Charlotte, NC and on Wall Street on Thursday, April 29.
Faith and community leaders at all events will call for banks to stop using their money to lobby against consumer protection; to stop throwing people out of their homes unnecessarily; to get out of the business of payday and other predatory lending; and to make good credit available to help rebuild the economy and put people back to work. Community groups and families will also demand Wall Street stop spending millions fighting financial reform efforts in Congress. Thousands of Americans will join other rallies and demonstrations at bank branches and shareholder meeting over the coming weeks.
Senators Feinstein and Boxer Sign On to Letter in Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Senator Reid tells thousands that comprehensive immigration reform will be moved up to the top of the agenda with 56 Senators already in support, Senator Durbin echos the need to pass legislation now
San Francisco, CA – After months of organizing, which included 2,000 people marching and rallying in front of Senator Feinstein's office in San Francisco, the Senator has signed on to a letter in support of comprehensive immigration reform with Senator Barbara Boxer which will be delivered to President Obama.
"[President Obama] has stated that comprehensive immigration reform is an important priority that must be addressed this year, and we agree that Congress should pass bipartisan legislation…We stand ready to address this challenge and are prepared to support bipartisan solutions for the long-term benefit of our nation," said Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein in the letter.
CCISCO leaders rejoiced as the news was released on Friday, April 9, 2010, just one day before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised to put comprehensive immigration reform at the top of the agenda once congress reconvenes. At a Las Vegas rally with ten thousand supporters of immigration reform, Senator Harry Reid said "We're going to come back, we're going to have comprehensive immigration reform now…We need to do this this year. We cannot wait." Similarly at a rally with advocates in Chicago, Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin said "We must pass immigration reform, we must pass it this year…I stand in solidarity with you… we will prevail!"
With the momentum building across the nation for comprehensive immigration reform, CCISCO leaders are hopeful that legislation will reach the Senate floor and representatives will take leadership to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
To underscore the urgency and support for comprehensive immigration reform, Senator Reid added, "I've got 56 Democratic senators, all but 3 would support this…I want a handful of Republicans, a few Republicans, let them step forward. There is no excuse."
Bank Accountability Campaign & Mobilizations!
INVEST IN YOUR VALUES, VISIT:
- ABC News-More Banker Outrage: Protesters Plan Marches on Wall Street Banks
- The Hill-Unions Get Ready for Wall St. Reform When Congress Returns
- The New York Times-Protests Planned for Banks' Shareholder Meetings
- The Huffington Post-Showdown in Wall Street and K Street
We stand at a crossroads in the history of our country. We have seen the greatest economy in the world brought to its knees by the reckless greed of the most powerful banks executives in the country. This is a critical moment to forge a broad-based alliance of faith, labor and community organizations to unite to hold banks accountable and create the political will to bring sweeping financial reform and build a new economy that values families and communities.
Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley paid themselves $140 billion last year. They did this after crashing our economy and taking billions of our tax dollars to bail them out. They did this after causing 8 million of us to lose our jobs. They did this after causing over 5 million of us to lose our homes to foreclosure with another 8 or 9 million projected in the coming years. Yet while all this has been happening, these same banks haven’t done a thing to change the way they do business or lift a hand to fix the mess they created.
In the past year, Wall Street and the big banks have taken $4.7 trillion from U.S. taxpayers but have failed to pass the benefits on to our communities. The consequences have been devastating: 6 million lost jobs, $6 trillion in lost homeowner wealth, and up to $58.0 billion in lost annual property taxes.
Americans urgently need solutions, but the banks are not doing their part. Instead, the banks continue to pay billions in bonuses to their highest-level executives, while cutting back on lending to small businesses, raising consumer fees, and foreclosing on millions more homes. The actions of the largest banks in the country have also hurt our state and local government budgets, which depend on property and income taxes to fund our basic public services. In California, we have a $26.0 billion deficit.
It is an understatement to say that our country faces a severe moral crisis when banks hand out billions in bonuses to people who are already millionaires—or even billionaires—and refuses to help hardworking families to stay in their homes or provide loans so that businesses can hire more workers.
CLICK HERE to view the full research report, Bank Accountability: The Key To Keeping Families in Their Homes
We need a powerful agenda that will provide meaningful financial reform, but also restructure our economy. Here are ten simple things that banks need to do to move our country forward:
1. Invest in creating jobs for the American worker
2. Invest in America’s neighborhoods
3. Stop bankrupting our cities and states
4. Keep families in their homes
5. Take responsibility for foreclosed homes
6. End race-based, predatory lending
7. Get out of the payday lending business
8. Commit to green and sustainable practices
9. Provide safe and affordable credit to our communities
10. Allow frontline bank workers to sound the alarm on harmful practices.
The United States Congress needs to pass financial reform that will protect ordinary Americans. But that is not enough. Bank executives need to stop enriching themselves at the expense of the American people.
The week of April 25th a wave of mobilizations are beginning across the country, from San Francisco to Kansas City to Charlotte to New York City. At all of these events, a broad section of organizations and leaders are presenting a common set of demands to the most powerful financial institutions in the country and demand that they change their corporate practices and policies. If they do not agree, organizations around the country are poised to launch a massive campaign to organize people and money to pressure them and hold them accountable. Congregations, religious denominations, unions, pension funds, city and state governments are all poised to move money out of uncooperative banks.
This first event will be Tuesday, April 27 in San Francisco, California at the annual shareholder meeting of Wells Fargo Bank. A procession through the San Francisco Financial District—the center of finance in the western United States—will begin at Justin Herman Plaza at 12:00noon. The march will be led by a diverse coalition of faith, labor and community leaders and the Wells Fargo stagecoach will pull a coffin to symbolize the death of the American economy and corporate responsibility. The procession will converge on the Wells Fargo Annual Shareholder meeting at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in the Merchants Exchange Building at 465 California Street in San Francisco.
A delegation of leaders will go into the shareholder meeting and address the highest ranking executives of the second largest bank in the country. They will present their demands and the consequences if Wells Fargo does not comply. They will then march out en masse to the rally waiting outside. While the delegation is addressing the shareholders and executives, speakers at the rally outside will be providing testimony and research about the devastating impact Wells Fargo and other large banks have had on our communities. They will also lay out the strategy to hold Wells Fargo and other banks accountable to acting in the interests of the American people. CLICK HERE to view the flyer.
The following day, dozens of CCISCO and PICO leaders from around the country will join with hundreds of leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Bank of America annual shareholder meeting to present their proposals for action. This is a historic coalition of faith, labor, civil rights, and community organizations that are uniting to help build a new economy.
AFL-CIO, Alameda Labor Council, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, California Labor Federation, California Reinvestment Coalition, Causa Justa/Just Cause, Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization, Contra Costa Labor Council, Jobs with Justice (SF Chapter), North Bay Labor Council, Napa Solano Labor Council, PICO National Network, Sacramento Labor Council, San Francisco Labor Council, SEIU, Locals 1000, 1021 and 1877, South Bay Labor Council, Tenants Together, United Health Care Workers West, SEIU-United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHWW), Workers United
JOIN THE CAUSE! ADD YOUR ORGANIZATION
TO OUR ENDORSEMENT LIST HERE
CCISCO Celebrates Health Care Affordability!
On Sunday, March 21st, the House of Representatives passed health reform legislation that will guarantee virtually all American families access to affordable health coverage for the first time in our nation's history. Reform will "repair the breach" that tens of millions of working people now face in their struggle to find affordable health coverage for their families.
While this legislation is not perfect, the benefits that reform will bring for poor and working families are undeniable. Lower premiums, tax credits to help purchase coverage, protections from insurance company abuses and a guaranteed set of benefits will bring greater financial stability and better health to millions of families. Over the coming months and years much work will need to be done to strengthen health reform and bring its benefits home to our communities.
Locally, the legislation will expand health care coverage to 106,500 people in the three Congressional districts within Contra Costa County. "This is a giant step forward for our country, people will no longer have to put off medical care for lack of insurance," said CCISCO Leader Violeta Tapia. "Our Congress has answered the call of millions of families who have gone far too long without access to health care," she added.
To celebrate the expansion of health care for millions of American families, on Thursday, April 1st, CCISCO leaders attended an event where Congressmen George Miller and John Garamendi spoke about the benefits health care reform will provide to thousands of families in Contra Costa County. The event was attended by hundreds of people who applauded the efforts to make health care more accessible and affordable to millions of families across the country. Over the next months, CCISCO and PICO will continue to work on strengthening the legislation and educating our communities about how health care reform will impact them.
For more information, visit www.piconetwork.org/coverallfamilies
Thousands March for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in San Francisco
CCISCO Leaders Take to the Streets to Urge Senate Action
San Francisco, CA–On Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 250 CCISCO leaders joined BOCA, COR, PACT-San Jose, PIA, and thousands of others for a large march and rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform in San Francisco. Participants in the march met at Justin Herman Plaza near the Embarcadero BART station and walked down to Senator Dianne Feinstein's Office on Post and Market St. where a rally took place.
CCISCO leaders marched together holding banners, singing songs, and chanting along as the march grew larger and larger as more and more people joined in. At Market and Post, the march turned into a rally in front of Senator Dianne Feinstein's district office where every major media outlet in the bay area was waiting.
"We are America," said CARECEN Executive Director, Ana Perez, "We are here in front of Senator Dianne Feinstein's district office to tell her and the Senate that we cannot wait for comprehensive immigration reform."
The march was in solidarity with the recent March FOR America in Washington D.C. held on March 21, which urged the Senate to take action, keep families together and better the American economy.
There were many testimonies shared at the rally including a CCISCO leader from Richmond.
"I was proud to serve my country," said Iraq war veteran and CCISCO leader, "Rodrigo Peregrina, "I am here today as a veteran, a citizen and a voter. I am here to ask Senator Feinstein to stand with our veterans, our families and our community and support comprehensive immigration reform." Peregrina went on to say that the fear in immigrant communities after the ICE raids has left many hard working people feeling terrorized. "They are our brothers and sisters and they are not the enemy. Our government should be bringing families together, not tearing them apart," he added.
- KTVU Channel 2 – Immigration March Aims to bring Heat to Immigration Reform
- KNBC Channel 4 – Noisy Protest Makes Way Through City
- KCBS Channel 5 – SF Protestors Seek Immigration Reform
- KCBS – Radio Report – SF Protestors Seek Immigration Reform
- KABC Channel 7 – Immigration Reform March Leads to Feinstein's Office
- San Francisco Chronicle - Immigrants March on Feinstein Office for Reform
- San Francisco Chronicle – Politics Blog – Kevin Fagan: Feinstein Supports Immigration Reform
- SF Public Press – Protestors Urge Feinstein to Take Lead on Immigration Reform
- SF Appeal – Several Hundred Rally at Senator Feinstein's Office in Favor of Immigration Reform
CCISCO Hosts Bridge-Building Workshop in Brentwood
Parishioners Gather to Build Bridges of Solidarity at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church
Brentwood, CA — On Tuesday, March 16, 2010, CCISCO, in conjuction with the Diocese of Oakland and the Justice for Immigrants Campaign, hosted a Bridge-Building workshop at Immaculate Heart of March Church. Over 50 parishioners from different ethnic backbgrounds attended and participated in the workshop, which was designed to help build bridges between immigrant and non-immigrant communities. The evening began with a prayer and a video titled "Strangers No More," produced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The video is a documentary that conveys the Catholic teachings on immigrants and clearly demonstrates the benefits and importance of a just and equitable immigration reform.
Following initial reactions to the video, parishioners broke out into small groups, shared and listen to each other's immigration stories, and were able to relate with one another through common faith and values. This was perhaps the most noteworthy of the evening's events, as it presented the participants with an opportunity to develop and strengthen relationships with fellow parishioners they might otherwise not have interacted with.
The evening concluded with an update on immigration reform and a summary of what is included in the legislation submitted by Rep. Luis Gutierrez by Mark Silverman of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Sister Joanne, PhD, from the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley also made a presentation on how the Catholic faith and traditions called on the faithful to have compassion for all their brothers and sisters, foreign or not.
Earlier that week, CCISCO Leaders collected 1,500 postcards for the Justice for Immigrants Campaign at Immaculate Heart of Mary which will be sent to Senators Boxer and Feinstein and local Congressional Representatives. The Campaign is a project of the USCCB to educate the public about Church teaching on migration and immigrants as well as to help create political will for positive immigration reform. You can fill out an electronic postcard here.
For more information on the Justice for Immigrants Campaign visit: www.justiceforimmigrants.org
Center for American Progress Report: The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
CCISCO Organizes Turnout for March in San Francisco in Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Senators Urged to Take Leadership to Move Legislation Forward
Richmond, CA–On Sunday, March 21, 2010, CCISCO leaders signed up over two hundred parishioners at St. Mark's Church for a large march and rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform being held in San Francisco. The march in San Francisco is in solidarity with the recent March FOR America in Washington D.C. in which 500,000 people marched including the PICO National Network. CCISCO will fill five buses (four from Richmond and one from Concord) who will attend the march and rally scheduled for March 24 at the Justin Herman Plaza near the Embarcadero BART station.Buses will be leaving from the following locations in Richmond:
- St. Mark's Church, 159 Harbour Way, Richmond, CA @ 3:00 PM
- Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza @ 3:30 PM
- Meadow Homes School, 1371 Detroit Avenue, Concord, CA @ 2:30 p.m
Participants in the march will leave Richmond at 3:00 p.m. and Concord at 2:30 p.m. on buses and gather in San Francisco along with thousands of other marchers at 4:00 p.m. The march will begin at 4:30 p.m. and head down Market Street where a rally organized in front of Senator Dianne Feinstein's district office is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Momentum has increased as both Senator Schumer (D – New York) and Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina) have introduced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform which they call the "four pillars" which include: requiring biometric Social Security cards; fulfilling and strengthening commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing pathways to legalization for those already here. President Obama fully endorses the effort to overhaul the current immigration law and has applauded Senators Schumer and Graham. Leadership from California's own Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, however, remains to be seen. For this reason, the goal of the march is to create the public will and momentum to get support for pending legislation.
CCISCO Leader Suzanne Marchant to Represent CCISCO and PICO in Meeting with Chairman Ben Bernanke
CCISCO Leader Suzanne Marchant will represent CCISCO and the PICO National Network in a meeting of leaders from CCISCO,PICO and National People’s Action (NPA) with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday in Washington, DC. Bernanke is the most powerful official on economic issues in our country.
This meeting is a major step in CCISCO and PICO’s Bank Accountability Campaign and will be taking place just two weeks after CCISCO and PICO Leaders met with Barbara Desoer, President of Home Loans, Mortgage and Insurance for Bank of America and addressed CEO Brian Moynihan at the Shareholders’ Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.
At this meeting, Bernanke will be asked to strengthen two laws:
1. The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) so that it regulates and review all the lending done by banks and not just lending in areas banks have branches in.
2. Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA)–This is data on who gets loans that banks are require to collect. Because more people now have access to loans but many of them are “bad loans”, we need changes to collect data on what kind of loans are offered to what kind of people based on where they live, their income, their racial background to see whether lending is “fair” or not.
CCISCO Leaders Continue to Fight for Healthcare at Home and in Washington, DC
On Thursday, February 25, CCISCO Leaders attended a health care summit Watch Party at the CCISCO Office in Martinez. The watch party was an opportunity for leaders to see a summary of President Obama’s Summit on Health Care Reform as well as develop plans to address health care access at a local and national level.
CCISCO Leaders have been working tirelessly to increase access to healthcare at a local, county, state, and national level and their efforts have paid off. In Oakley, CCISCO Leaders are working on the final steps to obtain a clinic in that city. At a national level after holding a town hall meeting with Congressman George Miller last summer, CCISCO helped secure an affordability standard in the final healthcare reform legislation.
The urgency for healthcare reform and the budget cuts that our county faces was the focus of the health care meeting which triggered leaders to begin formulating strategies to adress these issues and help prevent further cuts that will decrease access to healthcare.
CCISCO and PICO Leaders Attend Bank of America Shareholders Meeting to Demand a Halt to Foreclosures
On Tuesday, February 23, a delegation of PICO and CCISCO leaders, together with allies from other faith-based and consumer advocacy organizations, met with Barbara Desoer, President of Home Loans, Mortgage and Insurance at Bank of America, to discuss concrete strategies that the bank can take to prevent more of its borrowers from needlessly losing their homes.
“After months of talking with Bank of America, I appreciated being able to speak face-to-face with Ms. Desoer because she and CEO Brian Moynihan have the power to change the bank’s corporate policies to keep our families in their homes and protect our communities,” said Ken Kelly, a CCISCO leader from Antioch who participated in the meeting.
At the meeting, PICO and CCISCO leaders discussed proposals to stop all foreclosure proceedings until Bank of America reached clear benchmarks for placing eligible families into permanent loan modifications, as well as ideas for increasing the number of principal reductions performed by the bank.
Afterwards, PICO clergy leader Rev. Lucy Kolin spoke at the special shareholders meeting to vote on the sale of additional stock to repay Bank of America’s TARP loan from the federal government. Read the full statement here.
“Bank of America has the power to help lead our country from the depths of economic recession,” said Rev. Kolin to Bank of America’s CEO, board, and shareholders. “But to do so, you need to take bolder action. You need to create real change that the American people can see and feel.”
The meeting in Charlotte came on the same day that the Los Angeles City Council discussed legislation that would set community standards for banks with which the city does business. Reckless financial practices by big banks led to deep recession that has devastated the budgets of local and state governments. With Los Angeles facing a $212 million budget gap that would force cuts to much needed city programs and services, this legislation would ensure that taxpayer money only be invested in banks that met criteria that ensured its contribution to the economy. This would include putting a moratorium on home foreclosures and meeting a minimum number of permanent mortgage modifications.
If passed, the measure could have a significant impact on Bank of America, where Los Angeles deposits a large share of city finances.
“While we are glad that Bank of America has begun to show us that they are serious about addressing the underlying policies and practices causing so many to lose their homes, we need measures like those being considered by the city of Los Angeles to keep the pressure on and make banks compete for our money,” said Carol Delorey, a PICO leader from Brockton, Massachusetts who attended the meeting with Ms. Desoer in Charlotte.
PICO and CCISCO plan to continue engaging with Ms. Desoer and other senior executives in Bank of America to move forward specific policy proposals that would dramatically increase the number of permanent, sustainable loan modifications. A delegation of clergy and leaders will also attend the bank’s April shareholder meeting to continue pressing for aggressive action. PICO has also asked the U.S. Treasury to fine Bank of America $80 million dollars for its failure to provide permanent loan modification to more than a small fraction of eligible homeowners.
CCISCO Secures Commitment of Support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
On Saturday, February 20, 2010, CCISCO leaders hosted a town hall meeting at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord that was attended by hundreds of ccommunity members. The event brought together a broad coalition of supporters from the faith, labor, and academic community as part of a larger national push to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2010. The Offices of Congressmen George Miller and John Garamendi sent representatives to listen to the community and carry back the message.
“Immigration reform affects everyone, immigrants and non-immigrants alike,” said Diablo Valley College Student Keith Montes as he explained the purpose of the town hall. Leaders presented research that highlighted the importance of comprehensive immigration reform and urged the audience to continue being involved and calling their Congressional Representatives and Senators to get immigration reform passsed this year. Following three powerful testimonies, the crowd broke out in cheers when they heard the commitment from the two field representatives, who expressed their support and promised to communicate to the Congressmen that the community wanted to see comprehensive immigration reform passed.
“These changes are not going to happen overnight, it is going to take years for some of these changes to happen; that is why we all need to work together, build alliances and continue to stay involved,” CCISCO Leader Gabriela Baños-Galvan told the crowd before she adressed the field representatives from Congressmen George Miller and John Garamendi’s Office. Although both Congressmen have yet to co-sponsor HR 4321, the bill for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, they both expressed their support for comprehensive immigration reformthe representatives agreed to update us within the next 30 days on whether Rep. Miller and Garamendi would be officially co-sponsoring the legislation.
Center for American Progress: The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Join Us in Telling Our Elected Officials That We Need Comprehensive Immigration Reform!
On Saturday, February 20, 2010, CCISCO Leaders will host a town hall meeting at Ygnacio Valley High School (755 Oak Grove Road in Concord, CA 94518) from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. The purpose of this event is to bring together a diverse and broad coalition of supporters from the business, faith, labor, law enforcement, and agricultural community as part of a larger national push to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2010. The Offices of Congressman George Miller and John Garamendi have confirmed their participation at the event.
There are approximately twelve million undocumented immigrants in the United States. For years, they have lived invisibly in our system, but not in our society. They work and provide services to Americans, they worship in our churches, they shop in our stores, and their children, often American citizens, attend our schools. These more than twelve million people, are not only part of our society and culture, but contribute immensely to our economic infrastructure through their labor and income taxes.
Comprehensive immigration reform is supported by a broad cross-section of business, labor, law enforcement, and faith communities who recognize its importance to keeping our communities productive and safe, ensuring fairness to workers and employers, and upholding family and community values. Support for comprehensive immigration reform is also broad, deep, and bipartisan. Polls conducted by Benenson Strategy Group in June and December 2009 showed that two-thirds of voters supported comprehensive immigration reform, including 69 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 62 percent of Republicans.
Fixing our immigration system will not only keep families together but it will also promote economic growth and stability. According to a study by the Center for American Progress, immigration reform will add a cumulative $1.5 trillion to the GDP over 10 years by lifting the wage floor for all workers. Immigration reform cannot wait. A legislative standoff would mean an unacceptable status quo where unscrupulous employers win, communities live in fear, and hard working families continue to be separated.
CCISCO is an active member in the PICO National Network and the Reform Immigration for America campaign. PICO is a national network of faith-based community organizations with more than 1,000 member institutions representing one million families in 150 cities and 17 states. The Campaign to Reform Immigration for America is a united national effort that brings together individuals and grassroots organizations with the mission to build support for workable comprehensive immigration reform.
Center for American Progress:
View the Flyer below:
Countywide Leadership Summit Reaps Strong Organizing Strategies and New CCISCO Board Members
On Friday, January 22, 2010, thirty CCISCO leaders convened for the first Countywide Leadership Summit of 2010 at Walker Creek Ranch in Petaluma.
The diverse group came from West, Central and East Contra Costa representing CCISCO’s local organizing committees (LOC) and their collective interests. They shared with each other, worked side by side to develop strategies as well as nominated and elected officers to serve on the CCISCO Board of Directors.
The new CCISCO Board Members were voted on by the Countywide Leadership Summit to strengthen the organization and its direction as they move forward into 2010. Those elected to serve on the CCISCO Board of Directors are as follows:
Anthony Allen-Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council, Richmond, CA
Berenice Ramos-Holy Rosary LOC, Antioch, CA
Domingo Delgadillo-Holy Rosary LOC, Antioch, CA
2010 will be pivotal year for Foreclosure, Health Care, Education, Immigrant Integration, Jobs, and Violence Prevention. Within the coming month, CCISCO representatives will be organizing their regional Leadership Summits to sharpen their strategies and present them to the Countywide Leadership Summit in the summer to increase the capacity of existing organizing.
CCISCO Leaders Hold Prayer Vigil and Urge Cogress to Move Immigration Reform in 2010
On Tuesday, January 12, 2010 CCISCO Leaders gathered outside the office of Congressman George Miller to pray for a fair and workable comprehensive immigration reform in 2010. Over 40 leaders gathered in support of a reform that includes paths to citizenship, family unification, and enhanced security measures.
CCISCO leaders also delivered over 600 postcards to Congressman George Miller’s District Office in support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and asked that the representative champion the issue.
Comprehensive immigration reform would:
*Create millions of new taxpayers by requiring undocumented immigrants to register, go through background checks, pay taxes, and study English on their way to becoming full U.S. citizens
*Enhance our national security by focusin our enforcement and security measures on the most dangerous threats to our communities
*Protect workers and help with economic recovery
*Keep families together
*Protect the due process rights of all
In addition, CCISCO leaders also delivered a letter thanking Congressman Miller for championing the importance of affordability during the healthcare reform debate over the last few months. As part of a larger movement to pass immigration reform, CCISCO will also host a townhall meeting on February 20, 2010 with the purpose of bringing together a cross-section of labor, business, academic, and other community members in support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The offices of Congresman George Miller and John Garamedi have been invited.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Helps American Economy:
CCISCO and PICO Leaders Meet with Bank of America Senior Executives to Negotiate Loan Modification Policies
On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, a delegation of clergy and community leaders from CCISCO and PICO National Network, together with National People’s Action and SEIU, met with senior executives from Bank of America in Antioch, California to demand that they act more swiftly and aggressively to keep families in their homes, end predatory lending, and invest in our communities.
Over 50 witnesses from organizations representing tens of millions of people around the country stood around the negotiating table to witness the session, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), AFSCME, National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), California Province of the Society of Jesus, California Endowment, Congressman John Garamendi, and local and state governments.
Next door, hundreds of community residents from across the San Francisco Bay Area gathered next door to pray, give testimony and hear a report of the results of the negotiation.
“Bank of America had nothing – no new ideas or proposals to offer to keep families in their homes and end the suffering in our communities,” said Rev. Lucy Kolin, from Oakland Community Organizations and PICO National Network, who led the negotiation session. “We offered them a clear statement of the bottom line: Keep people in their homes. Do no harm. Put in place a moratorium so that Bank of America can get its act together and stop hurting our families and our communities. We went into this meeting willing to be hopeful, but we were disappointed. We will not let disappointment end our commitment.”
“We are moving forward on our campaign to get our families, our congregations, our denominations, our local and state governments, and other institutions to divest from Bank of America,” announced Gina Gates, a PICO leader from People Acting in Community Together in San Jose, CA.
Anna Tellez, a member of the pastoral council at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Antioch that decided last month to divest from Bank of America, told the crowd, “Members of our parish, members of communities, are losing their homes. Meanwhile, Bank of America has made less than 100 permanent loan modifications nationwide. This is unacceptable. As a parish, St. Ignatius of Antioch used to be an investor in Bank of America, but last month we decided to divest our funds. We as a faith community decided to do this, and we invite you to do the same.”
PICO and NPA leaders also announced their decision to send delegations of clergy and community leaders to visit Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and members of the Board of Directors of Bank of America, including Board Chair Dr. Walter E. Massey and Monica Lozano of La Opinion. This past Saturday, a delegation of PICO leaders from Brockton Interfaith Community in Brockton, Massachusetts hand delivered a letter to Mr. Moynihan at his home outside Boston, outlining PICO’s proposals.
In addition, PICO announced that it will be petitioning the Treasury Department to investigate and begin imposing financial penalties on Bank of America and other banks that are failing to comply with the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program. Across America, families who are eligible for loan modifications under the Making Home Affordable Program continue to receive auction notices.
In Texas, Bank of America foreclosed on a family that was current on their payments. The family discovered this mistake when they returned from work to find they were locked out of their home. “Bank of America needs to feel the urgency of this crisis and completely halt all foreclosure proceedings and auctions until they get their house in order,” state Nylton Andrade, leader from PICO affiliate Brockton Interfaith Community and the Massachusetts Communities Action Network who flew across country to participate in the negotiations. “We are calling Secretary Geithner to impose severe financial sanctions until Bank of America halts these egregious practices.”
Stella Adams, Board Member for the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and National Community Reinvestment Coalition, told the crowd that, “In this struggle for financial justice, we are reminded of the parable of the persistent widow, who every day went to an unjust judge and said, “Give me justice against my adversary” The parable tells us that the unjust judge eventually became weary of her and gave her justice. This is what we need to do. We need to weary Bank of America.”
“Just as Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, it is time to lead an exodus of our money from Bank of America. It is time to go to a bank which will serve us,” echoed Rev. Dr. Mario Howell, pastor of Antioch Church Family and clergy leader with PICO affiliate Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization. “We are going to stand and fight, we are going to fight with our money.”
Moving forward, PICO leaders and allies will begin collecting divestment pledges from individuals, congregations, denominations, local governments, and other organizations and are calling for a national day of action to coincide with the Bank of America annual shareholders meeting in late April.
“As an investor whose retirement has been devastated by Bank of America practices, I am outraged that they continue with their reckless practices that are destroying our communities and harming our families,” stated Aurora Solis, leader with PICO affiliate People Acting in Community Together in San Jose and a public school employee whose retirement fund is with CALPERS.
Bank of America Senior Executives to Meet with CCISCO, PICO, and allies
After a successful protest in San Francisco, Bank of America Senior Executives have agreed to meet with CCISCO and PICO leaders on January 12, 2009 at Holy Rosary Church in Antioch for national loan modification negotiations. With only a pitiful 98 permanent loan modifications across the country, Bank of America has fallen short of fulfilling their bailout promises.
For this reason, St. Ignatius Church made the decision to close their account with Bank of America to protest their horrific track record of failing to keep families in their homes and for the widespread human suffering that it has caused. The announcement was made at a press conference held at the Bank of America branch in Antioch, CA. Thirty community residents had gathered with clergy, pastors and faith leaders from the Baptist, Catholic and Muslim community.
“The largest banks in the United States, which have a complex system for penalizing people for submitting their mortgages just a few minutes late, should also be able to put together a functioning plan to help people stay in their homes and keep paying their mortgages,” said Fr. Rien of St. Ignatius Church to those gathered in front of the bank, “It is time to hold banks accountable and restore integrity and morality to our financial system.”
Moments before receiving word from Bank of America about the upcoming meeting, Fr. Rien of St. Ignatius had decided to withdraw church funds. Instead, he will wait and see if Bank of America holds true to the scheduled meeting. If the negotiations are not successsful, Fr Rien will withdraw all of the $100,000 in church funds from Bank of America.
“We are going to no longer allow Bank of America to use our money to exploit and abuse our families–we say enough is enough,” said Fr. Rien, and the critical moment is now to stop the abuse begins with negotiations with the Senior Executives. “We are calling on Barbara Desoer, President of Bank of America Home Loans and Insurance, to stop foreclosing on our families, we are calling on her to hear the call of conscience and negotiate in good faith to put an end to this crisis.”
CCISCO believes that it is critical for the faith community to play a prophetic role in denouncing these practices that are destroying communities such as Antioch. With record bonuses expected to be in the billions this year, Bank of America continues to shortchange families across the country who qualify for loan modifications. Families have been taking the hit for the collapse of our economic system which has led to millions of lost jobs and an ongoing foreclosure crisis.
Catholic parishes are not the only institutions of faith who are taking a serious look at the divestment strategy. “This morning before our church secretary could walk out the door to deposit Sunday’s collection at the Bank of America branch next door, I cried out: Wait a minute!” said Rev. Dr. Mario Howell of Antioch Church Family, “Every Monday morning, hundreds of thousands of congregations across the country make those same deposits–It is high time that we begin to organize our own money.”
Bank of America bonus compensation is expected to reach $32.2 billion, to put it into practical terms this money could potentially:
-Prevent or postpone 92% of all foreclosures projected to take place in the entire country in 2009-2012 by providing mortgage payment assistance to struggling families. A total of 8.3 million families.
-Provide mortgage payment assistance to all 2.3 million families that lost their homes in 2008, helping them prevent or postpone foreclosure.
-Buy back 181,200 homes that were foreclosed in 2008 outright and let the homeowners live there for free.
“The greatest tragedy of this crisis is that Bank of America shares the name of our great country,” stated Mohammad Chaudry, President of the Islamic Center of the East Bay. “America stands for truth and justice, not the rampant greed that Bank of America is exhibiting. It is a tragedy that banks have forgotten that they were founded as institutions of charity, not greed.”
If Bank of America continues to destroy communities and ignore families who qualify for modifications, Fr. Rien will not be the only one closing an account at Bank of America, CCISCO is prepared to move ahead with a divestment campaign which has support from local public officials and county representatives.
The meeting with the executives is a result of a busload of families from Antioch who descended on the Bank of America branch in downtown San Francisco on Friday, December 11, to deliver a simple letter requesting the meeting. Before they could get a response, the bank called for paddywagons to arrest their very own customers.
“It is horrific that Bank of America would threaten to arrest it’s own customers,” said CCISCO leader and Bank of America customer Suzanne Marchant. “This is our money. It is completely reasonable that we wait to receive written confirmation that Ms. Desoer has received our letter. Given their track record of losing families paperwork, we have no choice!” To view video from CCISCO leaders in San Francisco and a Fr. Rien highlight on ABC 7, follow the links below.
CCISCO Leaders Protest Bank of America and Wells Fargo in San Francisco
With record bonuses expected to be in the billions this year, Bank of America and Wells Fargo continue to shortchange families across the country who qualify for loan modifications. Families have been taking the hit for the collapse of our economic system which has led to millions of lost jobs and an ongoing foreclosure crisis.
“Greed is evil, and we won’t stand for it particularly when Wells Fargo and Bank of America are paying out these obscene bonuses during a time when hundreds of thousands of families are waiting for them to do the right thing and begin making permanent modifications to bad loans,” said CCISCO leader Nelly Rubio to the surrounding protestors who were enduring the rain and cold.
To make matters worse, according to the recent Washington Post article “Foreclosure relief program is stuck in first” released the same day of the protest, Bank of America has a total of 100 permanent loan modifications, a mere fraction to the more than 780,000 families facing foreclosure under the HAMP program. Wells Fargo’s numbers are slightly higher and hardly impressive with a total of 3,500 permanent loan modifications.
“We will continue to escalate our Bank Accountability campaign and encourage people, churches, and government agencies to pull their money out of Bank of America and Wells Fargo,” said CCISCO leader Ken Kelly, “Our community demands that we have financial institutions that are ethical, humane, and responsible.”
There are thousands of families who qualify for a loan modification that have continued to wait patiently as banks lose their paperwork, put their homes on the auction block, remove their homes from the auction block, and prolong an otherwise straightforward process for loan modification. Bank of America claims that the consolidation of their internal systems and lack of communication between departments is causing many of the problems. These communication problems, however, have led to the foreclosure and eviction of hundreds of thousands of eligible families.
CCISCO leader Suzanne Marchant gave some staggering data during the research report, “Bank of America has large numbers of borrowers now at risk of losing their homes, and they are giving loan modifications to fewer than 5% of the almost 1 million people who are eligible.”
When the press conference was finished and began entering their own banks, CCISCO leaders were denied entrance and had the police called on them as they attempted to deliver a letter to Bank of America President of Home Loans and Insurance Barbara Desoer and Wells Fargo’s Chief Executive John Stumpf to local branch managers.
Despite the peaceful demonstration of the people of faith who had gathered, two police vans were called in. CCISCO leaders chanted, “We love the police!” as the police increased in number and brought in zip ties. As the energy and tension increased at both banks, these letters were delivered with a confirmation from Bank of America that a face to face meeting would be scheduled with Barbara Desoer within the next 30 days. Scoring a big win for families across the country.
Community members, churches and local government look to withdraw their money from banks who continue these unethical practices. As an example of this type of strategy, CCISCO member St. Ignatius Church in Antioch has started the divestment process and will close their Bank of America account on Monday, December 14, 2009.
Victory for Affordable Housing in Pittsburg
On October 19, the Pittsburg City Council voted to stop the Planning Commission from removing up to 200 affordable homes from the City’s plan for a new transit village around the BART extension into Pittsburg.
The City’s plan, which was also approved on October 19, locates up to 2,500 new homes near the future Railroad Ave eBART station, along with a mix of new shops, services, and parks.
Due to strong involvement by TransForm, CCISCO and others, the plan places 30% of the 2,500 new homes in designated affordable housing opportunity sites, ensuring that teachers, young families, seniors, and others will be able to afford homes near the future station.
In the final weeks before the plan was adopted by the Pittsburg City Council, some opposition on the Planning Commission tried to get rid of up to 200 affordable homes by removing the largest of the affordable housing opportunity sites from the plan.
TransForm organized a quick response from Greenbelt Alliance, La Clinica, and Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) – and galvanized residents – to denounce the Planning Commission’s action at the October 19th Public Hearing and convince the City Council to keep the homes in the plan, as well as look for new opportunities to increase public park space for the neighborhood. The City is now in talks with a nearby school and sports complex to create new park space.
In addition to this victory, we won several other important policies in the plan, including:
-Improved bus service in the area;
-Improved pedestrian access between the future BART station and new development;
-Strong traffic demand management measures, including parking maximums, shared parking, and more; and
-A new youth center in the transit village area.
During the four-year planning process, CCISCO leaders worked with TransForm, La Clinica and other partners to engage low-income residents and residents of color to get community needs addressed in the plan.
We held educational events, including a Transit-Oriented Development 101 workshop and a bus tour of affordable housing near BART stations in other cities. CCISCO leaders held two Town Hall meetings with a total attendance of over 250 residents to highlight community needs around affordable housing, transportation, and youth opportunities. And we held countless meetings with City Councilmembers, City staff, and Planning Commissioners to work out policy solutions that will create a vibrant, walkable community in Pittsburg that is both equitable and sustainable.
Diverse Community Comes Together to Address Violence Through Jobs, Training, Mentoring
Richmond, CA-Last month, Gwendolyn Goodbeer’s brother, Clyde Ralph Smith was killed in Richmond. His hands and feet were bound, he was brutally beaten, stabbed and his apartment set on fire. Though he barely escaped the fire, he died later at the hospital due to the severity of the blows he received. A kind and gentle man’s life had ended.
Gwendolyn Goodbeer is taking her grief and putting her faith into action. “A fire is burning in my spirit and I want to join others in this fight,” she said, “I’ve been apart from the problem of violence in my city for too long.”
She is not alone.
More than 300 diverse community residents gathered at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church on November 19, 2009 and addressed the issue of violence in Richmond by focusing on the creation of jobs, training and mentoring programs. The action was organized by CCISCO leaders which from St. Mark’s Catholic Church, Easter Hill United Methodist Church, and the Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council.
The goal for the town hall action was to have both the community and public officials commit to work towards changing the culture of violence in Richmond. The current unemployment rate for Richmond is 17% leaving families to struggle in poverty and many Richmond residents and youth with little or no opportunity. The mantra repeated throughout the night was simple, “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”
“Refineries lay off local people and hire people from other states, this is not fair to our families or our community,” said CCISCO leader Jesus Hermosillo, “We only have the pollution here. We need our local government to find solutions to create jobs here in Richmond.”
Public officials agreed to all of CCISCO’s proposals. Mayor McLaughlin committed to introducing legislation that energy upgrades be required on homes as part of real estate sale or foreclosure with the potential of creating many jobs for the community in the long run.
City Manager Bill Lindsay agreed to work with residents to develop the code of conduct and provide security at parks with a high incidence of crime. He also agreed to convene the owners of all publicly subsidized multi-family dwellings within the next sixty days to hold them accountable for effective security and enforcing a code of conduct. This approach has worked in the neighboring Atchison Village in the Iron Triangle which has seen violence drop dramatically.
During the meeting both African American and Latino residents shook hands and welcomed each other. “We have the power in this room to make change,” said Richmond Chief of Police Chris Magnus, “We know that when people get out of their homes and start talking with their neighbors, it makes a huge difference.”
Together, with the proposals presented by CCISCO leaders and the commitments made by public officials, the difference between a violent and vibrant Richmond begins now.
Below is the list of CCISCO proposals:
1) CONGREGATION and COMMUNITY OUTREACH
MENTORING PROGRAM: We are proposing to establish a mentoring program to lift up our young people and which would have an initial focus at Kennedy and Richmond High Schools. We are proposing to develop a partnership with congregations; school district; Office of Neighborhood Safety; and Contra Costa College. We are requesting funding support and training through Office of Neighborhood Safety and want to help design the program in partnership with the Office of Neighborhood Safety; West Contra Costa Unified School District; and Contra Costa College. CCISCO member congregations are committed to recruiting 50 volunteers to receive training to become mentors.
2) PUBLIC SAFETY
Work with the community and neighborhood councils to develop a clear code of conduct to be established and enforced at all participating parks.
Provide security at all parks with identified public safety issues.
Convene all multi-family management companies receiving public subsidy within the next sixty days, including the Richmond Housing Authority, and hold them accountable for providing effective security and enforcing a code of conduct.
Work with CCISCO members and the Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council to apply for funding to develop a program to green blighted public land and employ local youth for a summer community gardening initiative.
We also want to see a greater degree of communication and accountability from the Richmond Police Department and Contra Costa District Attorney to the community around their strategies for public safety and prosecution of violent crimes.
3) JOB TRAINING
Develop congregational partnership to use churches as job training sites and to recruit congregational members to participate in ongoing energy efficiency programs.
The City of Richmond should establish a dedicated revenue source to support job training programs and partner with the West Contra Costa Unified School District to expand vocational training at Richmond and Kennedy High Schools. Some potential opportunities for funding include dedicating 2% of all funding for capital projects towards job training and dedicating Measure T funding towards job training.
4) QUALITY JOBS
Expansion of energy efficiency programs to create new jobs through adopting the following proposals:
- Work with CCISCO leaders and our partners to develop legislation to require energy upgrades linked to foreclosures along with any home sales;
- Hire 100 youth this summer to conduct community outreach program for financing options for energy efficiency;
Strengthen local employment programs for school district, city, and community college district. Some potential ways to improve the local employment programs are:
- Improve reporting, monitoring, and enforcement.
- Strengthen the local employment program by making hiring targets for permanent jobs a requirement and not simply a goal.
- Involve community stakeholders in negotiations for all upcoming project labor agreements to develop strategies to improve community access to employment.
CCISCO and PICO Leaders Negotiate with Bank of America
Antioch – On Friday, November 6, 2009, a delegation of twenty CCISCO leaders and clergy, along with OCO and PACT-San Jose leaders, met with representatives from Bank of America to negotiate concrete solutions to the foreclosure crisis. As the negotiation took place, 100 families with Bank of America loans waited anxiously in the Fr. Vicente Dominican Hall at Holy Rosary Church for the results.
“If we don’t get satisfaction, we will move forward without the bank,” said CCISCO leader Domingo Delgadillo, “We will contact the Attorney General. We will have cities move their money from Bank of America and start demonstrations at the local branches.”
Negotiations focused on the low number of eligible modifications on behalf of Bank of America which is leaving many families facing foreclosures that can be prevented. PICO Bay Area leaders met with Tiarzha Taylor, Vice President of Home Preservation for Bank of America and Ximena Delgado, Senior Vice President for Community Investment.
At the meeting, Tiarzha Taylor committed to taking all of the leaders recommendations to senior Bank of America decision-makers, including Barbara Desoer, Vice President of Mortgage Lending for Bank of America. Bank of America also designated a point person to expedite families loan modification requests. They also agreed to provide detailed information about the Bank of America’s servicing portfolio over the last three years in Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and Alameda counties including: baseline lending; investment; charitable contributions; defaults; option-arms; modifications; denials; and real-estate owned properties.
It is increasingly evident that Bank of America is not working fast enough to increase the number of total modified loans. Some homeowners, like Nelly Rubio who qualify for a loan modification have continued to receive letters with a new foreclosure date despite having submitted all necessary documents for a loan modification. Families are increasingly frustrated and are beginning to feel as if they are being strung along with no end in sight. This frustration is turning into direct action.
In the past year, Wall Street and large banks have taken $4.7 trillion from U.S. taxpayers but have failed to pass the benefits onto our communities. Bank of America has started trial mortgage modifications for only 14% of its nearly one million borrows who are eligible for the Making Home Affordable Program and has proven inept at handling borrowers concern.
The families who were waiting inside the Domincan Hall listened to a presentation on the timeline of both the “Stop Preventable Foreclosures” and “Bank Accountability” campaigns which have been ongoing for the past year and a half. CCISCO leaders urged those present to get involved and received commitments to have everyone join the fight.
Another strategy is the divestment strategy which is creating the leverage necessary to hold banks accountable at the local and county level. Public officials have committed to drafting resolutions to divest from banks not working in good faith with families. If Bank of America continues to foreclose on families who qualify for loan modifications, then cities, counties and congregations across the region will take their money elsewhere.
“We really accomplished a lot tonight,” said Mercy Martinez, who represented PACT-San Jose in the negotiations. “We in San Jose have been working on this issue and we’re ready to protest at the banks if necessary.”
Should Bank of America continue to ignore the struggle of families facing foreclosure, then the organizing will continue to escalate and the divestment will begin.
PICO Bay Area Demands for Bank of America
1. Halt all foreclosure proceedings for families who are currently eligible for a loan modification under the HAMP program across the country;
2. Suspend all auctions in Contra Costa, Alameda, and Santa Clara Counties for the next 90 days to allow for negotiations to occur and establish a 45-day maximum time period to respond to loan modification request;
3. Designate a point person to negotiate with our family delegations;
4. Incorporate principal reductions, which are allowable under HAMP, and not just interest rate reductions, to make loan modifications more affordable and sustainable;
5. Provide transparent reports on the terms and demographics of loan modifications granted;
6. Create an appeals process that includes reason for denial;
7. Negotiate with our local government entities and non-profit developers to bundle abandoned Real-Estate Owned properties and convert them into affordable housing;
8. Establish a community investment agreement to improve access to capital for our communities.
Health Care Bill Moves Ahead, Debate to Begin in the Senate
The House of Representatives passed health reform legislation that would extend coverage to 36 million Americans, ban insurance companies from denying people coverage for pre-existing conditions, and help make health care more affordable to millions of hardworking American families, while also reducing the deficit.
“In such desperate times, comprehensive health reform is needed more than ever, said CCISCO leader Teresa Flores, “Representative George Miller has truly championed those needs and fought for affordability in this health care bill and we are excited that Rep. John Garamendi has also jumped on board to answer the call–we look forward to the Senate following suit.”
Throughout this year’s debate, clergy and faith leaders from CCISCO and the PICO National Network have fought for a vision of a day when no parent would have to choose between putting food on the table or providing health coverage for their family; when our children would read about Americans being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions only in their history books
To demonstrate that health reform is not an abstract idea, but a change that will bring security and better health to millions of Americans for generations to come, CCISCO and PICO are planning a massive educational effort to help everyday Americans understand how the House legislation would directly benefit their families. We will also continue to press the Senate to follow the House’s lead by passing legislation that makes insurance affordable for all people, especially low-and moderate-income children and families.
After hundreds of town hall actions, a phone call with President Obama which included 300,000 people, and a cross country pilgrimage to put a human face on the health care debate, CCISCO and PICO applaud Rep. George Miller and the House for taking leadership on passing this historic health care bill.
CCISCO and PICO Thank Rep. Miller and House for Keeping Health Care Affordable
Last June, CCISCO held a 500-person community action meeting where Congressman George Miller heard the call for legislation that would make health care affordable. When asked if he would make sure health care remained affordable for all families, Rep. Miller answered with a resounding yes. The recommendations were taken and are now included in the legislation coming out of the House.
After hundreds of town hall actions, a phone call with President Obama which included 300,000 people, and a cross country pilgrimage to put a human face on the health care debate, CCISCO and PICO organizations would like to thank Rep. George Miller and the House for taking leadership on this very important national issue.
The House leadership unveiled legislation yesterday that would extend affordable health coverage to 36 million Americans, while taking important steps to control health care costs, all without adding to the federal deficit. While important issues remain to be resolved, the bill shows that it is possible to provide adequate subsidies to make coverage affordable to low-wage working families, while being fiscally responsible.
The affordability battle still rages in the Senate. For this reason, CCISCO and PICO as well as 160 organizations across the country are calling on Senator Reid to keep health care affordable in the Senate version of the health care bill.
To read the letter to Senator Reid click here.
CCISCO Leaders Protest Bank of America, Bank Agrees to Negotiate Demands
Antioch, CA-With chants of “We love our community and we want to stay in our homes,” over 100 CCISCO leaders gathered in front of the Bank of America on Somersville Rd. in Antioch on Saturday, October 24, 2009 as part of the “Bank Accountability” campaign. So far, the pressure placed on Bank of America has reaped rewards.
“There are more than 780,000 families waiting for Bank of America to do the right thing,” said CCISCO leader Rosario Frisse over the megaphone.
The bank heard the message loud and clear. Bank of America has agreed to meet with CCISCO leaders and to halt the auctions on families who have submitted loan modification paperwork. The sudden turn on behalf of Bank of America comes shortly after the town hall action last Tuesday, October 20, which gathered more than 400 community members including clergy and civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson.
At the town hall action, Antioch City Council Member Martha Parsons, Oakley City Council Member Jim Frazier and Supervisor Federal Glover committed to working towards divesting from banks that are not negotiating in good faith with families to modify their loans. At the state level, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier has agreed to co-sponsor legislation that would allow families to call on a third party mediator to help reach a loan modification with banks as well as to convene a hearing with the State Attorney General to request that he litigate uncooperative banks that did not comply with state moratorium on foreclosures.
One of the families that has benefitted directly from the outcomes of the town hall action is the Rubio family who is eligible for a loan modification under the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable program. CCISCO leader Nelly Rubio submitted a loan modification to no avail and after waiting for months she received a letter from Bank of America stating that her home would be auctioned by the end of the month. Prior to the town hall action, Bank of America was replicating this same scenario on many families. The tide, however, has changed.
“I have some good news,” said CCISCO leader Nelly Rubio at the protest, “Thanks to everybody in the community and our public officials, I got a call from Bank of America and they will work with me.”
This good news will also affect many more families as Bank of America has agreed to meet with CCISCO leaders on Friday, November 6, 2009 at Holy Rosary Church to negotiate the following demands:
1. Halt all foreclosure proceedings for families who are currently eligible for a loan modification under the HAMP program;
2. Suspend all auctions in Contra Costa County for the next 90 days to allow for negotiations to occur;
3. Designate a point person to negotiate with our family delegations;
4. Incorporate principal reductions, which are allowable under HAMP, and not just interest rate reductions, to make loan modifications more affordable and sustainable;
5. Negotiate with our local government entities and non-profit developers to bundle abandoned Real-Estate Owned properties and convert them into affordable housing;
6. Establish a community investment agreement to improve access to capital for our communities.
“This is a wake up call to all the other banks, that you’re next,” said CCISCO leader Domingo Delgadillo, “We’re going to continue this fight and do everything we can to win, if you don’t negotiate in good faith, we’re going to escalate this fight.”
Also in attendance were supporting the protest were councilmember Martha Parsons and Lt. Governor John Garamendi.
“Let’s take a look at the facts, Bank of America received billions of dollars of our money to take care of themselves, they fattened themselves, they fattened their executives’ wallets and they left Antioch high and dry,” Garamendi told CCISCO leaders, “It’s time for Bank of America, for every wall street bank, to come to an understanding: the fat days are over boys, it’s time to take care of America.”
As the protest drew to a close, the Lt. Governor left CCISCO leaders with some final words.
“For all of you that are here, never, ever stop protesting. Make your voices heard. You are in the right. Make your voices heard.”
CCISCO Makes Significant Gains in ‘Bank Accountability’ Campaign
Antioch, CA – On Tuesday, October 20, 2009, over 400 community residents packed the Dominican Hall at Holy Rosary Church to hold banks accountable for refusing to negotiate in good faith with homeowners. Joining them that night was the Reverend Jesse Jackson who offered words of inspiration and clarity on the effects of the banking system.
“We are taking action to hold banks and our public officials accountable to keep families in their homes, said CCISCO leader Domingo Delgadillo, “Despite the massive outcry and the billions of dollars received in federal bailouts, the banks are still refusing to work with our families-but we will not give up!”
According to the HAMP data for September 2009, Bank of America has by far the worst record among the four largest servicers will only 11 percent of eligible homeowners receiving trial modifications. Worse yet, Bank of America is responsible for 780,000 families waiting for loan modifications.
These numbers reflect a disturbing trend that has affected thousands of families in Contra Costa County.
Wells Fargo’s numbers are scarcely better. Wells Fargo/Wachovia has only helped 17% of those eligible homeowners who are more than 60 days delinquent and many families were told that Wells/Wachovia had no loan modification program in place as they continued to foreclose on families-a clear violation of the California Foreclosure Moratorium.
“61% of sub-prime loans went to people who qualified for prime loans with much better terms,” said CCISCO leader Robin Rowell who presented the research report.
“The banks are playing games, and I hear this again and again from different people,” said CCISCO leader Raul de Anda, “I don’t have anyone to turn to, this is not the American dream.” At the action, Mr. de Anda testified how his lender lost his certified check-despite bank records that it was cashed-and now is faced with foreclosure.
“You call the bank, and they don’t even know if they have your paperwork,” said Nelly Rubio, “My family is currently facing foreclosure, I’m here to ask the community for help, we need to put pressure on the banks.”
The Rubio family is eligible for a loan modification under the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable program and has submitted their entire request for a modification. However, they have not had any response from Bank of America and were just notified that their home is scheduled for auction at the end of the month.
“We are ready to work with CCISCO as you begin to work to demand justice, we’re going to work together, we’re going to win this battle, because our battle is America’s battle,” Reverend Jesse Jackson told the crowd. “America must win, we must win. Greed, exploitation, lawlessness, the banks just robbed America, it is time for law and order in high places. Stand up and march now, demand justice now, this land is our land made for you and me.”
The call for action increased as the meeting progressed.
“Together under CCISCO, we are working together to stop this injustice,” said Fr. Robert Rien of St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church, “No one of us can do what ALL of us can do together – our voices will be heard and we will continue to work and to speak until this situation is reversed.”
At the meeting, CCISCO leaders won commitments from the cities of Antioch and Oakley, as well as Contra Costa County, to develop divestment ordinances to pull deposits from banks that have been uncooperative with Contra Costa families, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America. In addition, city officials are arranging for CCISCO leaders to present at League of Mayor’s Conference (19 local cities) to urge other cities to adopt similar measures.
CCISCO leaders also won a commitment from State Senator Mark DeSaulnier to convene a meeting with Attorney General Jerry Brown to initiate investigation into Wells Fargo for violation of California’s Foreclosure Moratorium. Senator DeSaulnier also agreed to co-author an amendment that would strengthen the proposed Mandatory Mediation legislation.
Finally, a representative from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco agreed to convene banks to negotiate around CCISCO’s foreclosure prevention demands and establish a lending consortium to negotiate local investment agreements.
BANK PROTEST SCHEDULED FOR THIS SATURDAY
To continue to hold banks accountable, CCISCO leaders will protest at the Bank of America on Somersville Rd., in Antioch on Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 10:00am. Dozens of community residents will support all of the families with Bank of America who have qualified for loan modifications but continue to hear no response from Bank of America.
CCISCO leaders are demanding that Bank of America halt all foreclosure proceedings on all families who are eligible for loan modifications and that Mr. Martin Richards, regional president for Bank of America, meet face-to-face with CCISCO families to negotiate and restructure their loans.
With dozens of community residents at their side, CCISCO families like Nelly Rubio who have loans with Bank of America and who qualify for loan modifications will be demanding that their homes be pulled off the auction block and that Bank of America be accountable for restructuring their loan.
CCISCO LEADERS HEAD TO CHICAGO FOR A SHOWDOWN
Saturday evening a delegation of CCISCO leaders and Recovery Riders Rosario Frisse, Miguel Perez, and Norma Perez will be travelling to Chicago to join in national mobilization to coincide with the American Banker Association’s national conference. At the event, CCISCO leaders will help to lead a Peoples’ Commission which will hear testimony and evidence from everyday Americans, well known public figures, and elected officials on how Wall Street banks created the foreclosure crisis and sent the economy into a tailspin. Commission findings will be shared with the Obama Administration, Members of Congress, and the Angelides Commission. At the mobilization, thousands of taxpayers from around the country will demonstrate against the American Banker’s Association and demand that they cease lobbying against financial reform. This will be the largest taxpayer mobilization since the economic crisis Began. See www.showdowninchicago.org for more details.
On November 1st, CCISCO leaders and Recovery Rider Jaime Silahua and Victor Urbina will be travelling to Brockton, Massachusetts to participate in a national action with Congressman Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and top officials from the Federal Reserve to continue to urge the federal government to continue holding banks accountable to work with homeowners to lower monthly payments and keep them in their homes, as it pursues a broader agenda of reforming bank regulation to prevent future crisis.
Cover All Families Campaign Update
As a powerful cross country pilgrimage for health care arrived in DC, faith leaders lobbied to ensure that health care is affordable to all Americans. More than 1,000 people from PICO affiliates across the country added their portraits and handwritten notes to a cross-country photo and video exhibition titled “Bearing Witness: A Pilgrimage for Health Reform” which culminated in a display on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C and a day of action on October 20th. The exhibit visited seven cities across the country and collected stories from families in need of health reform.
Please visit the exhibit at www.icareforhealthcare.org to view the stories and share your own.
As Congress continues negotiating over the vital details of health reform, faith leader in alliance with 1,000 congregations in the PICO National Network, are working to ensure that our nation’s leaders get the details right around affordability for families. In light of the Treasury Department’s recent finding that nearly one-half of non-elderly Americans have gone through some gap in health insurance coverage over the last decade, the exhibit is meant to lift up the voices of this large segment of the population, whose support is crucial to the success of health reform efforts.
Prominent clergy and faith leaders from Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, Missouri, New Jersey and California gathered on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to urge Senate leadership to fix the Finance committee’s version of health reform legislation in order to make health insurance affordable for working families.
The event came a day after PICO National Network and Community Catalyst released a report outlining the burden placed on working families under the Senate Finance legislation, and making clear recommendations on what the Senate needs to do in merging the bills.
“A family of three earning just over $27,000 and living almost anywhere in the country can’t afford to pay $5,000 a year on health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs, as they would be required under this bill,” said Rev. Bill Calhoun, a Presbyterian pastor with PICO from Denver, CO. “This would force them to choose between staying uninsured and paying a penalty for not purchasing coverage, or purchasing coverage but cutting back on other basic necessities such as food, housing or childcare to cover the high costs.”
“The good news is that Congress can make it right,” said Rob Restuccia, Executive Director of Community Catalyst. “Our proposal reduces premiums and out-of-pocket costs for low and moderate-income workers in the exchange. It is fully paid for and can be accomplished within the total budget goals set by President Obama.”
To protect low-income families from potentially devastating financial consequences of unaffordable premiums and high out of pocket expenses, the report recommends clear strategies for increasing subsidies for families and capping annual out-of-pocket expenses, as well as offers ways to fully pay for these improvements.
Clergy leaders were also joined by SEIU President Andy Stern, whose union has been one of the most vocal proponents of affordable health care both on the job and in the new Exchange.
“There’s no question that there is an economic imperative to get reform done now, but there is also a moral imperative,” said Mr. Stern. “It’s simply not right to let people suffer the way we do under the current system. From denial of care to unaffordable premiums to losing benefits, our system is failing to deliver and women, men and their families from all over this nation are shouldering that burden. America can and must do better.”
“The stakes right now are very high for working families,” said Rev. Steve Beckham, pastor of First Little Rock Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, LA. “Congress needs to get the details right on affordability for families. The details matter.”
PLEASE CALL SENATOR DIANE FEINSTEIN TODAY AND URGE HER TO MAKE HEALTH CARE AFFORDABLE FOR ALL FAMILIES: (415) 393-0707
Press Conference Announces Launch of “Bank Accountability” Campaign, Rev. Jesse Jackson to keynote October 20th Action at Holy Rosary in Antioch
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UPDATE: CCISCO leaders win commitment for field hearings from Department of Treasury to focus on bank accountability for loan modifications
CCISCO leader Rosario Frisse, along with a delegation of leaders from the PICO National Network and National People’s Action, met with high level Department of Treasury officials who are responsible for overseeing the federal HAMP program. At the meeting, leaders from around the country shared their stories and research about the difficulties families are having in working lenders to help save their homes. At the meeting, Assistant Secretary Michael Barr and other Treasury officials agreed to convene a series of field hearings around the country to hear proposals to help make improvements to the HAMP program.
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Antioch, CA – On Monday, September 28, 2009, 52 CCISCO leaders gathered in front of the Bank of America on Somersville Road in Antioch, to hold a press conference to launch the CCISCO “Bank Accountability” campaign. The gathering served as a warning shot across the bow to banks that are seen as not responding adequately to borrowers who seek to renegotiate their mortgage loans.
The next phase of the campaign will take place on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 7:00pm at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 1313 “A” Street where celebrated Civil Rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson will be the keynote speaker. CCISCO is partnering with Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to advance a comprehensive set of policies at the local, state, and federal level to hold the banks accountable and speed the process of restructuring loans and keeping millions of families in their homes.
“We are here tonight because we are angry and frustrated with banks for not modifying the loans for people who qualify,” Betty Espindola told the crowd of 50 supporters and members of the press. “Despite massive public outcry and billions of dollars in federal bailouts, people are still losing their homes, and families are ending up on the streets. But together, we can hold them accountable.”
There is a disturbing trend in the foreclosure crisis despite gains with Obama’s Making Home Affordable Program. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, only 9% of all eligible loan modifications have been changed leaving thousands in Contra Costa County still facing foreclosure and eviction.
That’s the experience of Carmen Hernandez and Victor Urbina, members of Most Holy Rosary Parish in Antioch, who both stand to lose their house in coming weeks. Hernandez said she had tried for more than a year to negotiate a loan modification with Bank of America. When the lender finally responded in June, it offered a modification that lowered the couple’s interest rate to 2.8 percent and set their monthly payment at 34 percent of income but did not calculate property taxes and insurance as part of the payment contrary, she said, to the bank’s own policies which meant very scant savings for the Hernandez’.
“I want to tell all the families and all the people out there to help us put pressure on the bank to offer us something just and appropriate for us with a good mortgage payment,” Hernandez told the Antioch gathering.
Urbina bought his house in 2003 and never missed a payment until early this year. “I had made my mortgage payments on time, making many sacrifices, working very hard, depleting my savings, until I reached a point where I couldn’t make the payments,” he said, “I spoke with the bank twice, but they never gave me an option that was affordable.” He submitted paperwork for a loan modification, but was told a month later that his lender, Wachovia Bank, did not have such a program.
He recently received a surprise letter saying his house would be auctioned on Oct. 14. “The reality is that we are not getting any help, and it seems that nobody cares,” Urbina said.
Dominican Father Roberto Corral, pastor of Most Holy Rosary Parish in Antioch, told the Antioch gathering that the saddest aspect of the nation’s economic and foreclosure crisis is that it was “not simply the result of mistakes, but the results of greed, lust for money and power, the results of unethical business practices.”
“Families are the basic structure of society,” Fr. Corral continued, “and families need homes in order to achieve stability and provide proper care for their members. It’s not just a matter of displacing families: This crisis is affecting every school, every church, every business, and every form of government that we have, and it has to be stopped; wether we are people of faith or not, what matters most is that we do the right thing for the right reasons, and that we help those who are poor and most vulnerable in society, so we call upon our banks to do what is right.”
Richmond Community Rallies for Unity
Richmond, CA – On Thursday, September 24, 2009, 480 people attended the town hall action organized by CCISCO leaders at St. Mark’s Church. The purpose of the action was to build support for comprehensive immigration reform and to expand protections for immigrants in Richmond to prevent vehicle confiscations at police checkpoints.
“Our vision for Richmond and our country is for immigrants and native-born residents working together to improve conditions for everyone,” said CCISCO leader Bennie Singleton, “There is great strength in our diversity and we need to work together to lift up the entire community and resist efforts to divide us.”
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus, Richmond City Council member Jeff Ritterman, San Pablo City Council member Cecilia Valdez, West Contra Costa County Unified School Board members Tony Thurmond and Madeleine Kronenberg, and representatives of Congressman George Miller all spoke at the action and pledged their support to a set of critical issues critical to the immigrant community. The town hall helped to gain support in the following issues:
1. Support and Strengthen Richmond Police Department’s policy of non-confiscation of vehicles at checkpoints and expand to general stops.
2. Gain support to expand a similar policy to the city of San Pablo.
3. Build Support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, including the DREAM Act, among our federal representatives.
5. Gain Support to protect funding for adult education, including English and Citizenship classes.
At the action, community members were also challenged to lead efforts to build bridges between the immigrant and native-born community.
For more information on fixing our broken immigration system, visit Reform Immigration for America click here
CCISCO and PICO California Leaders Celebrate the Rescue of Healthy Families
After months of campaigning, CCISCO leaders along with PICO California and children’s health advocates around the state, celebrated the passage of AB 1422 which helped save health care for 900,000 children in California. CCISCO leaders organized one of the largest actions in the state to protest the cuts, gathering over 500 people in June 2009 and helping to lead a march with hundreds of children in Sacramento later that month.
“I never thought sharing my story would make such a big difference,” said CCISCO youth leader Alex Marquez, “This is yet another example that when everyone makes a contribution it turns into something extraordinary, that we can accomplish anything.”
On September 23, 2009 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1422 by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), a bipartisan, shared solution that will prevent nearly 700,000 children from losing their state-provided health insurance through the Healthy Families program and allow the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB), the agency that oversees the state’s Healthy Families Program, to open the program to new enrollment.
AB 1422 provides $194 million in shared solutions to keep California children enrolled in Healthy Families, including:
* $80 million grant from the First Five Commission
* $14 million from modest increases in premiums and co-pays in the Healthy Families program
* Co-pays will increase from $5 to $10 for doctor visits and prescriptions and from $5 to $15 for emergency room visits. Enrollees will also incur premium increases ranging from $4 to $7 per child per month beginning November 1. There will be no premium increase for those families under 150 percent of the federal poverty line.
* $100 million from continuing an existing fee on Medi-Cal managed care plans CCISCO and PICO California leaders want to recognize Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, State Senate President Darrel Steinberg for their strong leadership on this issue, as well as State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, State Senator Loni Hancock, State Assemblymember Tom Torlakson, and State Assemblymember Nancy Skinner for their support of this critical issue.
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PICO Launches Cross Country Pilgrimage for Health Care Reform
Over 1,000 people from PICO affiliates across the country will add their portraits and handwritten notes to a cross-country photo and video exhibition titled “Bearing Witness: A Pilgrimage for Health Reform” that will culminate in a display on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C in mid-October. The exhibit will visit seven cities across the country and collect stories from families in need of health reform.
The exhibit will make stops in San Bernardino, San Francisco Bay Area, Denver, CO, Kansas City, MO, New Orleans, LA, Baton Rouge, LA, and Orlando, FL before arriving in Washington, D.C. in mid-October.
The exhibit will be officially launched on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at www.icareforhealthcare.org.
As Congress continues negotiating over the vital details of health reform, faith leaders from organization, in alliance with 1,000 congregations in the PICO National Network, are working to ensure that our nation’s leaders get the details right around affordability for families. In light of the Treasury Department’s recent finding that nearly one-half of non-elderly Americans have gone through some gap in health insurance coverage over the last decade, the exhibit is meant to lift up the voices of this large segment of the population, whose support is crucial to the success of health reform efforts.
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CCISCO and PICO Bay Area Groups Hold Prayer Vigil for Health Reform
San Francisco – On Tuesday, August 11, 2009 over 100 faith leaders from Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) and 6 other Bay Area organizations affiliated with the PICO National Network sent delegations to meet with the offices of Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer urge the passage of comprehensive health care legislation this year. A prayer vigil followed which included testimonies from individuals who have suffered without health insurance.
“The status quo has got to go!” CCISCO leader Maria Rubio declared at the vigil as she reported about the meeting with Senator Boxer’s office. CCISCO and PICO Bay Area leaders received strong commitments to move comprehensive health care reform this year at the delegation meetings with top health care aides to Senators Boxer and Feinstein.
With the future of health care reform legislation on the line during the August Congressional recess, PICO’s Bay Area faith leaders made it clear that religious voters see health reform as a moral issue, and will hold their Members of Congress responsible for how well they look out for the lives of people in the Bay Area and not just special interests.
The prayer rally was a part of similar rallies around the country organized by national faith groups, including PICO National Network, Faith in Public Life, Sojourners, and Catholic in Alliance for the Common Good, which reached 100 Members of Congress. In addition to the rallies, the August campaign will also include TV ads, billboards, town hall meetings on health care reform, and the distribution of tens of thousands health care reform guides for people of faith.
CCISCO Joins Over 140,000 Faith Leaders on Phone Call with President Obama
Over 140,000 faith leaders from across the country participated in this historic phone call with President Obama and more than 160,000 have listened to the online recording in the days since. President Obama, who spoke on the call for approximately 10 minutes, affirmed his commitment to health reform that will make insurance available to the more than 46 million Americans who lack it, while allowing those who have coverage to keep what they have.
President Obama encouraged faith leaders on the call to continue working for reform. “This is a battle of hope over fear,” declared the President, “When people of faith have been able to demonstrate hope over fear, we have been able to accomplish a great deal.” The President stated that it is absolutely critical that we are on the side of promoting the well-being of all Americans, “One of our core ethical and moral obligations is that we look out for each other – I am my brother’s and sister’s keeper. When it comes to healthcare in our country, we are failing to do this.”
To listen to the call click here
Melody Barnes, Domestic Policy Director for the Obama Administration, answered questions about issues of pressing concern to religious voters. She said the White House is committed to making sure there are affordability protections in the final legislation, and reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to leave in place current rules that protect the conscience of religious hospitals and health care providers and prohibit federal funding for abortion. Ms. Barnes also reminded participants that healthcare costs are the biggest driver of our national deficit and debt. She explained, “The President supports a healthcare plan that is fully paid for, will not add a penny to the national debt, and is a more effective and efficient system. Health reform is at the crux of being a faithful steward of our country.”
The call was one part of an unprecedented grassroots faith-based movement by PICO and other religious organizations to make quality health care affordable to all American families. The call was co-hosted by PICO along with more than 30 national religious denominations and organizations representing millions of people of faith from the Evangelical, Catholic, Main-line Protestant, Jewish and Muslim traditions.
Through large public meetings with Members of Congress, prayer vigils and rallies in more than 45 cities reaching the offices of 100+ Senators and Representatives, five trips to Washington, DC, by large groups of clergy and families during 2009, and paid radio and TV ads, PICO and allied faith and consumer groups have been demonstrating the broad public support for reform. PICO clergy and lay leaders plan to return to Washington, DC, in September to continue pressing Congress to move forward with health reform, including a strong Affordability Standard that protects families from crushing health care costs.
CCISCO and PICO are non-partisan organizations that do not endorse or support candidates. PICO strongly encourages people of faith to study the teachings and policy positions of their particular religious denominations and traditions.
Rep. Miller is Recognized for Work on Health Care Reform
As part of the push for health care reform, CCISCO leaders recognized Congressman George Miller for his leadership in keeping health care affordable at an event held by the Community Clinic Consortium earlier on Tuesday. CCISCO leaders presented Congressman Miller with a pair of boxing gloves as a thank you for fighting on behalf of those who need health care.
After a successful town hall action last June, Congressman Miller held true to his promise and was instrumental in writing legislation which included an affordability standard as part of health care reform.
CCISCO Leaders Continue Fight to Hold Banks Accountable and Keep Families in their Home
Despite the continued escalation of the foreclosure crisis and historic infusion of public investment, banks have made little progress towards modifying loans of families at risk of losing their homes. In its first report on the Obama administration’s efforts to prod lenders to help as many as 4 million homeowners by reducing their mortgage payments, the Treasury Department said just 9% of eligible loans had been changed.
Loans were modified even less often by the two mega-banks that dominate the mortgage market: Wells Fargo & Co. reduced payments for only 6% of its eligible home loans under the government’s program, and Bank of America Corp. modified just 4%.
As Administration and Treasury Department officials met with some of the largest servicers in the country in late July, CCISCO and PICO leaders held a press conference on Capitol Hill to decry the lack of action by
CCISCO leader Domingo Delgadillo of Antioch described the difficult he has faced in trying to work with his lender Wachovia, which has been purchased and is now owned by Wells Fargo.
“When I called Wachovia in July to request a loan modification, I was told that they still had not implemented their program,” he said. “I do not understand how it is possible.”
Washington Post Article – Banks Asked to Ramp Up Loan Help
LA Times Article – Banks slow to modify mortgages, Treasury reports
After waging a fierce campaign to advocate for federal loan modification program, CCISCO leaders have been frustrated by the lack of participation and accountability from major banks. In East County, CCISCO leaders have begun to organize delegations of families who are eligible for modifications to work together to hold their lenders accountable and are preparing for public actions in the coming weeks.
As a reflection of the widespread impact of the foreclosure crisis, CCISCO youth leader David Frisse is going to be featured on an upcoming episode on Nickelodeon about the impact of the economic crisis on children and families. The program is entitled “$tre$$ed Out! The Economic Crisis and You” and will appear Sunday, September 6 at 8:00pm PST.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Gains Ground
CCISCO has joined efforts on a national level for comprehensive immigration reform to address the need to fix the broken system of immigration. Throughout the coming months, CCISCO leaders will be organizing to build support for comprehensive immigration reform which reflects our beliefs and our common values. This past June, CCISCO leader Gabriela Banuelos represented the organization at the kickoff for the Reform Immigration for America campaign in Washington D.C.
Since then, CCISCO leaders from across the county have developed a countywide strategy to continue to strengthen bridges immigrants and native-born Americans and mobilize support for immigration reform. CCISCO is working closely with PICO organizations in the East Bay, Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Oakland to develop an Immigrant Response Network.
A delegation of CCISCO leaders supported the launch of this effort at a powerful action in Oakland with more 2,200 members of Oakland Community Organizations, our sister organization. On August 11th, dozens of CCISCO leaders attended a Candidate's forum for the leading candidate's for the 10th Congressional District and asked the candidate's for their positions on comprehensive immigration reform and were excited that all of the leading candidate's indicated that they would support President Obama's efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The first of these events is a town hall action that has been organized by CCISCO leaders at St. Mark's Church in Richmond on Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. The town hall action will begin to address the issue of reform as well as bring to light the need for local strategies for bringing immigrant and non-immigrant communities together. Also a component of the action will be to support and strengthen the Richmond Police Department's new policy of non-confiscation of vehicles at checkpoints. CCISCO leaders in Concord have also organized a local citizenship drive and know your rights workshop.
To learn more about CCISCO and PICO organizations in California's efforts to promote active citizenship and immigrant integration click here.
For more information on Reform Immigration for America click here
Community Forum Underscores Need for Access to Youth Programs in Richmond
CCISCO youth leaders held a community forum to present and discuss findings from the recent Pacific Institute report, Measuring What Matters: Neighborhood Research for Economic and Environmental Health and Justice in Richmond, North Richmond, and San Pablo. The team from the RYSE Youth Center and Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization designed the event to highlight project research and their own experiences with the lack of access to youth programs for 15-20 year olds in West Contra Costa County.
The youth presented an original video, gave live testimonies, hosted an interactive quiz show game, and presented research findings and recommendations for changes to city policy and programming. Over 60 people participated, including dozens of youth and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and County Supervisor John Gioia.
CCISCO Leaders Organize Health Care Town Hall Action with Congressman George Miller, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier
Concord – On Saturday, June 13, 2009, nearly 500 community members from all across Contra Costa County packed into the Queen of all Saints Church Hall to hear testimony, research and next steps on the issue of health care reform in America. Buses came in from Brentwood, Oakley, and Richmond and as the meeting began, the call was loud and clear, when the debate on Capitol Hill is finished, health care must be affordable for all families.
“We need to make sure every person in the country has access to affordable and quality health care,” said CCISCO leader Barbara Gallman, “This event today is one of 55 being held across the country by faith based organizations part of the PICO Network during June and July in support of affordable health care reform. We have the opportunity to prevail, the opportunity to see a victory!”
Polls show that 63% of Americans favored greater government influence over their health care plans if it would lower costs and cover more Americans. However, there are still powerful opponents and interests who want to prevent progress.
“Thousands of faith based leaders and ordinary people across the country are coming together over the next two months to urge our elected representatives to make sure every family and every person in our country has access to affordable, high quality health care,” added Gallman.
The Queen of all Saints children’s choir sang uplifting songs of faith and devotion to the people in attendance and as they finished their last song, the choir director, Flor Guzman, underscored the fact that the majority of the majority of the children’s choir is in danger of losing their health insurance if the Healthy Families program is eliminated as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed.
“I was born with Kartageners Syndrome a rare disease that has been treated thanks to the Healthy Families program, a program which has basically meant life or death for me,” said fifteen year-old Alex Marquez during his testimony, “My parents are hard working people, my father has held two and three jobs at a time and yet still there is no way they could ever pay these medical bills if not for Healthy Families.”
Some of the startling data suggests that congress needs to act soon to address the failing existing system of health care. According to the PICO California Health Care Affordability Report, even families who have existing health coverage are opting to hold off on care due to high cost. This is further exacerbated by the rising unemployment in California leaving those who once had employer based coverage without health care. The end result is that the high cost of health care is affecting all aspects of society regardless of status.
“When one part of the body is in pain, the rest of the body feels it,” said Fr. Mike Cunningham of Queen of all Saints Church, “We want that to be the message that Washington gets to cover all of us as they discuss this issue.”
Congressman George Miller highlighted the work of CCISCO and the PICO National Network for working towards defining an affordability standard that makes sure the 50 million uninsured people in America can get the health insurance they need.
“Our goal–President Obama’s goal that he has been working so hard for–is that we finally make sure that every American who seeks and wants health insurance will have it, it will be accessible, and it will be affordable,” said Congressman George Miller, “One of the key points that PICO and CCISCO are trying to point out that what it’s about–it�s about you organizing–it’s about you putting pressure on me and other members of Congress and writing your Senators and telling them that we must have a universal system of care and that it must be accessible, it must be affordable, and it must have a public plan to keep the insurance companies honest.”
As Congress draws closer to its conclusion on the health care debate, the pressure is mounting as the message of affordability resonates with the majority of Americans.
“Congressman Miller, we know that there are those who are trying to oppose health care reform, but we are all here to support your efforts and we want you to know one thing: There are more of us than there are of them!” said CCISCO leader Maria Rubio.
California State Senator Mark DeSaulnier committed himself to no cuts to children’s health care at the state level and pushed for more checks and balances for private health insurance companies.
“We’ve told the Governor that cutting Healthy Families and Cal-Works is a non-starter, we need to make sure that everyone continues to get the care they need,” said California State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, “Americans can’t afford to have this current system, the rates have been rising at a level we can’t control.”
Congressman Miller also addressed the proposed state cuts, “CCISCO and PICO and all of us worked too hard to expand S-CHIP to allow Governor Schwarzenegger to cut Healthy Families,” he told community members as the hall erupted in thunderous applause.
Cheers continued to echo throughout the hall as CCISCO leaders encouraged community members to stay involved by becoming part of a rapid response team to help urge Congress to enact health care reform. At a state level, children stamped their hands with paint in a giant message they will be presenting to Governor Schwarzenegger this Wednesday at the state capitol to remind him of the lives of children that are at stake if their health insurance is cut.
Federal Reserve Meets with NPA and CCISCO
National People’s Action and the PICO Network set into motion a series of community meetings to take place throughout the summer. The first of these meetings took place Thursday, June 11th in Richmond, California – a community hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. Federal officials engaged in dialogue with members of the community about foreclosure prevention and how to fix our broken financial system with common-sense reforms.
The mayor of Richmond and other local officials were on hand to show support for regulatory reforms and the rebuilding of our communities to ensure economic recovery for all. The meeting with Federal Reserve officials started with a tour of neighborhoods left in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. More than 200 people were on hand to share the impacts of the economic crisis and illustrate the need for bold action from the Federal Reserve.
Ten percent of the homes in Richmond, California are foreclosed. One in ten. Home values have dropped 70%. The statistics don’t prepare you for the reality; on some blocks there are more boarded-up, empty houses than homes � on some, nothing but. Nor does it prepare you for the pain of those victimized by predatory mortgages. CCISCO leader Berenice Ramos has already lost her home, but she’s continuing to fight for others in her community.
Berenice and CCISCO are doing amazing work to address the issue, winning an ordinance that fines banks $1,000 per day for poorly maintained properties, and pushing the city and county to pull their money out of banks that are not modifying bad loans.
CCISCO’s leaders are real experts on the foreclosure crisis because they deal with its real consequences every day. Yesterday they were able to make a compelling case to officers of the Federal Reserve, one of the main regulators of the banking system. It was the first of ten public meetings that will happen this summer as the result of the commitment Ben Bernanke made when NPA met with him in March. 200 people came, and CCISCO essentially asked for five things:
1. Help pushing lenders to modify bad mortgages;
2. Measures to keep the tenants of foreclosed buildings in their homes;
3. Policies that compel banks to fix their own mess by making quality, stable, affordable credit available to all communities without discrimination;
4. Greater transparency in mortgage lending so that communities and government can better hold lenders accountable for peddling bad financial products;
5. and a follow-up meeting with Ben Bernanke after the conclusion of the ten forums.
The Richmond meeting was a big step toward making the case for systemic changes that will benefit our communities, but moving the Fed will take time. The national campaign should result in local victories, and the biggest win of the day was a commitment from Preston DuFauchard, Commissioner of the California Department of Corporations. CCISCO has won a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures starting July 1, and the Commissioner committed to prosecute banks who do not abide by the moratorium.
The event was also one of 50 assemblies taking place across the country the same day, and was held in partnership with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and was co-sponsored by California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), Richmond ACORN, Oakland ACORN, Just Cause Oakland, Oakland Community Organizations, the Community Housing Development Corporation of North Richmond, Neighborhood Housing Services of Richmond and many other community organizations committed to community investment.
CCISCO leaders fight to pass Judicial Loan Modifications
After travelling across country on the Recovery Express to build momentum for national action to stop preventable foreclosures, CCISCO and PICO leaders are urging the Senate to pass judicial loan modifications and save 1.7 million families from losing their homes.
“We are not going to stop until every family has an opportunity to save their home,” CCISCO leader Rosario Frisse declared on Capitol Hill. “That is why we need the Senate to pass judicial loan modifications.”
The Senate will vote on legislation this Thursday that would allow homeowners facing foreclosure and whose banks refuse to work with them an option to save their homes by modifying their mortgage in bankruptcy court. President Obama has said that allowing such “judicial loan modifications” is essential to stopping the foreclosure crisis and studies show that it could prevent as many as 1.7 million families nationwide from losing their homes.
Families are feeling the pain of loan modifications that are not helping. CCISCO leader Jessica Peregrina recently got married and moved out of her family’s home in San Pablo, but her mom, two brothers, sister-in-law and nieces still live there.
“We bought our house in 2002 and then the bank where we had our loan went broke,” she said. “The new bank sent us a letter that we were going to get a higher interest and variable. We had it fixed for two years, then the payment went up from $2,500 to $3,200. After three months, it went up again to $3,700.”
CCISCO and PICO community leaders are working to build support for legislation in a few key states, and we need your help in reaching out to people in these states and asking them to call their Senators.
Please forward this message to friends and family in these states, asking them to call PICO’s Congressional hotline at: 866-584-0896 and urge their Senators to:
“Vote ‘yes’ on S.61 and save as many as 1.7 million families from losing their homes.”
* Florida – Sen. Mel Martinez
* Pennsylvania – Sen. Arlen Specter
* Missouri – Sen. Claire McCaskill
* Louisiana – Sen. Mary Landrieu
CCISCO, Allies Organize Foreclosure Action in Richmond
On Thursday, March 12, over 500 residents from the hard-hit city of Richmond, CA packed St. Mark’s Catholic Church to ask city, county, and bank leaders to take aggressive steps to deal with the approximately 2,000 abandoned, foreclosed bank-owned properties in this city of 100,000.
“We need to fine those banks $1,000 a day,” said the Rev. Marvin Webb, “we’re calling on Richmond to dramatically step up their enforcement program and hold (banks) accountable for the devastation they’ve created in our community.”
CCISCO and its allies received public commitments from the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to “do whatever is necessary” to help bring the banks to the negotiating table in the next 30 days, as well as commitments to:
* Aggressively fine banks $1,000 a day in Richmond and County for abandoned and unsecured properties (per existing state law, SB 1137)
* Place all acquired foreclosed properties into a land trust to keep them permanently affordable
* Establish a job training and local hiring program to employ local residents in securing, maintaining, rehabilitating and “greening” abandoned properties that are acquired by the City
* Establish a local “revolving loan fund” that would allow local residents (especially those who were victims of predatory lending) to acquire these properties
* Mechanics Bank also agreed to negotiate a community investment agreement to help capitalize the fund (alongside local and county governments)
To read the Contra Costa Times article, click here.
Antioch Action Reaps Positive Results for Community on eBART expansion
Antioch-On Tuesday, March 31, 2009 over 100 community members met at the Most Holy Rosary Church to listen to the concerns and aspirations for the eBART expansion into Antioch.
The City Council in Antioch heard the community’s testimonies and proposals as they voted unanimously to approve a plan that will create 2,500 new homes, 5,500 new jobs, and over 2 million square feet of commercial retail in a walkable community around the future Hillcrest eBART station. The plan includes nearly 400 homes affordable for working families, as well as a child care center and local parks.
This is a tremendous turn-around for Antioch, a city that has historically approved low-density development on the edges of the city and rejected previous opportunities to create truly vibrant neighborhoods with homes available for people at a range of incomes.
Not only is this a bold vision for the city, but an achievement for all of eastern Contra County. This is the first approved station area plan for the eBART corridor, which will extend BART ten miles from the current Pittsburg/Bay Point Station.
Starting in the summer of 2007, TransForm partnered with Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organizing (CCISCO), a faith-based, grassroots community organization representing over 35,000 families in Contra Costa County.
As a part of the Great Communities Collaborative, TransForm and CCISCO have worked to educate, organize, and mobilize Antioch residents to ensure that the station area plan would benefit working families. Over 200 residents from a variety of backgrounds participated in shaping the city�s plans.
Early in the process, CCISCO�s community leaders identified local job opportunities and truly affordable homes for families as top priorities. TransForm also worked with the Contra Costa County Building Trades and labor allies on the city council to require a local hire strategy for the plan area.
Finally, CCISCO members did extensive research with city officials to create a report on how to promote local jobs and affordable homes in the eBART plan, which they presented to three city council members at a recent town hall meeting. All three of the council members later supported adding stronger policies into the plan before it was approved.
The April 14 vote was the culmination of almost two years of building partnerships and organizing community support for a plan that would provide local job opportunities and affordable homes for families of all incomes.
Antioch Youth Forge Partnership with Superintendent to Reduce Class Size
CCISCO youth leaders celebrate successful engagement of Antioch School Board members and school superintendent to work towards reducing class rooms sizes.Class room size surfaced as the top concern among Antioch youth in a needs assessment of individual interviews this past summer.
Before an audience of nearly a hundred community members CCISCO leaders highlighted the problem. “Large classroom sizes make it difficult to receive personalized attention and to seek help when needed,” said Priscilla Marin.
Since then CCISCO leaders have met with students, teachers and school administrators to identify possible solutions that would effectively reduce class sizes. Youth also attended the April 25th school board meeting to personally invite school board members and district officials to attend a community forum to address the issue.
“In a class of 40 students to one teacher, teachers are not able to see my potential and support me, much less ensure that we�re prepared to pass the Advanced placement test at the end of the year,” said Yessica Parra.
School Superintendent Deborah Sims, congratulated the youth for demonstrating leadership and emphatically committed to empowering students, as well as working with them to find and implement solutions.
CCISCO Leaders Organize Community Forums to Prevent Harmful Healthcare Cuts
In less than a week, CCISCO leaders organized healthcare forums at St. Anthony’s Church in Oakley, Queen of all Saints in Concord, and St. Mark’s Church in Richmond with County Supervisors and their staff to give the community an opportunity to voice their opinions on harmful cuts to the Basic Healthcare Program. 300 community members participated and had their voices heard.
These cuts come at a time when the federal government is about to take on healthcare reform. CCISCO leaders are organizing at a local and national scale with PICO National’s “Cover All Families” campaign. For more information on the campaign click here.
The healthcare forums served to highlight the need to help preserve the Basic Healthcare Program. After a vote, however, the County Supervisors cut 5,500 undocumented immigrants from the program but not before redirecting $1.5 million from the general fund to continue services through local community clinics.
Below is CCISCO’s statement on the proposed health care cuts prior to the vote.
Youth Invite Rep. Miller for Health Care Town Hall, CCISCO Joins PICO National’s “Cover all Families” Campaign
After a successful two-year campaign to expand health coverage to uninsured children, CCISCO is working with the PICO National Network to help organize the faith community to build bipartisan support for comprehensive health care reform this year guided by the following priorities:
1. Health care reform needs to provide families with quality health insurance choices that are truly affordable regardless of income;
2. Reform needs to cover everyone, so that no person relies on an emergency room for their health care or delays treatment because they lack insurance or have been denied coverage;
3. Reform needs to protect and enhance the health of lower-income families and children by strengthening Medicaid and SCHIP; and
4. Reform needs to rest on a financially sustainable foundation, providing people with the care they need when they need it and controlling costs.
“The problems our county health system faces are not unique,” CCISCO leader Barbara Gallman testified at a recent community hearing on health care. “The issues of access and costs reflect the inadequacy of our present healthcare system at large. We are in urgent need of comprehensive national healthcare reform that delivers high quality, cost efficient health care to everyone.”
CCISCO leaders are partnering with Representative George Miller (D-7) to host a town hall meeting at the end of May to share the results of the thousands of �affordability surveys� they have conducted across the county and country. The goal of the event and the �Cover All Families� campaign is to help inform and build support for comprehensive health care reform this year. CCISCO leader Yessica Parra is participating in a briefing in Washington DC on May 1st to share the results of the surveys and educate members of key committees in the Senate and Congress about how to make health care affordable to all families.
CCISCO leaders are organizing at a local and national scale with PICO National’s “Cover All Families” campaign. For more information on the campaign click here.
“Recovery Express” Message Heard Loud and Clear
On Friday, March 6, 2009, PICO leaders from CCISCO, Faith in Community (FIC) and Oakland Community Organiztions (OCO) jumped on board the “Recovery Express” bus and set out on a cross country tour to share their stories highlighting the pain and hardship caused by the foreclosure crisis. Along the way, they were welcomed with prayer and blessings, as well as a renewed hope to reach Washington D.C. to carry the message that our country needs the Senate to act on foreclosure and bankruptcy reform now!
They weathered hail, rain, snow, and wind to get to Washington D.C. When they arrived to their final destination, they talked with their representatives, shared their testimonies and urged the Senate to stop preventable foreclosures. To further underscore the importance of this critical issue, a prayer rally was held in front of the U.S. Capitol Building where 300 PICO faith leaders, including Recovery Riders, pressed for quick passage of bankruptcy reform legislation. The rally was covered by CNN, Associated Press, Reuters, CNBC, PBS, ABC, CBS and Fox, and reached an estimated 9.3 million homes. Momentum for foreclosure reform has increased dramatically.
On Sunday, March 15, 2009, Recovery Rider, Rev. Lucy Kolin, national clergy spokesperson for the PICO National Network, appeared on CNN’s “Face of Faith” to make a clear request to Members of the U.S. Senate to give struggling homeowners whose banks will not work with them an option to save their homes by passing bankruptcy reform legislation before they go on recess in early April.
You can view Pastor Kolin’s interview as well as stories, pictures and video of each of the “Recovery Express” stops across the country by visiting the “Recovery Express” blog, click here.
To learn more about the PICO Network’s campaign to stop preventable foreclosures, click here.
“Recovery Express” Heads for Washington D.C.
After gathering more than 800 signatures to support bankruptcy reform, CCISCO Leaders are ready to embark on a cross country trip that will take them to 8 cities. They will share their foreclosure stories and put a human face on the issue that has deeply hurt our economy. Once in Washington D.C., they will meet with members of Congress to discuss education, immigration reform, and jobs as well as be joined by Dr. William Walker on the issue of healthcare at the Faith and Families Economic Recovery Summit held by PICO.
“The number of signatures we gathered shows there is broad support for bankruptcy reform, having Congresswoman Tauscher take leadership in supporting us is invaluable,” said CCISCO Leader Rosario Frisse, “We want to continue to take our message across the country and collect more signatures to let Congress know we need bankruptcy reform now.”
Families and neighborhoods across the country continue to face a crisis. One in ten home mortgages is either delinquent or in foreclosure. Over 13 million families owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. So far, over 3 million families have lost their home to foreclosure, and another 10 million could do so before the crisis ends.
Locally, California has seen an increase in the number of foreclosures–these foreclosures are expected to continue over the next five years. Most at-risk are those homeowners who were victims of predatory lending, and who are now paying the price while they watch banks get bailed out.
As faith leaders on the frontlines of this struggle, PICO National Network launched a nationwide campaign to stop 3 million preventable foreclosures in October 2008. The “Recovery Express” is asking Leaders in Congress to take the following actions:
1) Hold banks and lenders accountable to families and communities by creating requirements and incentives for financial institutions, especially those receiving taxpayer assistance, to perform loan modifications that help keep families in their homes;
2) Swiftly enact bankruptcy reform to empower homeowners whose banks will not work with them to modify their loans in bankruptcy court;
3) Create new regulations for the financial industry to protect the American public and prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.
The Recovery Riders will arrive in Washington, DC on March 9 and will join 300 faith and community leaders from PICO in meetings with Members of Congress and the Obama Administration.
East County Education Action Unites Community and Public Officials For Solution to Education Crisis
Brentwood-On Tuesday, February 24, 2009 nearly three hundred students, concerned parents and community members were present to hear research and testimony regarding the state of East Contra Costa County schools at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.
There is a growing concern that students are not being adequately prepared to enter college or the workforce once they finish high school. CCISCO Leaders however are not waiting to see what will happen, they are actively engaged in making changes despite the current budget crisis.
“We are taking action to ensure that everyone in our communities-regardless of where you are from or what you look like or how much money you have-has opportunity!” said Gabriela Bañuelos to public officials which included State Superintendent Jack O’Connell.
CCISCO and PICO California are working together to ensure that all students graduate high school prepared for college and for meaningful employment. To realize this goal, they are focusing on: equitable and consistent funding for schools, equitable distribution of qualified and effective teachers, improved collection and reporting of data, and supports for diverse programs and schools to better meet the needs of all students.
“It is great to see CCISCO and the community coming together to work on a solution to the greatest civil rights issue of our time,” said Superintendent Jack O’Connell, “By working together we can change our educational system.”
Working together is the key to making true change. For this reason coalitions organized by CCISCO continue to grow at the local level.
“Here in Antioch, Brentwood and Pittsburg, we are building coalitions of youth, parents, teachers, and administrators to transform our schools,” said CCISCO Youth Leader Oprince Vola.
CCISCO received commitments from Brentwood and Pittsburg school officials to work together on solutions to education collectively. No Antioch school officials were present at the event.
To change the face of the educational system in California it is important to have leadership. “We want to thank State Superintendent Jack O’Connell for coming tonight and showing true leadership,” said CCISCO Leader Teresa Flores, “We need the same type of leadership from our Governor and State Legislature.”
Earlier in the day, CCISCO leaders in Richmond convened a dialogue about closing the achievement gap with key stakeholders in West Contra Costa Unified School District. The meeting consisted of WCCUSD Superintendent Bruce Harter; Audrey Miles and Antonio Medrano WCCUSD Board of Trustees; Pixie Hayward Schickele, president of United Teachers of Richmond; CCISCO leaders and student, parent, and teachers from schools across the district.
Student leaders at Kennedy High School gave powerful testimony about the challenges they face, especially in the face of recent budget cuts. Teachers spoke of the impact of home visits and their commitment to empowering parents and teachers. School Board leaders discussed the difficult budget crisis they face and the miraculous response from the community to help stave off the closure of schools. State Superintendent O’Connell shared his thoughts and strategies at a state level to help improve school funding and reduce the achievement gap and also committed to returning to Richmond later this year to continue the dialogue.
A New Day for Families Struggling to Save their Homes and Communities
On October 27, 2008 CCISCO leaders at Holy Rosary Church launched a National Campaign with the PICO Network which included more than 800 people and twenty organizations. This effort sparked local actions in ten cities across the country and led up to a gathering of more than 200 faith leaders in Washington D.C. at the steps of the Treasury in November. After months of organizing to keep families and communities together, these efforts have paid off.
Today, President Obama took an important step in addressing the root causes of the economic crisis by announcing a comprehensive strategy to stabilize communities by helping 7 to 9 million U.S. families restructure their mortgages to avoid foreclosure.
The Administration’s plan offers hope to cities and towns across the country that have been hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis, and a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of homeowners who are desperately trying to work with their banks to modify their loans and who, in the words of President Obama, “find themselves navigating a maze of rules and regulations but rarely finding answers.”
“It is incredible what CCISCO and the community of Antioch have been able to accomplish, the efforts of PICO are bearing fruit as evidenced by President Obama’s announcement today. Helping 7 to 10 million families is a miracle for our families fighting to save their homes and gives hope to those families who have already lost their hope to continue on,” said Berenice Ramos, CCISCO Leader at Holy Rosary Church who helped launch PICO’s National Campaign to Stop Preventable Foreclosures in Antioch.
“I want to encourage people to keep fighting and supporting CCISCO and PICO so that no one else will have to suffer the loss of their home. We know that all of the sorrow and pain in communities has given birth to the positive response of President Obama today. It gives us hope that by working together we can rebuild our community and economy,” added Ramos.
As a network of faith-based organizations working to prevent foreclosures and help rebuild neighborhoods, PICO believes that, if implemented quickly and effectively, the strategy announced today will give relief to homeowners and communities, including:
* The creation of standard guidelines for loan modification that all banks receiving taxpayer bailout money are required to implement;
* $75 billion to help millions of responsible homeowners avoid foreclosure by lowering their monthly payments to an affordable 31% of income;
* And incentives for servicers to modify loans, not only for families on the brink of foreclosure but also for struggling borrowers before they fall behind on their payments.
The plan also calls on Congress to enact legislation that would empower homeowners whose banks will not work with them to modify their mortgages through bankruptcy court.
March 6-9, 2009, PICO will hold a cross-country “Recovery Express” Bus Caravan to highlight successful efforts by cities to prevent foreclosures and stabilize neighborhoods, and to press Members of Congress from both parties to support bold action to keep families in their homes, including fixing the bankruptcy code and changing tax laws to clarify the legal ability of mortgage trust holders to modify mortgages.
During 2008-09, the PICO network has helped lead a national faith-based campaign to stop preventable foreclosures through direct assistance to families at-risk of losing their homes; by developing model city, county and state foreclosure prevention strategies; and by advocating for federal policies to stop more than 3 million preventable foreclosures.
On February 5, 2009, PICO issued a joint report with the Center for Responsible Lending calling on the Treasury and Congress to create a large-scale, streamlined program to modify home mortgages: Common Sense Solutions for Saving Homes and Communities.
CCISCO Leaders Celebrate Passage of SCHIP Bill
In May of 2007, CCISCO organized a healthcare action at St. Anthony’s Church in Oakley with over 400 community members in attendance which underscored the importance of children’s healthcare and publicly acknowledged Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher’s leadership on this crtical issue. That September, over 500 letters were hand drawn and written by Contra Costa children and delivered to then First Lady Laura Bush urging her to help support SCHIP expansion.
For over two years, CCISCO and the PICO National Network worked to pass SCHIP legislation. Over the course of five trips to Washington D.C., thirty CCISCO Leaders met with congressional delegations to garner their support for children’s healthcare legislation. These efforts have paid off.
On February 4, with millions of families at risk of losing their jobs and health coverage, President Obama signed historic children’s health legislation to provide healthcare coverage to an additional 4.1 million uninsured children. This builds on the successful SCHIP program and provides vital support for California to cover more eligible children.
“After years of constant effort, the time has come when our government is willing to serve the children of our country,” said CCISCO Leader Teresa Flores, “I hope that the passing of this legislation at the national level will enable California to move towards providing healthcare for all.”
CCISCO has been working with faith communities and elected officials from both parties to cover uninsured children since 2006. Local leaders have traveled to Washington, DC six times to join with other organizations in the PICO National Network to give testimony and press members of Congress to pass strong child health legislation. PICO organizations have met with over 100 Members of Congress during the process.
The passage of SCHIP will provide $1.5 billion of funding and allow California to move ahead with covering the 2 million children without health insurance. CCISCO will be urging California to use the new funds and tools in the federal legislation to reach out and enroll uninsured children. Now that our federal officials have taken bold action to help children, our state needs to step to the plate to make sure that families can keep their children insured during this economic crisis.
In the upcoming months CCISCO along with the PICO National Network, will be pressing for broader healthcare reform that will be affordable, financially sustainable and cover everyone.
Immaculate Heart of Mary to Host Education Action with State Superintendent O’Connell
“I had one meeting with my counselor this school year and this was before school began–it lasted about ten minutes and I felt rushed in deciding my classes,” says Liberty High School student Hailey Parish.
Hailey’s experience is all too common for students who have the desire to go to college but lack the resources to make informed decisions about their future.
CCISCO Leaders want to put an end to this cycle and for this reason they have organized an education action on Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Brentwood with teachers, administrators, school board members and State Superintendent Jack O’Connell.
The event will serve to bring attention to the struggles of students to get a leg up in the current state of the economy and to create changes that will help to serve future generations of high school students.
For more information on the Education Action at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Brentwood, contact Nancy Marquez at (925) 313-0206 x15 or visit the calendar section of the CCISCO website.
Loan Modification Report Calls for Comprehensive Approach, CCISCO Leaders Organize Caravan to D.C.
Faith leaders from CCISCO have joined with PICO National Network – a nationwide coalition of 1,000 congregations – and the Center for Responsible Lending in releasing a policy paper highlighting the failures of the current voluntary, case-by-case approach to loan modifications.
The paper, entitled Common-Sense Solutions for Saving Homes & Communities, calls for a different approach, one that is comprehensive and could prevent as many as three million of the foreclosures expected in the next several years. The need for this approach comes as both Democratic and Republican members of Congress increasingly agree on the need to help struggling homeowners and as the new White House prepares to announce its foreclosure prevention plan next week.
In addition to policy recommendations, the paper also includes stories of families in California, Florida, and Missouri, struggling to save their homes.
“We received three ‘workout’ loan modifications and still our payments were too high,” said CCISCO Leader Berenice Ramos, “After twenty years of good credit and two years of never missing a single payment [the bank] still didn’t care.”
With approximately 40,000 foreclosures every week ravaging communities across the country and continuing to undermine family wealth and the economy, PICO and CRL point out that most current loan modifications have are too small, and come too late in the process, to substantially decrease the number of foreclosures. They oftentimes lead to short-term workouts that fail because they have not substantially cut a borrower’s monthly payments.
The paper calls on the Obama Administration and Congress to embrace the policies necessary to avoid preventable foreclosures quickly enough and in the numbers needed to make a difference to communities and to the economy, including:
- Requiring all banks receiving taxpayer money under the TARP to adopt the FDIC’s loan modification model, which has been used successfully at IndyMac Federal Bank;
- Lifting the ban on judicial loan modifications, which would prevent hundreds of thousands of foreclosures with no cost to the taxpayer;
- Changing rules so the government can purchase whole loans out of mortgage-backed securities and change other terms of these contracts that now impede reasonable modifications;
- Ensuring mortgage modifications don’t come with income tax burdens that effectively make the loan unaffordable and therefore likely to fall into default again.
As the report states, the current loan modification approach is not working, so CCISCO Leaders in Antioch have decided that they are taking their message to Washington D.C. and launching a cross country caravan to promote the campaign to stop 3 million preventable foreclosures.
The caravan will be leaving Friday, March 6, 2009 from Contra Costa County and will be visiting 10 communities that have been devastated by the foreclosure crisis along the way. They will be rallying support for a proposal to stop preventable foreclosures and meet other PICO National affialiate members together to tell their stories to US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and demand that Congress takes urgent action on this issue.
CCISCO Leaders Bring Bank of America/Countrywide to Antioch
Antioch, CA – After a very successful town hall action in Antioch last October which consisted of over 800 community members, Bank of America/Countrywide agreed to come to Antioch to provide loan modifications to stop preventable foreclosures in Contra Costa County.
“I want to see all banks working towards keeping people in their homes,” said CCISCO Leader Berenice Ramos, “If we continue getting the banks to work with us, I’m hopeful that we can get Obama’s administration to work on a national policy that helps stop preventable foreclosures.”
The foreclosure crisis has reached epic proportions and is affecting every aspect of the American economy. However, due to the commitment and hard work of CCISCO Leaders and the PICO National Network, the foreclosure issue has remained at the forefront, especially at the federal level. All efforts are focused on stopping preventable foreclosures as the new Obama administration transitions into power.
Locally, CCISCO leaders have been actively organizing to help homeowners stay in their homes and to maintain a strong sense of community in Antioch. This movement has grown and continues to reach across the nation.
Bank of America/Countrywide is just the beginning. As 2009 unfolds, hundreds of homeowners are becoming actively engaged in organizing around other big lenders who have continued to sit on their hands as foreclosures continue to mount.
The modification sessions are scheduled for Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. and will be taking place at Antioch Church Family (55 E. 18th Street, Antioch, CA). If you are interested in the loan modification sessions with Bank of America/Countrywide call (925) 313-0206 ext. 14.
Pittsburg High School Parents Unite to Improve Student Achievement
Pittsburg, CA – On Monday, January 12, 2009, a diverse group of 250 parents and students came together at St. Peter Martyr Church united to change the prevailing culture of student failure at Pittsburg High School.
“The purpose of tonight’s meeting is to take action,” declared Nancy Borjon, one of the Pittsburg High School parents who co-chaired the event. “We want to build momentum for serious action to be taken to improve teaching and learning at Pittsburg High School.”
The diverse group of parents brought to light the increase of student failure due to the existing assessment process which unjustifiably penalizes students without the proper tutoring or academic direction to succeed. Parents have been organizing and working towards building a common culture which fosters success rather than failure, where parents, teachers, students, administrators, and the community are actively pursuing this important goal for the sake of their children’s futures.
Parents won support from the Pittsburg Unified District school board members; Superintendent Barbara Wilson; and Principal Todd Whitmire to implement a series of recommendations to improve the grading and assessment policy and to improve teaching and learning at Pittsburg High School.
“I want to commend you for bringing this data together,” Pittsburg School Board member Vince Ferrante told the assembled crowd. “You’ve shown that this kind of work can be done by parents in Pittsburg.”
Parents won support for several important reforms including:
* Developing a new communication plan to engage parents and families in a pro-active fashion and strengthening relationships between the school and home;
* Improving the Mastery Center to help students learn from the assessments and improve their performance; Strengthen teacher development and accountability;
* The immediate reinstatement of D’s in the grading policy; and
* Shift the weighting and frequency of the assessment process to allow more classroom time for instruction.
Coalition Packs City Council Meeting for Concord Naval Weapons Station Re-Use Plan Vote
Concord, CA – Over 250 people gathered at Monday night’s Concord City Council meeting to voice their opinions and suggestions for the final vote of the Concord Naval Weapons Station re-use plan.
“We need housing that addresses the needs of all of our communities,” said CCISCO Youth Leader Kleidys Rodriguez, “affordable housing built into this plan is a great opportunity to reflect Concord’s diversity.”
A regional park was also brought to the attention of the City Council as the population continues to grow in Concord.
“We can build a stronger community by supporting local activities,” CCISCO Youth Leader Maria Hidalgo told the City Council, “a regional park will attract people from different cities who can invest in our city and will also provide recreation for youth and families here in Concord.”
The city council took Hidalgo’s suggestion to heart. After years of deliberation involving virtually every Concord agency, numerous consultants, and thousands of community residents, and input from CCISCO Leaders, the Concord City Council voted in support of the clustered village alternative with strong considerations for open space, affordable housing, living wage jobs and local hiring policies.
“This is not a developer driven plan, this is a citizen driven plan,” said Councilmember Guy Bjerke. With three of the five Council members strongly advocating for affordable housing policies which will improve the lives of Concord residents in the near future, and four out of five Council members expressing support for new local hiring policies, there is no doubt about the amount of consideration taken for the future of a thriving and economically sustainable Concord.
At Monday night’s meeting, City Council members expressed first stage approval for some of the following key features to be included in the Concord Naval Weapons Station re-use:
* 3,200 acres of parkland and open space; 64 percent of the base’s 5,028 inland acres, along with a robust trail system, including almost all land east of the creek to the ridgeline. The amount originally proposed was 50%, but was broken up and fragmented by development. A Regional Park which is nearly 2,400 acres –a mile wide and 4 miles long, an area bigger than Tilden Regional Park — including almost everything east of the creek and everything south of Bailey Road.
* A widened urban linear park along the neighborhoods from the original 50-100′ proposed, from the recent proposal of 180′ – 350′ – 450′ (the width varies), to last night’s go ahead for an increase to 275′ – 400′ – 490′. This also preserves the experimental forest areas along the Weapons Station boundary.
* Support for a dense, mixed use, walkable, bikable transit-oriented development near North Concord BART, with transit villages in the bunker city area west of the creek which could also benefit transit in the neighborhoods to the west and throughout the city, including 12,300 housing units and 26,000 jobs.
* A 150 acre Cal State campus, near research/commercial areas.
* Protection of a 300′ wide, 5 mile long Mt. Diablo creek corridor.
* $38 million for the homeless housing component of the integrated affordable housing model.
* Strong verbal support for prevailing wage, living wage and apprenticeships.
* Significant acreages for community facilities such as schools, community centers, and large urban parks in which other amenities can be located.
CCISCO Organizes Largest Community Action to Address Foreclosures
Antioch, CA – On Monday, October 27, 2008, CCISCO and PICO National Network organized the largest community action around the foreclosure crisis to date and the first national event led by community leaders impacted by the crisis. Over 800 residents packed the hall as they shared their proposals for action at a national, state, and local level with public officials and bank representatives.
On stage at the parish hall, CCISCO leader Rosario Frisse told the assembled crowd to close their eyes and count to ten. Working men and women, mothers holding their babies, school kids doing their homework all did as she asked. “In the time that it took for us to count to ten,” Frisse said, “another family in America has lost their home.”
Twenty-one PICO organizations participated in the event, either in person or watching as the event was broadcast live on the internet. A”virtual” National Roll Call, with eleven PICO organizations from eight states called into the action to declare their support for the campaign. To watch the recorded event click here
“With more than 1,000 regional congregations and 1 million families working in 150 cities and towns, PICO is one of the largest grassroots community in the United States,” PICO representative Gloria Cooper said to the cheers of the crowd. “So you know you’re connected to something big. In November, hundreds of people will go to Washington, DC with one common message: work with us! We want to keep our families in their homes!”
The town hall meeting was the first in a series of actions to be held across the country by PICO affiliates. PICO is pressing the Treasury Department to require banks that it invests in to develop systematic protocols for modifying the mortgages of families facing foreclosure, based on a proven approach developed by the FDIC in its takeover of IndyMac.
The foreclosure crisis is affecting communities in an unprecedented manner. Cities like Antioch suddenly find themselves in a downward spiral of foreclosures. “Often times we hear about the numbers, but we never see the faces,” Antioch Mayor Don Freitas said. Here in the city of Antioch at the end of September, we had 3,829 foreclosures in this community. That’s more than 10 percent of all the houses that this community has – more than 10 percent.”
Crime and blight are starting to become prevalent in cities with high foreclosure rates. Mayor Freitas added, “We have illegal activities occurring in these homes. Everything is dying. It brings the other property values down lower, and lower and lower. So when you ask, will the city of Antioch stand up to help you? The answer is, yes.”
“We’re finding our homeless population is changing because of what is happening in foreclosures and people that have found themselves in disarray because of the way that predatory lenders have done their business,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover. An increase in homelessness has been attributed to the number of families who find themselves evicted from their homes.
PICO leaders from across the country gave testimonies regarding their experiences with the way some banks have essentially turned their backs on homeowners. “It’s like in medieval times, where the kings are in their castles and the subjects are outside trying to get a crust of bread,” testified Kansas City Communities Creating Opportunity leader Mary Rabon who flew in for the event. Seferino Leon testified about losing his home, only to see it sold at auction for half of what he had paid, far less than he had offered the bank during his countless attempts to modify his loan. Marian Youngblood from Kansas City testified of her experience as a loan officer in Kansas City and being trained to falsify income amounts on applications and watching borrowers fall behind on their second payment. “As a Christian, it broke my heart,” she said. So she quit.
The demands were simple. A freeze on foreclosures. Rewrite loan agreements so families can stay in their homes and peg mortgage payments to 34% of the family’s income. Prior to the event, CCISCO and the PICO National Network released a report entitled “Too Big To Fail: How broad-based detailing their recommendations.
By the end of the night some significant commitments were made which included:
1. Bank of America/Countrywide agreed to work with PICO affiliates in 25 cities to help families facing foreclosure benefit from a new legal settlement that applies FDIC-type loan modification protocols to borrowers who had Countrywide mortgages.
2. An FDIC representative agreed to help set up a meeting between PICO clergy and faith leaders and FDIC Chair Sheila Bair in November.
3. State legislators committed to introducing new legislation to address the foreclosure crisis during the special session to be convened in the coming weeks.
4. Local and county officials in Northern California agreed to include community residents in developing a plan to use federal neighborhood stabilization funds to help Contra Costa County, CA respond to the foreclosure crisis.
5. Contra Costa County officials agreed to work to create a new Foreclosure Diversion program that channels people at-risk of losing their homes into mandatory mediation with lenders.
Mike Gross, representing Bank of America and Countrywide, agreed to developing a national agreement to work with PICO and CCISCO to implement their proposals for addressing the foreclosure crisis and keeping families in their homes. “It is just plain good business for Bank of America,” he said.
The next steps in the National Campaign include:
1. Wells Fargo: Despite having received nearly $25 billion in public investment and having serviced over $83 billion in sub-prime loans in 2006, Wells Fargo, which was invited to participate 6 weeks ago, and has been in negotiations with PICO, chose not to attend the action. PICO leaders have requested a face-to-face meeting with Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf within sixty days to enter into meaningful negotiations to develop a corporate policy that adopts systematic loan modification.
2. U.S. Treasury: PICO clergy and faith leaders announced that they would travel to Washington, DC on November 18 to meet with Treasury officials to press for a comprehensive approach to preventing foreclosure through mass loan modification and stronger efforts to put bank-owned vacant property back into the hands of families. Faith leaders across the country are invited to sign onto to a national statement calling for a new approach to the foreclosure crisis that will be delivered to Secretary Paulson in November.
This is just the beginning of a national campaign and PICO organizations across the country are preparing to hold similar events. Events have already been scheduled in Kansas City, Missouri and San Jose, California. In November, hundreds of PICO leaders will carry this message to Washington. As CCISCO leader Raul DeAnda said, “Secretary Paulson, if you are watching at home: PICO is coming to Washington!” To which the attendees cheered and chanted “Si se puede, yes we can!”
The Senate should pass child health legislation now, and then keep going by Fr. Jerry Brown
In these dark economic times, families across the country have their first glimmer of hope that they just might get some help from Washington after all. With the passing of the State Children’s Health Initiative Program (SCHIP) by the House of Representatives today the renewal of hope now lays on the hands of the senate.
As unemployment rises and more and more families lose their health insurance, the Senate is poised to pass legislation to expand the successful State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying she wants legislation on President-elect Obama’s desk by Inauguration Day.
For the millions of parents whose children lack health care, and for the millions more who worry about their children losing their existing coverage as the economy falters, the immediate passage of SCHIP is a crucial first step towards broader economic recovery.
In 2008, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured released a report showing that, for every 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate, the number of people who enroll in SCHIP or Medicaid increases by 1 million while an additional 1.1 million join the ranks of the uninsured. This means that if unemployment rises to 10 percent – as some economists think it will – an additional 5 million people could be looking to enroll in SCHIP or Medicaid, including 3 million children. Without strengthening SCHIP, states could not withstand such a huge increase in applicants, which would in turn leave millions of more children uninsured.
For state governments facing huge budget deficits, an expanded SCHIP also means more health care funding passing through their states at a time when it’s needed most. In order to give states the confidence they need to maintain and expand their programs, however, the Senate needs to assure a minimum of four years of funding.
For nearly three years, faith leaders from CCISCO have joined together with sister organizations in the PICO National Network and child health advocacy organizations in a nationwide campaign to expand health care to the nation’s 8.6 million uninsured children. Despite numerous setbacks, we have remained steadfast in our faith in our nation’s leaders to do the right thing for our children.
Kicking off a broader economic recovery agenda by addressing children’s health is not only the most compassionate first step that the Senate can take, it can also build the common ground we need for tackling the larger issues of health reform, job growth, and foreclosure relief. There are few places where the grip of ideology breaks down more than when dealing with what’s good for our children.
During a time of crisis, people turn to their faith communities for both spiritual and physical nourishment. As a faith-based community organization, our member congregations are seeing the on-the-ground effects of the current economic crisis, including increasing numbers of families losing their jobs, their health insurance, and their homes. Let’s pray that immediate passage of SCHIP is the Senate’s first step towards once again putting families first and helping everyday Americans get to work rebuilding their communities.
Fr. Jerry Brown
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brentwood
CCISCO Leaders Help Lead National Foreclosure Protest in Washington D.C.
Washington, D.C. – CCISCO leaders along with over 200 PICO leaders from across the country gathered in prayer on November 18 in front of the Treasury Building before delivering a letter signed by 500 faith leaders calling on Treasury Secretary Paulson to adopt a mass mortgage modification plan that would keep as many as 2 million families from losing their homes.
“We want them to look at the bigger picture. Don’t just look at Wall Street, look at Main Street. Look at the man next door who is working hard and really paying taxes,” said Minister Marvin Webb, CCISCO leader from Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond, California. “We are asking the secretary and Congress to keep people in their homes.”
Representatives from cities where the foreclosure crisis has hit the hardest held signs displaying the number of people facing foreclosures, while people who have lost their homes gave their personal accounts. Webb prayed between each testimony.
“Remove the veil between the people of this nation and the people in authority. Pierce the veil of Secretary Paulson and Congress and move in their hearts today,” Webb prayed, while the crowd shouted, “Wake up! Wake up, Secretary Paulson!”
CCISCO leaders have demonstrated that when there is tremendous pain in the community, their voices will be heard.
“It’s too late for me, but it’s not late for millions of people that are going through the same pain,” said CCISCO leader Berenice Ramos of Holy Rosary Church in Antioch as she testified outside the stone pillars of the Treasury Department, where hundreds staged the morning prayer session.
In the coming weeks, PICO will hold public negotiations with officials in cities where foreclosure numbers are high. While in Washington, CCISCO and PICO leaders met with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank and Senior Obama transition officials to ask for their help in keeping people in their homes.
“We want them to see the faces of people who are distressed. We want them to take the power they have and adjust loans and mortgages so people can stay in their houses,” Webb said.
Also a priority for the Washington D.C. trip was the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). CCISCO Leaders, PICO clergy and other religious leaders met with Senate Finance Committee Staff Director, Russ Sullivan; Senior Health Staff for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; and dozens of Congressional and Senate offices, to urge quick passage of the SCHIP program and an increase in Medicaid payments to states as first steps in the road to comprehensive health reform.
Pittsburg High Parents Want Changes to Assessment Process
Pittsburg, CA – On Wednesday, December 10, 2008, over 100 leaders, parents, teachers, and students presented their research findings regarding the effects of assessment tests on student achievement to the Pittsburg Unified School District.
With the exception of 11th grade English (23% failing), students range from over 50% failing in English to 61-78% failing in Math. These staggering statistics coupled with a lack of resources to address academic failure has left students discouraged and defeated.
“I study and study, often to 2:00 AM in the morning. I do all my work, and still I continue to fail. It is so frustrating”, said student Elizabeth Aguirre as she broke into tears during her testimony.
Parents expressed the concern that they have not been given the tools to help their children. The lack of extra-curricular help has left students falling further and further behind with very little to show except for more assessments tests.
“It is important to test, but we need teachers who can adequately prepare them. The way we have now is not working,” says Brenda Scott mother of a 10th grader at Pittsburg High School.
The research report revealed that parents have not given up on their children.
Parents envision a Pittsburg High School where every student graduates prepared for life: ready for college or career. They are working to help build a common culture, one that fosters success rather than failure, where parents, teachers, students, administration, and community are of one accord in reaching this important goal.
“The assessments are failing our students both emotionally and academically. We want the Pittsburg School Board to know that we are tired of our hard working students failing,” says Sophia Hernandez, mother of a 9th grader at Pittsburg High School.
St. Anthony’s Hosts First Ever Public Health Enrollment Event for All Public Coverage Programs in Contra Costa
Oakley, CA – On Sunday, November 16, 2008, CCISCO leaders at St. Anthony’s Church organized a health enrollment day in conjunction with Contra Costa Health Services which helped over 30 families sign up for Healthy Families, Medi-Cal, Health Coverage Initiative and Basic Healthcare.
“It was so easy and convenient. I had previously tried to inquire about a program for my husband and was told he had to call himself. Of course that’s hard when he works during business office hours. But since he doesn’t work on Sundays he was able to attend the event with me. The counselor considered every member in my family for eligibility, now we’re all insured,” said Guadalupe Espinoza.
Over a dozen CCISCO leaders were trained as volunteers to help streamline the process for enrollment and facilitated and directed people to specific programs for which they qualify for. Recently, with the country in recession, Contra Costa County has experienced a rise in uninsured residents due to the high number of layoffs. Healthcare has become a growing concern as we head into the new year. We look forward to replicating the streamlined approach to other parts of the county to ensure that residents are aware of their options.
The event at St. Anthony’s was a pilot event to launch an ongoing campaign for public outreach and enrollment in health coverage programs for uninsured children and adults. The event was the result of a campaign launched in the Spring of 2007 where over 400 leaders gathered to advance reforms to improve access to health care for families across Contra Costa.
CCISCO and the Contra Costa Health Services will be conducting similar enrollment events in the near future in hopes of stemming the number of uninsured in the county and are planning a next event for Richmond, California in the coming months.
For more information on free and low cost healthcare call Contra Costa Health Services 1-877-503-9350 and ask about the Healthy Families, Medi-Cal, or Basic Healthcare programs.
GOTV Efforts Pay Off In Historic Election
CCISCO played a major role in getting out the vote for the November 4, 2008 election by organizing more than 220 youth in 22 precincts on a door to door campaign in Antioch, Concord, Oakley, Pittsburg, and Richmond. 10,000 voters were contacted and 3,000 were turned out on Election Day.
In Richmond, CCISCO youth leaders had an impact on important local initiatives, such as Measure T which will provide nearly $26 million in new funding to vital city services.
“In order to have a voice, you have to vote,” said 19-year-old Richmond resident, Ryan Cowart.
And vote they did. Youth were instrumental in both encouraging potential voters by making their message clear, “We’re too young to vote, but you can!”
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of youth, CCISCO has created a solid foundation for future elections at the local, state and national level which will serve to make the community’s voice heard.
National Foreclosure Action Set to Take Place in Antioch
Antioch, CA–CCISCO and PICO National have organized a massive town hall meeting on Monday, October 27, 2008 in Antioch to address the foreclosure crisis that is tearing communities apart and driving the economy down. Representatives from major banks, the FDIC and local state and federal politicians will listen to the concerns of homeowners as they present a real solution to the foreclosure crisis.
Homeowners are asking that the Treasury and lenders follow the lead of the FDIC, which successfully implemented broad-based loan modification when it seized IndyMac Bancorp. Bank of America recently agreed to adopt similar protocols as part of a predatory lending settlement with the Attorney generals and banking regulators from eleven states.
The FDIC/IncyMac protocols are already helping thousands of families get back on track on their mortgage payments. The following is a list of terms that would benefit families facing foreclosure and the economy at large:
1. The Treasury should adopt the FDIC protocols for laons that it purchases as part of the bailout legislation, and should pressure servicers to adopt their protocols when it owns a partial stake in the mortgage.
2. Broad-based loan modification should apply to sub-prime, option ARM and other Alt-A mortgage loans.
3. Monthly payments should be reduced to 34 percent of monthly income.
4. When interest rate reductions are not sufficient to reduce monthly payments to 34 percent of monthly income, loan modifications should include principal deductions.
By extending these protocols to all families facing foreclosure, it will help prevent people from losing their homes and stop falling property values.
Broad-based loan modification is a win-win for borrowers and investors, including tax payers who are on the hook for bad loans. According to Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC, restoring troubled loans into performing ones yields 87 cents on the dollar for a mortgage later sold, compared to 32 cents for a non-performing mortgage.
The event will be video-cast live on the web and congregations in 15 other cities in six states will participate by webcast and phone. The PICO National Network, comprised of 53 faith-based organizations and 1,000 religious congregations, and its local affiliate, Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization, say the government and lenders must adopt systemic foreclosure prevention strategies that go beyond the current failed case-by-case approach to loan modification.
Richmond and Concord Youth Mobilize to Get Out the Vote
On Saturday, October 4, 2008 a diverse group of over 80 youth from across Richmond went door to door across the flatlands of Richmond to register voters and encourage residents to get out and vote.
“Young people have always been at the forefront of creating change in our country,” declared CCISCO leader Minister Marvin Webb of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church at the orientation. “People will remember October 4, 2008 as the day that young people began to reclaim the City of Richmond.”
Youth contacted approximately 900 Richmond voters and registered an additional 43 new voters. The effort is completely non-partisan and focused on educating community residents about the upcoming election, registering all non-registered citizens and encouraging all Richmond citizens to vote this November. Youth will conduct final weekend get out the vote efforts and operating an Election Day “poll check” operation to ensure that all of the voters that are contacted make their voices heard on November 4th. Another group of youth leaders are preparing to go door to door on Saturday, October 18th.
Youth distributed literature about several important local and statewide ballot initiatives: Measure D: the renewal of the parcel tax to support local public schools; Measure T: the business license fee increase on large manufacturers that would generate an estimated $16 million in new revenues for Richmond; and against Proposition 6: which would change existing law so more children as young as 14 years old will be tried as adults and relegated to the criminal justice system.
“You are all like warriors in the fight to reclaim our communities,” Linda Salinas of Youth Together and Richmond High School told the group as they prepared to go door-to-door.
“It felt good to go out and take action,” shared Charles Connor, Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church youth leader and Middle College High School student. “So many people told us how good it was to see young people leading the way.”
On Saturday, October 11, over 30 high school and community college students gathered together to precinct walk Concord’s Monument Corridor. Two precincts were targeted in an effort to increase voter turnout in this coming election. The precinct walk was a non-partisan example of community organizing on behalf of committed and talented youth.
“We know we\re making a difference by reminding people to come out and vote on election day,” said Kleydis Rodriguez, “It was fun going door to door and talking face to face with people.”
CCISCO ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP CAMPAIGN ROLL CALL (participating institutions):
Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church
Contra Costa College baseball team
Go Get It Program
Easter Hill United Methodist Church
Leadership High School
Nystrom United Revitalization Effort (NURVE)
Poetry for the People
Richmond High School
St. Cornelius School
St. Mark’s Church
Seventh Avenue Baptist Church
Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church
CCISCO Youth Win Bilingual College Night
Brentwood, CA–On Wednesday, October 15th over 30 students and their parents attended a Spanish Financal Aid workshop as part of the organizing that has taken place at Liberty High School within the past year.
Youth Leaders have been actively working to ensure that Liberty High is a model for other local schools by developing a system that gives every student the opportunity to be ready and qualified to attend college.
The recent release of the true high school drop-out rates brings to light the many challenges facing our state educational system. Although the recent numbers are sad, CCISCO sees it as an opportunity to focus on working towards increasing graduation rates and ensuring that all students achieve their potential.
CCISCO conducted a community needs assessment that revealed that oftentimes students are not receiving information early enough to prepare for college admission. This is the case especially in the spanish speaking community of Oakley. A bilingual college night is the first of its kind to begin the dissemination of information to students who want to get ahead.
Parent engagement has been they key approach to fostering the development of all students as well as providing support from Liberty High for its student population. Outreach, especially in different languages is essential in keeping parents and students at the forefront of education and the jobs of the future.
Citizenship Drive Puts Democracy Into Action
Richmond-On September 30, 2008, CCISCO leaders at St. Mark’s organized a citizenship drive at St. Mark’s Church in the heart of the Iron Triangle as a way to take action and uphold the principles of democracy and the constitution.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Supervisor John Gioia attended the event to encourage immigrants to be part of the broader society. Both Mayor McLaughlin and Supervisor Gioia the opportunity to listen to concerns from the community regarding the unconstitutional seizure of people’s property at police checkpoints.
CCISCO Leaders at St. Mark’s Church recognize the connection between voting and having their concerns addressed and met. Through civic participation, they feel that the city of Richmond and this country can be a better place to live for working families.
In Contra Costa County, there are 53,114 immigrants who are eligible to naturalize and an estimated 14,000 reside here in Richmond. There are also 28,036 children of immigrants who will turn 18 by the year 2012.
“This citizenship drive has the potential to really transform our democracy. However, if we do not become citizens, if we do not vote, if we do not participate then nothing will change,” said CCISCO leader Jessica Peregrina, “It doesn’t matter who you are or how you came to this country, democracy needs everyone.”
Community residents who do not qualify to apply for citizenship at this time will receive a training on their constitutional rights in the spirit of upholding the principles of democracy.
Richmond Launches GOTV Campaign, Central and East County to Follow
In a coordinated effort to increase voter turnout, CCISCO has organized the Active Citizenship Campaign in Richmond with plans to expand out to Central and East Contra Costa County cities.
CCISCO will provide hands-on training to at least 100 Richmond youth and young adults in how to help promote active participation in the democratic process and contact at least 10,000 Richmond voters with a message of hope for change.
“This is about creating a culture of participation in our communities,” stated George Harris, CCISCO leader and long-time Richmond resident. “A great change is happening in Richmond and we want our young people to be in the forefront of this change.”
In Richmond, CCISCO leaders will be targeted 15 precincts nearly 30% of the total precincts in the City. Across Contra Costa County, CCISCO leaders are going to run a comprehensive voter registration and get out the vote effort targeting 25 precincts with a high number of “less than frequent” voters. CCISCO will be providing a stipend to any congregation or school youth group that volunteers to participate in the effort. This effort will be completely non-partisan and will focus on educating community residents about the upcoming election, registering all non-registered citizens and encouraging all citizens to vote this November.
Easter Hill United Methodist Church will be hosting the first voter registration and GOTV training on Saturday, September 13th from 10:00am to 12:00noon at EHUMC in 3911 Cutting Boulevard in Richmond.
Citizenship Drive in Brentwood
Brentwood–In an effort to make the citizenship process less complex and community oriented, CCISCO Leaders at Immaculate Heart of Mary organized a citizenship drive on Tuesday, August 5, 2008.
The event served to inform community residents of the importance of becoming a citizen as well as helped 22 lawful permanent residents complete their applications and beat the October 1, deadline.
The new proposed changes to the citizenship test will be affecting those submitting applications after October 1, 2008. Those who apply prior to the deadline will take the old test.
As the new test deadline nears, CCISCO leaders have taken active steps in organizing two more upcoming citizenship drives in Richmond and Concord to help lawful permanent residents achieve their dream of becoming citizens.
Upcoming CCISCO Citizenship Drives:
*****Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.*****
St. Mark’s Church, 159 Harbour Way South, Richmond, CA 94804
*****Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008 at 10:00 a.m.*****
Queen of all Saints Church, 2390 Grant Street, Concord, CA 94520
For more information call Apolonio at (925) 313-0206 ext. 10
Faith Leaders Call On Legislators To Protect Our Most Vulnerable
by Rev. Jerry Brown and Rev. Olman Solis
As clergy and faith leaders we believe that every human being is created in the image of God, and that each individual life is sacred. As a community of faith we are responsible for doing our share to guarantee life. Something is wrong when over 18,000 children and adults die each year because they lack health insurance and therefore don’t receive the adequate and routine health care they need.
Health care is a unique gift capable of restoring and sustaining life. What better way to give life to one another than by guaranteeing people’s access to health care. Our community of faith has an obligation to make it possible for each person to have quality health care that protects the most vulnerable.
Under Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal, 2,410 children in Contra Costa County would lose their health care. These are children who are currently eligible for existing health care programs, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of children who have no access to health care. In addition, the Governor’s proposal would result in severe cuts to public education and vital services for children, families, and services.
As faith leaders of large religious congregations in Contra Costa County, we see the pressing needs in our community every day. Programs such as Loaves and Fishes and the St. Vincent de Paul Society play a vital role in meeting these needs, but they are already overwhelmed. We need to protect many of the vital services that provide essential supports to our families and seniors.
On July 8th, the Budget Conference Committee proposed a compromise that would balance the state’s budget with a combination of cuts and new revenues. Although it is far from perfect, this compromise proposal takes a more balanced approach to solving the budget than the Governor’s “cuts only” proposal, by raising $8 billion in new revenue in order to protect California’s schools, seniors and people with disabilities.
The compromise proposal would still make significant cuts to public services. But it rejects many of the harshest proposals put forth by the Governor, such as the severe cuts to Medi-Cal, IHSS, and schools by only half as much as the Governor proposed.
Because California law requires a 2/3 vote to pass a budget, any budget proposal must get 54 votes in the Assembly and 27 votes in the Senate. This means that a budget proposal needs members of both parties to vote for it.
We are calling on all of our representatives in the California legislature to work together and compromise for the common good. We urge you to participate in the democratic process and contact your representatives and voice your concern.
Fr. Jerry Brown, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brentwood
Fr. Olman Solis, St. Anthony\’s Church, Oakley
Deacon Joe Tovar, St. Anthony’s Church, Oakley
Deacon Alan Layden, St. Anthony’s Church, Oakley
Deacon Frank Bustos, St. Anthony’s Church, Oakley
Rev. Lenita Shumaker-President, Council of Contra Costa County
Church Women United of Central Contra Costa County
Shell Ridge Community Church, Walnut Creek
Rev. Kenneth Sales, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brentwood
Rev. Richard Mangini, St. Bonaventure, Concord
Rev. Ron Schmidt, St. Anne’s Church, Byron
Rev. Brian Stein Webber, Director of Interfaith
WaMu Comes to the Table in Antioch
Antioch-On the evening of Friday, July 18, 2008, 100 homeowners faced with the possibility of foreclosure gathered to speak with representatives from Washington Mutual Bank to renegotiate the terms of their home loans in order to stabilize their families and their sense of community.
Community members have grown tired of being given the run-around over the phone and have taken matters into their own hands by developing a strategy for getting banks to meet face-to-face with homeowners.
“The person I spoke to on the phone said they would only give me a week and that by Monday I would be evicted.” said CCISCO leader Carlos Ramirez who had not missed a single payment in more than two years before his mortgage increased dramatically.
After months of organizing, those efforts have paid off as Washington Mutual has become the first bank to meet face-to-face with community members. The community applauds Washington Mutual for stepping up and working together with families to modify loans.
“At Washington Mutual, we are committed to doing everything we can to keep families in their homes,” said Washington Mutual representative Sondra Edwards.
Washington Mutual has committed to the following principles for the loan modification:
1) Provide staff that can meet face-to-face with borrowers in the community;
2) Lower interest rates;
3) Convert adjustable rate loans to fixed rate loans for the long term;
4) Reduce the amount of money owed in order to stabilize families
Housing counselors from ACORN, Catholic Charities of the East Bay, and TODOS UNIDOS were present to mediate and document the loan modifications. The City of Antioch and Mayor Donald Freitas have endorsed this effort and are encouraging other lenders to commit to conducting similar sessions in the near future.
Oakley Healthcare Resolution Passed
Oakley—On June 24, 2008, the City of Oakley unanimously approved a resolution in support of the establishment of a healthcare clinic.
The resolution calls upon the County and other medical providers to “take the necessary steps to establish the clinic.”
The satellite clinic would serve to expand healthcare access to thousands of East County residents.
Amid growing concerns over state budget cuts, CCISCO leaders have continued to work hard to keep families covered. With Federal D. Glover and County Supervisor Mary Piepho committed to healthcare, the issue will remain at the forefront of county needs.
Citizenship For A Healthy Democracy in East Contra Costa County
Oakley—On Sunday, May 18, 2008, as part of CCISCO’s commitment to improving health access in Contra Costa County and ensuring a healthy democracy, CCISCO leaders at St. Anthony’s Church in Oakley gave an update on the state of healthcare in East Contra Costa County. The presentation was followed by a citizenship drive that helped 30 lawful permanent residents complete their citizenship applications with the help of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and the California Human Development.
“Our local organizing committees in Oakley and Brentwood are proud to share that we have been working together to respond to our communities needs by holding today’s healthcare update and citizenship workshop,” said CCISCO Leader Teresa Flores, “We envision a community that is strong, healthy, thriving and involved.”
Federal D. Glover and County Supervisor Mary Piepho committed to continue fighting for Basic Healthcare and to bringing a satellite clinic to East Contra Costa County. “We are committed to the healthcare needs of the East County community,” said County Supervisor Mary Piepho.
Healthcare has been an important issue in East Contra County as a survey conducted last spring of 500 people revealed that 40% of the participants lacked healthcare and 25% suffered from a medical condition for which they were not receiving treatment.
Significant gains have been made in securing a location for the satellite clinic with La Clinica de la Raza and Basic Healthcare remains on the table despite recent budget cuts in the County. The city of Oakley has agreed to introduce a formal resolution in support of the satellite clinic in the upcoming months.
“As you can see, ordinary people like us have lots of power it’s just a matter of exercising it, said CCISCO Leader Teresa Del Real, “We look forward to working together to create future success in our community.”
Antioch Residents Call on Banks to Come to the Table and Halt Foreclosures
Antioch—CCISCO leaders from Holy Rosary Church in Antioch organized a protest to bring attention to the lack of response from banks as community residents face foreclosure on their homes. Over 50 people gathered in front of Bank of America Bank, Bank of the West, Wachovia Bank, and Washington Mutual Bank to bring to light the inactivity and complete disregard for the concerns of homeowners—a concern that has led to frustration.Many hard-working and employed homeowners have not received face-to-face meetings to discuss their home loan terms despite numerous attempts to make contact with the banks.
The prevailing practice by banks is to systematically turn their backs on home owners. Leaders want a stop to this practice and are calling on banks to have face-to-face meetings with community members to modify loans.
“A lot of us are going into foreclosure, or in danger of going into foreclosure,” said protester Luis Flores, who could no longer keep up with the $4,000 monthly payment on the home he’s lived in for seven years. “It came down to paying the bank or buying food.”
Ratings agency Moody’s recently released the results of a survey it conducted of the modification practices of subprime mortgage servicers regarding borrowers that have or will experience an interest rate reset on their loans in either 2007 or 2008. Sixteen servicers with a total servicing volume of approximately $950 billion, or roughly 80% of the market, provided data. “Specifically, the survey showed that most servicers had only modified approximately 1% of their serviced loans that experienced a reset in the months of January, April and July 2007.” (from report: “The Chasm Between Words and Deeds: Lenders Not Modifying Loans as They Say to Avoid Foreclosures” released by the California Reinvestment Coalition).
Washington Mutual claims to have held foreclosure workshops and that they have hired a new employee to begin addressing the foreclosure issue in Antioch. Bank of America, Bank of the West and Wachovia declined to comment.
The Holy Rosary Organizing Committee has been working to develop solutions to the foreclosure crisis in Antioch for the past five months. Leaders organized a foreclosure prevention workshop with over 200 participants in March 1, 2008 and have surveyed over 100 community members to identify barriers to saving their home. Leaders are targeting these institutions based on the results of those surveys and the difficulties that community members have had in getting their loans modified.
EBHO Honors CCISCO For Housing Work in Concord
Oakland—On May 8, 2008, East Bay Housing Organizations’ (EBHO) recognized CCISCO’s long history of fighting for affordable housing for working families in Concord and across the county. The recognition was presented to Roberto Peña, CCISCO leader at St. Francis of Assisi Church, by Concord’s Council Member Guy Bjerke.
“CCISCO helps everyday people win extraordinary victories, not by speaking for them, but by providing a vehicle for them to speak, act and engage in the public arena for themselves,” said Council Member Bjerke.
Peña emphasized that the current housing and economic situation that has hit Contra Costa County has put many families at risk of becoming homeless and in urgent need of affordable housing. “I am honored to receive this recognition on behalf of the working families in my community, said Peña, “I want to invite all of you to renew our commitment to making affordable housing a priority.”
CCISCO leaders have been active participants in the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord, a broad-based coalition of labor, environmental groups, neighborhood associations, affordable housing developers, and the faith community. The coalition has united to advance a progressive vision for the re-use of the Concord Naval Weapons Station, the largest new development project in the entire Bay Area. CCISCO is helping to engage dozens of low-income immigrants from the Monument Corridor to have a voice in the planning process and to highlight the importance of affordable housing for working families.
Pittsburg Residents Fight for Local Living Wage Jobs
Pittsburg—On Wednesday, April 16, 2008, CCISCO leaders and La Clinica held an action at St. Peter Martyr Church that brought over 150 people to call for an increase in jobs and job-creation for the city of Pittsburg. The proposal for a labor resource center and a local hiring policy that ensures jobs for local residents in the community met with strong support from city officials and police.
“When a public official sees people gathering like this it shows that these issues are important—I am committed and in support of the development of a local labor resource center,” said Pittsburg City council member Sal Evola, “it would give me great pleasure if all of these new jobs went to local residents.”
Recent research has demonstrated that on average 81% of Pittsburg community members commute 37 minutes to work while the national average is 26 minutes. There is, however, an opportunity for local jobs on the horizon with the expansion of eBART into Pittsburg.
There are two major projects currently in the works for the creation of jobs in Pittsburg. The eBART expansion which will generate new jobs in construction and retail and the new $93 million, 340,000 square foot pipe mill which will create 165 jobs. The labor center and a local hiring policy would be the pathway to link the community with these new job opportunities.
Part of the commitments made at the action were to convene a task force of local employers to help find solutions for residents looking for work in North Park Plaza to ensure that they are safe and have adequate resources.
“We’ve enjoyed an ongoing relationship with CCISCO for the last three years and we are committed to ensuring that the rights of workers and businesses are protected,” said Captain Nick Baker, City of Pittsburg Police Department.
The need for the job resource center was further underscored by the fact that 30% of workers did not receive pay for one or more days of work, 25% of them had been abandoned on the street without pay and only 2% had access to health coverage.
“Because you come from elsewhere does not mean that you should be treated with less dignity than anyone else in your adopted country,” said Chief of Staff David Fraser, “Supervisor Glover and I are committed to help in every way possible.”
Citizenship and Educational Workshops Come to Concord
Concord–On Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 10:00 a.m., over two hundred people attended the Citizenship Drive and Educational Workshops hosted by St. Francis of Assisi in response to growing anti-immigrant sentiment and to publicize the desire for immigrants to have a voice on the issues that affect their community. The event featured workshops on pressing issues in the community namely, Education, Immigrant Rights and the re-use of the Concord Naval Weapons Station. As a result of the event, 40 people in attendance completed their citizenship application after detailed review and quality control.
“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” said Concord Councilmember Guy Bjerke, “I want to thank you all for coming here today and participating in the democratic process.”
The event was organized by Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) to help the immigrant community of Concord become civically engaged. “We are here to establish clear goals: we want to participate in our democracy, learn English and vote in elections,” said CCISCO Leader Roberto Peña. The creation of new citizens also serves as a way to unify the Concord community. “We want to build bridges and unite our immigrant and non-immigrant communities together—to have everyone as one unified community,” added Peña.
Local youth played a major role in organizing the event’s educational workshops. The youth of Concord have taken up leadership roles to make education for all a reality. “We want a community where young people can dream and reach their goal of attending a university. A community where your legal status or your economic background isn’t a barrier to success,” said CCISCO Youth Leader, Kleydis Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a participant in the Go Get It! Program which offers academic support and guidance to students and their parents from the Monument Corridor at Mt. Diablo High School and Ygnacio Valley High School.
Those in attendance included, Councilmember Guy Bjerke, Congressman Miller’s Field Representative Terry Kelly-Farias, and representatives from the Concord Naval Weapons Station Reuse Michael Wright and Mayra Madriz.
Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) is helping to make citizenship a community-driven process by creating ways for eligible residents to become citizens together. As part of the citizenship drive, trained volunteers, lawyers and local non-profit organizations have joined PICO Bay Area to facilitate the citizenship application (N-400) process to ensure a free, quality controlled service. Once the process is complete, applicants will be connected with local Civics and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to learn the knowledge necessary to fulfill their dream of becoming citizens. The citizenship campaign will create citizens who will register to vote and be able to vote on critical issues that affect their communities.
CCISCO is part of the PICO Bay Area, a network of seven congregation-based community organizations in five counties across the Bay Area, including: Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action (BOCA); Congregations Organizing for Renewal (COR-South Alameda County); Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO); Oakland Community Organizations (OCO); People Acting in Community Together (PACT-Santa Clara); Peninsula Interfaith Action (PIA-San Mateo & Santa Clara); and the San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP). Collectively, we have 173 member institutions representing 219,000 families from diverse communities across the region.