State commission calls for dismantling structural racism in Mass. prisons, jails

Structural racism is rampant in the state’s prisons and jails, a special legislative commission found in a study released today.

The 71-page report, based on several site visits and dozens of interviews with current and former inmates and correctional staff, concluded that racism pervades policies, programs and the culture in both the state’s prisons and its county jails. Inmates of color told commissioners about unequal access to medical and mental health care and waiting longer for job placement than their white counterparts. Non-white inmates were routinely given lower-paying janitorial work instead of more desirable and higher-paying jobs in metal work and dog training, the report stated.

The Special Legislative Commission on Structural Racism in Correctional Facilities, led by state Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Marlborough) and former state Rep. Nika Elugardo (D-Boston), was charged with investigating the treatment of people of color incarcerated at state and county correctional facilities. More than 11,500 men and women are incarcerated across the state and county correctional system, whether serving sentences, awaiting trials or detained under federal programs.

From disciplinary actions to health care and educational access, people of color — along with non-English speakers and LGBTQ people — experienced worse conditions than white people, according to the report.

Read the full story at GBH News.


Publisher’s Note: This story is an aggregate from GBH, Massachusetts Latino News’ (MALN) partner in providing greater visibility and voice to the Hispanic-Latino community.

Volunteers Help Recently Arrived Migrants Endure First Winter

MA Latino News produces and amplifies stories focused on the responses to the social determinants of health. Social and Community Context is the connection between characteristics of the contexts within which people live, learn, work, and play, and their health and well-being. This includes topics like cohesion within a community, civic participation, discrimination, conditions in the workplace, and incarceration.


Over the last month, thousands of migrants have crossed into the U.S. at the Texas border ahead of the expiration of Title 42, a pandemic policy that allows the U.S. to expel migrants in order to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Cities and states led by Democrats are expecting an influx of migrants — and they’re worried they won’t be able to handle the surge.

“We have been navigating this all year,� said Denise Rincon, president of the Venezuelan Association of Massachusetts. “People are arriving without any resources. So we have had to deal with this the best we can. With our own money, our own resources. We’ve tried to do magic.“

Video by Danna Matheus

Volunteers like Arianny Ramirez welcome children and family members, many of whom like herself, are Venezuelan, bussed to D.C. from the southern U.S. border since April.

“Even though we’re far away from our country, Venezuela, we feel at home,â€� said Ramirez. “With that warmth, that love, the gaitas, the pan de jamón, the hallacas, and everything together. It’s very beautiful.â€�

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis infuriated Democrats and immigration advocates when he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fly about 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

That happened in September. Now, only five out of those 49 remain on Martha’s Vineyard, and others have started new lives in different towns throughout Massachusetts — some in government housing and shelters and others in private homes. Nearly all of them have moved to other cities across the U.S.

The migrant issue hasn’t gone unnoticed in Congress. Special funding in the federal spending bill released this week could take the pressure off of cities like New York, Chicago and Washington, as they try to handle the rise in immigrants and the challenges to provide shelter, food and other basic needs.


Danna Matheus, originally from Caracas, Venezuela, is a first-generation immigrant; currently residing in the Washington DC area.

She is a Communications graduate from Frederick Community College and a Journalism student at the University of Maryland. Danna has experience as a news reporter for “The Commuter,� a student-run newspaper, and as a producer for “Discovering your Future,� a podcast that helps students to find their passion.

Publisher’s Notes: Danna is an Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) fellow in the 2022 class, Journalism Camp: covering race, ethnicity, and culture.

The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) was founded in 2016 in honor of Hugo Balta’s maternal grandmother.

HZF is a not-for-profit organization that helps students offset the costs of higher education with scholarships. In 2021, the organization expanded its support of students to include the Journalism Camp.

Please consider making a donation to HZF: Support Journalism.

MA Latino Homebuyer Guide: Stats and Resources

Editor’s Note: The following op-ed reflects MA Latino News’ focus on economic coverage—one of the social determinants of health—among the state’s diverse Hispanic-Latino populations. Economic stability and housing security are essential to one’s life and well-being.

Latino homeownership in Massachusetts has been on the rise in recent years. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos now make up nearly 12% of all homeowners in Massachusetts – and this number will only continue to increase.

Several factors are driving this growth in Latino homeownership within the state. For one, the state’s Latino population, in general, has increased in recent years and currently makes up nearly one-fourth of the state’s population. Furthermore, Latinos in Massachusetts have seen their economic prospects improve over time with increases in median household income and educational level.

Consequently, these two demographic changes have contributed to the overall rise in Latino homeownership within Massachusetts in recent years. This is good news for a historically underserved community in the mainstream real estate market.

If you’re considering buying a home in Massachusetts, the best time is whenever you are ready. The average rent in Boston has been significantly rising in recent years, and this trend appears to continue. Boston’s median rent is $3,772, while the median mortgage payment is $3,500.

Many resources and support programs are available to Hispanic American citizens in Massachusetts, and with the right help, you can turn your American dream into a reality. 

Check out these feel-good statistics for even more motivation:

Latino homeownership general facts:

  • According to a 2019 projection by the Gaston Institute, the Latino population in Massachusetts will grow to over 1.15 million by 2035 – representing around 15.3 percent of the state’s population. Moreover, the projection indicates that existing Latinos in Massachusetts are more likely to contribute to the future population than new immigrants.
  • According to the Urban Institute, Latinos will make up 70% of home ownership growth from 2020-2040, making them the growth engine of American home buying. In fact, Latinos will not only experience a higher homeownership rate over the next couple of decades, but they will also be the leading ethnic or racial group to do so.
  • The years following the 2008-2009 financial crisis and sub-prime mortgage meltdown saw a significant decline in Latino homeownership rates, with data from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) showing that by 2014, only approximately 45% of the Hispanic population still owned their homes. However, by 2020 that rate had rebounded to around 49%, similar to its pre-crisis peak. An improving job market and lower interest rates contributed to this recoil.
  • NAHREP reports that the average age of Latinos, at 29 years old, is a significant contributing factor to the increase in the homeownership rate. This is because the Latino population is, on average, 14 years younger than the general population.
  • U.S. Census Bureau data shows that in 2020, nearly half (43.6%) of Latino homebuyers were under the age of 34, compared to 37.3% of the general population. Today, nearly one in three Latinos falls into the primary home-buying years demographic (25-44). As the population of other ethnic groups grows older on average, that will result in more Latinos becoming first-time homeowners.

According to the above statistics, the Massachusetts housing market’s future looks promising for Latinos. But what does this situation look like for undocumented immigrants? 

Can undocumented immigrants buy a house in Massachusetts?

The short answer is yes, and the key lies in taxes. 

For the ones who do not have permanent residency, there is still a chance to purchase a home in the state as long as they have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

What is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)? It is a term used to describe a specific form of identification issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Other types of identification include the Social Security Number (SSN), Employer Identification Number (EIN), Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number, or Preparer Tax Identification Number. The IRS provides an ITIN to those who need a U.S. taxpayer identification number but do not have or do not qualify to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). 

Advantages & Disadvantages of Purchasing a House With a Tax ID Loan:

Advantages

  • Social Security is not required.
  • Green Card is not required.
  • ITIN can be used to refinance mortgages.
  • Having an ITIN can help you build credit.
  • An ITIN loan is better than hard money loan.
  • Applying to an ITIN is easy, and the process is available online. It is easily done by filling out the W-7 form.

Disadvantages

  • Although applying is easy, it can take up to 6 weeks to receive the official ITIN.
  • Higher interest rates.
  • Higher denial rates.
  • Most banks don’t provide Tax ID loans.
  • Tax ID loans require a higher down payment.

How to apply for a Tax ID Loan?

Once having an ITIN, the next step is to apply for a Tax ID loan with a lender. The process requires:

  • Proof of a sustainable and consistent income
  • Income verification
  • Credit history 
  • Down payment funds (usually, Tax ID loans require a 20% down payment, but a real estate agent could help you find a better rate).

It’s essential to prove your finances to show lenders you will be reliable and able to pay your loan payments.

Down Payment Assistance Programs in Massachusetts

If you’re considering purchasing a home, several down payments and closing cost assistance programs available locally and nationwide can help make the process easier. Let’s take a look at some of these programs to see if you qualify.

According to the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS, the median price for a single-family home in Massachusetts was $549,450 in March 2022, which is a 13.3% increase from the year prior.

For first-time home buyers in Massachusetts, saving up for a down payment can seem impossible when prices are constantly on the rise. It’s easy to feel like you’re always playing catch-up, but there are a few down payment assistance programs that can help make up for the difference.

Massachusetts Home Buyer Example:

Home Sale Price $549,450
Minimum down payment (3%) $16,483
20% Down Payment $109,890
Credit Score Average 732
Home Buyer Grant A 5% discount, with a cap of $15,000 or $25,000 (MassHousing)

The amount you’ll need to put down for a down payment on a home varies based on home sale price in your state. For conventional mortgages, the minimum down payment is usually 3% – but this may vary depending on your credit score.

Massachusetts First-time Home Buyer Loans

If you’re a first-time home buyer in Massachusetts looking to qualify for a conventional loan, you’ll need to be able to put down 20% to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). However, don’t worry if you can’t reach that amount. There are still several options available that allow for smaller down payments. 

Many low-down-payment mortgage programs available require a down payment as low as 3%.

  • Conventional 97:

 If you want to apply for a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae mortgage, you’ll need a down payment of 3% and a credit score of at least 620. And usually, after just a few years of making your mortgage payments, you won’t need to pay for mortgage insurance anymore.

  • FHA Loan:

With a 3.5% down payment and a minimum credit score of 580, this loan is backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). However, you will be required to pay mortgage insurance until you refinance to a different type of mortgage, move, or pay off your loan.

  • VA Loan:

If you’re a veteran, service member, reservist, or member of the National Guard, you may be eligible for a VA loan. VA loans are some of the best, with zero down payment and no ongoing mortgage insurance. Credit score requirements vary by lender, but often 620 is the minimum.

  •  USDA Loan:

If you’re on a low-to-moderate income and looking to buy a home in a designated rural area, you may be eligible for a zero-down USDA loan. Credit score requirements vary by lender, but often 640 is the minimum. You may also be eligible for low mortgage insurance rates. Talk to your lender to see if you qualify.

  • Massachusetts State’s ONE Mortgage Program:

The ONE Mortgage program is a Massachusetts state program that helps first-time homebuyers purchase a home. The program provides a low-interest mortgage loan with no down payment or private mortgage insurance required. The loan is available to first-time homebuyers with certain income and credit requirements. The Massachusetts Housing Partnership, a non-profit organization, administers the program.

Here are a few more things to know about government home loan programs. Firstly, these loans are only available for primary residences – so if you’re looking to buy an investment property or a vacation home, you’ll need to look into other loan options.

Secondly, most programs allow you to use gifted money or down payment assistance (DPA) for your down payment and closing costs. A mortgage loan with such a low-interest rate could enable you to own your new home for a minimal out-of-pocket payment.

You can discuss your financial goals and home-buying plans with your lender if you’re unsure about which mortgage program to choose. The first step in your homeownership journey begins by talking to a real estate agent. A real estate agent can guide you in the direction that will benefit you the most and provide you with the necessary resources to succeed.

Massachusetts First-time Homebuyers Grants

First-time homebuyers in Massachusetts can take advantage of several state and federal support programs designed to help them afford their first home. Your real estate agent or loan officer can assist you in finding programs that may be available to you. 

Are you having trouble finding a down payment? Take a look at our list of affordable housing programs available to you.

  • The Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s “First-Time Homebuyer Grants” program offers grants for qualified first-time home buyers who fall into the low- to the moderate-income category of the “ONE Mortgage” loan program.
  • The Federal Housing Administration also offers a “First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit” program, which provides a tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualified first-time homebuyers. This tax credit is available to buyers looking to purchase a home for the first time and those who have not owned a home in the past three years.
  • MassHousing offers several options, each with unique features and eligibility requirements. Before you close on a loan, you’ll need to complete an approved first-time homebuyer class (also known as Homebuyer counseling). However, attending a free first-time homebuyer workshop makes more sense in many cases before deciding which lender to choose, committing to a buyer’s agent, or looking at homes. This way, you can learn about the entire process and get your questions answered before moving forward.

Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fall River, Fitchburg, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Quabbin, New Bedford, Witten, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester are some of the gateway cities that allow higher DPA amounts.

Boston Down Payment Assistance Program

As expected, Boston is the most expensive city in Massachusetts for residential property. However, the good news is that the Boston Home Center offers down payment assistance of up to $30,000 to people looking to buy a home in Boston. You must repay this loan in full if you refinance, sell, or no longer occupy the property as your primary residence.

No interest or monthly payments are required.

Eligibility criteria can be found on the website. The income limit is 135% of the area’s median income.

A family of four would pay $101,050 per year in Boston, according to the website.

Worcester Down Payment Assistance Program

In March of 2022, the median list price for a home in Worcester, Massachusetts, was $340,000 – an increase of 15.3% from the previous year.

If you’re looking to buy a home in Worcester, you’ll need to come up with a down payment. The amount you’ll need to put down will depend on the median price of homes in the area. To buy a $340,000 house with a 3% down payment, you’ll need $10,200. On the other side, with a 20% down payment, you’ll need $68,000.

The City of Worcester offers a down payment assistance program for eligible residents. You can get up to $5,000 to cover the affordability gap. There are income and asset limits, so be sure to review all details for all the information you need.

The government provides assistance in the form of a forgivable second mortgage to make homeownership more accessible. This means that borrowers don’t have to make monthly payments or pay interest on the loan, but they will have to repay the loan plus interest if the property is sold or transferred during the first three years of ownership. If borrowers don’t sell, refinance, or move within three years, they won’t owe anything.

Springfield Down Payment Assistance programs

If you want to buy a home in Springfield with a median list price of $239,900 in March 2022, you’ll need to come up with a down payment of between $7,200 (3% down) and $47,980 (20% down).

Springfield’s down payment assistance program offers up to $4,000 in financial assistance for your down payment or closing costs. This program has no monthly payments or interest charges since it is a forgivable second mortgage. Every year, a 20% interest rate is added to the loan and forgiven over five years. During those five years, however, you must repay the outstanding balance if you sell, refinance or move.

Choosing a Massachusetts Real Estate Agent

Trying to buy a property in Massachusetts? With the state’s housing inventory at an all-time low, a professional familiar with current listings can make a world of difference. They can help you find the right property at the right price and negotiate on your behalf to get you the best possible deal.Your real estate agent will be able to show you homes that fit your budget and meet your needs while also providing insight into the bidding process. In such a competitive market, having an expert can make all the difference. If buying a house in Massachusetts is one of your dreams, get in touch with a professional real estate agent today and begin the process.


Juan Cano, originally from Medellin, Colombia, is a real estate agent and investor in the area of Boston, Massachusetts. He has transformed how Latinos see real estate and uncovered the best ways to create wealth for his clients. Juan looks at every client’s situation as if it was his own investment. If he wouldn’t buy a property, he’ll let you know. He believes that alone we can move faster, but together we can get further. Juan offers free consultations for anyone looking to buy or sell a property in the area. Make sure you schedule yours!

To get in touch with Juan Cano, send him a message on Instagram via @realestatejuanc or reach out to him on his website https://www.realestatejuanc.com.


MA Latino News sees the public as more than just the audience; you are contributors. To that end, please take our brief survey to help shape our coverage in producing stories on the social determinants of health: healthcare and quality, neighborhood and built environment, education access and quality, social and community context, and economic stability.

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Racial Disparities in Juvenile Justice Start with How Black and Latino Youth are Arrested, Report Finds 

Black teenagers in Massachusetts are four times more likely to be physically arrested than white teens who are also facing legal trouble, according to a new report released Nov. 1 by the state’s Juvenile Justice Policy and Data Board. Latino youth are almost three times more likely to experience that kind of arrest than white youth, in a state where 64% of all 12 to 17 year-olds are white. And these racial disparities prevail despite a 50% drop in overall applications for complaint since 2017.

The new report, which was mandated by a Massachusetts criminal justice reform bill passed in 2018, unveils significant disparities between races in the state’s juvenile justice system and makes recommendations for how to solve those issues. 

“The [racial] disparities are largest at the ‘front door’ of the system — the arrest and application for delinquency complaint stage,â€� the report said. “These early disparities matter.â€�

Read the full story reported by GBH News at:

https://www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2022/11/02/racial-disparities-in-the-juvenile-justice-system-start-with-how-black-and-latino-youth-are-arrested-report-finds


Publisher’s Note: This story is an aggregate from GBH, Massachusetts Latino News’ (MALN) partner in providing greater visibility and voice to the Hispanic-Latino community.

Democracy in MALN: Voter Access Across New England

Hispanic and Latino Americans are the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in the U.S. electorate since the last midterm elections, with about 34.5 million Hispanics and Latinos eligible to vote in 2022.

While the turnout for Hispanic and Latino voters nationwide has increased over the past decade, they still fall behind other groups. Hispanic and Latino voters face a variety of barriers, but efforts to limit voter access are increasing across the country.

Democracy doesn’t properly work when people and communities are blocked or prevented from participating within local, state, and national elections. 

Expanding voting access across the country ensures that communities are accurately and justly represented by its elected officials. 

In Massachusetts, there has been progress in expanding voting access as Gov. Charlie Baker signed early in-person voting permanently into law on June 22

Practices such as voting by mail and in-person early voting were first implemented in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The system of allowing [voting] in one short window, is one that has precluded many people in the past,” said Editor-In-Chief Matt DeRienzo of The Center for Public Integrity. “These changes are really leveling the playing field.”

Advocating for and increasing voting access includes expanding early voting, online voter registration, and same-day voter registration. 

In 2020, non-traditional voting — all types of non-election day voting including vote-by-mail and absentee voting — accounted for about 69.4% of the vote, according to Deliver My Vote Executive Director Amanda Pohl.

“Vote-by-mail programs and any early-voting program does provide greater access to the ballot and that supports the basic foundation of our democracy,� said Pohl.

“We had the highest turnout election in modern history,� she added. “We had more people of color [and] young people voting…and more people accessing the ballot who otherwise,� would have not be able to.

Nonprofit leaders at the Vote Local Day discussion on Vote By Mail & Voter ID’s emphasized that the rate of vote-by-mail has increased over the years. They also spoke on how early-voting, vote-by-mail, and absentee ballots have led to greater and more diverse participation throughout the country. 

“Those accessible programs do increase access to voting for disenfranchised communities, especially, and we have some research that we released in February that also shows that young voters and especially voters of color are more likely to vote if they’re given vote-by-mail options,� Pohl said in the discussion.

Although data has found that expanding voter access results in higher participation rates among communities, officials across the U.S. are working to backtrack some of these laws.

“As soon as those things happened, we immediately saw states starting to clamp down on voting methodologies…We’re also seeing backlash from legislatures that don’t want to see that increased participation,â€� Pohl said. 

Since May, almost 400 restrictive bills have been introduced in legislatures across the nation. Some restrictions deny assistance to voters with limited English proficiency, according to the Brennan Center

“Over the past 18 months, there has been a wave of anti-voter bills introduced and passed across the country, many of them designed to undermine the growing political power of Latinos and other communities of color,â€� wrote the Brennan Center. 

Research by the Brennan Center would support the idea that the ongoing increase in voter restrictions are strongly motivated/influenced by “racial backlash�.

“Racial Backlashâ€� is a theory that “describes how white Americans respond to a perceived erosion of power and status by undermining the political opportunities of minorities,â€� according to the Brennan Center.  

Important Reminders 

Registration: 

MA residents can register by mail, in person, or online by Oct. 29; residents are not able to register on Election Day.

Learn about the different types of registration at

https://www.boston.gov/departments/elections/how-register-vote

Not sure if you’re registered? Check your registration status at:

https://www.sec.state.ma.us/VoterRegistrationSearch/MyVoterRegStatus.aspx

Mail voter registration must be postmarked by Oct. 29 to be eligible. Multilingual forms including English and Spanish are available here: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleifv/howreg.htm 

Online registration ends Oct. 29 EST. Register here: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/OVR/ 

In-person registration also ends Oct. 29. Residents may register at any local election office, the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and at certain public assistance agencies, according to the Secretary of State’s website.  

Early Voting

Early voting is available between Oct. 11 – Nov. 4. Learn more at:

https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleev/evidx.htm

Submitting an Absentee Ballot: 

Any MA resident can request a mail-in ballot either by Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. through mail, in-person, or online at: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/MailInRequestWeb/MailInBallot.aspx 

Track your mail-in ballot at:

https://www.sec.state.ma.us/WhereDoIVoteMA/TrackMyBallot

The mail request form for an absentee ballots is solely available in English at: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/Vote-by-Mail-Paper-Application-2022-AVBM.pdf  

Absentee or Mail-In Ballots must be received by mail or in-person by Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. EST. 

Voting Day:

On Nov. 8, MA Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. although towns are able to open at 5:45 a.m. (any resident standing in line at the polls at 8 p.m. is able to vote.) 

Locate a polling place near you at: 

https://www.sec.state.ma.us/WhereDoIVoteMA/WhereDoIVote

Or

https://gettothepolls.com

For more general information on Voting in MA: 

https://www.mass.gov/topics/voting


Additional Resources 

General

Be The Ones English Local Voter Guide 

Be The Ones Spanish Local Voter Guide 

Vote.org Poll Locator – https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/ 

Massachusetts 

MassVote Website – https://www.massvote.org/  


Publisher’s note: MA Latino News, under the Latino News Network umbrella, has put together this informational guide with the help of our partner Be The Ones, to help voters make informed decisions not only at the polls, but in their engagement with democracy going forward. 

MALN Opinion+: Carolina De Jesus

Welcome to another episode of MA Latino News Opinion+ where we talk about major issues the Latinx and other underrepresented communities face in the state of Massachusetts. 

This week we spoke with Carolina de Jesus, Chief Executive Officer of the Boston Higher Education Resource Center.

The Boston Higher Education Resource Center is an organization that helps equip first-generation youth of underrepresented communities get access to higher education. De Jesus used to serve as the Program Director of the Passport to College program which equips students with mentors and classes that focus on how to be successful in higher education.

The Biden Administration recently announced and implemented a way to forgive student debt. Launching in October, students will be able to complete an application to see if they qualify for loan forgiveness. We talk with De Jesus about the impact this program has on students in Massachusetts and how her organization is helping students get access to aid to attend higher education. Residents can reach De Jesus’ office at 617-221-6495.

Resources mentioned in this video: 

Follow HERC Online:

Meet The Fellows

The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) is proud to announce the inaugural class of Journalism Camp: covering race, ethnicity, and culture!

Danna Matheus, originally from Caracas, Venezuela, is a first-generation immigrant; currently residing in the Washington DC area. Danna is a Communications graduate from Frederick Community College and a Journalism student at the University of Maryland. Danna has experience as a news reporter for “The Commuter,” a student-run newspaper, and as a producer for “Discovering your Future,â€� a podcast that helps students to find their passion.

“I believe the more we know about different cultures, ethnicities, and races, the more tolerant and less judgmental we will be,” she said.

Giana Aguilar-Valencia is a junior at the University of Central Florida. Giana grew up in a Colombian-Immigrant household. She is a first-generation American and first-generation college student. “Navigating both the American lifestyle and educational processes has been a handful,” she said. “Speaking Spanish at home and English everywhere else felt like a built culture shock. Although I am grateful to have learned my beautiful language and grew up very attached to my culture, I find myself unique from those around me.”

Jacqueline Cardenas is an undergrad student majoring in journalism with a concentration in Latino Communication at DePaul University. Jacqueline is a first-generation Mexican American who wishes to diversify the news industry. She is the editor-in-chief of the first Spanish-language student newspaper in Chicago— La DePaulia.

“This program would allow me to be a part of critical discussions surrounding the harsh realities of being a Latina women reporter and become prepared to face challenges that will help me become a stronger journalist,” she said.

Kiara Coll Ramirez is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo (UPRA), and the recipient of the 2022 Hortencia Zavala Foundation Scholarship. Coll was also president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Student Chapter at UPRA. She plans to attend graduate school. “I am a proud Latina puertorriqueña searching for new opportunities and experiences to keep growing,� Coll wrote in her scholarship application. She said she never saw herself as a leader, but with the help of her colleagues worked hard to become one.

Nadia Carolina Hernandez is a junior at DePaul University studying journalism. Nadia is the print managing editor of The DePaulia and president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists – DePaul.

“My passion is reporting about marginalized communities and diversifying newsrooms and their coverage,” she said. “This city (Chicago) and its Latino community are unique. I will engage in this Bootcamp with curiosity and grit.”

The FREE virtual workshop is led by award-winning news media veteran and twice president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), Hugo Balta.

As part of the program, all of the stories produced by the fellows were published on one or all of the Latino News Network news outlets. Balta is the owner and publisher of the Latino News Network.

“It is imperative that students get real work experiences and mentoring to navigate a newsroom that more often than not is not diverse and inclusive,� said Balta.

Due to a lack of equitable representation in newsrooms, there is an urgent need to train journalists to be transparent in news gathering and reporting on the complexity of racial identity, social constructs relating to ethnic terms, and cultural competence.

Covering race, ethnicity, and culture: a guideline for fair and accurate storytelling is a course designed to go beyond the inverted pyramid of basic news writing in examining the terminology, usage, and word choice of stories providing greater visibility and understanding of deep-rooted inequities in all aspects of society.

Guest speakers also share insights on networking with a purpose, strategies for managing one’s career, and the experience of often being the only person of color in the newsroom.

The weekly class will begin on September 7.



Publisher’s Notes: Special thanks to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) for their help in promoting the Journalism Camp. May of the candidates who applied are members of the organization.

The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) was founded in 2016 in honor of Hugo Balta’s maternal grandmother.

HZF is a not-for-profit organization that helps students offset the costs of higher education with scholarships. In 2021, the organization expanded its support of students to include the Journalism Camp.

Please consider making a donation to HZF: Support Journalism.

MALN Opinion+: Vanessa Calderon-Rosado

Welcome to another episode of Massachusetts Latino News Opinion+, where we talk about major issues the Latinx and underrepresented communities face.

This week we spoke with Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, CEO of Inquilinos Boricuas En Acción.

“Inquilinos Boricuas En Acción or IBA was founded in 1968 by a group of Puerto Rican activists that fought for their rights to stay in the neighborhood of the South End in Boston. They basically stopped the city bulldozers, and the displacement threats that they faced when the city was planning to do a whole process of urban renewal in the South End.

This group of Puerto Rican activists created Inquilinos Boricuas En Acción to become the community development organization that would redevelop and revitalize the neighborhood and create secure affordable housing.

Almost 55 years later IBA continues the legacy of their founders by creating, developing, and reserving affordable housing in the South End and across Boston.

IBA also offers an assortment of programs to support young people such as bi-lingual preschool programs, financial empowerment initiatives, youth development projects, and arts programs. This assortment of programs combined with their work to secure affordable housing makes IBA a driving force in modern community development. 

Coming up this Saturday July 16th, 2022 IBA’s Festival Betances returns to Plaza Betances here in Boston after a multi-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They have a full day planned of exciting activities for everyone. This year’s theme is ¡De Bomba a Reggaetón! They’ll be celebrating and enjoying an assortment of bands and artists. There will also be plenty of food, arts and crafts, a parade, and their annual greased pole climbing competition. Vanessa shared that the competition is one of the most exciting parts of the festival, “People gather around that greased pole. Its so exciting to see the power, the grit, and the determination of these teams to keep climbing the pole until someone finally grabs the flag on top of it. It’s truly very exciting.â€�

IBA hopes that anyone and everyone in the Boston community will come out this Saturday and join them in celebrating the rich history and culture they have fostered right here in the city’s South End.

For more information about IBA, and The Festival Betances be sure to watch this weeks full episode of Massachusetts Latino News Opinion+.

Resources: 

https://ibaboston.org/ (IBA Main Website) 

https://ibaboston.org/events/festival-betances (Festival Betances Info)

Facebook: @IBAboston

Twitter: @IBA_Boston

LinkedIn: @IBA – Inquilinos Boricuas en AcciónInstagram: @ibaboston

Supreme Court EPA Ruling Will Disproportionately Impact Vulnerable Communities

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency last Thursday, restricting the agency’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the country as climate change continues to disproportionately impact low-income communities and residents of color. 

Moving forward, the EPA will need explicit permission from Congress to enforce such regulations. The 6-to-3 decision has also sparked concerns nationwide that the ruling might affect the regulatory efforts of similar federal agencies, according to GBH. 

“The consequences of this decision will ripple across the entire federal government, from the regulation of food and drugs to our nation’s health care system, all of which will put American lives at risk,â€� said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. 

Research experts and environmental advocates continue to study the variety of ways climate change continues to affect vulnerable communities throughout the country. 

“Disasters can have the effect of widening existing inequalities,� said Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior economist at the Office of Research at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Black residents who experience extreme weather encountered financial issues three times the rate of white people while Latino residents faced financial problems more than twice the rate of white people, according to a nationwide survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  

“Facing extreme weather has had a substantial impact on millions of Americans, who have had serious property damage, health, and financial consequences,” said Professor Robert J. Blendon of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Publisher’s Notes: This story is an aggregate from GBH.

Cover Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP

Community Experts Prepare for Abortion Restrictions’ Disproportionate Impact on BIPOC

Community experts and advocates expect the overturn of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey to disproportionately impact people of color across the country. 

Suffolk University Law School Professor and Director Renée Landers explained that women of color mostly choose to get an abortion for financial reasons or because they lack adequate healthcare and insurance coverage.

“This notion that this is a decision about respecting the health and wellbeing of women and children, or pregnant people and children, is just not credible given [the] current status of things,” Landers told GBH.

Local leaders are especially concerned about potential criminal charges that may follow BIPOC women seeking abortions in restrictive states or if they travel out of state for the procedure, as criminalization currently disproportionately impacts communities of color. 

“We need to be extraordinarily vigilant about how we go about organizing our day-to-day lives,â€� said Executive Director Iván Espinoza-Madrigal of Lawyers for Civil Rights in Boston. “With the landscape, the risk of criminalization, it is really important to get legal advice, especially if you’re in a state where these trigger laws are starting to pop up.â€� 

Experts also expect the Supreme Court’s ruling to disproportionately impact low-income residents living in rural areas of states where abortions are now banned since these individuals likely lack the transportation to travel out of state for an abortion.  

Rural communities have become more racially and ethically diverse over the last decade, according to Brookings. In 2020, census population data found that 24% of rural Americans were people of color. 

“I am deeply disappointed in today’s decision by the Supreme Court which will have major consequences for women across the country who live in states with limited access to reproductive health care services,” Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday.

Baker responded to Friday’s ruling with a “shield lawâ€� that aims to protect abortion providers from out-of-state lawsuits. 

“The Commonwealth has long been a leader in protecting a woman’s right to choose and access to reproductive health services, while other states have criminalized or otherwise restricted access,â€� Baker said. “This executive order will further preserve that right and protect reproductive health care providers who serve out of state residents.â€� 

In 2020, the State House passed the ROE Act, which established abortion access up to 24 weeks with exceptions after 24 weeks and authorized anyone age 16 and over to get an abortion without consent from a parent or judge. 

Advocates expect these established protections to attract large numbers of patients seeking abortions to the state, as about 26 states are expected to ban or heavily restrict abortion access. 

“It could mean wait times at clinics are longer,â€� said Smith College Professor Carrie Baker. “You know, certainly people here in Massachusetts are going to be spending a lot of time and energy to help people in other states — the abortion funds and potentially doctors.â€� 


Publisher’s Notes: This story is an aggregate from GBH.

Cover Photo: Meredith Nierman / GBH News