News & Event
Rev. Traci Blackmon is the Executive Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO. As a featured voice on many regional, national, and international platforms, Rev. Blackmon’s life work focuses on communal resistance to systemic injustice. Her response in Ferguson to the killing of Michael Brown resulted in national and international recognition, gaining her many audiences spanning the breadth of the White House to the Carter Center to the Vatican.
Her work is now featured in several Ferguson Uprising documentaries. Appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Governor Jay Nixon and to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House by President Barack Obama, Rev. Blackmon is a recipient of the NAACP Rosa Parks Award; The Urban League of St. Louis Woman in Leadership Award; and the National Planned Parenthood Faith Leader Award, to name a few. Rev. Blackmon is listed as one of Ebony Magazine list her as one of the 2015 Power 100 and she is a featured writer in several Justice publications. Rev. Blackmon is a graduate of Leadership St. Louis and currently serves on the boards of The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Chicago Theological Seminary, and WomanPreach! She has been named 2017 Citizen of the Year by The St. Louis American and as one of St. Louis’ 100 most influential voices as well.
Rev. Blackmon currently resides in both St. Louis, MO and Cleveland, OH and is the proud mother of three adult children: Kortni Devon; Harold II; and Tyler Wayne Blackmon.
In addition to our keynote, we will have four workshop choices available:
The day’s workshops will focus on:
• Housing is a Human Right: How the lack of affordable housing and discriminatory policies keep people from
accessing safe and stable housing in Rhode Island.
• Caring for our Children: From crumbling school infrastructure, to quality education and nutrition, how can we
better provide for our states children?
• Race and Poverty: The continuing impact of structural racism as it relates to immigration, civil liberties, and
poverty in Rhode Island.
• Fair Wages - Fair Employment: Extending equality in the workplace, how fair wages and equal pay are critical
to the economic success of Rhode Island.
This year, we’re encouraging you to bring a team from your congregation -- with a reduced rate for registration if you come as a group of 3+. Registration opens at 7:45am and a full breakfast will be served.
Buy tickets here: tinyurl.com/RIPoverty2018
Alan Berube, Monday, February 5, 2018
Research has historically framed income inequality as a national issue, one best addressed through national monetary and fiscal policies that raise demand for labor and redistribute resources from the rich to the poor. Yet widening disparities across and within places in the United States, revealed in debates around wages, housing affordability, and public safety, have motivated policymakers and researchers to pay increased attention to inequality’s local dimensions.
Now, many cities’ aggressive bids for Amazon’s second headquarters are heightening anxieties that the company’s expansion could further accelerate inequality wherever it eventually lands (as many say it has in Seattle). The debate about Amazon fits into a wider set of concerns about the tech sector’s role in contributing to income inequality, via the winner-take-all dynamics of the digital economy.
Amid these currents, this piece updates previous Brookings Metro analysesto examine trends in household income inequality in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas and their most populous central cities from 2014 to 2016. As with earlier analyses, it uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey on household income at the 95th percentile of the distribution (i.e., where only 5 percent of households earn more) and the 20th percentile of the distribution (i.e., where 20 percent of households earn less). It uses the ratio between those incomes as a principal measure of inequality in cities and metro areas. Key findings include:
Among big cities, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. exhibited the highest rates of income inequality in 2016. The top 5 percent of households in these cities earned incomes at least 18 times as high as the bottom 20 percent of households. Relatively wealthy cities including Boston, New York, and San Francisco, as well as cities struggling with high poverty such as Buffalo, Miami, New Orleans, and Providence, also registered high rates of income disparity. In general, older cities with fewer middle-class neighborhoods and larger amounts of subsidized housing tended to exhibit higher inequality. Newer, more geographically expansive cities such as Columbus, Jacksonville, and Virginia Beach, as well as those with stronger middle-class employment like Allentown and Oxnard, had among the lowest levels of income inequality.
Levels of inequality in cities reflect broader income disparities in metropolitan areas. Four of the 10 cities with the highest levels of inequality are located in one of the 10 most unequal metropolitan areas (Boston, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco). Conversely, three of the cities with the lowest levels of inequality are located in one of the 10 most equal metropolitan areas (Des Moines, Lakeland, Virginia Beach). This indicates that city inequality reflects not only local housing dynamics but also wider industrial and income patterns in the regional labor market. Notably, three regions along Utah’s Wasatch Front—Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden—exhibit the lowest levels of income inequality among their metropolitan peers.
More cities experienced declines in income inequality from 2014 to 2016 than saw increases. While few cities overall saw income disparities between rich and poor households change by a statistically significant margin, among those that did, declines in income inequality (eight) outnumbered increases (five). From 2014 to 2016, high-income households in 30 cities logged significant income gains, as did low-income households in 34 cities. (In only one city—Rochester—did low-income households suffer a statistically significant income decline.) The net effect reduced income disparities in Charlotte, Dallas, Jackson, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Knoxville, Louisville, and Salt Lake City, but pushed them higher in Baltimore, Detroit, Omaha, Rochester, and Washington, D.C.
In contrast to the city pattern, increases in metropolitan income inequality outnumbered declines. From 2014 to 2016, 12 metropolitan areas registered a statistically significant increase in income inequality. In most of those places, high-income households enjoyed income gains while low-income households did not. In Honolulu and San Jose, top incomes rose by an estimated $60,000 in two years’ time, but did not change significantly for low earners. Only eight metro areas achieved declines in income inequality, with lower-income households posting larger income gains (in percentage terms) than higher-income households in most of those markets. Metro areas where income disparities narrowed included many of the cities—Charlotte, Dallas, Kansas City, Knoxville, and Louisville—where income inequality declined, as well as Boston, New Haven, and Salt Lake City.
Some cities posted stunning increases in top incomes from 2014 to 2016. The most astonishing changes in the mid-2010s occurred among high-income households in a few cities characterized by booming technology economies. In just two years, incomes for 95th percentile households in San Francisco rose nearly $120,000. (Median home sales prices, meanwhile, increased by $250,000.) Austin and Seattle posted increases of nearly $65,000 for high-income households, while high household incomes in San Jose rose by more than $50,000. Raleigh topped all cities for 20th percentile income growth at $7,200, which was large in percentage terms (30 percent) but a far cry in absolute terms from the $35,000 increase the city posted at the 95th percentile level.
Income trends at the top of the distribution in cities and metro areas had little relationship to trends at the bottom of the distribution from 2014 to 2016. In cities and metro areas where high-income households posted the greatest gains, low-income households didn’t fare any better or worse than those in other cities. For instance, although 20th percentile incomes in Austin, San Francisco, and Seattle rose by significant margins, they failed to increase significantly in other cities where 95th percentile incomes boomed, such as Baltimore, Denver, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. At the same time, incomes at the lower end of the distribution grew significantly in several cities—Boston, Charlotte, Louisville, Salt Lake City—where top incomes did not.
For those concerned about the effects of high inequality in the United States generally, and in our large urban centers specifically, these city and metropolitan income trends from 2014 to 2016 present some quandaries.
On the one hand, the trends indicate that ameliorating inequality is possible. In several places, low-income households achieved faster income gains than high-income households.
On the other hand, even as a tighter labor market began to drive up wages in the mid-2010s, the relative gap between the rich and poor still widened in a number of cities and metro areas. And even in places where low- and high-income households made comparable progress in percentage terms, the absolute income difference between rich and poor often grew substantially. The inequality ratio did not change in San Francisco, but the distance between its 20th and 95th percentile incomes grew by an estimated $114,000.
Moreover, at least in the short run, city and metropolitan income trends do not suggest the existence of a rising tide lifting all boats, but rather separate ebbs and flows for households at different extremes of the distribution. Even if, as Enrico Moretti and other researchers suggest, local innovation economies generate greater opportunities for workers in less-skilled industries, those opportunities may not materialize overnight, and low-income workers and families could get priced out of a city in the meantime.
While this analysis is too brief to identify the underlying economic or policy factors that may explain those disparities, Brookings Metro’s forthcomingMetro Monitor update will shed further light on how and why economic inclusion is changing in metropolitan areas. Regardless, the distinctively local dynamics of inequality in our major urban areas reaffirm the importance of local leadership for understanding and improving access to economic opportunity for lower-income households in ways that reduce disparities over the longer term.
Cecile Murray provided valuable research assistance for this analysis.
Courtesy of Brookings
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2018 12:00 am
BY KATHLEEN TROOST-CRAMER, CORRESPONDENT
PROVIDENCE — About 130,000 Rhode Islanders lived in poverty in 2016, according to statistics provided by the Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty. That’s nearly 13 percent of the state’s population and includes about 35,000 children.
About 300 people attended the coalition-sponsored Interfaith Poverty Conference on the campus of Rhode Island College on May 9, the largest attendance in the event’s 10 years, said conference coordinator Victoria Strang.
Catholic groups partnering with the coalition include the Diocese of Providence, the Rhode Island Lasallian Association Group, the Sisters of Mercy, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (RI), Christ the King Peace and Justice Committee and the Church of St. Michael the Archangel.
The coalition’s 2018 goals include improving access to affordable housing; supporting working families through gender equality in salaries, paid family leave, raising the state minimum wage to $15 by the year 2023 and granting driver’s licenses to non-citizens; preserving Medicaid and other health benefits; and providing employer incentives for the Child Care Assistance Program.
Housing is close to the Diocese of Providence’s concerns, said James Jahnz, coordinator of the diocesan Emergency Assistance Network, part of Catholic Charities and Social Ministry.
Since the coalition’s founding in 2008, these diocesan offices “have been active participants in ensuring that the goals of the coalition are completed,” Jahnz said.
Jahnz’s hope for the conference was that members of Catholic parishes and other faith traditions “take the work that’s done here today and bring it forth to make active change in the state house,” he said.
“The unemployment rate is down, but people aren’t necessarily at full employment or they’re not employed at a level where they can afford housing,” Jahnz said.
Highlighting this situation was the “Housing is a Human Right” workshop, moderated by Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser of Temple Sinai in Cranston. Panelist Brenda Clement, director of HousingWorks RI, noted that when housing costs are greater than 30 percent of an individual or family’s income, low- to moderate-income households often face making choices between housing, medical care and heating.
Clement also noted that neighborhoods sometimes adopt a “not in my backyard” approach when affordable housing initiatives are proposed, even when residents of those areas agree on the need.
“We have to change minds through research, through evidence,” Clement said.
Another panelist, Director of Government Relations and Policy for Rhode Island Housing Amy Rainone, observed that the stigma of government assistance “Section 8” housing often leads landlords to refuse rentals to potential tenants on the program.
Rhode Island currently has no law addressing this; but bills H7528 and S2301 would end income-based housing discrimination.
“The faith community has been fantastic” in supporting these bills, Rainone said.
Nondas Hurst Voll of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Smithfield moderated the “Race and Poverty” workshop.
Amid much frustration shown toward Washington by members of both the panel and the audience, panelist Gabriela Domenzain, director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University, decried what she called the current presidential administration’s official policy of “separating brown children from brown parents.”
A recent federal policy requires detainment of adults crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, including those claiming asylum as refugees. Children of these adults are placed under separate protective custody while their parents’ cases are evaluated. While the Department of Homeland Security supports the move, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the government to have the policy revoked.
Jim Vincent, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP, said that Rhode Island’s black community is faring worse than Latinos, with home ownership among African-Americans at around 30 percent and white home ownership at 64 percent.
District 6 Senator Harold M. Metts, who attended the workshop, said that Senator Roger A. Picard of Woonsocket has been preparing Senate Bill 2059 to add “equity language” to the Rhode Island state constitution, “but it’s not moving right now” as the bill is presently stalled in the General Assembly’s education committee.
Keynote speaker Traci Blackmon, executive minister of justice and local church ministries for the United Church of Christ and senior pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri, issued “a call for people of faith to exercise belief in our sacred texts in ways that move prayer from sedentary, motionless recitation to action” in her opening remarks, she said.
“No matter what your faith is, all of our sacred texts share messages about justice,” she said.
Blackmon referenced the parable of the widow in Luke 18:1-8, whose persistence was an example of prayer in action. Like the widow, “as people of faith, we have to be prepared to wear out those who are opposed to justice,” Blackmon said.
“As people of faith, our political action – not partisan action – on behalf of the things we believe in, must go beyond the walls of our faith community and be put into motion,” she added.
Courtesy of Rhode Island Catholic
About the Conference
Latinos in Heritage Conservation, Rhode Island Latino Arts, and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission are proud to present Encuentro 2018. Spanning three days of programs in Providence and the Blackstone Valley, this groundbreaking event brings together the 3rd National Convening of Latinos in Heritage Conservation and the 33rd Annual Statewide Rhode Island Historic Preservation Conference.
For the first time, Latinos in Heritage Conservation is bringing a national conversation about Latino historic preservation to New England. Featuring guest speakers from across the country and opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with fellow practitioners and advocates for Latino historic preservation, this is a not to be missed opportunity. Rhode Island Latino Arts, RIHPHC, and local partners have planned an engaging program of tours and special events to round out the schedule.
We hope that you will join us for this landmark gathering that will bring together preservationists, scholars, students, design professionals, and community advocates for an unprecedented discussion of the value and future of heritage conservation in New England’s Latino communities and beyond.
$30 Thursday – Friday | $50 Saturday ($80 for Thursday – Saturday)
$15 Thursday – Friday | $25 Saturday for students with i.d. ($40 for Thursday – Saturday)
Courtesy of Encuentro 2018
Event Date: September 19, 2017 - 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Join Rhode Island Housing, HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University and LeadingAge RI for a
Senior Health + Housing Forum
Featuring Keynote Speaker Linda Couch,
LeadingAge VP of Housing Policy
SAVE THE DATE:
September 19, 2017 1:00 - 4:00 PM
Networking reception to follow
Roger Williams University - Providence Campus
Over the next ten years, Rhode Island's population of seniors is projected to grow significantly. Many will need assistance with housing, services and healthcare to live independently.
Are you a healthcare or services provider working with seniors facing housing-related challenges? Or a housing owner/developer who serves seniors struggling to live independently? Join us to meet potential collaborators and share best practices in meeting the health and housing needs of our seniors.
To Read the Full Resolution, Click Here.
The campaign's newest "sector" page highlights the deep connections between housing and hunger.
Check Out the New "Hunger and Housing" Page
Listen to the Latest Podcast on iTunes!
To continually broaden our multi-sector effort, the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign selected seven state partners to receive capacity-building grants. A key objective of each of the seven state grantees will be to broaden and diversify its state’s housing coalition to other sectors. This effort will ensure that each state not only has active coalition members who specialize in housing, but also health care, education, civil rights, anti-poverty, and other sectors. The current grantees are:
As the campaign grows over time, Opportunity Starts at Home will encourage similar efforts in all states. These state grantees have done tremendous and extraordinary work thus far. In this month's newsletter, we highlight Maine and Ohio:
Making Maine Together
The Maine Affordable Housing Coalition has named its multi-sector state campaign “Maine Together” and plans to launch its website and social media later this month.
Recently, the coalition penned a sign-on letter to Maine’s congressional delegation advocating for the lifting of federal budget caps for non-defense discretionary programs. The letter was signed by 151 organizations from a variety of sectors and was hand-delivered to the office of Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). Maine Together continues to advocate for more robust federal housing policies and has met with Sen. Collins’ staff to discuss their ongoing efforts. They have formalized relationships with 20 cross-sector organizations and plan to continue broadening their reach.
Outstanding Outreach in Ohio
The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) has been working hard to continually diversify the coalition that makes up the movement for affordable homes. For example, it recently hosted a multi-sector outreach event with Representative David Joyce (R-OH), Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. Topics included the intersections of affordable housing, the needs of low income college students, and service delivery to people experiencing chronic mental illness. Additionally, the coalition hosted an event with elected officials outside of Dayton, which included a multi-sector panel on the importance of affordable housing for the lowest income families, as well as a tour of local developments.
The coalition is using these expanded relationships to increasingly advocate for stronger federal housing policies. For example, it recently sent a sign-on letter with endorsements from more than 250 multi-sector organizations to their Congressional delegation advocating for increased HUD funding. Moreover, COHHIO helped draft an op-ed by a coalition member, Ohio Federation of Teachers, that was published by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
COHHIO also shot brief videos of more than a dozen multi-sector partners discussing the importance of housing and distributed them to Ohio’s congressional delegation through social media. Check out these video postcards on COHHIO’s YouTube channel.
The Children's Defense Fund (CDF), a leading non-profit child advocacy organization and Steering Committee member of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, knows that greater investments in affordable housing are necessary to end child poverty in America. In its groundbreaking report, “Ending Child Poverty Now,” CDF showed that investing an additional 2% of the federal budget into nine existing programs would reduce child poverty by 60% and lift 6.6 million children out of poverty. The report finds that expanding housing subsidies would have the single largest impact among the nine, reducing child poverty by 20.8% and lifting 2.3 million children out of poverty.
Read the Full Report
Check Out the Campaign in the News
Read Last Month's Newsletter
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
2200 Southwood Drive, Nashua, NH
We invite you to be a part of the second New England Lead Conference taking place on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 in Nashua, NH. Hosted by the New England Lead Coordinating Committee, the conference will include a variety of educational sessions focusing on lead prevention, policy, model programs, outreach, the EPA’s Renovation, Remodeling and Repair Rule (RRP), lead abatement, compliance, and the economics of lead poisoning.
Read more >
October 4, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
The Narragansett Times: Dziobek steps down as Welcome House director
By KENDRA GRAVELLE Sep 29, 2017
SOUTH KINGSTOWN—When Joseph Dziobek accepted the position of executive director of Welcome House of South County nearly three years ago, he had expected the job would make for a simple transition into retirement.
But what was intended as a part-time gig turned into much more than that for Dziobek, who this week left his post.
“It’s been a challenge,” said Dziobek, whose last day on the job was Monday. “And it’s been very satisfying—I feel very close to the people who have been a part of it.”
Dziobek, 66, took the job at Welcome House after retiring from his career as CEO of Fellowship Health Resources. He said he intended only to stay for two or three years.
October 4, 2017 in Local Interest
Final Days to Register: 2017 Housing Fact Book Release
Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Luncheon: 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Location: Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin Street, Providence RI
October 3, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
Rhode Island College: The Defamation Experience
Monday, October 30, 2017
5:00PM - Doors Open
6:00PM - Performance
SPONSORED BY: THE DIVISION OF COMMUNITY EQUITY AND DIVERSITY AND THE DIVISION OF STUDENT SUCCESS
THE PLAY * THE DELIBERATION * THE DISCUSSION
September 27, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
NLIHC: Sign Letters to Support Equitable Housing Recovery after Devastating Hurricanes
Help ensure that low income people and neighborhoods are treated fairly after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. A broad coalition of national, state, and local organizations is calling on Congress, FEMA, and HUD to ensure that the federal response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria is complete and equitable for everyone, especially families and individuals with the lowest incomes who are often the hardest hit by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover afterwards.
September 27, 2017 in Local Interest, National News
Roger Williams University: Social Justice Month Events
Thursday, Oct 19
Mary Tefft White Center
How Housing Works
4:00pm – 6:00pm
Sponsored by Housing Works RI and RWU Chief Diversity Officer
Keywords: socioeconomic status, race, jobs, housing, equity
Workshop with Brenda Clement, Director of Housing Works Rhode Island and Ame Lambert, RWU Chief Diversity Officer.
An overview of housing issues in Rhode Island and connections to the larger social justice agenda.
September 25, 2017 in Local Interest
Providence Journal: People on the move for the week of Sept. 17
Posted Sep 13, 2017 at 5:34 PM
Updated Sep 13, 2017 at 5:34 PM
Rhode Island LISC
Rhode Island Local Initiatives Support Corportation has welcomed two new employees. Jeremiah O’Grady, of Lincoln, joined LISC as program officer after spending more than 12 years at ONE Neighborhood Builders as real estate project manager and director of asset management and operations.
Liz Klinkenberg, of Warwick, was hired as communications director. She brings more than 15 years of public relations experience to her new position, including work for The Miami Herald and The Providence Journal.
The Providence American: Reed Announces $300k in Community Development Grants for NeighborWorks Affiliates
WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to promote healthy, vibrant neighborhoods across Rhode Island, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced an additional $300,000 in federal funding for three Rhode Island-based affiliates of NeighborWorks America (NeighborWorks). These federal funds will help NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, ONE Neighborhood Builders, and West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation to provide affordable housing opportunities, generate job growth, and enhance economic stability for working families. Earlier this year, Senator Reed also helped to secure over $750,000 in federal funding for NeighborWorks affiliates in Rhode Island, bringing total NeighborWorks investment in the state to above $1 million for fiscal year 2017.
September 21, 2017 in Federal News, Local Interest
The Providence American: Providence Unveils PVD Gives Donation Station
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined members of the City Council, public safety officials, and community leaders who have been named to the PVD Gives commission for the unveiling of the City’s first Donation Station at Kennedy Plaza. The retrofitted parking meter is one of ten stations that will be installed across the city to collect funds that will support local organizations that provide housing and services to those in need.
“PVD Gives and the new Donation Stations make it easier to give back,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Our collective generosity can make all the difference in the lives of those striving to get back on their feet. I encourage visitors and residents to chip in and be part of the solution.”
September 21, 2017 in Local Interest
Providence Journal: Report: New England losing 65 acres of forestland per day
By Steve LeBlanc / Associated Press
Posted Sep 19, 2017 at 11:21 AM
Updated Sep 19, 2017 at 11:21 AM
BOSTON — New England has been losing forestland to development at a rate of 65 acres per day — a loss that comes at a time when public funding for preservation of open land, both state and federal, has also been on the decline in all six states.
That’s the conclusion of a report released Tuesday by the Harvard Forest, a research institute of Harvard University.
The study found public funding for land conservation in New England dropped by half between 2008 and 2014 to $62 million per year, slightly lower than 2004 levels.
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