Showing posts with label Government Against the Poor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Government Against the Poor. Show all posts

September 24, 2018

In Many Parts of Puerto Rico it seems like the storm hit yesterday. The damage it is still there.

Utuado (Central West in the Island). Even a well constructed cement house to which testament it does not breaks apart but the wind and the heavy rain blows it down the reveen. The worse part is this: A home in Utuado severely damaged by Hurricane Maria remains unlivable a year later.

Photographs by Joseph Rodriguez
Written by Ed Morales
Mr. Rodriguez is a photojournalist. Mr. Morales is the author of a book about Latino identity in the United States.
Last October, my sister and I traveled to Puerto Rico to pick up our 89-year-old mother and take her back to New York. Hurricane Maria had battered her remote mountain community in Río Grande, near the El Yunque National Forest. 

My mother, who coincidentally is named María, had long resisted our pleas to move to the mainland, but we knew that in the chaos after the storm, many Puerto Ricans, especially older people, would die. We didn’t want her to be one of them. She finally agreed to leave.

Because of the damage to her home in Utuado, Julia Rivera, 48, who has nine children, has to collect and store water in plastic jugs and cook meals in a makeshift kitchen she created in her backyard.

Poor communities in urban areas like Santurce and Loíza are struggling with severely damaged housing, the loss of jobs and small businesses, and sluggish responses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In rural communities, it’s even worse. Julia Rivera, a mother of nine in Utuado, a mountainous town in the path of Maria’s center, still needs funds to repair her leaking roof. “I have lost everything but my faith in God,” she lamented.

Julia Rivera’s son Sandro Rodriguez Rivera in his bedroom. The power is intermittent and water leaks through the house’s badly damaged ceilings.

Puerto Rico was experiencing a health care crisis before Maria, with doctors leaving in droves for the mainland and severe cuts in Medicaidlooming. In Vieques — an island on the east coast of Puerto Rico that once housed a United States Navy base — the hospital was flooded and then overtaken by toxic mold. The hospital remains closed, and patients can receive only basic care in temporary medical facility.

Anna Tufino Camacho, 93, lives alone in Vieques. Blind in one eye, she also has heart disease and a fractured spine. Volunteers from Fundación Stefano check in on Ms. Camacho, who weathered the hurricane by lying in a bathtub.

A mural in Old San Juan that means “Promise Is Poverty,” a reference to the Financial Oversight and Management Board imposed by Congress.

In Palo Seco, Juanita and Artemio García, who would like to rebuild their local cafe, are weighing whether to move to Orlando, Fla., to be with their son, a music teacher, and his children. “I still haven’t made up my mind,” Mr. García said. “My son keeps asking, and maybe he’s right. I miss my grandchildren.”

 Juanita and Artemio García, married 54 years, would like to rebuild their café, named Two Times, in Palo Seco, but are considering moving to Florida.

Fernando Montero, a 64-year-old coffee farmer in Utuado, and his wife, Maria Gonzalez, lost six of their thirteen acres of coffee plants in the hurricane. Mr. Montero says it will take three years for the crop to come back.

And yet, as spring approached, my mother began to miss the rhythms of her barrio. In February, we heard that the power there had been restored. Her sister, Mercedes, and her neighbors had made their way back. Though we had wanted so much for her to stay, we knew it was time for her to do the same. She needed to be in the place that made her feel alive. 

Ed Morales teaches at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and his latest book is “Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture.” 
Joseph Rodriguez is a photojournalist whose latest book is “Spanish Harlem: El Barrio in the ’80s.” This article was produced with support from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
Produced by Jeffrey Henson Scales and Isvett Verde

April 27, 2018

Ben Carson Unveils Plan to Raise Rents to The Poorest of The Poor Not Yet Homeless

 Dr Ben Carson who beleives people in the projects are in luxury but $35k for a table paid for the same government is just something needed for the HUD office to make it look presentable since it represents people living in luxury.
'Well dear, What Could I remove from you today? I have $26 Millions but every bit helps, my beautiful wife always says'

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson wants Americans living on housing assistance to put more of their income toward rent and he wants to give public housing authorities the ability to impose work requirements on tenants.
Under current law, most tenants who get federal housing assistance pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent, and the government kicks in the rest up to a certain amount.
According to the HUD plan unveiled Wednesday, the amount many renters would pay jumps to 35 percent of gross income.
In some cases, rental payments for some of the neediest families would triple, rising from a minimum of $50 per month to a minimum of $150, according to HUD officials. Some 712,000 households would see their rents jump to $150 per month under the proposal, the officials said.
The rent reform overhaul requires congressional approval. If passed, the changes in how rent is calculated could impact many of the 4.7 million families HUD helps to access affordable housing.
The proposal is part of the Trump administration's push to attach work requirements to government safety net programs
Carson said the current way the department calculates a family's rental assistance is broken and outdated. Revamping rental policies would give property owners, housing authorities and residents a system that is "simpler, less invasive and more transparent."
"The way we calculate the level of assistance to our families is convoluted and creates perverse consequences, such as discouraging these families from earning more income and becoming self-sufficient," Carson told reporters on a conference call with reporters.
Tenants' rights advocates condemned the HUD proposal.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., who also chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, criticized the rent overhaul.
"Secretary Carson's immoral, ill-advised proposal is the latest example of the Trump administration's war on poor people," Richmond said in a statement.
"Thankfully this proposal would require Congressional approval before it can become law, and the Congressional Black Caucus will work with our colleagues in Congress to oppose it and other related measures," he said.
HUD officials said the proposal would not impact rents paid by those currently receiving federal subsidies who are 65 and older and those with disabilities, for the first six years. Officials say more than half of the families HUD serves are elderly and disabled.
Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition called the HUD proposal "troubling." She said seniors could still be impacted because the proposal also removes some income deductions that tenants could use to lower rents.
"The bill would actually increase rents for households that have high medical or child care expenses by eliminating income deductions for those costs. So the greatest burden of the rent increases would be felt seniors, people with disabilities and families with young kids," Yentel said.
The changes would first be applied to "work-able people," which officials estimate could be around 2.3 million households.
The proposal also calls for verifying the income of those who receive subsidies less often — every three years instead of annually. Officials said this would allow tenants to work and earn more without encountering an immediate increase in rent.
And the proposal allows public housing agencies or property owners who rent to those with subsidies to establish minimum work or job training requirements for individuals and families. Those 65 years or older and those with disabilities would be exempt from this change.
Earlier this month President Trump issued an executive order directing the secretaries of labor, commerce, HUD and five other departments to "do everything within [their] authority to empower individuals by providing opportunities for work, including by investing in Federal programs that are effective at moving people into the workforce and out of poverty."

July 29, 2017

US Stops Applications for Innovative Anti Poverty Efforts


Development Ventures International was the first investor in Mera Gao Power, 
which has designed a solar-powered microgrid to provide electricity to off-grid villages in India.
Anna da Costa/Courtesy of USAID
A U.S. government venture capital fund supporting efforts to end extreme poverty will stop accepting new grant applications tonight.
Friday's announcement puts a hold on a program that provides seed funding for innovative initiatives like developing low-cost smart tractors in Nigeria and running a peer support group for pregnant women in Nepal.
Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) chief Anne Healy emailed grant recipients earlier this week that applications for funding will close at 11:59 p.m. tonight.
"We will temporarily suspend the DIV application window due to shifting resource constraints," Healy wrote.
"This means we will no longer be accepting applications for new awards. We hope this will be temporary."
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, criticized the decision, blaming proposed budget cuts by the White House for the temporary suspension.
"A highly-successful USAID public-private partnership model is on the chopping block," he told NPR. "Development Innovation Ventures helps find solutions to the world's most pressing, complex development challenges. Eliminating its funding would be a tremendous setback to communities around the world."

DIV is a part of the U.S. Global Development Lab, a program at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Since its founding in 2010, DIV has made nearly 170 awards for more than $90 million in more than 40 countries. Award recipients include NGOs, businesses, research groups and universities.
"This is a program that is important for us to continue in order to deploy foreign aid effectively and reach as many people as possible," Ann Mei Chang, the former chief innovation officer at the U.S. Global Development Lab, told NPR. Chang is now a consultant.
"Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for people during the budget process who want to allocate money to programs that are low-cost and have a big impact," Chang said.
A USAID spokesman noted that "the temporary closure of the application window does not mean a closure of the DIV program. Every effort will be made to limit disruption to existing awardees of a DIV grant."
There is no indication when the grants will reopen. 
Chang believes the decision is the result of uncertainty about the U.S. foreign aid budget. A budget proposal by President Donald Trump for next year seeks to cut the foreign affairs budget by 32 percent — most coming from foreign aid and diplomacy. Republicans in Congress made clear that they will not enact the significant cuts, but it is unknown whether they will opt for modest reductions to the foreign aid budget.
A bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Castro and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, sought to protect Global Development Lab funding through fiscal year 2021. Both congressmen have praised the lab. According to a USAID spokesman, "the 170 breakthrough innovations" funded by DIV "have reached 13 million people in poverty and resulted in $5 in additional funding from outside investors for every tax dollar spend.
"The Global Development Lab has been critical to the U.S. development effort to help mitigate the effects of food shortages, conflict and other economic hardships abroad," said McCaul in September 2016.
"By fostering public-private partnerships, and fusing together science, technology and innovation, the Lab has been able to produce cost-efficient, transformational breakthroughs that have improved the lives of millions in impoverished countries."
Creative Financing to Make Small-Scale Farming Technologies Affordable for the 
Rural Poor Small-scale farming is the principal source of livelihood for many in Kenya. 
Agriculture provides 71 percent of employment and accounts for over 25 percent of Kenya's GDP.
Esther Havens/Courtesy of USAID
The co-sponsors applauded Congress for passing the bill last fall. The bill is now waiting for the approval of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before moving to a vote in the Senate.
DIV works in a similar manner to the way venture funds operate in the private sector. Money is made available at all stages of a company's development to help it grow and succeed. Funded programs are monitored closely to determine whether they work and if they can scale up.
Groups are eligible for money ranging from $100,000 seed grants for new ideas to $5 million multiyear grants to expand innovations that already work.
In a recent round of DIV funding, more than $6 million was awarded to 12 organizations in October 2016.
Programs ranged from a pilot by the international charity CARE to use "a nanotechnology device and solar radiation to improve the quality of drinking water in lower Amazonian rural populations" in Peru to a mass media campaign by Development Media International to increase contraceptive use in Burkina Faso.
Such funding is "crucial," Stephanie Hanson, senior vice president for policy and partnerships at One Acre Fund, said to NPR.
The nongovernment organization helps farmers obtain quality seed and fertilizer. It's using DIV funding over the next three years to grow its programs in Uganda and Malawi. The goal is to expand the reach from 5,000 smallholder farmers to 35,000 farmers.
The USAID grant "was transformative for our work," she said.
Tom Murphy is a journalist focused on foreign aid and development. His work has appeared in Foreign PolicyGlobalPostHumanosphere and the Guardian. Tweet him @viewfromthecave. NPR

April 21, 2015

88,200 New Yorkers Trying to get one of 55 Affordable(?) Units

2015_04_notpoordoor.jpgThis is probably the rich door
The Upper West Side building that made "poor doors" a policy issue has been flooded with low-income New Yorkers trying to get inside. The developer claims that over 88,000 applications for the 55 affordable housing rental units have been received so far.
Gary Barnett, president of 1 Riverside Park (the rich door side with pool, gym, bowling alley, indoor playground, "Yoga, Pilates, Personal Training and Kinesis Rooms," golf simulator, etc.), told the NY Times, "I guess people like it. It shows that there’s a tremendous demand for high-quality affordable housing in beautiful neighborhoods." The Times adds, "Mr. Barnett said 88,200 applications had been received by early Monday. Officials with the NYC Housing Partnership, the nonprofit that will screen applicants for the developer, said that applications could reach 90,000 by the time the submission period ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday. The total will not be known until mailed applications, which must be postmarked by Monday, are counted."
21815.jpgThe building
As Chris Robbins explained last year, "The new residents of One Riverside Park [will] enjoy their 'rock climbing wall' and $25 million views. At the adjacent [470 West 62nd Street], Normal Humans can reside in relative comfort for $833/month in a studio, $895/in a one bedrooom, and $1,082 for a two-bedroom. The catch is that you have to earn between $30,240 and $50,340, and submit to a litany of credit and background checks and the kind of crippling uncertainty that rich people aren't usually acquainted with."
Barnett insisted, "The most important thing is to provide affordable housing. It’s what people really want."
2015_04_poordoor2.jpg1 Riverside Park aka 40 Riverside Boulevard
Mayoral spokesman Wiley Norvell said, “We oppose so-called poor doors and will change the necessary rules so that when affordable housing is provided on-site, we will not allow separate entrances based on income."  
No matter what the government calls the people that will be selected for these units they are not for poor New Yorkers nor homeless. The owners of the buildings will be getting tax abatements and other permits to make these crumbs available. Meanwhile Poor New Yorkers will keep becoming  homeless as they loose they rent stabilized apartments they might have now. These apartments start at a fair or even low rents but every year they go up the maximum allowed by law. These means that as these retired or disabled people depending on a small pension or social security pay these increases it will come the time they can not afford the apartments( rent stabilized ). It’s pure simple math.
 As the apartments go up every year these people incomes can not keep up with the increases. The tax payers will pay for those Luxury 55 units and they will pay for the rent stabilized units and they will pay for the shelters for those who become homeless and they will pay for new apartments for the qualified homeless that lost their apartments to the rent increases the city approves every year through a group of landlord caring group appointed by the mayor.  Its all a game to fool some people into believing that the city is giving luxury apartments to the poor thus having a reputation of a merciful fair government (I heard this by commenters at FaceBook) It’s a joke but no body will be laughing except!! the developers who will get permits for buildings that are too tall and sometimes in the wrong places for a measly number of apartments for a measly number of people. It will be better for the tax payer and the the working poor and non working poor to get a better effort in securing permanent shelters, I mean apartments that they can afford. Now wait a minute! the city just passed a bill that the people that get those units will be able to use the gym, sauna and benches outside the building. The can also enter through the main door, which before they could not and had special elevators marked for them. You see the building management people of apartments of that kind were keeping the lucky people that got the cheap units from utilizing the luxury commodities of the building, even the entrance!!!! The city let them have it though in a one two punch. Now those making $30-45k a year can rub shoulders with the ones making a million  a year. What a city government we have. By the way the name of the government in the city is “Progressive.” I’m ticked all over and feeling like throwing up, it most the building lunch I had.

Few Facts:

There are hundreds of thousands of homeless people in the United States. The picture below shows the estimated numbers by state. California has by far the largest amount of homeless people.
homelessness-estimates-by-state_hudNY: 77,420
This a homeless problem in Australia as well. The ratio is 1 in every 200 people are homeless. Look at the following statistics taken from Homelessness in Australia:

March 21, 2015

The Suburbs Could Help Crowded New York City? In Your Scarsdale Dreams

New York City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod said something on Tuesday that badly needed saying: The city cannot solve its housing shortage on its own. The suburbs must step up and create more dense, affordable housing too. If they do, it will be good for housing affordability, and for the environment.

It’s fashionable among economic policy wonks to attack the nation’s densest cities such as New York and San Francisco for causing their own lack of affordability by restricting new housing development. There is certainly some truth to this critique. That’s why New York City is changing the zoning in many areas to allow taller buildings, incentivize developers to include more affordable units, and remove some parking requirements. (Disclosure: My mother is the director of the New York City Planning Department’s zoning division.)

But the people who have to actually make New York City run and keep it livable — like Mayor Bill de Blasio and Weisbrod — have a huge challenge: The city is already bursting at its seams. Many subway lines are unbearably crowded at rush hour, traffic is a nightmare, and the sewers overflow when it rains heavily. New York’s infrastructure cannot support adding new residents ad infinitum.

Meanwhile, New York’s suburbs are ungodly expensive. Just like in the city, this is primarily the result of high demand and limited supply due to development restrictions. The difference? Those restrictions in the suburbs require much lower density, with much more parking, and the result is much more fossil fuel emissions. The average density in New York City is over 27,000 people per square mile. The New York metropolitan region as a whole has only 2,800 people per square mile, because its suburbs are less dense than the suburbs of Los Angeles. That’s why the average resident of Manhattan has half the carbon footprint of her counterpart in suburban Great Neck, Long Island.

Here is Weisbrod’s crucial comment: “The city is the heart of the region. But our continuing health really depends on the vitality of all our surrounding counties as well as the city itself. We know that the number of suburbanites commuting to the city for work is growing. But, more interestingly, the number of New York City residents commuting to jobs outside the city is also growing.” More apartments in the suburbs, says Weisbrod, “helps relieve the pressure on our residents.” Weisbrod is obviously correct that more apartment housing options in suburban areas could reduce demand for housing in the city, which would restrain price increases.

It also would help lower-income workers currently reverse-commuting from the city to suburbs to cut their commute time and carbon footprint. For example, if you are poor and you live in the South Bronx, you may find work cleaning fancy houses in suburban Westchester. It would be more economically and environmentally efficient if you could live closer to your job. The problem is that most affluent suburbs don’t have — and often don’t allow — any affordable housing. That’s not just affordable housing in the publicly regulated or subsidized sense. They don’t allow the type of housing that is affordable on the free market, because they do not allow big buildings full of small apartments and without parking spaces. That’s why the New York region is among the nation’s most socio-economically segregated.  

Of course, many of the rich people who live in the suburbs — even the ones who publicly argue that New York City should have more tall apartment buildings — have no interest in denser, more affordable housing in their own towns. Just ask Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. REBNY is a powerful force in city politics, constantly demanding the freedom to build upwards. But Spinola himself lives on Long Island and he doesn’t think his neighbors would stand for letting lower-income renters into their communities. “I have some concerns over that solution,” Spinola told Capital New York when asked about Weisbrod’s comments. “I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done. But I live on Long Island. … there’s been lawsuits to stop [affordable housing] and so forth. … is this going to be a significant portion of the solution to affordable housing? I don’t think it is.”

If you take it as a given that suburbs can and will continue to reject socioeconomic diversity and environmental efficiency, then Spinola is right about the political challenge. But if the suburbs are smart, they’ll change their attitude. As The New York Times has repeatedly reported in recent years, officials in towns on Long Island have worriedly noted that younger families, and older people who can no longer drive, are increasingly abandoning suburbia. They don’t want car-dependent, monochromatic suburban neighborhoods, but are instead choosing a more urban lifestyle in transit-accessible, walkable areas. The smart towns are responding by building dense, walkable downtowns with apartments over stores. It’s also possible for the state or federal government to create federal housing subsidy programs that reward or punish towns or counties for building, or failing to build, their fair share of affordable housing.

However it happens, Weisbrod is right about what the New York region, and every region, needs: affordable apartments in the suburbs as well as the inner city.

 Ben Adler

I was invited to this meeting and at the last minute I decided not to go. Somehow I knew that I could not sit there while scapegoats and insulting arguments would be thrown to the wall to see if they stuck. Ive given the top of the page to the argument the son of the Chair.  My argument is not even an argument but an invitation to anyone with an open mind to look at what is happening. It is a short statement that self explains what the situation is.  

First, what the suburbs do or don’t do is not going to solve NY city’s housing crisis. Secondly the argument implies that the less affordable New Yorkers that have problems paying their ever increasing rents, should now buy a car with the insurance and expenses that go with it so they can moved to the now affordable (?) suburbs. 

Secondly, the suburbs cannot and would not solve NYC rent crisis because this is self created by New York with its zoning laws, overbuilding of luxury buildings and a commission tilted towards the owners. Up to now the owners get very close of they ask every year, for even these times that inflation is down and oil prices at a bargain and expected to continue. Anyone that drives around the city would see plenty of empty lots, empty buildings. There is construction but the construction is meant to be for luxury apartments and small percentage of  it. ”affordable” for people that don’t need  No they don’t need to be paying for an apartments in any borough at $500 a month when they are a single people earning over $30K or family of two making 45K. Those people could afford a $1500.00 a month for rent. Is that too much? Yes it is but the retirees or disabled making 1500.00 a month certainly cannot afford the 1500.00 rent but actually I know of SS recipients not SSI that pay $1000 a month plus utilities in apartments that go up every year at a rate much higher than any cola they might get on their checks.

To the conclusion it would be decent for the promises that were made on the last election be kept and also that we stop talking about 2020 for reports to suggest what to do as I heard on TV l;listening to the hearring.   To me they want those elderly, disabled people to go ahead and die to make the problem better with people of another generation that would probably be making more. I hope that is not the case but this is time to act so in two years maximum we have alleviated the problem.

March 16, 2015

New Map Shows Which Luxury Buildings You are Paying without Ever Setting Foot on them

12915one57.jpgA rendering of One57, a luxury building that received 421-a tax abatements because it subsidized 66 affordable units in the Bronx (via)
No government agency keeps track of how your tax dollars are used to subsidize luxury apartments—job-creating neighborhood-renewers shan't be stifled. But a handy new mapshows you where your investments live, and it's not in a three-bedroom Craigslist share in Bushwick. 
The Municipal Art Society had to retrieve data from the Department of Finance, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and the Department of City Planning to make the map, which shows that 60% of the $1.1 billion in tax revenue that we forfeited last year under the 421a tax abatement went to building apartments in Manhattan that very few people can actually afford. 
2015_02_masmap.jpgScreengrab of the map
In Manhattan, Long Island City, and large swaths of Brooklyn, the exemption is supposed to require that developers make 20% of their units "affordable," except when lawmakers give them a loophole to ignore or dilute the requirement. 
"It's not the 1970s anymore. In these booming Manhattan neighborhoods, the only value of a 421-a program is to spur affordable housing, yet the data on 421-a's affordable housing impact is largely unavailable," MAS' executive director, Margaret Newman, says in a release
One way of measuring 421a's impact would be to look at how much affordable housing was generated under Mayor Bloomberg: In 2013, 421a helped build 150,000 new apartments; only 12,000 of them were affordable. The city loses 11,000 affordable units to deregulation each year.
Another way would be to look at some of these properties getting the exemption: a few blocks from Bloomberg's apartment, at 150 East 86th Street, developers got $5.8 million in tax exemptions over a decade to build a total of 118 apartments, only 24 of them "affordable" (and those are built off-site). 
In the Financial District, 343 Broadway got $4.4 million over 20 years to build 358 apartments, only 18 of them "affordable." 
On the Upper West Side, 535 West End Avenue got $3.3 million over 10 years to build 31 apartments, and just six of them are "affordable." 
One57, pictured above, got $35 million in tax breaks, including for the $100 million penthouse that recently sold; for that, developers will build 66 "affordable" units in the South Bronx. 

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