Announcing the All-In Cities Anti-Displacement Policy Network


At PolicyLink, we know that fighting displacement is not only a moral imperative; it is essential for the future prosperity of our cities and our nation. Living in safe, stable, affordable homes, in healthy neighborhoods connected to opportunities, is necessary for achieving equity.

Which is why we are proud to announce the first 10 cities selected for the inaugural cohort of the All-In Cities Anti-Displacement Policy Network. Leaders from these cities -- including local elected officials, city staff, and community leaders – will work together over the next year on strategies to fight displacement and build inclusive, prosperous cities.

The cities are: Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Buffalo, NY; Denver, CO; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; San José, CA; Santa Fe, NM; and the twin cities of Minnesota (Minneapolis and Saint Paul).

This network will provide an opportunity to not only advance work in these places, but to capture and share out innovative practices to communities across the country. Read more about the network at All-In Cities.

This network is generously supported by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and The Kresge Foundation.  
 

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The Wait for an Infrastructure Proposal Is Over…and the News Isn’t Good!

The waiting is over and the result is painful. For a little over a year, the current administration has alluded to plans to address the nation’s infrastructure crisis. The allusions have become real and reveals contempt for people of color, poor and working-class communities, and the middle class.

The creation and maintenance of a strong infrastructure requires a partnership between the federal government and localities across the country. It is underscored by a mutual commitment to fixing infrastructure, addressing health and environmental threats, and delivering quality jobs for the millions of Americans longing for them.

Instead, this administration is shirking its responsibilities by reversing the 50-year commitment of investing $4 in federal contribution for every $1 invested by states and localities. The result is an infrastructure proposal that increases inequality and will leave behind even more people and communities in need. The proposal will cut highway and public transportation funding, drain wealth from working people through increased taxes and user fees, and gut vital protections for clean air and water. As a final insult, this proposal bestows a huge handout to Wall Street banks by privatizing roads, transit, water systems, and other public assets.

What we need is access to safe drinking water, affordable transportation, high-speed internet connections, and modern energy systems. Congress must reject the Administration’s Infrastructure Scam. Instead, equitable legislation must be enacted to ensure that the federal government makes a meaningful investment into infrastructure. That is the only way to expand economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for everyone. The nation’s infrastructure needs are serious and failing to address them imperils the health, opportunity, and prosperity of our country today and in the future.

HFFI Bill Would Expand Healthy Food Access, Revitalize Communities

Across the country, nearly 40 million Americans live in rural and urban neighborhoods where easy access to affordable, high-quality, and healthy food is out of reach. A new bill, introduced by Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Dwight Evans (D-PA), addresses this critical issue by bolstering an existing program that has demonstrated success in improving access to healthy foods and spurring economic revitalization in underserved communities. The “Healthy Food Financing Initiative Reauthorization Act” would reauthorize the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) program at United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Rural Development, originally established at the agency in the Agricultural Act of 2014.

In 2009, PolicyLink, The Food Trust, and Reinvestment Fund joined forces on a national campaign that, together with diverse partners and stakeholders, led to the launch of the HFFI program at the Departments of Treasury and Health and Human Services in 2011. Building on the success, HFFI’s inclusion in the 2014 Farm Bill came with strong bipartisan support, officially establishing HFFI at USDA and authorizing up to $125 million for the program. In January 2017, USDA announced the selection of Reinvestment Fund to serve as HFFI’s National Fund Manager.

To date, HFFI has invested $220 million in grants and loans to more than 35 states to improve access to healthy food, create and preserve jobs, and revitalize communities. The program’s public-private partnership model has enabled grantees to leverage over $1 billion in additional resources to expand healthy food businesses such as grocery stores, food hubs, co-ops and other enterprises that increase the supply of and the demand for healthy foods in low-income, underserved rural and urban communities. 

HFFI reauthorization and expansion would build on these past successes, as well as broaden and deepen the program’s impact, by targeting areas of the country that still struggle with healthy food access. Rural communities, small towns, and urban areas would benefit from the program’s investments expanding healthy food-related small businesses, strengthening farm to retailer and consumer infrastructure, and supporting local and regional food system development.  

We applaud the ongoing leadership and commitment of Representatives Fudge and Evans, each of whom have served as long-standing champions of HFFI and improving healthy food access.  Representative Fudge played a key leadership role in ensuring funding was authorized for HFFI in the 2014 Farm Bill legislation, and Representative Evans served an instrumental role to launch the highly successful Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which served as the original model for the federal HFFI program. 

Innovative programs like HFFI represent critical steps forward to ensure that all communities not only have access to healthy, affordable food, but also benefit from quality jobs, business development opportunities, and other resources needed to create healthy, thriving communities of opportunity.  

Trump’s State of the Union Address Reveals Tremendous Misalignment Between Talk and Action

Last night, during the annual State of the Union address, Trump began his speech with strong statements regarding the desire to be one united country — words that contradict his actions. In the last year we have seen DACA revoked, startling race baiting comments after Charlottesville, the slashing of major funding streams that provide a safety net for millions of Americans, the suspension of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule which promotes fair housing choice and increased opportunity for all residents, the repeal of the Clean Water Rule, and the elimination of various committees and processes that advance greater equity and protect the well-being of our citizens. These actions DO NOT align with a desire for a unified country.

The theme of misalignment between the rhetoric and the practice and/or impact continued throughout the rest of his address. For example, in addition to unity, Trump also spoke at length regarding the economy and touted the recently passed tax bill as providing relief for "hard-working" Americans; when in actuality, the true impact of the tax bill is harmful to many Americans and has already stunted the development of desperately needed affordable housing and community development as outlined in a recent New York Times article.

Lastly, Trump touted his plans for a much-anticipated infrastructure investment, calling for an investment that will "give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve;" but the proposal shared thus far reveals that Trump's plan inherently promotes economic and regional inequality by:

  • Ignoring people and communities which are most in need of this investment;
  • Providing another windfall for the Administration's wealthy comrades by encouraging the privatization of public systems;
  • Favoring funding mechanisms which are not feasible for the infrastructure investments needed in low-income communities and communities of color; and
  • Providing for minimal federal investment and shifting the cost burden to working families with increases in local and state taxes.

Despite this Administration's divisive and inequitable agenda, we know that millions of Americans are indeed advocating for a more unified State of the Union. We know that the most important thing one can do to strengthen our democracy is to remain engaged, seek understanding and common ground with people with different points of view, and vote for candidates who truly believe in a just and fair society. At PolicyLink, we remain inspired by the courageous actions of so many who work to advance equitable policies and practices, so that all can participate and prosper and reach their full potential.

It takes cash to get lead out of schools

When will California make it a priority to protect our children from the toxic lead contamination in many schools’ water? From the looks of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget, this threat to students’ health and academic potential remains dangerously underfunded. Read full article on The Sacramento Bee.

Partnering with Grocery Stores to Uplift Philadelphia Communities

By Lauren Vague Stager, Uplift Workforce Solutions

"We ARE here as a group!" is one of the phrases that stuck out as I sat in the classroom of the Uplift Workforce Solutions training center. In early January 2018, the fifth cohort of the program began.  There are 29 people in the group, all with one thing in common: they are all formerly incarcerated. 

Mass incarceration is a pervasive issue, and its devastating effects cannot be overstated.  Getting locked up is just the beginning of the nightmare of incarceration. But what happens when someone is released?  The litany of consequences do not end when someone gets out of jail or prison. It is difficult to get identification, most don't have money or a job, and many people don't even have a place to stay. The Department of Justice estimates that over 10,000 people are released from state and federal lockups each week. In Pennsylvania, over 18,000 are released from prison each year. Here at Uplift Workforce Solutions, we know that in many ways, a re-entering citizen's situation will not change until they have their own source of sustainable and legally secured income. Uplift partners with Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church and Brown's Super Stores so that we can provide guaranteed employment to re-entering citizens in Philadelphia. We are generously supported by the Nerney Family Foundation and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.  The promise of a job, not just a training program that will help you get a job, is a game changing step.

The program is six weeks, and the subject matter is combined life skills and grocery-specific training, so that both hard and soft skills are assessed and developed over the course of the program.   We have built a simulated supermarket complete with functioning cash registers in our classroom at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, and upon successful completion of the program the participants are placed in a position at either a ShopRite or Fresh Grocer supermarket.

I saw three of the four cohorts complete and graduate from the program last year, the room filling with joy as the participants finish the program knowing that they are all starting a job within the next week. Throughout the program, it has become clear how much the participants and I have in common. Many of the experiences shared by the classes are universal. The cohort spoke about trying to make sure they were a positive part of their children's lives, recognizing when they had done wrong, trying to prove themselves, learning to be comfortable in their own skin, and planning for retirement.  We all have the same hopes and dreams, but trying to achieve our hopes and dreams can sometimes lead us down the wrong path. At Uplift Workforce Solutions, we are reminding our participants of their hopes and dreams, and providing them a job on the way to achieving them.

Uplift is a national non profit organization that focuses on creating access to food, access to healthcare, access to capital and access to jobs in underserved communities. To learn more you can go to http://upliftsolutions.org/ or contact the author, Lauren Vague, at lauren.vague@upliftsolutions.org.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Healthy Food Access Portal.

Trump Administration Undermines Workers' Safety Net

Earlier this week the Trump Administration announced a major shift in policy related to one of the nation’s key safety net components, the Medicaid program.  On Thursday, the Administration issued guidance to states which will allow them to compel people to work or train for work in order to be eligible for Medicaid’s health benefits. In the 50-year history of the program, there has been no such requirement as the country has recognized its responsibility to ensure that ALL of its citizens are able to live HEALTHY and productive lives. 

The Administration defends its actions by alleging that work requirements will enable individuals covered by Medicaid to “break the chains of poverty” and “live up to their highest potential.” However, several studies confirm that work requirements do not help people escape poverty, but rather often lead to individuals and families being worse off and risking their health or family’s well-being by having to decide between working or going without health insurance and needed medical care.

At PolicyLink, all of our work is grounded in the conviction that equity – just and fair inclusion – must drive policy decisions.  We believe that an equitable economy is one in which everyone can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. A just society requires that everyone have the opportunity to thrive and do well.  A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, estimates that 60 percent of the Medicaid recipients whom the federal government considers to be able-bodied adults are already working. These individuals are often working in low-wage jobs and rely upon Medicaid for their well-being and economic security.  With this extreme policy shift, the Trump Administration is ensuring that those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum will be left behind, and handicapped in their pursuit of a better life.  Instead of working to ensure that every American has access to health care and is able to pursue greater opportunities, this Administration continues to advance an agenda which is an all out assault on those members of our society who are most in need.  

The Fierce Urgency of Now

January brings us three months closer to Equity Summit 2018, where thousands will convene to set an equity agenda for the nation. The 15th of this month marks what would have been Dr. King’s 89th birthday, and 2018 is also the 50th anniversary of his Poor People’s Campaign, which advocated economic justice for all people.

As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose transformative leadership forever changed America’s consciousness around issues of civil and human rights, we reflect on his words and message, which continue to inspire movement-building and mobilized action

Dr. King’s condemnation of racism and economic inequality resonates strongly today, as the nation continues to grapple with discrimination, the degradation of human rights and civil liberties, institutional violence, and poverty.

His words continue to evoke a sense of social and political exigency that can be felt in today’s sociopolitical climate.
 
“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Five Reasons Not to Miss Equity Summit 2018

Join us at Equity Summit 2018, taking place in Chicago on April 11-13! 

True to our vision of a more just and inclusive future for America, the Summit speakers and programming have been carefully curated so that attendees feel emboldened to step into their power, activate their imaginations, and help set the national agenda.
 
With just under five months to go, Equity Summit 2018 may just be our most powerful Summit yet! Here’s why! 

1. Powerful Movement Voices
 

In this present moment of challenge and uncertainty, there are key voices from across the movements for equity and justice who continue to instill hope for a brighter future. Equity Summit 2018 will host some of today’s most esteemed policymakers, thought leaders, and advocates, setting the stage for continued movement and solutions building at the Summit and beyond. They include:

As you can see, these individuals represent a diverse intersection of communities and issues that are crucial to unlocking our nation's promise. To see additional speakers confirmed for Equity Summit 2018, go here!

2. Dynamic Discussions and Strategic Spaces
 
If you've attended previous Equity Summits, you likely know that plenaries are the cornerstones of our programming. Featuring conversations with visionary leaders, these plenaries are both inspiring and instructive, establishing the tone for ongoing discussion, and motivating attendees to push the boundaries of their work. Plenaries at Equity Summit 2018 include “Our Power: Radical Imagination Fueling Change”; “Our Future: The Leading Edge of the Equity Movement”; and “Our Nation: Transformative Solidarity in a Divided Nation.”
 
In addition to the plenaries, Summit attendees will have access to workshops that offer opportunities to engage in smaller group settings with experts who are pioneering change within specific issue areas. Immigration reform, protecting renters’ rights, climate resilience, alternatives to policing, and decriminalizing poverty are just a few of the topics that will be explored in the workshops available at Equity Summit 2018. Find an overview of our programming here.
 
3. Chicago’s Transformative History
 
The city of Chicago has a rich legacy of activism and action around some of the most urgent civil and human rights issues of our time. Throughout its history, Chicago has left an indelible mark on the nation — including its status as a destination city during the Great Migration, association with the activism of Pullman porters, and the pivotal role of South Chicago’s Mexican-American community in organizing the United Steel Workers in the 1940’s. Chicago also served as the site of the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the Chicago Freedom Movement (which is largely credited with inspiring the 1968 Fair Housing Act), and is where organizations like Advancing Justice-Chicago, Asian American Alliance and the Association of Asian Construction Enterprises (AACE) fought for the inclusion of Asian Americans in the city’s Minority-Owned Business Enterprise program in the early 2000’s. Of course, Chicago is also where a promising community organizer named Barack Obama launched his political career, eventually becoming America’s first Black president.
 
Today, the city continues to be an epicenter for revolutionary organizing and movement building led by grassroots leaders like BYP100 National Director (and Equity Summit 2018 speaker) Charlene Carruthers, and other  Chicago-born-and-bred leaders and artist-activists like Common, Jesse Williams, John Legend, Hebru Brantley, Chance The Rapper, and others. 

For information on where to stay in Chicago, visit here

4. The Moment and the Momentum

Next April marks the 50th anniversaries of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death and the subsequent Chicago uprising. April 12th will also be three years since the killing of Freddie Gray by Baltimore law enforcement, an incident that further ignited the local and national movements for police and criminal justice reform — two of the key issues to be explored as part of the Summit’s Just Society Workshop Series.
 
Most urgently, 2018 kicks off the midterm election season, which, according to Vox, would be “the first nationwide referendum” on the current presidency. With Equity Summit 2018 happening at such a crucial time — and with civic leaders like Voto Latino Executive Director Maria Teresa Kumar and NAACP President Derrick Johnson among our key speakers — attendees will have the chance to connect and share strategies for maximizing civic engagement, ensuring that the issues impacting America’s diverse communities and demographics are adequately represented.
   
5. Your Voice and Leadership
 
We believe that solidarity across social movements, cultures, races, and ethnicities is essential to resistance and the antidote to oppression, hate, and racism. We also believe that the key to a better, more prosperous tomorrow for America lies in the work being driven by people like you, whose tireless efforts on the ground represent the best of what’s working in our cities and communities. As champions for just and fair inclusion, your participation at Equity Summit 2018 will ensure that those closest to the nation’s challenges remain central to finding the solutions.
 
Whether you are a youth activist, grassroots/community organizer, elected official, or nonprofit leader, your voice and contributions matter. Register today and join the cross-section of leaders at Equity Summit 2018 who are radically shaping the nation's future and our collective role in it.
 
Get news and updates on Equity Summit 2018 in real time. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter using the hashtag #EquitySummit2018! You can also sign up here to receive PolicyLink email alerts.

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