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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).

The Governor & First Lady's 2010 Conference on Women

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By Lea M. Cash –

This year more than 30,000 women from all walks of life, arrived at the Long Beach Convention Center, for six separate events covering three full days of inspiration and motivation to become an architect of change in their own lives, within their communities and around the world. This conference, in its 24th year, held by the Governor of California, has evolved with the assistance of First Lady, Maria Shiver to be the largest and most dynamic conference for women in the world. More than 140 leading newsmakers and world opinion leaders from Suze Orman, Lisa Ling, Caroline Kennedy, to Deepak Chopra and Dr. Mehmet Oz gathered to assist with the education, inspiration and empowerment of women.

Every year, tickets sell out and for this year’s Main Event, the tickets sold out in less than one hour. All the 2010 conference events sold out as well which is why the conference has swelled to three days of full activities, which included a full measure of book signings. This year’s theme produced around the overarching theme of “It’s Time,” was intended to inspire women to see this challenging moment in history as an opportunity to come together and transform themselves and their communities as Architects of Change.

For a reporter, sometimes this event is overwhelming because there is so much to report that is inspiring and uplifting in every way, so one sticks to the simple basics and speaks in general terms to describe this truly amazing conference. For example, the conference workshops held topic discussions on health, finances, self-esteem, leadership, overcoming the unimaginable, wardrobes, creating your business, weight loss, marriage and relationships, and using your voice for change. Each of this workshops hosted by leading voices like Martha Beck, Paula Deen, Jessica Simpson, Goldie Hawn, Robert Redford and so many others like Rosario Dawson, Gayle King, and Lisa Leslie. First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, was an opening session speaker. She said, “The beauty of this conference – the space it provides for us as women to just be ourselves, and to speak honestly and openly about the issues that matter most to us. And I’d like to do that once again today. I’d like to speak today about an issue that I care deeply about, and talk with you about how I came to it why it matters so much to me and why I think it should matter to all women – and all Americans.” She spoke about women in the military, military spouses and their children.

NBC’s news anchor, Matt Lauer, hosted a discussion with Governor Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman who are California’s Gubernational Candidates. This discussion was heated and humorous reflecting the true colors of each candidate up close and personal. The afternoon Lunch Session produced Brian Williams, NBC’s Nightly News, anchor hosting a conversation with Phil Knight, Co-Founder of Nike, and Howard Schultz, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the company he founded, Starbucks. Then ABC’s World News Anchor, Diane Sawyer, hosts a conversation with legal giants, the honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Associate Justice and the honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, former Associate Justice.

Each session host and their attendees entertained discussions designed to inspire and empower women from their experiences learned in life.

The Grand Finale and The Minerva Awards closed out the three-day celebration of events continuing the legacy of honoring remarkable women. This was hosted by First Lady, Maria Shriver and featured remarks by Azure Antoinette, a poet and spoken word artist, Mary J. Blige, a Grammy Award winner, singer and songwriter and by the five 2010 Minerva Award honorees: Oprah Winfrey, The Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor, Oral Lee Brown, Sister Terry Dodge and Carolyn Blashek. The Grand Finale ended with a special musical performance by Sarah McLachlan, also a Grammy Award winner singer and songwriter.

Women cried and women hugged throughout the entire conference as many of their truths unfolded as inspiration was nurtured and delivered. Knowing in their hearts that this was heart talk, celebrating their achievements and to re-examine the future possibilities of how they can lead in the environmental, social, political and business scenes as Architects of Change—but, mostly and perhaps, the most important heart talk of all leaned towards raising and maintaining their families.

First Lady, Maria Shriver said, “Beginning in January, the leadership of this conference will transition over to the next administration, as it always has. We are grateful to have this opportunity and hope this year’s conference has inspired you to see as an opportunity to come together and transform ourselves, our communities, and our world as Architects of Change.”

Community Briefs

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Centennial Hospital and Time Capsule Dedication Ceremonies

Community Hospital of San Bernardino (CHSB) will wrap up its centennial year with two dedication ceremonies this Saturday.

The festivities take place in the hospital’s front lobby and begin at 10:00 a.m. with an official dedication marking the hospital’s centennial by the Native Sons of California. This dedication will include a presentation of the colors by the ROTC Cadets from California State University of San Bernardino. In addition, the national anthem will be sung by the hospital’s very own Sandee Zschomler, Vice President, Foundation. After the hospital dedication, the centennial time capsule will be dedicated.

Guests will then be invited into the hospital’s Arrowhead Room for a recept ion and an opportunity to view the contents of the time capsule, which is designated to be opened in 2030.

What: Centennial Hospital and Time Capsule Dedication When: Saturday, November 6th, 10:00 a.m.

Where: Front Lobby of the Hospital

1805 Medical Center Drive, San Bernardino, CA 92411 Recept ion immediately following the ceremony in the hospital’s Arrowhead Room.

Cold Weather Brings New Shelter Option For Single Men, Women

Late October’s cooler, rainy weather gave homeless men and women a new shelter option for the fall and winter months.

The Salvation Army has opened its cold weather shelter, which operates within the Hospitality House, 925 W. Tenth Street, San Bernardino.

“The cold weather shelter is to give men and women a place to stay when it’s rainy and cold,” said Roosevelt Carroll, director of Hospitality House. “Some recent nights, it has been below 46 degrees, and it gets even colder in winter. We expect to keep the cold weather shelter open until April, when the weather is consistently warm again.”

Up to 28 men can stay; they will be sleeping on mats in the dining room. Between nine and 15 women can stay; they will be given a bed in one of the bedrooms for the night.

“We will keep three rooms, with three beds apiece, open for single women who want to stay in the cold weather shelter,” Carroll said. “Nine women can stay in those rooms, and if we have another room or two available when they’re not needed by the family shelter, three to six more women can stay in them.”

People who want to stay at the cold weather shelter should check in at 7 p.m. on weekdays, or 8:30 p.m. on weekends. Dinner is not served to cold weather shelter guests, but breakfast is.

“For dinner, they can attend our community dinners at 4:45 p.m. each night in the Headquarters Building at 746 W. Fifth Street,” Carroll said Women, whether single or married, also have the option of staying at The Salvation Army for up to three months until they find permanent housing, as a resident of its year-round emergency family shelter. The Salvation Army provides assistance in these women’s efforts to create a more stable housing situation for themselves and their families.

Only the family shelter accepts chi ldren. Families enrolled in family shelter’s program each are assigned to a bedroom, where they can keep their belongings during the day, and have privacy at night.

For local help, call (909) 888- 1336.

Ad Club Speaker: Social Media Legal Issues

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The local ad club is sponsoring a speaker who specializes in social media law on Nov. 11 in Rancho Cucamonga.

The presentation is open to the public.

Author and legal expert Jim Astrachan will discuss legal guidelines for those involved in creating mass communications through social media.

His presentation, “From Frankenstein to Vanna White” will also cover the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) new guidelines about transparency in social media.

The event, with limited seating is scheduled for Nov. 11 at Copies & Ink, 10722 Arrow Route, Suite 102, Rancho Cucamonga, from 11:30AM-1:30PM. Lunch from Panera will be provided.

Cost is $10 for ad club members and $40 for the public.

Victoria Seitz, PhD., president of the Inland Empire Chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and a professor at Cal State San Bernardino in marketing and advertising, said, “This is one of the most important presentations we are sponsoring this year. Jim will discuss the guidelines for advertisers and agencies to make sure they are not engaging in deceptive practices.

Everyone involved in social media communications should attend. Please register in advance since this event will fill up fast.”

Astrachan said, “When serious claims over ads are lodged, agencies and in-house employees are fired. Do you now what to do? You better, because judgments for illegal ads have topped 40 million!” The presentation will cover the six don’ts: Don’t steal an identity, don’t steal a copyright, don’t infringe a trademark, don’t mess up in foreseeable ways, don’t misrepresent the qualities of your products, or your competitors!

And don’t violate the FTC’s social media guidelines.

According to Seitz, the presentation will also cover: bloggers’ endorsements & testimonials, liability of advertisers for false statements, liability for failure to disclose connections between advertiser and endorser, use of disclaimers, endorser liability and illegal use of street teams.

Astrachan is co-author of the six-volume legal treatise, The Law of Advertising and Mass Communications, published by LexisNexis/Matthew Bender.

He is also a columnist for The Daily Record, adjunct professor of law at the University of Maryland School of Law, a principal of Astrachan, Gunst, Thomas, Rubin, PC and a national speaker on advertising law.

For more information or to reserve your place, visit http://aaf-inlandempire.com

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BVN National News Wire