RILN Opinion+: Mayor Maria Rivera

Welcome to another episode of RILN Opinion+ where we talk about major issues the Latinx and underrepresented communities face in the Rhode Island community. This week we spoke with Maria Rivera, the first Latina mayor in the state of Rhode Island. 

Central Falls was one of the hardest hit communities per capita in the United States during the pandemic. The impact of the pandemic in Central Falls inspired Rivera to step into this position. “I needed to come in here and just work and do what I had to do to try to get my community back healthy,â€� stated Rivera. With the relationships she had built in her community she felt as though the people were campaigning for her. Rivera highlighted how when she was elected no one told her what challenges she had to face and how to face them. 

One of the hardest hit groups was the undocumented community as they struggled to access employment, affordable housing, and security. “We’ve had two or three families live in one apartment, undocumented, because they can’t afford to live in one apartment or because of fear,â€� stated Rivera explaining the hardships of undocumented Americans. When establishing vaccination clinics undocumented Americans were hesitant to receive vaccines due to mistrust in the system. However, Rivera was the one person they trusted. Though these clinics could have been hosted by the armed forces, Rivera chose to run them with her team as she deeply cares about the undocumented. 

“We are a team,â€� stated Rivera highlighting the fact that the government of Central Falls protects the undocumented community and does not allow any harm to come in any way, shape, or form. Medicaid for the undocumented community is a change Rivera is advocating for as she believes everyone deserves medical coverage. Accessibility to licensing is another change Rivera advocates for as she believes giving access to them is a benefit to all people. “We have to educate those that don’t support them,â€� stated Rivera. The biggest obstacle we face as leaders is educating those that don’t support minorities. Those who are not gay or undocumented still face challenges. The lack of trust between these groups and the system must be addressed.   

Resources:

Office of Constituent Services and Health: https://www.centralfallsri.gov/health

Central Falls Website: https://www.centralfallsri.gov/

MALN Opinion+: Ellyn Ruthstrom

Welcome back for another episode of MALN Opinion+.

This week on the show we have returning guest Ellyn Ruthstrom, the executive director of SpeakOUT. Speak OUT is a diverse community of LGBTQIA+ individuals who have come together to share their truth with the world. The organization was formed in 1972 when two early gay-rights groups—the Daughters of Bilitis and the Homophile Union of Boston—came together to create the Gay Speakers Bureau with hopes that by telling stories of their experiences and sharing their deepest truths they could push to rid the world of prejudice often held toward LGBTQIA+ people. 

Despite the name change aimed to emphasize inclusivity their mission remains the same to this day. SpeakOUT continues to push for change through their hosting of educational programs about LGBTQIA+ lives and issues, and sharing their stories at events for public audiences. 

Director Ruthstrom, who has been advocating within the LGBTQIA+ community for over 25 years and as an activist for even longer, pointed out that no matter how much positive change we see happen there are still unfortunately many actions threatening the LGBTQ+ community. Ellyn said these actions can be seen “In Florida where they’re passing a horrible bill that is silencing people in schools from talking about LGBTQ+ lives and In Texas they are criminalizaing the parents of transgender children.� This sort of backlash is often seen when any sort of marginalized and oppressed community gains new rights or protections, or progresses in any way. People are always waiting in opposition and that is why it is so important for us to stay vigilant and strengthen our own communities so we can continue to push against those trying to weaken us. 

To hear more about SpeakOUT and Ellyn’s journey as a speaker and activist be sure to watch this week’s episode of MALN Opinion+

CTLN Opinion+: Selia Mosquera-Bruno

This week CTLN Opinion+ had the opportunity to speak with Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno, of the Connecticut Department of Housing.

We had an informative discussion on the importance of providing access to affordable housing, the challenges behind the lack of affordable housing, and the state’s new program available for rental and homeownership.

Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno brings a wealth of knowledge to the Department of housing. Before her appointment, she was the President and chief executive officer of NeighborWorks New Horizons (NWNH), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing affordable housing opportunities to help build strong communities and revitalize neighborhoods. Under her leadership, the organization expanded operations beyond New Haven County to New London and Fairfield counties.

Mosquera-Bruno has vast and extensive experience advocating for affordable housing on a state and national level. She also served on the National NeighborWorks Association board and is co-chair of their National Real Estate Development Advisory Council.

Mosquera-Bruno’s goal is to continue the state’s production of creating more affordable units by increasing resources to developers where they can continue building quality housing for those most in need.

Key points of discussion:

·          Connecticut Department of housing mission statement

·          The problem behind the lack of affordable housing and what CDOH is doing to help   solve this issue

·          Discussion about some of the affordable housing programs/resources  

·          How CDOH educate and inform communities about affordable housing

·          The importance of making affordable housing available

·          The status of the emergency rental assistance program UniteCT

·          What can communities or an individual do to address CT housing inequalities

·          The new emergency program MyHomeCT to help homeowners pay their mortgage

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Connecticut Department of Housing

Commissioners Biography (ct.gov)

https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT

https://www.chfa.org/myhomect/

NHLN Opinion+: Hershey Hirschkop

Welcome to this week’s episode of NHLN Opinion+, a monthly program that is dedicated to discussing the concerns and opinions of New Hampshire’s Hispanic-Latino community.

Executive Director Hershey Hirschkop of Seacoast Outright returned to the program this week to share the work the organization has done in the past year in providing LGBTQ youth a safe space to explore gender and sexuality in a welcoming and understanding environment.

As a heterosexual man, and parent of a bisexual teenager, I discussed with Hirschkop resources Seacoast Outright also affords familial networks in supporting LGBTQ youth. “Helping parents get through this is important to kids feeling supported,” said Hirschkop. “We see parents, like you, trying to figure out, “How do I best support, my kid.”


SUGGESTION: All You Need Is LOVE

Isabella Balta poses on the day of her Quinceañera, March of 2018

We also spoke about conscious consumerism beyond rainbow-washing. One Finance, a financial institution with banking services in Illinois has an initiative that displays someone’s chosen name on their bank card, in their account, and during all communication. The bank does not require legal documentation of a name change, does not ask customers for their gender, and only uses gender-neutral language both internally and externally.

“Naming, and how you identify and the pronouns you want to use are very personal,” she said in response to how important it is to help ease the burden on trans and nonbinary people from their dead name to their affirmed name. “When you erase that you erase the very being of who a person is.”

And for the benefit of members of our audience who are not familiar with the term dead name…dead name means the birth name of a transgender person who has changed their name as part of their gender transition.

Within a matter of months, One FInance was able to make it easy for customers to change their first name, no doctor’s forms, no driver’s license change required, just the opportunity to change their first name through a simple three-question form.

Seacoast Outright was founded in 1993 as an outcome of the “Respect for all Youthâ€� conference spearheaded by PFLAG—watch our interview with PFLAG-NH Executive Director here. Hirschkop said the volunteer-based organization has stayed true to its mission of serving, advocating for, and supporting LGBTQ youth within the Seacoast area and across New Hampshire since then. She explained that the nonprofit offers direct services to local youths but also heavily focuses on outreach and education within the greater community. Although the organization focuses on serving younger residents, it also offers groups and resources for parents, families, and older residents in general. Within the past year, the organization moved its support groups and events online to continue serving the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Resources mentioned in the video: 

Check out all the different support groups the organization currently offers here:

Access available resources through the link below. This list is continuously updated. 

Learn how you can support Seacoast Outright at:  

Read their BLM statement: 

MEDIA

Latino News Network Chosen To Participate In Democracy SOS

“We are thrilled to welcome the inaugural cohort,â€� reads the announcement by Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) and Hearken, sponsors of Democracy SOS. â€�Together, they will experiment with new ways to strengthen democracy by working with and for the communities they serve.â€�

The nine-month Democracy SOS fellowship will support reporters and editors in significantly strengthening journalism’s role in advancing our democracy through innovative approaches that build civic engagement, equity, and healthy discourse.

Democracy SOS Fellowship

The Latino News Network (LNN) is one of 20 news outlets accepted to participate in the initiative. “Journalism plays a critical role in preserving democracy,â€� said Hugo Balta, Owner and Publisher of LNN. â€�I am grateful that our newsroom will have the support to continue producing coverage that builds understanding, trust and engagement.â€�

Connecticut Latino News (CTLN) is producing the Advancing Democracy: Connecticut Solutions Journalism, a special series exploring solutions to why Hispanics-Latinos don’t vote by engaging with thought leaders in Connecticut and drawing from the best practices and lessons learned in communities across the country. The six-month program is sponsored by the SJN.

CTLN is one of the five independent news and information digital outlets that LNN oversees in New England and the Midwest.


SUGGESTION: Removing Language Barriers In Voting

Advancing Democracy: Connecticut Solutions Journalism

“The Democracy SOS fellowship will not only help us expand the solutions journalism, Advancing Democracy initiative to our other markets, but also provide our news team with invaluable training,â€� said Balta.

Newsrooms will participate in a curriculum that includes training in the Citizens Agenda approach, solutions journalism, asset framing, ethics, solutions journalism, and building trust in news alongside timely elective workshops.


Illinois Latino News (ILLN) is one of five independent statewide coverage, Hispanic-Latino editorial focus, English language news, and information websites under the ownership and leadership of nationally recognized journalist and media advocate, Hugo Balta. 

ILLN’s mission is to provide greater visibility and voice to Hispanics-Latinos in Illinois – an underrepresented community in mainstream newsrooms and news coverage.

Solutions Journalism Network (SJN): While journalists focus most of their coverage on what’s gone wrong, SJN seeks to rebalance the news by equipping journalists to investigate and explain, in a critical and clear-eyed way, how people are trying to solve social problems. Since its founding in 2013, SJN has worked with more than 600 news organizations and 25,000 journalists worldwide through in-person workshops and online resources and webinars.

Hearken helps organizations embed stakeholder listening into their growth and operations to build more resilient companies and communities. Hearken has shown that listening leads to stronger relationships, deeper engagement, and better decisions, and enables individuals to make an outsize positive impact in the world. In 2020, Hearken worked in collaboration with more than two dozen civic organizations (including SJN) to stand up and deliver Election SOS, which supported journalists in responding to critical election information needs.

Latino Summit 2022

Twenty-two years ago, Juanita Perez-Bassler and Dr. Claudia Rueda-Alvarez decided to start an organization dedicated to supporting Latinx students living within the northwest suburbs of Chicago. These two visionary women began with a mission to improve academic achievement among Hispanic/Latinx students and to encourage the pursuit of higher education. They called their organization The Latino Summit. 

The Latino Summit is now in its 22nd year. We operate as a 501c3, serving over 500 Hispanic/Latinx students from 17 northwest suburban high schools yearly. Like our Latinx community, we are stronger than ever. 

Our annual event, which normally takes place in-person in November, will now be a hybrid event due to the pandemic. During the week of March 7th, participants will be engaging in various activities at local colleges or virtually through the Latino Summit app. Those participants looking for educational support will get the opportunity to learn about the college process and transitioning from high school into higher education. They will also get the opportunity to hear from current Latinx college students and professionals about their experiences.  

In addition to educational support and services, participants will also have mentoring and networking opportunities, and pursuits related to personal development and career goals. Though we direct many of our services to high school students, any Latinx community member interested in personal, educational, and career development may use the platform by registering for the event and downloading the app ((http://www.latinosummitnws.org/events.html).

We are a self-and grant-funded nonprofit volunteer organization. All of the funding goes directly to the students we serve. Therefore, you can also support our organization by volunteering to join our college student or professional panel, become a sponsor of our annual event, or donate to this worthy cause (http://www.latinosummitnws.org/partners.html). 


Pamela Fullerton is a bilingual and bicultural Latina Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.

She runs Advocacy & Education Consulting, a professional counseling and consulting organization dedicated to ensuring social justice and advocacy through equitable access to mental health and educational-based services and supports.

Pamela specializes in trauma, immigration and acculturation, BIPOC experiences, career counseling, and life transitions.


Cover Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

The post Latino Summit 2022 appeared first on ILLN.

Latino News Network chosen to participate in Democracy SOS

“We are thrilled to welcome the inaugural cohort,�reads the announcement by Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) and Hearken, sponsors of Democracy SOS. �Together, they will experiment with new ways to strengthen democracy by working with and for the communities they serve.�

The nine-month Democracy SOS fellowship will support reporters and editors in significantly strengthening journalism’s role in advancing our democracy through innovative approaches that build civic engagement, equity and healthy discourse.

Democracy SOS Fellowship

The Latino News Network (LNN) is one of 20 news outlets accepted to participate in the initiative. “Journalism plays a critical role in preserving democracy,� said Hugo Balta, Owner and Publisher of LNN. �I am grateful that our newsroom will have the support to continue producing coverage that builds understanding, trust and engagement.�

Connecticut Latino News (CTLN) is producing the Advancing Democracy: Connecticut Solutions Journalism, a special series exploring solutions to why Hispanics-Latinos don’t vote by engaging with thought leaders in Connecticut and drawing from the best practices and lessons learned in communities across the country. The six-month program is sponsored by the SJN.

CTLN is one of the five independent news and information digital outlets that LNN oversees in New England and the Midwest.


SUGGESTION: Removing Language Barriers In Voting


“The Democracy SOS fellowship will not only help us expand the solutions journalism, Advancing Democracy initiative to our other markets, but also provide our news team with invaluable training,� said Balta.

Newsrooms will participate in a curriculum that includes training in the Citizens Agenda approach, solutions journalism, asset framing, ethics, solutions journalism and building trust in news alongside timely elective workshops.


Illinois Latino News (ILLN) is one of five independent statewide coverage, Hispanic-Latino editorial focus, English language news, and information websites under the ownership and leadership of nationally recognized journalist and media advocate, Hugo Balta. 

ILLN’s mission is to provide greater visibility and voice to Hispanics-Latinos in Illinois – an underrepresented community in mainstream newsrooms and news coverage.

Solutions Journalism Network (SJN): While journalists focus most of their coverage on what’s gone wrong, SJN seeks to rebalance the news by equipping journalists to investigate and explain, in a critical and clear-eyed way, how people are trying to solve social problems. Since its founding in 2013, SJN has worked with more than 600 news organizations and 25,000 journalists worldwide through in-person workshops and online resources and webinars.

Hearken helps organizations embed stakeholder listening into their growth and operations to build more resilient companies and communities. Hearken has shown that listening leads to stronger relationships, deeper engagement and better decisions, and enables individuals to make an outsize positive impact in the world. In 2020, Hearken worked in collaboration with more than two dozen civic organizations (including SJN) to stand up and deliver Election SOS, which supported journalists in responding to critical election information needs.

The post Latino News Network chosen to participate in Democracy SOS appeared first on ILLN.

Making Small Business A BIG Success

Small businesses are making a comeback after two challenging years under COVID-19. There were more than 47,000 new business registrations in Connecticut in 2021; a 20 percent increase from 2020, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

CT Latino News spoke with Sonia Alvelo, CEO of Latin Financial, a family-owned and operated brokerage firm in Newington with offices in Puerto Rico. “Everybody was lost, everybody was overwhelmed,” said Alvelo on the Latino News Network’s podcast, â€œ3 Questions With…â€� about the early days of the pandemic when small businesses were scrambling to get financial help in order to stay afloat. “There was so much miscommunication,” she said.

Alvelo described the beginning of the pandemic as a tense and stressful situation as her firm scrambled to help their clients access Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding.

Many members of the Hispanic-Latino community weren’t aware of COVID financial aid, including the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program until Alvelo told them. She worked with dozens of business owners submitting first-time applications, loan increase requests, and reconsiderations of denied requests – many times translating information in Spanish.


SUGGESTION: Small Businesses Surviving And Thriving Through COVID-19


Alvelo said there are three things that make any small business successful: passion, logistics, and a good accountant.

“Start a business that you’re good at and love,” she said. “The second is logistics – have a solid plan of action,” Alvelo advises. And the third is a good CPA because it sets you up for success she said.

Much of the work Alvelo provides is at no cost, an investment in the community that she says is paying dividends in new clients for her company. She plans to hire new employees and expand her business beyond Connecticut and Puerto Rico.

Analysis: Little Change In Access To Housing Financing For Latinos

After reviewing all home loan data for 2013, 2015 analysis by attorney Christine Wellington of Derry concluded that ethnicity was the only variable besides household income that was consistently a significant predictor of loan denial.

“In short, in 2013, if you were Latino you were significantly less likely to have access to housing financing,� the report states. “This is true controlling for applicant gender; type of loan (origination v. refinancing); conventional v. government-backed; loan amount; race; denial reason; and geography.�

A report by the Concord Monitor finds that when the study was updated in 2020, Wellington and her associates noted that little had changed: “Our 2020 analysis echoes the findings of the 2015 assessment: People of color concentrated in the poorest neighborhoods still face the same obstacles outlined in 2015. By every measure, those neighborhoods faced conditions and access to opportunity far below the state average.�


According to the 2020 Census, Hispanics-Latinos comprise 7.6 percent of the population statewide, 21 percent in Manchester, and 23 percent in Nashua.


The Granite State News Collaborative used the HMDA database to analyze the lending patterns of the state’s top 20 mortgage lenders from 2018 to 2020 and found wide variation in denial rates.

CMG Mortgage, Freedom Mortgage, CrossCountry Mortgage, and Fairway Independent Mortgage all denied Hispanics-Latinos at more than twice the rates they deny whites, while Quicken Loans, HarborOne Mortgage, and Digital FCU had denial rates that were identical or within a few percentage points of each other. 

GSBC reached out to lenders with high denial rates for Hispanics-Latinos and heard back from several (see sidebar). Fairway spokesperson Alyson Austin offered an answer that was similar to what many others said.

HMDA data is “an appropriate first step in this type of inquiry,� she wrote in an email, but added, “additional analysis is needed to determine whether factors unrelated to race explain disparities observed in raw HMDA data.�

To read more about the analysis, reaction to the findings, read Discriminatory home lending persists in New Hampshire.


Cover Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash

Latino Businesses Credited For Resurgence of Shopping Mall

Business owners and local leaders celebrated the opening of 16 new businesses at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield on Tuesday, all Hispanic-Latino-owned.

Borisushi, a self-described Latin-style sushi restaurant, was among the businesses celebrated by the Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce at the ribbon-cutting ceremony and given citations from the Massachusetts Senate.

“The resurgence of the Eastfield Mall from Latino and Black-owned businesses sets the tone for transitioning malls, shopping plazas, and downtown storefronts all over Springfield and Massachusetts. The pandemic has only increased the motivation for our community to take the leap and become their own boss as business owners,� said Andrew Melendez, Director of the Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce.

BoriSushi, Eastfield Mall, Springfield, MA
Photo Courtesy: BoriSushi

In all, there are 22 Hispanic-Latino-owned businesses at the Eastfield Mall. The feat comes amid statistics that show Hispanic-Latino businesses in Massachusetts lag behind the national average.

Hispanics-Latinos and the Black community make up more than a fifth of the state’s population but own just over 3 percent of businesses with employees — less than half the national rate of Hispanic-Latino and Black business ownership, according to a U.S. Census survey of entrepreneurs released in 2018.

GBH News reports that if the self-employed are factored in, Hispanic-Latino and Black people own about 9 percent of all businesses in the state, also less than half the national average, according to the Census survey in 2012.

 Part of the problem is that Hispanic-Latino businesses face higher demands for collateral from lenders and are turned down for loans more often than their white counterparts.


SUGGESTION: Latino Entrepreneurs, Often Shunned By Banks, Band Together To Build Their Businesses


In a December study, the consulting firm McKinsey found that “Latinos have the lowest rate of using bank and financial institution loans to start their businesses compared with other racial and ethnic groups,� rely more on personal funds and receive a tiny fraction of the billions of dollars invested each year by venture capital firms.