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other SPRING 2009 articles


  Spring 2009

Welfare Beat

Welfare  Mom Denied Entrance to Canada

A U.S. woman was denied entry into Canada because she is on welfare.

Canada Border Services Agency officials on May 2  twice refused Rose Kelley, 25, of Owosso, Mich., entry into the country, Sun media reported.

In her written complaint to the agency, Kelley said the officer ignored the fact a Canadian couple was paying for her visit with them.

"The officer said a person on welfare shouldn't be going on vacation," Kelley said in her May 4 complaint to the CBSA. "He said: 'You really should not come back to the border until your life drastically changes.'"

The Canadian couple who tried to bring Kelley into the country in their car twice also filed a complaint, the report said.

A CBSA spokesman state that visitors must show they can financially support themselves while in Canada.

 Child Welfare Worker Sentenced To 24 Years For Child Porn

Al Zimmerman was spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families. He has been sentenced to 24 years in prison on child pornography charges.

Zimmerman pled guilty to making sexually explicit videos of two 16-year-old boys. He met one of the boy while working at DCF.

Zimmerman's arrest exposed DCF’s harmful hiring practices. 10 percent of DCF employees were hired without background checks.

from AHN and United Press International
and Evelyn Dortch
Direct Action Welfare Group Inc.
PO Box 20079 Charleston, WV 25362

 New York Moms and Others Bring a Message to the Mayor

 On Tuesday, February 3, 2009, we joined with our allies in the Right to the City NY Alliance to discuss the “Future of NY” with the Mayor. It was a great action to start off 2009.

Unfortunately, the Mayor forgot to invite regular, day-to-day New Yorkers to his Future of New York conference. He only included the CEO’s of major corporations, developers and real estate moguls to his $249 dinner.  So, we decided to invite ourselves.

Over 100 people from FUREE, Mothers on the Move, Community Voices Heard, Picture the Homeless, FIERCE, CAAAV, NYCAHN and the Urban Justice Center made it into the Mayor’s event. We interrupted his speech. We demanded that the voice of ALL New Yorkers be heard when planning our future.  

Our action got a huge amount of attention from dozens of media outlets. And we were able to show the Mayor and his friends that they cannot ignore the majority of New Yorkers.   The next day, the Right to the City Alliance organized an amazing press conference and solidarity work. This action supported eight friends who were arrested that right by Mayor Bloomberg. They were all released that same day.

These actions laid the groundwork for much of the work that FUREE and Right to the City are engaged in this year. We are working to ensure the inclusion of all New Yorkers in decisions that affect our lives. We insist that gentrification and democratic development are front-and-center issues in 2009.

We handed out the following statement at the event: 

“Mayor Bloomberg continues to hold closed-door meetings with the city’s rich and privileged. He is shutting community members out of the decision-making process.  The Mayor’s disregard for inclusive, democratic decision-making was made clear last fall. That is when he ignored the will of a vast majority of New Yorkers. He extended term-limits to allow himself to run for a third term.  Now, once again, Mayor Bloomberg is choosing to disregard the voices of our communities. He failed to invite us to participate in today’s conference, or in any other process that ultimately decides the economic fate of our city. “

Valery Jean
FUREE (Families United for Racial & Economic Equality)
(718) 852-2960, ext. 301; valery@furee.org
81 Willoughby Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY  11201

Screen/Buy FUREE’s Film  

Support FUREE's struggles against rapid displacement and economic injustice in downtown Brooklyn. See a documentary from the frontlines of those struggles.

Some Place Like Home is a film about displacement and development, and what we can do to change its course.

Some Place Like Home, produced by FUREE, reframes the debate on community development. While many praise the “Renaissance” of Downtown Brooklyn, others have long protested lack of community input and massive displacement of long-time residents and businesses.  Some Place Like Home opens the debate on the right of this community, to protect its history, culture and identity and to determine its own future. Narrated by noted activist and author, Kevin Powell, this award-winning film will walk you through the charged monologues of displaced families and businesses. 

Some are calling these times “the economic era of the Civil Rights Movement.”  As the economy continues to falter, we must continue to hold government accountable to the needs of low income and working families.

Hosting a screening is one way you can help us get our message out to a broader audience and spark a dialogue on accountable development. And it is a way we all can come together to make this movement even stronger.

FUREE staff is happy to provide assistance. This includes screening materials such as posters/fliers, graphics for e-mail and social networking sites like Face Book or MySpace. And we will send out announcements through our e-list.

Cost of the film is: Individuals: $25, FUREE Members $10, Institutions $125.  Send checks to address above. For more information, write to film@furee.org or call (718) 852-2960


NYC Welfare Survey Confirms Needless Barriers to Applicants

 Across the country welfare departments actively discourage moms from applying for welfare or pursuing their application. Reduced welfare rolls despite massive poverty are a result. In New York while welfare applications increased by 35% from 1999 to 2007, the rolls steadily dropped.

            Last November NYC’s Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, conducted a survey. It revealed that welfare centers impose unnecessary barriers, including long waits and confusing instructions, to clients in need. The centers actively divert the clients. Thus the rolls drop and families must somehow survive on zero income.

            NY TANF Commissioner, David Hansell, had a catchy explanation for the illegal denials. “Today’s difficult economic climate has forced us to redouble our efforts to help welfare recipients move into the work force.”  He also claimed that NY recently increased the basic welfare grant for the first time in 19 years. (Now if only the moms could manage to get that increased check.) The monthly rental assistance check of $309 a month, however, has not changed in nearly 20 years.


Many Welfare Checks Haven’t Increased since Reagan Era

 Single moms with two kids in Minnesota have received a $532 monthly welfare grant for 22 years

In 1986 Ronald Reagan was president and the Soviet Union was our communist enemy.  All that has changed.  But one thing has remained constant over the decades: in most states the size of welfare checks has not increased.

In Minnesota a single parent with one child received $437 a month in 1986- and still does today.  Ditto for a parent with two children, who receives $532.

            These stagnant numbers are coming under increased focus in the human-service community.  Welfare spending is a target of state budget cuts.  Yet the collapsing economy is increasing the number who need help.

Most people don’t have a clue that welfare benefits have been frozen more than 20 years.



2008 monthly welfare benefit for a single-parent family of three

 1.  Alaska                    $923

2.  California               $723               

3.  Vermont                 $709                                                   

4.  New York               $738                           

5.  Connecticut            $674

16. Minnesota              $532

46.  Louisiana              $240

47.  Alabama               $215

48.  Arkansas               $204                                       

49.  Tennessee             $185

50.  Mississippi             $170


MN Moms Stomp for People’s Bailout Bill

 The Welfare Rights Committee (WRC) in Minneapolis with the MN Coalition for a People's Bailout has been organizing for a true bailout bill in Minnesota. They lobbied legislators by phone and in person and at actions. They held legislative press conferences. AFSCME and UFCW locals joined the Coalition and were visible at the press conferences.

            The People’s Bailout Bill includes:

Jobs or income now

- Extend and expand eligibility for unemployment benefits
- Create a public works program to put people to work now

- Put a 2-year moratorium on 5 year limit for public assistance

- No layoffs for state or UM workers

Housing is a Right

- Moratorium on home foreclosures for 2 years

- Moratorium on evictions of renters from foreclosed buildings.

            Although they did not win the Peoples Bailout in February, they are still fighting back. They continue to be a constant presence at the legislature. Right now they are organizing for a Two-Year Moratorium on Welfare Time Limits to be included in an upcoming welfare bill.

And WRC is lobbying against: $125 SSI cut, a $100 housing cut, the theft or "refinancing" of TANF dollars for poor families!

Their slogan? DON'T BALANCE the BUDGET on the BACKS of the POOR!

            In 2007 WRC’s legislative campaign won $15 millions for poor Minnesota families.

Welfare Rights Committee
PO Box 7266, Mpls MN 55407


Michigan Moms Can Get $50 Extra

Moms on TANF (called FIP) in Michigan can receive an extra $50 if they meet their work requirements for 3 months. The women can be given this $50 up to four times per year.

            A mom also can receive an additional $25 if she has an IDA. An IDA is a savings account intended for education, home ownership, job training or starting a small business. She can accumulate several thousand dollars during a period of 6 months to 3 years. The money saved is not counted against her benefits.

The individual herself and other organizations can contribute to her IDA. When the mom completes her plan, the Michigan IDA Partnership will match the total amount. (www.michigan.gov/mshda)

Oakland County Welfare Rights
Pontiac, MI

 Quotable Quotes

“It takes $48,881 a year to really meet the needs of a family of 3 in California. But, a family on welfare in California must somehow make ends meet on at most $8,676/year. It's scary.

Joyce Madrid, San Diego Welfare Warriors


Mother of Infant Forced into Zero Income by UMOS Welfare Agency

 Mother Warriors,

 UMOS W2 has kept my money since January. And I keep getting the runaround. They cut me off for missing one appointment! I have a baby.

When my maternity leave was up, Jordan Lee sent me an appointment to place me in a workshop. I called the woman at the front desk and explained that I couldn’t make the appointment. I had a WIC appointment at the same time on that day. She said she would let my FEP know. I never heard back until a week of so later.

I got a letter from UMOS telling me I was terminated and had to reapply. I reapplied and got a new FEP, Jean Standfield. She gave me forms to do job search. But she wouldn’t give me day care.  I told her I couldn’t take my baby out in the cold because she gets a real bad cold and then diarrhea every time I do.  And I’m still in pain from my C-Section.

Jean Standfield told me I could do the job search from my home. I did a while lot of applications on the computer. I got a seasonal (Christmas) job at Target. I called Standfiield and told her about my part-time, temporary job. I was about 20 hours a week. They gave the hours to their regular workers.

She agreed to give me childcare. But she took it away on December 23. I had to work until Jan 9. For two or three days I couldn’t go to work because I had no one to take care of my baby. They laid me off on January 9.

I called Jean Standfield to tell her my job ended. She asked for a letter from Target. But Target said they don’t do that. The public assistance people could call them at a special number and they would tell them my last day of work.

Jean Standfield told me “We don’t do that.”

She sent me only about $128 in January and February. Then in March she stopped my check—but never sent me a notice. And she never called me. On February 12 I talked to a worker at the foodstamp office. She said she put into the computer that I had no income for the 4th quarter. She said UMOS should see the info in the computer and re-open my case soon.

In March I started calling Jean Standfield. Too much time had gone by without any word from her. I kept asking her what was going on with my case. She said the computers said I was still working! She couldn’t take it out of the computer. She would get in trouble with her supervisor Standfield was always real rude and snotty to me, with an attitude. I would leave there crying. My feelings were hurt. I couldn’t believe she’d be like that to me.

 Finally I got irritated and called her back the next day. She gave me an appointment for April 10! That day she again said the computer still said I was working. And she couldn’t take the information out of the computer. But then she said she would remove it, “even though I’ll hear my supervisor’s mouth.” This time she treated me better, like she felt guilty.

She gave me 40 hours of child care and said I had to do orientation and a workshop. I went there and they placed me in a site to work 20 hours for free. I could choose cleaning at the projects or packing food at Second Harvesters. I chose Second Harvest. I have to work there from 8:30 until 1:30, Monday through Thursday. I guess I’m supposed to look for work on Friday--or after I get back to UMOS from Second Harvester. The bus takes about half an hour or more. Now they say I’ll get a partial check in June, but still don’t say how much. I never did get any notice terminating me in March or re-opening my case in April.

If I didn’t have family help, my baby and me would probably be homeless or worse.

Milwaukee, WI

 Victory for Miami Community

We won.! Miami en Acción (MIA) and Miami Workers Center (MWC) have been fighting for a new community center in Roberto Clemente Park for two years. On Wednesday April 29, 2009 the City held a ground breaking celebration for the new center.

During the campaign, we demanded the demolition of the old, dilapidated community center. We also asked the city to speed up construction and increase the size of the new building. We won these demands through dedicated grassroots organizing, direct action, and smart communications work.

The city fought back hard. They locked us out of community meetings, and shut out residents' voices in the rebuilding process. But we kept our eyes on the prize and won. Moving forward we will defend the victory and expand it. Next week we will attend a job fair in Wynwood. We will monitor the hiring process and ensure that residents get jobs associated with construction of the new community center.

            This victory is significant in the fight for Right to the City in Miami. Control and access to public space for the community is a crucial component of democracy, self-determination, and overall health of residents. This victory demonstrates the potential of building collective power and grassroots leadership in the struggle for racial and economic justice.

We are not done. We will keep the pressure on, to increase funding for the community center, and to ensure community control of the park and the center.

            Adelante! We are not in this fight alone, support MIA at salsa.democracyinaction.org.

Saraí Portillo
Miami Workers Center Organizer




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