by Natasha B. | May 12, 2023 | CMS in the News, Immigration, News
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 12, 2023
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Serves Approximately 7,000 Asylum Seekers
Agency Prepared to Assist New Influx Expected with End of Title 42 Public Health Order
Brooklyn and Queens– Recognizing the plight of asylum seekers traveling through the southern border and their difficulties upon arriving in New York City, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has organized a collective response in both boroughs to welcome and provide essential emergency services to the new arrivals and their families. Since July 2022, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has served approximately 7,000 asylum seekers—and provided a total of 22,000 service units.
As one of the leading social service providers at the New York City Asylum Seeker Resource Navigation Center, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has intimately engaged with the City to provide the services the asylum seekers need upon arrival. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ programs and affiliates offer asylees limited financial assistance, emergency food and food pantry access, hot meals, clothing, diapers, English as a Second Language classes, access to WIC nutrition programs, NYC ID referrals, workforce development resources and MetroPlusHealth insurance.
For new arrivals with children, in addition to WIC nutrition services, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens also offers resources, information and referrals to Catholic Charities Head Start programs and New York City schools.
“The new arrivals are leaving horrendous situations in their home countries in search of safety, work, and an opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. The parishes are doing an incredible amount of work with us to help them acclimate to New York City and we couldn’t do the work we are doing without them,” said Reverend Monsignor Alfred P. LoPinto, President and Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and Affiliated Agencies. With the Title 42 public health order set to end, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, affiliates and parish partners–while at capacity, is prepared to continue providing services as needed.
Catholic Migration Services, Inc., a Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens affiliate, has provided legal services to over 200 new arrivals, participated in multiple legal workshop clinics, and provided training to volunteer legal advocates to help with the surge of new migrants who have entered New York City over the last year.
Recently, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens began offering free Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) construction worker training workshops at local parishes, ensuring their safety as they prepare to work in the future.
Parishes in the Diocese of Brooklyn, particularly those close to shelters where asylees are placed, have opened their doors to make their facilities available for OSHA training, hot meals, clothing drives, and baby showers for new and expectant parents.
About Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens:
For over 124 years, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has been providing quality social services to the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens and currently offers 160-plus programs and services for children, youth, adults, older adults, and those struggling with mental illness. Since 1975, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation, the affordable housing developer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, has been transforming vacant land and buildings into affordable housing units and transforming the lives of individuals and families, and completed more than 4,567 units with supportive services for seniors, families, veterans and the formerly homeless. Since the pandemic began, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has provided much-needed food packages and services at 60 Catholic Charities parish-based food pantries and has distributed over $12 million in food assistance. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens continues to deliver crucial mental health counseling, housing services, family services, early childhood education, and emergency services. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens continues to deliver crucial mental health counseling, housing services, family services, early childhood education, and emergency services. For more information, please visit https://www.ccbq.org/annual-report-2022/ and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @cathcharitiesBQ or @catholiccharitiesBQ.
by Natasha B. | Apr 17, 2023 | CMS in the News, News
April 11, 2023
By Univision 41 Nueva York
Por Univision 41 Nueva York
Tras una batalla legal y decenas de denuncias, inquilinos de un edificio en Jackson Heights en Queens lograron una victoria en la corte, y el dueño de los apartamentos comenzó con reparaciones.
El mes pasado los inquilinos, en su mayoría de origen hispano, habían denunciado a Univision 41 el abandono en el que se encontraba este complejo ubicado en la 34th Road.
Moho, roedores, elevadores sin funcionar, ventanas con daños eran parte de la lista de problemas con los que convivían a diario.
Los afectados se unieron con la organización Catholic Migration Services para demandar al rentero en la corte civil de Queens.
El juez le dio un ultimátum a los dueños reparar los desperfectos y le dio como plazo hasta el 31 de mayo para terminar.
La remodelación ya inició, pero en caso de no terminarse, se le impondrá una multa al rentero.
“(Si no cumple) los inquilinos pueden demandar al dueño y entonces el juez va a decir que el dueño necesita pagar una multa”, indicó Bryan Fotino de la asociación Catholic Migration Services.
Fidel Portales tenía dos años con moho en el baño de su apartamento, además de problemas con una ventana.
Ambos problemas ya fueron solucionados.
“Si no era por ellos (la Catholic Migration Services) esto no va padelante”, agradeció Portales.
by Natasha B. | Apr 5, 2023 | CMS in the News, News
April 3, 2023
By Ethan Marshall
Photo by Ethan Marshall, Jackson Heights Post
Tenants of the Jackson Heights apartment building at 94-16 34th Road were joined by representatives from the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition (RTCNYC) and Catholic Migration Services on April 3 for a rally demanding safer living conditions and a statewide right to counsel.
The rally outside the Queens Housing Court in Jamaica marked the second held by the tenants in just over a month.
With the building’s tenants being predominantly low-and-middle-income people of Hispanic descent, they held the rally to bring attention to the poor living conditions that has put the health and safety of the building’s residents for the last 30 years. Additionally, they are uplifting their case to call for the passage of legislation-Statewide Right to Counsel (A1493-Joyner/S2721-May) for all New York state residents in any type of case that could result in eviction.
When the tenants and landlord met at their Feb. 27 court appearance, an agreement was ultimately reached to arrange access for maintenance to complete the repairs. However, the landlord’s workers frequently didn’t show up on certain access dates, according to the tenants. This has led to unresolved repairs, including insufficient heat and a malfunctioning elevator.
According to one of the tenants, Wanda Martinez, in her 30 years living at the building, she’s seen it change from owner to owner without any of the violations being addressed. She credits the Catholic Migration Services for helping the tenants organize and get the case to court.
“The first time [we were here] we established dates of access so that they can come in and start the repairs,” Martinez said. “They showed up to some, but didn’t show up to others, so we’re back here to negotiate. We’re going to give the [landlord] one more time to do what they have to do before we approach the judge and let them see that there is no good faith and that we may have to present a court case.”
Martinez said that the feedback she has received from the Catholic Migration Services attorney representing them, as well as the willingness of tenants to discuss their problems, has led her to determine April 3 as being an ultimatum date for the landlord.
According to Catholic Migration Services attorney Sarah Hainbach, there has been an agreement to a May 31 deadline of getting the building’s issues fixed. If the issues are not resolved by then, the tenants would sue the landlord.
“The landlord and the tenants agreed to a settlement today,” Hainbach said. “They agreed to all the repairs being completed by May 31, 2023. We’re hoping that’s what happens.”
Photo by Ethan Marshall, Jackson Heights Post
“Our thing is to get our repairs done, to have a good quality of life and not to be at a war with the owner,” Martinez said. “We understand that it’s his property, but we live in it and we deserve a good quality of life.”
In addition to repair issues like a lack of heat and hot water and the failure to address the building’s broken elevator in a timely manner, other factors leading to the tenants’ legal action include the failure to address mold and pests in the building. Additionally, the landlord attempted to pressure tenants to sign illegal leases without offering them new correct leases as well as harassing them by showing up at tenant association meetings and banging on their doors without warning.
A representative from the office of Assembly member Jessica González-Rojas was also on hand to read a statement she provided. In the statement, González-Rojas voiced her support for the tenants.
“No one should have to experience harassment at home,” Assemblymember González-Rojas said in her statement. “It is outrageous that the landlord has not provided the tenants with the renewal leases and that the repairs are not being completed since [the workers] are failing to show up on the dates arranged. Everyone deserves dignified housing and it’s clear that the tenants are not receiving that from the landlord. I urge the landlord to correct these issues immediately and stand and will continue to stand with the tenants of 94-16 34th Rd. until the repairs and needs are met.”
According to Catholic Migration Services Tenant Organizer Bryan Fotino, the landlord will be held accountable for doing the bare minimum in getting the repairs done before the deadline. If the work is not done by May 31, he said they plan to file a lawsuit against the landlord in contempt.
Photo by Ethan Marshall, Jackson Heights Post
“We are also out here in support of statewide right to counsel,” Fotino said. “We have been up in Albany working with state legislators to support this statewide right to counsel legislation. It would not only expand right to counsel throughout New York State, but it would also cover affirmative cases. Tenants who have repair issues will now have a lawyer who can support them as they’re filing their cases to sue their landlord. It’s been very important for the tenants to have the support of CMS legal team, helping them file out paperwork, helping them magnify their voices, helping answer questions about their rights. What this law would do is expand that for everyone.”
by Natasha B. | Mar 3, 2023 | CMS in the News, News, Tenant Advocacy
Por Univision 41 Nueva York
Inquilinos se unieron para exigir soluciones a las constantes problemáticas en sus viviendas, en las que deben lidiar con la presencia de ratones, cucarachas y la falta de mantenimiento. Además, aseguran que el elevador del edificio presenta fallas, lo que afecta a los adultos mayores y personas con problemas de movilidad. El caso llegó hasta la corte y un juez le impuso un mes de plazo al casero para que complete las reparaciones.
Vea la entrevista por Univision 41 Nueva York: “Queremos calidad de vida”: inquilinos denuncian las malas condiciones que viven en un edificio en Nueva York
by Natasha B. | Feb 28, 2023 | CMS in the News, News
February 27, 2023
By Carlotta Mohamed
A group of tenants residing in a Jackson Heights building rallied outside of the Queens Civil Court in Jamaica on Monday, Feb. 27, after taking on their landlord in a group repairs case after years of living in alleged unacceptable conditions. (Photo: Right to Counsel Coalition)
A group of tenants residing in a Jackson Heights building rallied outside of the Queens Civil Court in Jamaica on Monday, Feb. 27, after taking on their landlord in a group repairs case after years of living in alleged unacceptable conditions. They also highlighted the importance of passing legislation that will guarantee representation for tenants in courts across New York State.
The tenants, who are predominantly low-income people and Latino immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, are receiving support from the The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition (RTCNYC) and Catholic Migration Services’ legal and organizing teams in their case.
In Monday’s hearing, the tenants of the building, located at 94-16 34th Rd., and the landlord agreed on a settlement that will allow the city Housing Preservation Department (HPD) to inspect the building. The tenants agreed to grant access to the landlord to make the repairs. The next court date will be held on Monday, April 3, when any outstanding violations will be reviewed.
Following the court hearing, Tenant Association Leader Wanda Martinez said she was under duress to leave her apartment because of safety issues. She even spoke about one tenant who self-evicted due to the landlord’s failure to maintain secure premises.
Prior to being connected with Catholic Migration Services, Martinez said she felt afraid to stand up to her landlord. She wasn’t fully aware of her rights as a tenant.
“Personally, Sarah Hainbach, staff attorney at Catholic Migration Services, made all the difference,” Martinez said. “She informed us of our rights and removed fear from the equation, so we felt comfortable standing up for our wellbeing.”
In their case against the landlord, the tenants say the building continues to be severely undermaintained, even though the tenants have been paying rent. Over the years, there have been numerous power outages in individual units. Tearing up the walls to work on the wiring left dust flying around apartments for over a year, leading multiple tenants to develop asthma and other health complications. There have also been problems with the elevator, rodents, and heat.
On Feb. 23, one tenant was without heat for over 11 hours, according to their Heat Seek device. For some of the tenants in the building, it has been nearly impossible to reach their super for maintenance or cleaning needs, and the tenants have resorted to maintaining the building themselves.
There have also been security issues that the landlord has failed to address. There have been numerous reports of people who don’t live in the building (and weren’t invited as guests) getting inside the building, and the mailboxes, which were once broken into, have still not been repaired.
“They’re paying the rent. They’re upholding their end of the bargain, and all they want is safe living conditions,” said Bryan Fotino, an organizer with Catholic Migration Services.
The tenants of 94-16 34th Rd. are not alone in facing unacceptable living conditions.
In 2021, New Yorkers in approximately 8% of privately owned rental units in New York City suffered under serious housing code violations–HPD’s “class C” violations that are “immediately hazardous” and violate a tenant’s legal right to safe and livable conditions.
Landlords, code enforcement, city agencies and politicians allow these conditions to persist along racial lines: more than twice as many Black and Latinx New Yorkers live in units with three or more maintenance deficiencies than Asian or white New Yorkers, according to the Equity NYC Report.
The Jackson Heights tenants uplifted their case to highlight the importance of passing legislation, Statewide Right to Counsel (A1493-Joyner/S2721-May), that will address the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants in New York State’s housing courts by establishing the Right to Counsel for all New Yorkers in all types of cases that could result in eviction–including affirmative repairs cases.
The legislation was introduced by Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx) and Senator Rachel May (D-Syracuse).
Under the proposed Statewide Right To Counsel bill, tenants across New York State would have the right to an attorney if their landlord violates their right to a liveable home. Many tenants, often uncounted in official eviction statistics, self-evict each year because of threats to their health and safety they experience at home. Without an attorney, a tenant’s legal right to seek justice in these cases is unattainable.
Read the original story in The Jackson Heights Post: ‘Housing is a human right’: Jackson Heights tenants rally against landlord for alleged poor living conditions and management negligence
by Natasha B. | Aug 31, 2022 | CMS in the News, News
Photo: Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
August 29, 2022
By Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
Yesterday, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, Catholic Migration Services, and the St. Charles Borromeo Parishioner volunteers welcomed over 140 migrants and asylum seekers at an information session and lunch at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Downtown Brooklyn. Since July, over 220 asylum seekers have come to Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Community Outreach Center in Brooklyn seeking assistance. To welcome them, provide support, and help them settle in further, we teamed up with Catholic Migration Services for a Spanish-language informational session that addressed deportation, ICE, change of address and applying for Asylee status.
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens also provided small produce boxes with fresh fruit, loaves of bread, toiletry/food bags, COVID test kits, socks, masks and other necessities. The St. Charles Borromeo volunteers donated and served lunch for the attendees. Additional Catholic Charities social service staff were in attendance with information and resources.
For over 124 years, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, through its social services arm, Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services, Inc., has been providing quality social services to the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens and currently offers 160-plus programs and services for children, youth, adults, older adults, and those struggling with mental illness. Since 1975, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation, the affordable housing developer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, has been transforming vacant land and buildings into affordable housing units and transforming the lives of individuals and families, and completed more than 4,450 units with supportive services for seniors, families, veterans and the formerly homeless. Since the pandemic began, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has provided much-needed food packages and services at 56 Catholic Charities parish-based food pantries and has distributed over $8.5 million in food assistance. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens continues to deliver crucial mental health counseling, housing services, family services and early childhood education and COVID vaccines at a variety of locations. For more information, please visit www.ccbq.org.