Wauwatosa, WI – Terri Leece, Emergency Disaster
Services Director for The Salvation Army in Wisconsin & Upper Michigan has
been deployed to Washington D.C. in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy. Leece
is part of the federal government’s Mass Care Team in the National
Response Coordinating Center (NRCC). Leece arrived in D.C. on the
afternoon of Sunday, October 29 and will serve as the NRCC federal
Hurricane Sandy is forecast to hit along the Eastern Seaboard on Monday,
October 30 at 8:00 a.m. and last for 36 hours.
About The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church,
has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination since
1865. Nearly 33 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation
Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range
from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims,
assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and
shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.
Nationally, approximately 84 cents of every dollar raised is used to
support those services in nearly 9,000 communities nationwide. For more
information, go to www.SAmilwaukee.org
Green Bay, Wisconsin – Barbara Robinson and Shelia Walker have settled a federal lawsuit alleging illegal housing discrimination against Ken McCoy, the owner of multiple rental homes as well as a motorcycle dealership in Green Bay. McCoy will pay Robinson and Walker $35,000 to settle their lawsuit, which alleged that he denied them housing because they are African-American.
In August 2009, Shelia Walker saw an advertisement in the Green Bay Press-Gazette for a house for rent. She called the number in the ad and spoke with the owner, Ken McCoy. He told her that the house was located at 339 South Webster Avenue. He said that someone would be working there all day and that she could drop by anytime to see it. Walker and Robinson were happy to hear the home’s address, since it was in an area they wanted to live in. Walker went to the home later that day, but no one was there. Walker called McCoy again and told him she’d tried to see it but no one was there, and asked if she could make an appointment to view it. He asked her where she was originally from, and she told him she was from Milwaukee. He told her that he would not rent to anyone from Milwaukee, and that he had had “problems” with people from Milwaukee in the past. A few days later, Walker called McCoy again and asked McCoy to reconsider, and he told her that the neighbors might have “trouble with it,” and that it was a nice neighborhood and he wanted to keep it that way.
Concerned that McCoy had discerned Walker’s race over the telephone and was discriminating against them because of it, Walker and Robinson contacted the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC) and each filed a complaint. MMFHC operates a satellite office in Appleton, the Fair Housing Center of Northeast Wisconsin, which serves the Fox Valley and Brown County. MMFHC counseled Walker and Robinson on their legal rights and conducted a testing investigation into their allegations. Testing is a controlled method of measuring and documenting differences in the quality, content and quantity of information and service afforded to different homeseekers by a housing provider. A white tester called McCoy and told him that she was moving to Green Bay from Milwaukee; she asked to make an appointment to see the home and McCoy agreed. The white tester called McCoy again later, to ask for the specific addresses of the homes available and to ask if McCoy would enter into a year-long lease. The white tester identified herself as the caller from Milwaukee, and again, McCoy had no negative response to the fact that she was moving from Milwaukee.
McCoy subsequently rented the home on South Webster Avenue to a white couple.
With assistance from MMFHC, Robinson and Walker filed housing discrimination complaints with the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division (ERD) and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in January 2010. MMFHC also referred Robinson and Walker to Attorney Michael Cohn, and in March 2010, they elected to file a federal lawsuit. Both ERD and HUD issued charges in favor of Walker and Robinson, determining that there was reasonable cause to find that McCoy had violated fair housing law.
In August 2012, Robinson, Walker and McCoy reached a settlement agreement in federal court. McCoy paid Robinson and Walker $35,000. Despite the settlement, “the experience still hurts,” says Walker, “because it could happen again. People should know that discrimination still exists today. I don’t want anyone to be treated like we were treated.”
Robinson and Walker’s attorney, Michael Cohn, notes that, “In the 21st century, it’s unfortunate that people are still being denied housing because of their race, but it is more common than most people suspect.”
National Fair Housing Alliance and Member Agencies Allege Discrimination in Marketing and Maintenance of Foreclosed Homes in Chicago , Milwaukee and Indianapolis
CHICAGO – The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the HOPE Fair Housing Center , the South Suburban Housing Center , the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council and the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana announced Tuesday a federal housing discrimination complaint against Bank of America Corporation, Bank of America, N.A., and BAC Home Loan Servicing, LP. This complaint is the result of an undercover investigation of Bank of America that found the financial giant maintains and markets foreclosed homes in White neighborhoods in a much better manner than in African-American and Latino neighborhoods in Chicago , Milwaukee and Indianapolis .
The complaint was filed with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and is part of an amended complaint NFHA and seven member agencies filed October 10 that looks at how Bank of America has differently maintained and marketed properties in White, African-American, and Latino neighborhoods across the country.
Bank of America is one of the largest American banks that maintains and sells foreclosed properties and is one of the world’s largest financial institutions. The investigation in 13 cities of 505 f or eclosed homes owned, serviced or managed by Bank of America demonstrates that it has engaged in a systemic practice of maintaining and marketing its f or eclosed , bank-owned homes (also known as Real Estate Owned or REO properties) in a state of disrepair in communities of col or while maintaining and marketing REO properties in predominantly White communities in a far superi or manner. The investigation has evaluated Bank of America REO properties in 13 cities including Atlanta , Charleston , SC , Chicago , Dallas , Dayton , OH , Grand Rapids , MI , Indianapolis , Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Milwaukee , Oakland/Concord/Richmond, CA, Orlando , Phoenix and the Washington , DC area.
Communities of color continue to experience foreclosure rates twice that of White communities and continue to see their REO properties left to deteriorate and sit vacant.
Fifty-one percent of Bank of America-owned homes in Milwaukee ’s communities of color had more than five maintenance or marketing problems, and 87 percent did not have a “for sale” sign.
“Neighbors living near Bank of America properties in African-American and Latino neighborhoods often report having to mow the lawn of the bank-owned home or clean up trash that has spilled onto nearby properties,” said William Tisdale, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council. “Without the intervention of these responsible neighbors, we can only venture to guess how much worse the bank-owned homes would look. Bank of America-owned homes are not only eyesores, but they are health and safety hazards for neighboring families and young children. Through these, and other numerous examples of inaction and neglect, Bank of America has played a major role in destabilizing our neighborhoods.”
“Good neighbors are considerate, they take care of their yards, pick up their trash and care for their neighborhoods,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance . “Bank of America is not a good neighbor in communities of color. Instead, one of the nation’s largest holders of foreclosed homes is busy making excuses and passing the buck when it comes to taking responsibility for the homes it owns or services. In many White neighborhoods, Bank of America’s foreclosed properties fit in with most other homes for sale on the block, with manicured lawns and “for sale” signs. African-American and Latino neighborhoods deserve equal treatment.”
NFHA and its member agencies are represented by Joseph M. Sellers and Peter Romer-Friedman of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.
The National Fair Housing Alliance and four of its member organizations – HOPE Fair Housing Center in Wheaton, IL; South Suburban Housing Center in Homewood, IL; Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council in Milwaukee, WI and the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana in Indianapolis – evaluated the maintenance and marketing of REO properties f or the existence of 39 different types of maintenance or marketing deficiencies , such as broken windows and do or s , water damage , overgrown lawns , no “f or sale” sign , trash on the property , and other problems.
Without a “f or sale” sign, f or example, potential homebuyers would simply not know the property is available. Also, if there are unauth or ized occupants or storm damage, neighb or s have no one to call. With a “f or sale” sign, neighb or s can call a real estate agent to rep or t these kinds of problems. In Indianapolis, 100 percent of Bank of America REO properties in communities of color were missing a “for sale” sign as well as 79 percent in Chicago and 87 percent in Milwaukee.
Trash on a property is not only an eyesore for neighbors, but it makes a home unappealing to visitors and can be a potential health and safety hazard. Regular maintenance would correct this problem, but in Indianapolis 71 percent of all Bank of America REO properties in communities of color had substantial amounts of trash as well as 52 percent in Chicago and 33 percent in Milwaukee .
Broken locks or doors are an invitation to vagrants and possible criminal activity. Vagrants stay away from properties that are secured and regularly maintained and visited by responsible owners. In Indianapolis, 57 percent of properties in communities of color had broken doors or locks, while in Chicago the figure hit 55 percent and in Milwaukee 41 percent of properties had that deficiency.
Additional detailed statistics and photos are available at www.nationalfairhousing.org.
NFHA will continue its investigation into the practices of REO maintenance and marketing in the nation’s banking system. In April, NFHA issued a report on the findings of its nationwide REO investigation , The Banks Are Back, Our Neighborhoods Are Not: Discrimination in the Maintenance and Marketing of REO Properties. The report offers disturbing evidence that the same banks that peddled unsustainable loans to communities of col or and triggered the current f or eclosure crisis are now exacerbating damage to those communities. It details the results of the evaluation of more than 1 , 000 REO properties nationwide.
NFHA filed HUD administrative complaints against Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp in April 2012. Both of these complaints are pending while HUD investigates these serious and pervasive allegations of discrimination.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status, as well as the race or national origin of residents of a neighborhood. This law applies to housing and housing-related activities, which include the maintenance, appraisal, listing, marketing and selling of homes.
To read the most recent HUD administrative complaint against Bank of America and to view today’s news conference presentation , please go to www.nationalfairhousing.org.
WASHINGTON — A panel of three federal judges upheld a South Carolina law requiring voters to show photo identification, but delayed enforcement until next year, in a decision announced Wednesday, less than a month before this year’s presidential election.
In a unanimous ruling, the judges said there was no discriminatory intent behind the law, ruling that it would not diminish African-Americans‘ voting rights because people who face a “reasonable impediment” to getting an acceptable photo ID can still vote if they sign an affidavit.
The judge declined to let the law take effect immediately, “given the short time left before the 2012 elections and given the numerous steps necessary to properly implement the law … and ensure that the law would not have discriminatory” effects.
South Carolina voters who now lack the proper photo ID are disproportionately African-American, so proper and smooth functioning of the law “would be vital to avoid unlawfully racially discriminatory effects,” according to the decision, written by Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. “There is too much of a risk to African-American voters for us to roll the dice,” he said.
South Carolina is one of 16 states, mostly in the South, where election laws are subject to Justice Department approval under the federal Voting Rights Act because of a history of discrimination. South Carolina’s was the first law to be refused federal OK in nearly 20 years, which led state officials to challenge that decision in federal court.
The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature pushed the law through last year despite heavy opposition from African-American lawmakers. GOP Gov. Nikki Haley signed it last December.
Voter ID laws and other restrictions on voting became priority issues in mostly Republican legislatures and for governors after the 2008 elections. Opponents have described them as responses to the record turnouts of minorities and other Democratic-leaning constituencies that helped put Barack Obama, the first African-American president, in the White House.
Such laws have become a critical issue in this year’s election because of the tight presidential race between Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Supporters have pitched these laws as necessary to deter voter fraud, although very few cases of impersonation have been found.
Officials from South Carolina could not cite a single case of such fraud during the trial, but they said the law would help enhance public confidence in the election system and prevent other types of fraud.
South Carolina’s law requires voters to show a driver’s license or other photo identification issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles, or a passport, military photo identification or a voter registration card with a photo.
The other judges in the case were Colleen Kollar-Kotelly and John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court in Washington.
Kollar-Kotelly was appointed by President Bill Clinton. Bates and Kavanaugh were appointed by President George W. Bush.
The case number is 2012-203.
Madison–The state Department of Children and Families (DCF) received on Friday federal approval of its waiver request to reinvest savings to assist kids in foster care statewide after they reunite with their families.
Under the federal waiver, the federal government agrees to allow Wisconsin to retain savings related to the safe reduction of foster care caseloads and reinvest the savings in the child welfare system throughout Wisconsin. Over the five-year project period, the Department expects to generate and reinvest approximately $10 million of federal funding.
In Milwaukee County, children and families currently receive support during the initial twelve months after a child in out-of-home care reunites with his or her family. This support helps the family stay stable during this critical period and provide a safe and loving home for their child. The waiver will allow the Department to expand this best practice so that children in out-of-home care in other parts of the state have a similar support available to them when reunifying with their family.
“We have been successful in improving outcomes for families and children in Milwaukee. The number of children in out-of-home care in Milwaukee is now under 2000 and continues to drop,” said Eloise Anderson, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. “The savings generated from these positive results allows us to replicate this practice in other counties.”
Wisconsin was one of only a select number of states that received a federal waiver authorizing flexible use of federal funding. Wisconsin was the only state whose federal waiver project focuses exclusively on decreasing the number of children returning to foster care after reuniting with their families.
As part of the proposal, caseworkers will assist families in accessing all types of benefits and services they may need, including housing or childcare.
“The Department has been working with the First Lady, Mrs. Walker, in ending the cycle of harm families in the child welfare system experience,” continued Secretary Anderson. “This ongoing support will increase the likelihood the family will stay together and reduce the likelihood the child will return to foster care. It is important to work with the family during the months following reunification to assist them with any unexpected challenges they may face.”
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program has received federal funding for an additional five years, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Education.
The McNair program is a federally funded initiative to prepare students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds for graduate-level study. It is named for the African American astronaut who died in the space shuttle Challenger explosion.
UWM’s McNair program is one of the longest running in the country. However, continued funding was threatened earlier this year when the U.S. Department of Education announced plans to transfer $10 million from the McNair program to other programs to prepare young people for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Of the 203 programs nationally, only 134 had their funding continued.
The University of Wisconsin System and UWM Chancellor Michael R. Lovell were vocal in their support of the McNair program, according to Carmen Aguilar, director, and Donte McFadden, associate director. The McNair program also received help and support from numerous members of the administration, faculty and staff in preparing and supporting the grant renewal proposal, they added.
UWM was one of 12 programs in the State of Wisconsin to receive continued funding through 2017, according to Aguilar and McFadden. “As one of the original 14 McNair programs nationally, our institution will continue to prepare low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students for graduate study,” Aguilar added. “Special thanks to Senator Herb Kohl and Congresswoman Gwen Moore for their tireless support of the TRIO programs [McNair is part of TRIO], and the efforts of their staffs in voicing our concerns about these decisions to the Department of Education.”
Madison -Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) recently joined the chorus of Milwaukee officials calling for an independent federal criminal investigation into the Milwaukee Police Department’s treatment of Derek Williams and the pattern of civil rights abuses by the Department. Grigsby released the following statement: “This is not about the sudden emergence of ‘new information,’ as District Attorney Chisolm termed it, on Mr. Williams’ death. This is about the handling of information that already existed, and it is about a larger pattern of abuse and cover-ups over the years that have made it difficult to trust the Milwaukee Police Department. What else is the Department hiding? It’s time for an independent federal investigation to find out.
“For the Department to respond to our outrage with lip service about training officers is offensive. No amount of training could overcome the brutal disregard of another human being that the video footage of Mr. Williams’ death captures. If anything, it is the policies that allowed for a 14-month lag between his death and the release of the video footage that need to be reexamined. Reporters pressed for ten months before the Department finally relented. This was a drawn-out attempt to prevent Mr. Williams’ family and the public from
ever knowing the truth about his death.
“I do not see how anyone who watched the video, as Police Chief Flynn and DA Chisolm did, could not have known that Mr. Williams was slowly and painfully dying. Furthermore, it is impossible to imagine a slender 22 year-old young white man–handcuffed in the back of a squad car, gasping for air, and pleading for his life—being disregarded as Mr. Williams was. This sort of treatment is wrong, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, neighborhood, or any other classification.
“It is time for Milwaukee to stop its rise in the ranks of cities characterized by police brutality and civil rights abuses. We must hold the Department and the DA’s Office accountable for these injustices. Beyond this, the Department needs a complete overhaul, guided by the findings of independent federal investigators, to definitively end the corruption.”
Three-year program tackles family financial issues as federal report shows financial literacy sorely lacking
Milwaukee, (Sept. 18, 2012) Managing an investment portfolio, calculating net income, building a nest egg for college and developing a family budget may seem advanced to eighth-grade students. But the importance of these challenges has life-long consequences; and it¹s not too soon to face them.
That¹s why Milwaukee Public Schools and Junior Achievement of Wisconsin have combined resources for an innovative learning experience, teaching the basics and benefits of personal finance to more than 5,000 teenagers this year in more than 120 MPS elementary and middle schools.
The announcement comes two and a half weeks after a report from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission found that even those Americans investing in financial markets have a “weak grasp” of basic financial concepts.
Dr. Gregory Thornton, Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent and Tim Greinert, President of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, presented details of the program, called JA Finance Park Learning Journey at the JA Kohl’s Education Center, 11111 W. Liberty Dr. The JA Kohl’s Education Center was created by many local supporters. Kohl’s made the largest donation of $3 million over three years through the Kohl¹s Cares® program. Eighth-grade students from MPS’ Burdick School will attend and participate in the program.
The comprehensive program will introduce personal finance and career exploration to all MPS 8th grade students. It includes a combination of classroom presentations, resource materials and day-long participation in a fully interactive, simulated town at JA Finance Park. In this environment students receive family and income scenarios then visit 19 businesses to purchase things like insurance, clothing, food, transportation and real estate.
All aspects of the program are designed to advance students¹ knowledge, skills, attitude and achievement in areas of personal finance. In the Learning Journey process, students are exposed to banking, budgeting, obtaining credit, paying taxes and making investment decisions.
“It¹s a real world experience in a real-world environment. The combination of presentations, materials and the use of JA Finance Park create a real-life interactive learning experience, one that will enlighten and enrich our students and lead to practical decision making,” Dr. Thornton said.
He added the desired outcome is for students to be more interested and aware of the choices and considerations they are facing now and in the future. It will also give the students an appreciation for the economic situations and realities faced by their parents and grandparents each and every day.
Greinert said the significance of the subject matter and the number of students that will be exposed to it are positive developments that effectively blend education and experience.
“It will introduce personal finance and career exploration to a substantial number of teens and pre-teens. The subject matter needs to be presented, realized, experienced and reinforced both inside and outside the classroom.
“The students will create a budget, allocate expenses and make personal investments. They become the sole providers for a family and must accommodate the family needs without overspending,” Greinert said.
Adding to the collaborative nature of the JA Finance Park Learning Journey, it will draw upon the expertise and experiences of participating educators, volunteers, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin staff and the students themselves. Educators will assist student learning at the JA Kohl’s Education Center, preparing students before the day and summarizing the experience through post-visit activities.
The JA Finance Park Learning Journey is a three-year partnership between Junior Achievement of Wisconsin and MPS. The program is correlated to Common Core Standards and Wisconsin Model Academic Standards. It represents an extension and expansion of MPS’ Learning Journey concept of collaborative classroom, corporate and community teaching programs. MPS Learning Journeys combine standards-based classroom instruction for students with real-world learning.
MPS is developing a common set of field-based enrichment experiences, specific to each grade and aligned to grade level standards and curricula in the core subjects. The Learning Journeys connect learning in the classroom with the greater community where students have the chance to have hands-on learning experiences, engage their senses and imagination and experience beyond their neighborhoods. The partnership with Junior Achievement of Wisconsin marks MPS’ second Learning Journey following last year’s announcement of a Discovery World partnership for all fourth-graders.