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Families begin moving into first new public housing in Mpls since 2010

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — Families began moving in at the beginning of March and MPHA anticipates full occupancy by the end of the month.

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By MSR News Online

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) has opened the city’s first new public housing since 2010 to 16 area families experiencing homelessness. The Minnehaha Townhomes are owned and managed by MPHA and families come as referrals from the Hennepin County shelter system. Families began moving in at the beginning of March and MPHA anticipates full occupancy by the end of the month.

The four buildings revitalize a long-vacant site in the East Nokomis neighborhood, donated by the City of Minneapolis. The townhomes include four two-bedroom and 12 three-bedroom units reserved for families below 30 percent of area median income.

At a cost of approximately $5 million, the Minnehaha Townhomes represent the financial contributions of MPHA, Minnesota Housing, the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Met Council, Federal Home Loan Bank, and Otto Bremer Trust.

“These 16 new units are opening as we embark on our long-term plan to preserve and expand MPHA’s housing across the city,” said MPHA Executive Director Greg Russ. “They also show the level of quality, sustainability, and household amenities we can provide to families when we construct modern public housing.”

Hennepin County’s Coordinated Entry process is designed to ensure that individuals and families with the highest vulnerability, service needs, and length of homelessness receive top priority in housing placement. The townhomes are helping to fill a gap in the process, as 70 percent of families who are eligible for Coordinated Entry are waiting for permanent supportive housing — sometimes spending up to a year in the shelter system.

“This is really a dream project for us as far as needs go,” said Hennepin County Housing Referral Coordinator Sarah Hunt. “For the families that we have been able to refer, it directly correlates with a population that we were unable to send to other housing. The unique nature of these affordable units paired with services is exactly what has been identified as an ongoing need.”

The families who live at the Minnehaha Townhomes receive services from the county and several rapid rehousing providers, offering intensive case management up-front to help families get oriented to the area, assistance with basic housing needs, referrals for ongoing needs, and more.

“The families who have been identified have not had any other options and for them it’s a big boost,” said Hennepin County Shelter Team Supervisor Pat Hartnagel. “It’s amazing to see the things they’ve worked through and accomplished, purely because of the hope to have this housing.”

The wider impact of this housing is being felt for the Hennepin County team already. “It’s one thing to have 16 units open up and allow stability for families to have a place to call home, but it’s also directly opening up spaces in emergency shelter for other families in crisis,” said Hunt.

The site on Riverview Road in South Minneapolis includes a playground, ample green space, and community patio. The townhomes are located on the Green Line light rail between two major job centers—Downtown Minneapolis and Bloomington/MOA/MSP. They are walking distance to the VA Medical Center and Minnehaha Regional Park.

Learn more at https://MPHAOnline.org/Minnehaha-Townhomes 

—Information provided by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. 

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Empire Star Taraji Henson Speaks on Suicide and Mental Health on Capitol Hill

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “It breaks my heart to know that 5-year-old children are contemplating life and death, I just…I’m sorry. That one is tough for me. So, I’m here to appeal to you, because this is a national crisis. When I hear of kids going into bathrooms, cutting themselves, you’re supposed to feel safe in school,” Henson told the members of Congress and those in the audience in a hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington.

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Award-winning actress and Empire star Taraji P. Henson testified before members of Congress on mental health issues in the African American community. (Photo: YouTube)
Award-winning actress and Empire star Taraji P. Henson testified before members of Congress on mental health issues in the African American community. (Photo: YouTube)

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

“I am here using my celebrity, using my voice, to put a face to this, because I also suffer from depression and anxiety. If you’re a human living in today’s world, I don’t know how you’re not suffering in any way.”

Award-winning actress and ‘Empire’ star Taraji P. Henson testified before members of Congress on mental health issues in the African American community.

The Congressional Black Caucus launched a task force on mental health issues in April of this year. They have held hearings on mental health and the increasing number of suicides among black youth. The CBC Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health is chaired by Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

The members of the task force are Reps. Alma Adams (D-NC), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), Danny Davis (D-IL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

“I’m here to appeal to you because this is a national crisis,” Henson said. Henson founded The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018 to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness in the African American community with a specific emphasis on the suicide rate among Black youth.

“I really don’t know how to fix this problem, I just know that the suicide rate is rising,” she said. “I just know that ages of the children that are committing suicide are getting younger and younger,” the actress added.

“It breaks my heart to know that 5-year-old children are contemplating life and death, I just…I’m sorry. That one is tough for me. So, I’m here to appeal to you, because this is a national crisis. When I hear of kids going into bathrooms, cutting themselves, you’re supposed to feel safe in school,” Henson told the members of Congress and those in the audience in a hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Every year, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness, but a National Alliance on Mental Illness study discovered that black adults utilize mental health services at half the rate of white adults.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

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Government

Will White House Advisory Council Act to End America’s Affordable Housing Crisis?

PASADENA JOURNAL — 

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Photo by: Pixabay | Pexels.com

By Charlene Crowell

Nearly 90 years ago, Kelly Miller (1863-1939), a Black sociologist and mathematician, said, “The Negro is up against the white man’s standard, without the white man’s opportunity.” As the first Black man to enroll as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University in 1908, Miller also authored a book entitled Race Adjustment, published in 1908.

Ironically, despite the passage of time, Miller’s words express the same sentiment held today by many Black Americans. As a people and across succeeding generations, we have held fast to our hopes for a better life. Yet it is painfully true that many opportunities enjoyed by other Americans have been elusive for people of color.

Noted author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates expressed a similar view during his June 19 Capitol Hill testimony on reparations.

“Enslavement reigned for 250 years on these shores,” noted Coates. “When it ended, this country could have extended its hallowed principles—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—to all, regardless of color. But America had other principles in mind. And so for a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.”

While economists, public policy think tanks and other entities may sing a chorus of how well the American economy is performing and expanding, people of color – especially Blacks and Browns – have yet to see or feel economic vibrancy in our own lives – particularly when it comes to housing and homeownership.

On June 25, Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) released its annual report, The State of the Nation’s Housing. One of the housing industry’s most broadly anticipated and cited reports, it once again chronicles recent trends and issues.

“The limited supply of smaller, more affordable homes in the face of rising demand suggests that the rising land costs and the difficult development environment make it unprofitable to build for the middle market,” said Chris Herbert, JCHS’s managing director.

Among this year’s key findings:

Since 2018, the monthly housing payment on a median-priced home has been $1,775;
In 2019, the cost of a median-priced home rose by 4% to $261,600 when a comparable home in 2011 was priced far lower at $177,400.

This rise in home prices is also the seventh straight year that median household incomes have failed to keep pace in 85 of the nation’s largest 100 markets.

Nearly $52,000 would be required to make a 20% down payment on a median priced home. Even if buyers opted for an FHA 3.5% down payment mortgage, more than $9,000 would be needed to pay it, closing costs, and related fees;

In rental housing, four million units of housing priced at $800 or less were lost between 2011 and 2019. Also, since 2010, renters now include consumers earning $75,000 or more.

Families who already own their own homes, these findings signal that their investments are appreciating, growing in equity and wealth.

But for those trying to make that important transition from renting to owning, it’s a very different outlook. As rental prices continue to soar and moderately priced apartments disappear from the marketplace, both prospective homeowners and current renters face a shrinking supply of affordable housing.

When homeownership is possible, housing costs can be better contained with fi xed-interest rate mortgages, tax credits, and eventual equity. Even so, the Harvard report finds that only 36% of all consumers could afford to buy their own home in 2018. With higher priced homes in 2019, the affordability challenge worsens.

“It is equally noteworthy that once again this key report shares how consumers of color continue to face challenges in becoming homeowners, noted Nikitra Bailey, an EVP with the Center for Responsible Lending. “According to the report, only 43% of Blacks and 47% of Latinx own their own home, while white homeownership remains at 73%.

“This 30% disparity deserves further examination and proportional remedies,” continued Bailey. “Greater access to safe and affordable credit, better fair housing enforcement, preservation of anti-discrimination laws – including disparate impact – can play a role in eliminating homeownership gaps. Further, as the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are publicly debated, a renewed commitment to serve all creditworthy borrowers must be embraced.”

Calvin Schermerhorn, a professor of history in Arizona State University’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and author of The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860, holds similar views to those expressed by Bailey. In a recent Washington Post op ed column, Schermerhorn addressed the historic disparities that Black America continues to suffer.

“One-fifth of African American families have a net worth of $0 or below; 75 % have less than $10,000 for retirement,” wrote Schermerhorn. “The enduring barriers to black economic equality are structural rather than individual…. “Escalators into the middle class have slowed and stalled, and the rung of the economic ladder one starts on is most likely where one will end up.”

On the same day as the Harvard report’s release, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that establishes a new advisory body that will be led by HUD Secretary Ben Carson. A total of eight federal agencies will work with state and local government officials to remove “burdensome governmental regulations” affecting affordable housing.
“Increasing the supply of housing by removing overly burdensome rules and regulations will reduce housing costs, boost economic growth, and provide more Americans with opportunities for economic mobility,” stated Secretary Carson.

If Secretary Carson means that local zoning rules favor single family homes over multi-family developments is a fundamental public policy fl aw, he may be on to something. However this focus misses the crux of the affordable housing crisis: Wages are not rising in line with increasing housing costs. And now, after the housing industry continues to cater to more affluent consumers, while many older adults choose to age in place, the market has very little to offer those who want their own American Dream, including some who are anxiously awaiting the chance to form their own households.

Builders have historically, not just of late, complained about the time it takes to secure permits or the series of inspections that must be approved during construction and before properties can be listed for sale. What is missing from this new initiative is a solution to the financial challenges that average people face.

It was scant regulation and regulatory voids that enabled risky mortgage products with questionable terms that took our national economy to the brink of financial collapse with worldwide effects. Taxpayer dollars to rescue financiers while many unnecessary foreclosures stripped away home equity and wealth from working families.

Time will tell whether new advisors and proposals remember the lessons from the Great Recession.

This article originally appeared in the Pasadena Journal

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VIDEO: Hamilton County Juvenile Judge Tracie Hunter Dragged Off to Jail — Literally

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Hunter was initially charged with committing nine felonies. After charges were dropped on all but one, she was convicted and entered into a lengthy appeals process. The state supreme court of Ohio refused to hear her appeal, sending the case back to the lower court and resulting in her ultimate sentencing.

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Former Hamilton County, Ohio Juvenile Judge Tracie Hunter is dragged from the courtroom following her sentencing for unlawful interest in a public contact, after she illegally helped her brother keep his county job by mishandling a confidential document. (Photo: YouTube)

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Former Hamilton County, Ohio Juvenile Judge Tracie Hunter appeared overcome with emotion as she was literally dragged from a Cincinnati courtroom by a sheriff’s deputy on Monday, July 22, after she was sentenced to six months in jail for charges stemming from a controversial conviction in 2014.

A jury convicted Hunter of unlawful interest in a public contract after she was accused of helping her brother keep his county job by mishandling a confidential document.

Hunter was initially charged with committing nine felonies. After charges were dropped on all but one, she was convicted and entered into a lengthy appeals process. The state supreme court of Ohio refused to hear her appeal, sending the case back to the lower court and resulting in her ultimate sentencing.

With a courtroom packed with supporters — and many more who stood outside of the proceedings — Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker dispensed Hunter’s punishment.

Prior to sentencing, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters wrote a letter asking the court to consider having Hunter undergo psychiatric evaluation based on questions he has about what he calls Hunter’s “mental condition,” according to reporting from WLWT5.

Hunter’s attorney David Singleton disagreed with the request, adding that he “couldn’t believe” Deters would ask the court to have Hunter undergo evaluation and that they plan to file a motion to dismiss the case.

With all of the support Hunter has received based on both real and perceived biases during the initial trial and appeals process, Mayor John Cranley wrote a letter to Dinkelacker asking him not to place Hunter in prison, saying that she has suffered as a result of her conviction and doesn’t appear to pose any risks to others.

Postcards were sent to Dinkelacker’s house asking for leniency in his sentencing. He read some of the postcards during the hearing.

“I violated no laws, I did not secure a public contract, I did not secure employment for my brother who worked for the court for about seven years before I was elected judge,” Hunter said.

At least one of Hunter’s supporters was arrested at the courthouse after trying to intervene when deputies attempted to take Hunter into custody.

Others shouted, “No Justice, No Peace,” and accused the court of racism.

In June, former Cincinnati State Sen. Eric Kearney had expressed to NNPA Newswire that Hunter’s incarceration was “going to be a problem” and the city would “explode. I’m telling you, black people [in Cincinnati] are not going to take [Hunter going to jail] lightly,” Kearney said. “The city is on edge.”

Kearney, Hunter and her vast number of supporters have said the process used to convict her wreaked of politics, corruption, nepotism and racism.

The jury that rendered the guilty verdict in her trial was comprised of political foes and others associated with the prosecutors and a Republican establishment that didn’t take kindly to Hunter breaking the GOP and white-male dominated stronghold to win a seat on the bench in 2010, her supporters have pointed out.

For example, one of the jurors worked for WCPO Television, a local station that has filed numerous lawsuits against Hunter.

Court documents revealed that the jury foreman contributed $500 to state Sen. Bill Seitz, the father of county jury coordinator Brad Seitz, who was responsible for compiling the panel of jurors that arrived at the guilty verdict, which required a unanimous decision from the jury.

Hunter said that the only three black jurors, none of whom had known ties to prosecutors and all of whom held out for acquittal, ultimately yielded to pressure from other jurors. The judge refused to allow defense lawyers to poll the jury after announcing the verdict.

In every American criminal trial, particularly those that end in guilty verdicts, it’s the right of attorneys to request the judge to poll all 12 jurors to ensure each is in agreement with the verdict.

“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Hunter told NNPA Newswire in June.

“If the judge polled the jury, it happened in a blink, but I don’t remember that happening,” Kearney said.

At the close of the trial, three jurors came forward and said that their true verdict was not guilty and “if Judge Norbert Nadel had polled the jury, they would have said so,” Hunter said.

Hunter also wanted her supporters to know that she is not suicidal.

“I want everyone to know that I don’t drink … I don’t do drugs … I have no intention of harming myself,” she said.

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Driving While Black: Police Continue to Profile, Stop and Search African American Drivers

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “What’s particularly damning about this data is that police were more likely to search Black people than white people yet found contraband in only 41 percent of searches of Black people compared to 72 percent of the searches of white people,” said American Civil Liberties Union Attorney Carl Takei. “In other words, the police have a pattern of stopping and searching Black people in circumstances where they would simply let white people go.

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The Louisville Courier Journal also found that black motorists in Kentucky were searched 12 percent of the time they were stopped, while white motorists were searched just 3.9 percent of the time. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
The Louisville Courier Journal also found that black motorists in Kentucky were searched 12 percent of the time they were stopped, while white motorists were searched just 3.9 percent of the time. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Two new recently published reports show that racial profiling – particularly “Driving While Black” – remains a crisis in America.

A recent report issued by Missouri’s attorney general Eric Schmitt revealed that black drivers across that state are 91 percent more likely than white motorists to get pulled over by police. What’s more, the profiling usually takes place in the motorists’ own community, according to the attorney general’s report.

The Missouri report arrives on the heels of one out of Kentucky where a study found that black motorists are searched at a rate of three-times more than whites in Louisville.

African Americans account for approximately 20 percent of Louisville’s driving age population, but they still accounted for 33 percent of police stops and 57 percent of the nearly 9,000 searches conducted on motorists, according to the Louisville Courier Journal, which conducted the study.

Their findings were highlighted in a tweet by The Thurgood Marshall Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system.

The Louisville Courier Journal said it reviewed “130,999 traffic stops in Louisville from 2016 to 2018 and found that an overwhelming number of African American drivers were profiled and pulled over by police.”

The newspaper also found that black motorists were searched 12 percent of the time they were stopped, while white motorists were searched just 3.9 percent of the time.

“Aside from the alarming and devastating findings, we have always known that racial profiling is all too prevalent throughout law enforcement and our society as a whole,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson told NNPA Newswire.

“What we need is to implement proper training for law enforcement officers on how to more efficiently carry out essential policing without threatening the lives of people of color,” Johnson said.

Racial profiling is an insidious practice and serious problem in America that can lead to deadly consequences, Johnson added.

“Our faith in our criminal justice system will continuously be challenged if we are constantly targeted by discriminatory practices just by doing simple tasks – walking down the street, driving down an interstate, or going through an airport without being stopped merely because of the color of our skin. Living as a person of color should never be crime,” he said.

American Civil Liberties Union Attorney Carl Takei told NNPA Newswire that racial disparities in the new data are similar to what courts have relied on around the country to find unconstitutional racial profiling in traffic stops.

“Disparities of this kind suggest that officers are using race not only in deciding who to pull over, but who to single out for searches,” Takei said.

“What’s particularly damning about this data is that police were more likely to search Black people than white people yet found contraband in only 41 percent of searches of Black people compared to 72 percent of the searches of white people,” he said.

Takei continued:

“In other words, the police have a pattern of stopping and searching Black people in circumstances where they would simply let white people go.

“This unjustly interferes with Black people trying to live their everyday lives – subjecting them to humiliating, intrusive stops and searches in circumstances where white people would not be stopped or searched.

“Additionally, such racialized policing practices harm law enforcement by undermining the legitimacy of the police and damaging police relationships with the communities they are supposed to be serving.”

The Louisville Courier Journal reported that Police Chief Steve Conrad spoke before the Metro Council Public Safety Committee and acknowledged that the department has disproportionately stopped black drivers.

The newspaper reported that Conrad reasoned that African Americans are disproportionately represented in all aspects of the criminal justice system, including in arrests and incarceration.

“This is not all surprising based on my over 35 years of practice defending drug cases after traffic stops,” Randall Levine, a Kalamazoo, Michigan attorney told NNPA Newswire.

“I would say that DWB – Driving While Black – is still as prevalent today as it was in 1980,” Levine said, before opining what could occur to affect change. “Diversity, sensitivity training and some type of real enforcement for violations might help,” he said.

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Government

State Seeks to Boost Mental Health Counseling

OAKLAND POST — It’s 1 p.m. on a balmy Oak­land afternoon as residents of Great Expectations Residen­tial Care, a home for people with mental illness, gather in an activity room for a game of bingo. Lee Frierson, an unpaid vol­unteer, introduces himself as he and his team leader, Charlie Jones, unpack chips, soda, bat­teries and shampoo that they will hand out as prizes.

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Reach Out Program Manager Charlie Jones, right, and volunteer Lee Frierson, take a short break after leading a game of bingo with mental health patients at an Oakland, California, board-and-care home. (Photo by: Rob Waters)
By Rob Waters

It’s 1 p.m. on a balmy Oak­land afternoon as residents of Great Expectations Residen­tial Care, a home for people with mental illness, gather in an activity room for a game of bingo.

Lee Frierson, an unpaid vol­unteer, introduces himself as he and his team leader, Charlie Jones, unpack chips, soda, bat­teries and shampoo that they will hand out as prizes.

“I’m Lee with Reach Out,” Frierson says. “I’m a peer. I suffer from depression. It helps me to help you guys.”

“And I’m Charlie the angel,” Jones says. “We go to board-and-cares and psychiatric and wellness facilities to inspire hope and model recovery.”

A few rounds into the game, Frierson calls B-5, and a dark-haired man shouts, “Bingo!”

“Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” Frierson calls back, prompting chuckles.

What unfolds in this room is not exactly therapy, but it is something that mental health advocates and research suggest can be healing in its own right: people who have struggled with mental illness helping others who are experiencing similar struggles. Frierson and Jones are former mental health patients who now work with the Reach Out program, part of the nonprofit Alameda County Network of Mental Health Cli­ents, which provides what is called peer support.

The value of peer support is recognized by Medicaid, the health insurance program for people with low incomes, and it funds such services. That money is available for certified peer-support workers in states that have a formal certification process.

California does not, and that means it is “leaving money on the table,” said Keris Myrick, chief of peer services at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. South Da­kota is the only other state with no peer certification program.

But a bill pending in Sac­ramento, SB-10, would direct the State Department of Health Care Services to create a pro­cess for certifying peer sup­port workers and establish a set of core aptitudes and ethics guidelines for the job. The leg­islation passed the state Senate unanimously in May and will move to the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday.

More than 6,000 peer sup­port specialists already work in wellness programs, hospitals and clinics across California, according to SB-10’s sponsor, Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose). They help mental health pa­tients navigate bureaucracies, find housing or locate services.

“They’re sharing their expe­riences: ‘Been there, done that, now I’m going to help another person,’” said Myrick, who has been diagnosed with schizoaf­fective disorder, was hospitalized several times and spent 10 years running a peer support program in Los Angeles.

Last year, the legislature unanimously passed a bill to certify peer support workers, but then-Gov. Jerry Brown ve­toed it, saying it was costly and unnecessary.

Legislative analysts esti­mate the state would spend hundreds of thousands of dol­lars to set up a certification pro­cess and millions more a year to implement it. Advocates say the new federal money would help offset those costs. And, they say, the legislation would cement the bona fides of peer mentoring as an occupation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has not declared his position on the current bill, but he has said that addressing the state’s mental health crisis is a top priority for his administration. During his campaign for governor, he endorsed “expanded roles for nurse practitioners and peer providers.”

Dr. Thomas Insel, a former director of the National Insti­tute of Mental Health whom Newsom named in May as a key mental health adviser, told California Healthline he sup­ports the peer certification bill.

“For many people, hav­ing a connection to someone else who’s had this experi­ence proves vital,” Insel said. “There may be nothing more healing than giving people an opportunity to help others.”

Peer programs grew out of a movement in the 1970s op­posing coercive psychiatric treatment, led by people who’d been treated against their will and felt they would receive better care from those who personally identified with their experiences.

This article originally appeared in the Oakland Post
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Chicago Crusader

Mayor kicks off city’s summer jobs program

CHICAGO CRUSADER — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) on Monday, July 1, kicked off the start of this year’s One Summer Chicago program. Nearly 32,000 of Chicago’s youth have started a summer job or internship program, with opportunities ranging from infrastructure jobs; camp counselors; urban agriculture and outdoor forestry projects; and private sector experience. Through One Summer Chicago, youth ages 14-24 gain valuable work experience and critical support services in communities all throughout the city.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot shakes hands with a participant in One Summer Chicago, the annual summer jobs program that kicked off in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on Monday, July 1. Last year, over 32,000 youths from across the city were employed and earned money during the summer season. (Photo by: Erick Johnson)
By The Chicago Crusader

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) on Monday, July 1, kicked off the start of this year’s One Summer Chicago program. Nearly 32,000 of Chicago’s youth have started a summer job or internship program, with opportunities ranging from infrastructure jobs; camp counselors; urban agriculture and outdoor forestry projects; and private sector experience. Through One Summer Chicago, youth ages 14-24 gain valuable work experience and critical support services in communities all throughout the city.

The 2019 One Summer Chicago program will run for six weeks from July 1 through August 9. New this summer, the One Summer Chicago infrastructure team will partner with the Chicago Department of Water Management on their outreach with lead-in-water education and the distribution of water filtration systems. Working with the Department of Water Management staff, youth will be trained on how to register community members for water filters, how to operate the filters, and the importance of having a water filter. Youth will learn about the process and importance of having access to clean water, while addressing Mayor Lightfoot’s call to focus on areas with high risk of lead exposure.

Also new, One Summer Chicago has partnered with The Chicago Lighthouse in a new summer employment program called Photography for All, designed to give visually impaired youth exposure to new creative opportunities, and provide them new outlets to express their artistic ability.

“Chicago’s youth in neighborhoods deserve to have productive, meaningful summer experiences and that is what we have tried to give them in this year’s One Summer Chicago program,” said DFSS Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler. “From coding to photography, we hope that the nearly 32,000 young people participating will have an experience this summer that will teach them life skills that will support them into their future.”

The city has formed public private partnerships to support One Summer Chicago. JPMorgan Chase invested in the Everyone Can Code project. Launched in 2016, Everyone Can Code gives youth the power to learn, write, and teach code using Swift, a powerful and easy-to-use programming language created by Apple and embraced by developers and businesses everywhere. Everyone Can Code includes a range of free teaching and learning resources that take students all the way from exploring basic coding concepts to building fully functional apps of their own design.

This summer marks the next phase of the Everyone Can Code project, focused on connecting experiences across summer and the school year to help students elevate their coding skills and gain access to internships. Through a partnership with CS4ALL (i.e., Computer Science for All),

DFSS, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) and Apple, Inc. the effort will recruit 200 youth from CPS and DFSS delegate agency coding clubs with a goal of expanding their computer science skills via a six-week coding training program where they will learn from Apple programming pros how to develop computer/mobile apps, attend lectures and gain hands on experiences in the technological field and obtain the early skills necessary to compete in the 21st Century.

The Citi Foundation is continuing to support One Summer Chicago for its sixth year in a row, with funding that has totaled over $5.8 million. The Summer Jobs Connect program, spearheaded by the Citi Foundation and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, supports young adults seeking summer employment and provides safe and appropriate banking products, services and education. Citi Foundation is also the largest private funder of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), a statewide program designed to employ out of school youth.

Today’s kick-off of One Summer Chicago comes on the heels of Mayor Lightfoot’s announcement of a series of coordinated efforts to ensure Chicago’s young people remain safe, engaged and supported this summer.

Mayor Lightfoot released the YOUR CHI summer resources guide earlier in June, which contains resources on where students and their families can find summer sports programming, entertainment in the parks, health support services, and other summer learning activities. For more information, visit Chicago.gov/summer.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Crusader.

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