Archive for February, 2010

Building Economic Resilience: Resources for Religious Leaders

Below are the speakers and organizations who presented at the 23rd Marshall T Meyer Retreat for Social Justice: Building Economic Resilience in Faith Communities, organized by the panel and topic.

I.  Faith Based Perspectives on Wealth, Poverty, and Consumerism

• Rev. Dillon Burgin, CUSH-Churches United to Serve and Heal http://cushnewyork.org/home
• Prof. Sachi Dastidar, Probini Foundation http://www.probini.org/
• Arvind Kaur, United Sikhs http://unitedsikhs.org/index.php
• Ilene Marcus, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty  www.metcouncil.org
• Imam Necmettin Kizilkaya, Iqra Mosque http://www.iqramasjid.org/iqra.htm  
• Rev. Compassion Chris Raines, NY Buddhist Council http://newyorkbuddhistcouncil.com/
 
II.  Faith Based Alternatives to Debt and High Interest Lending

• 10% is Enough Campaign http://www.10percentisenough.org/
Speaker: Rev. David Haberer; A faith-based campaign to cap credit interest rates at 10%.

• National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions www.cdcu.coop
Speaker: Brain Gately; Community Development Credit Union’s mission is to serve low-income and minority communities beyond the reach of banks and mainstream credit unions.  They specialize in serving populations generally considered the hardest to serve, including low-income wage earners, recent immigrants, and people with disabilities.

• Hebrew Free Loan Society http://www.hfls.org/
Speaker: Shana Novick; HFLS makes interest-free loans for philanthropic purposes throughout the New York metropolitan area.

• Straightway Ethical Advisory http://www.straightwayethical.com/
Speaker: Shaykh Taha Abdul Basser; a shari`a advisory, founded and operated by Islamic ethicists, that offers ethical consulting services to the shari`a-compliant financial services sector.

III. Pass It On: Financial Empowerment Education for Clergy

•  NYC Financial Empowerment Office www.nyc.gov/ofe 

Speaker: Seema Shah; “Beyond helping New York’s working families and individuals secure benefits to which they’re entitled or tackling exploitive practices, DCA’s OFE seeks to improve their economic condition, making it the only local government program of its kind in the nation.”

IV.  Credit Card Reform and Advocacy 
• Consumers Union: “Defend Your Dollars Campaign” www.defendyourdollars.org

Speaker: Lauren Bowne; Defend Your Dollars is the website of the Consumers Union Financial Services Campaign, where they support reforms to the financial marketplace to curb unfair practices by banks and lenders

V.  Resource Fair/Workshops

• SEEDCO www.seedco.org
Speaker: Susmitha Nallamshetty; great resource for accessing benefits, job help, career counseling, etc

• Asian Americans for Equality http://www.aafecdf.org/
Speakers: Richard Lee & JoAnn Yo.  Targets Low income families, immigrants, and Minorities within NYC, Helps with homeowner counseling, mortgages, credit card information

• Habitat-NYC: Loan Rangers, Rent to Own Loans and Tax Program http://www.habitatnyc.org/advocate/loan_rangers/
Speaker: Tristin Dreisbach; Habitat-NYC teaches low-income consumers on how to avoid high-cost loans, scams and how to save money. Loan Rangers is a train the trainer program to educate communities about various loan scams including tax refund and rent to own loans.

• Federation of  Faith Based Credit Unions www.natfed.org
Speaker: Brain Gately;  The Federation’s Faith-based Credit Union Program coordinates training, technical assistance, and capital services to faith-based credit unions and organizing groups.  It continues to be one of the few programs in the credit union movement that provides services that address the specific needs of small, religious-affiliated institutions.

VI. Media Resources/Documentaries

• “Safeguarding Your Future, One Student Loan at a Time” 
Available for free from the NY Attorney General’s Office http://www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/student_loan/about.html

• I.O.U.S.A., a documentary  http://www.iousathemovie.com/ 
Examines the rapidly growing national debt and its consequences for the United States and its citizens.

Additional Resources on Economic Resilience

  • Center for Economic Opportunity www.nyc.gov/ceo
    • It is the umbrella group to many of the cities economic programs an policies. Its programs are aimed at workers, young adults and families with children. They offer many resources from job training to placement, and specialized job training to advancements within certain fields.
  • ACCESS NYC www.nyc.gov/accessnyc
    • A free, online gateway that allows New York City residents to pre-screen, anonymously, for over 35 City, State and Federal human service benefit programs in seven languages, including Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean, Russian, Arabic, Haitian-Creole, and English.
  • Workforce1 Career Centers http://www.nyc.gov/workforce1
    • Holds workshops that teach skills to those looking for a job
  • NYC Stuff Exchange http://www.nyc.gov/html/stuffex/html/home/home.shtml
    • Shows you where you buy, donate, sell, and rent items in NYC
  • Neighborhood Housing Service www.nhsnyc.org
    •  “Creates and preserves affordable housing and provides opportunities for homeownership education, financial assistance and community leadership.”
  • NY Homes http://www.nyhomes.org/
    • State organization that helps New Yorkers find homes for mid to low income families, low fixed mortgage rates, and helps non-profits acquire and rehabilitate homes from single families (a grant), overall good resource for home buying and financing
  • Government Benefits www.govbenefits.gov 
    • Website allows you to search all government benefits one is eligible for
  • My Money.gov http://www.mymoney.gov/
    • “U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission Providing financial education resources for all Americans”
  • Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement http://www.hcci.org/
    •  HCCI is a coalition of more than 90 inter-faith congregations that has implemented a comprehensive portfolio of programs to provide affordable housing and safe streets; offer opportunities for individuals and groups to become and remain economically independent; increase understanding of and access to health care; and provide substantive educational programs for adults and young people.
  • CAMBA www.camba.org
    • “CAMBA offers integrated services and programs in: Economic Development, Education & Youth Development, Family Support Services, HIV/AIDS Services, Housing Services & Development, Legal Services”
  • Catholic Charities of NY http://www.catholiccharitiesny.org/
    • Help find housing for the homeless, families, immigrants, children, etc
  • Citizens Advice Bureau www.cabny.org
    • Programs:Eviction Prevention, Workforce Development,Food Pantry, Career Development for Youth
  • Housing Conservation Coordinators, Inc http://www.hcc-nyc.org/
    • Programs: legal representation, tenant and community organizing, installation of energy efficient systems through our Weatherization Program, Technical training courses.
  • Abyssinian Development Corporation www.adcorp.org
    • Programs: Affordable Housing Development. Economic Revitalization, Help tenants, improve living conditions, etc

A Moral Voice on the Immigration Debate

Religious leaders country wide are gearing up for immigration reform in the months ahead.  Locally, the Interfaith Center of NY is a founding member of the New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform, and we are planning a Convocation for Immigration Reform, to be held at Riverside Church on February 18th at 11:30 a.m.  RSVP to vargasw@ajc.org or call 212 891-1443 for additional information.  A recent article in the Houston Chronicle, Immigration Reform is a Pressing Issue of Morality highlighted 300 religious leaders from diverse faiths who gathered to advocate for Reform.   Religious leaders have an important contribution to make in this debate, not only as spokespersons for their diverse communities, but also because they speak with credible moral authority.