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Community Briefs

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Canine Christmas at Jessie Turner Center

The Mayor and City Council invite the public to celebrate a Canine Christmas with their four-legged friends on Saturday, December 4, at the Jessie Turner Health & Fitness Center as they host a Canine Christmas from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. This is the perfect opportunity to bring your canine out to enjoy a morning full of pictures and treats.

Attendees will receive a special visit from Old Saint Nick.

Participants are also asked to bring their own camera to capture the special holiday moments.

Come and experience the Jessie Turner Health & Fitness Community Center at Fontana Park. This 43,000 square foot, community center serves as a regional facility designed to meet the needs of the community with unique programming and classes to benefit the active lifestyles of residents. The center features an indoor gymnasium, dedicated fitness gym, dance/aerobics room, multi-purpose room, technology center, a spacious 4,689 sq. ft. banquet room, and a small meeting room.

For more information about Canine Christmas or other upcoming events, please call (909) 854-5100 or visit jt.fontana.org

Cold Weather Kills – Cold Alert

County Fire Department, Volunteer Center of Riverside County and American Red Cross have partnered to open Warm Centers countywide to provide a safe, warm place for individuals to escape the cold temperatures during the winter months of December through March.

The following two levels of assistance and support for people during winter months will be provided:

Cold Advisory - issued by the Department of Public Health after contact with the National Weather Service when temperature forecasts are expected to reach 40° - for at least three (3) hours. Recommendations for avoiding heat related emergencies are the following: Drink warm fluids; Keep your home warmturn on your heater; Wear several thin layers of clothing; Move family pets indoors out of the elements; Know the location of the nearest Warm Center, should your home heating system fail.

Cold Warning - issued by the Department of Public Health after contact with the National Weather Service when the forecast anticipates temperatures of 40°- for three to five consecutive days. When Cold Warnings are issued, Warm Centers will be opened to the public, especially for those individuals more susceptible to the cold such as the elderly. Warm Centers can be activated beginning December 1, 2010.

Warm Centers are located throughout Riverside County. Warm Centers will provide some snacks and activities as well as resource and transportation information.

Seniors, low-income individuals and families are encouraged to go to a warm center.

The Cold Advisories and Cold Warnings will be disseminated through print and electronic media including television, radio and newspapers and through community and faith-based organizations.

A Hotline has been activated to obtain information on home measures to implement to stay warm and safe, Warm Center locations, hours and general information.

The Hotline is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Energy Crisis Hotline 1-888-636-8676 , TTY 951 955- 5126 or for General Information call 2-1-1 ( 24 hrs/day) or visit www.capriverside.org

Wiggins Debuts Christmas CD

Extraordinary singer Karen Wiggins will release her debut Christmas CD at Temple Missionary Baptist Church, 1583 West Union St. San Bernardino, CA 92411 on Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 5:12 p.m. She invites the public to attend and join her and friends as they bring in the season that celebrates the birth of Christ.

SCE Provides A Holiday Shopping Gift Guide Of Energy Efficient Products

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Southern California Edison (SCE) has a reminder for customers shopping for holiday gifts. Items that plug in have two costs: the cost to buy them, and the cost to run them. The more energy efficient an electronic device or appliance is, the less its owner will have to spend to use it.

To help navigate the dizzying choices of electronics and appliances, SCE created a downloadable gift guide, which can be found at www.sce.com/shopping.

In addition, SCE is holding a sweepstakes for two HD ENERGY STAR-labeled televisions.

All eligible California residents who pledge to “Be an Outlet for Change” by unplugging electronics, using energy-saving surge protectors and choosing ENERYSTAR- qualified devices are able to win prizes. Each week through Dec. 31, 10 winners will receive either a solar powered cell phone charger or an energy-saving surge protector. Grand prize winners of the two HD TVs will be selected in early January 2011. To learn more or to enter the sweepstakes, visit www.sce.com/change.

“It’s our mission to help our customers make smart energy decisions – this season and beyond,” said Gene Rodrigues, SCE’s director of Customer Energy Efficiency and Solar.

“The ENERGY STAR icon is an easy way to identify the most efficient products that help save money, energy and the environment.” The SCE gift guide includes the following energy-saving tips:

• ENERGY STAR-qualified TVs use about 40 percent less energy than standard units. The most energy efficient models are liquid crystal display TVs with light-emitting diode (LED) screens. The average cost to run a 50-inch ENERGY STAR-labeled TV is more than $46 per year; the same sized plasma TV without the ENERGY STAR costs about $92 per year, nearly twice as much.

• DVD players and combination TV/DVD units account for the greatest portion of “standby” electricity consumed in homes – approximately 35 percent.

(Standby power is the electricity used by a device when it is off or in sleep mode.) ENERGY STAR-rated players use as little as one-fourth of the standby energy of standard models.

• Holiday light strings with LED bulbs cost a fraction of the price to operate as light strings with incandescent bulbs, and they’re safer because they emit almost no heat.

• The average American household spends $100 a year to power electronic devices while they’re off or in standby mode. (That’s more than $10 billion annually in wasted energy costs.) Energy-saving surge protectors or “smart strips” can help by automatically turning off the power to electronics when not in use.

• Ninety percent of the energy used in operating a washing machine goes toward heating the water that will wash and rinse the clothes. Water-saving models can cut water and energy use by more than 40 percent. The most energy-efficient washers are front-loading models, which use about a third of the water to wash the same amount of clothes.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Elects Leadership for the 112th Congress

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) recently announced the unanimous election of its leadership for the 112th Congress. In elections held this past week, the CHC elected Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez (TX-20) as Chair, Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) as 1st Vice Chair, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) as 2nd Vice Chair, and Congressman Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) as Whip.

"I am proud of what the CHC accomplished these past two years," said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, current Chair of the CHC. "Through investments in education, targeted assistance to small businesses and passage of the Recovery Act, we have fostered job growth while creating greater economic opportunity for Latinos. The historic healthcare legislation expanded access to quality care, extending coverage to 8.8 million Latinos. Equally important, last year, we passed a critical milestone with the appointment of the first Latina justice to the Supreme Court. The CHC leadership team elected today will build on these successes, further advancing an agenda that benefits the entire Hispanic community."

"I'm honored to have the support of my colleagues to lead the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the 112th Congress," said Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez, the Chair-elect of the CHC.

"Hispanics continue to be the fastest growing minority group in the U.S and the CHC is faced with unique challenges and opportunities to work together to find a common ground for real solutions. As we rebuild our economy, create the much needed jobs, and build a world-class education system for our children, the CHC will continue to represent the Latino communities in order to create a strong and inclusive nation that values hard work and dedication to family. Every American strives for freedom and a chance to build a better life, and we are dedicated to ensuring the same opportunities are available to our Latino communities."

"I am honored to have been elected 1st Vice Chair to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. I, along with my colleagues in the CHC, will continue to work on the issues that affect our Latino community in the 112th Congress," said Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, 1st Vice Chair-elect.

"Together, CHC members will follow our new Chair, Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez, in our commitment to finding solutions to the problems facing our Hispanic communities. I look forward to serving in my capacity as the 1st Vice Chair of the CHC and as a U.S. Congressman. We will all work vigorously to address the challenges that face Latino families today."

"I am I honored to be elected as the 2nd Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during the 112th Congress," said Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, 2nd Vice Chair-elect. "Our nation is facing a number of challenges.

I am humbled my colleagues have entrusted me with this position. I look forward to working on issues of importance to the Hispanic community including empowering students through educational opportunities, strengthening small businesses and our middle class, and looking out for our seniors and veterans."

"I am honored to serve as the Whip for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus," said Congressman Dennis Cardoza, the Whip-elect.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the most pressing issues facing the Hispanic community.

Additionally, I look forward to this unique platform from which I can advocate the moderate values, and the unique challenges and needs, of those I represent in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley of California."

NAACP Wins $132.8 Million Katrina Settlement Mississippi

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Mississippi State Conference NAACP (MSNAACP) is pleased announce today an agreement with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the State of Mississippi to dedicate $132.8 million in Katrina community development block grant (CDBG) funds to address unmet housing needs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The funds will be used to: $98.2 million to address the identified unmet housing needs of 4,400 households, Undertake an outreach effort to assess unidentified needs in nine south Mississippi counties, and Reserve at least an additional $40 million to address the need identified through this outreach process.

The agreement comes nearly two years after MSNAACP, Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center, and numerous individual clients filed a lawsuit challenging HUD’s approval of requests from the State of Mississippi to waive several requirements that the CDBG money be used to assist low- and moderateincome persons repair and rebuild their homes after Hurricane Katrina. The State instead wanted to use the money to expand the State Port at Gulfport.

“Our focus always has been to get Mississippi to finish rebuilding and restoring much needed housing first,” said James Crowell, Biloxi, MS resident and President of the Biloxi Branch NAACP.

“With this plan, Mississippi has committed to repair lowincome households, regardless, without splitting hairs over of whether the damage was caused by wind or flood.

We can now make progress toward repairing and rebuilding housing in low-income African American neighborhoods as well, many of which were neglected for the past five years.”

“Though the storm did not intentionally discriminate, the damage did reveal the impact of decades-long discrimination against poor, African American people who were already living in substandard housing,” said Derrick Johnson, State President, Mississippi NAACP, "I am glad that we had the resources to right this wrong. It is a matter of priorities and this agreement provides a solution.

The decision by HUD to settle this case is a step in the right direction. Ensuring the full recovery for all victims of Hurricane Katrina should be a priority. Our Governor and the previous administration were concerned with diverting funds for their corporate friends and wealthy individuals as opposed to working Mississippi families seeking to recover after the devastation of the storm,” added Johnson.

In 2008, Mississippi state officials, with the approval of HUD, attempted to use Katrina community development block grant money to expand the Port in Gulfport.

Under the plan, nearly $600 million would have been diverted from the housing needs of Coast residents to the commercial expansion of the port. MS-NAACP with legal support from the Mississippi Center for Justice, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the law firm of Mintz Levin Cohen Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, PC, challenged HUD's approval of requests from the state of Mississippi to waive several requirements that the CDBG money be used to assist low and moderate- income persons repair and rebuild their homes after Katrina.

Homeowners Share Frustrations at 'Your Home Your Rights'

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By Fatima Adame –

Your Home Your Rights, a public forum on home ownership and renters’ rights was held on Saturday, October 25, 2010 at the office’s of the Neighborhood Housing Service of the Inland Empire, Inc.

With an unemployment rate of over 14% and a high foreclosure rate in the county, homeowners and renters flocked to this much-needed event.

Attendees showed frustration and spoke of the lack of empathy showed to them by the banks when they attempted to refinance or renegotiate their loans. Chris Sorenson from the HAMP & HAFA Programs spoke of the banks purpose of “making money” and the conflict that creates for a homeowner facing “hard times” and needing help to stay in their home. HUD speaker David Quezada said, “the folks who came are the ones who will survive because they are determined. You worry about all the ones who did not come and do not know about these services.”

Glenda Murphys a homeowner in search of assistance, spoke of having attended a similar event at the Los Angeles Convention Center recently and waiting in line for two days hoping to get help save her home, only to be turned away from her bank with no help. Tears streamed down her face as she spoke of having had her hours cut at work and having a disabled son who is scheduled for another surgery in the next few weeks.

Another attendee showed up with a twelve-inch stack of documents waiving it at the panelists saying that he had done everything they were advising and still he was being tossed around by the banks. He spoke of trying to refinance his home for over a year and finally in July, the bank showed him some relief and his payment was lowered. A few weeks ago, he received a letter from the same bank notifying him that they had made would increase. Unable to pay the increase the bank was asking for he came to the event in search of assistance in keeping his home.

The event was part of a series of forums taking place all over the state to ensure that people needing assistance know about the resources in their region provided by the state and federal government at no charge. Executive Director of New America Media and cosponsor of the event said, “Media have a huge responsibility here to help housing counseling agencies like NHSIE reach distressed homeowners.

Without our outreach, many of these agencies can't provide excellent counseling to the people in greatest need.”

The message that most resonated with all those who attended was the understanding that homeowners should not pay for this type of help. HUD representative Jerry Cullinen emphasized the need to work solely with HUD approved agencies to insure that people needing help are not scammed.

“The rules favor the banks,” said David Quezada and if homeowners want to work with the banks then they must be sure that they are working with government agencies that know the rules.

Free services offered that day included confidential one-on-one legal advice, counseling on foreclosure, fair housing and predatory lending issues.

Speakers from Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA) were all on hand to offer information and advice to attendees.

“SOS: Sustaining our Society”, is a PBS special that will be airing early next year and the filmmakers, Executive Producer and San Bernardino resident Imran Farooq where all on hand to interview homeowners about their experiences navigating through the bank and government systems when dealing with the loss and potential loss of their homes. The special is expected to air on KVCR-TV (Channel 24) in February.

For more information on how you can get help with your foreclosure prevention or first time buyers contact NHSIE at 909-884-6891 or to find another HUD approved housing counselor near you call 1-800-CALL-FHA (1-800-225-5342).

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