Summer 2016 Newsletter
Volume 2 Issue 4
A Note from Rep. Velázquez
I wanted to reach out and give you an update on some of my activities this summer.
First, I know all of us were profoundly saddened by the events in Dallas, Minnesota, Louisiana and Orlando. As a nation, we must come together, in the wake of these tragedies, finding ways to heal and care for one another. The fact is that as Americans there is more that unites us than divides us. All of us want to live in safe communities and all of us condemn attacks on the men and women of law enforcement. And, just as much, all of us believe we should feel safe in our homes and neighborhoods regardless of the color of our skin. All of us are outraged when we see law enforcement abuses. I will be praying that this sequence of tragedies inspires us to significant, enduring action.
We have had a lot going on in Washington and in New York in other areas like housing and voting rights. A short discussion of some of my activities is below, but as always you may reach out to my district offices for additional information.
You can also follow all my activities online. We recently redesigned my website. I encourage you to take a look - https://velazquez.house.gov/ It has valuable resources on how to obtain help with a federal agency, my position on policy issues and a range of constituent services.
Also, if you don’t already, please take a minute to follow me on social media. My official Facebook page can be found here. My Twitter handle is @NydiaVelazquez.
Thanks for reading.
Nydia M. Velázquez
Member of Congress
Velázquez Demands Action to Address Gun Violence
Following the horrific attack in Orlando, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has joined Democratic colleagues in calling for meaningful legislation to address the epidemic of gun violence in our nation. In June, the Congresswoman joined her House Democratic colleagues in a on the House floor, calling for Republican Leadership to stop blocking legislation. In New York City, the Congresswoman joined fellow New Yorkers at an event at City Hall to further highlight the issue.
When the House returned in July, Velázquez took to the House floor to further press the matter. She called for a “No Fly, No Buy” policy that would block individuals who are on the “Terror Watch List” from purchasing firearms. The Congresswoman also demanded legislative action implementing a system of universal background checks, closing loopholes that allow guns to be sold online and at gun shows without verification. You can see video of her floor statement here.
The Congresswoman is also the author of legislation that would take a number of steps to reduce gun violence, clamp down on the flow of illegal guns to New York City and invest in mental health and anti-violence programs.
House Approves Velázquez Bill Protecting Puerto Rican Investors
The House of Representatives has voted to approve legislation authored by Rep. Velázquez to close a loophole that has caused significant financial losses for many Puerto Rican investors and retirees. Velázquez’s bill, H.R.5322, would extend to investment companies operating in Puerto Rico and all the U.S. territories the same rules as those that apply on the U.S. mainland.
It has been publicly reported that some actors in Puerto Rico have used the current law’s loophole to engage in financial practices that would be prohibited on the mainland. You can read more about the bill here.
Velázquez Works to Protect Tenants and Prevent Landlord Abuses
Rep. Velázquez continues making affordable housing and tenants’ rights top priorities. The Congresswoman has been working to protect a number of tenants in Ridgewood whose units are in danger of losing Section 8 status because the landlord has allowed some of the units to fall into disrepair. The Congresswoman previously wrote the owner of the building on the tenants’ behalf.
More recently the New York City Housing Authority wrote that it agreed with Velázquez’s letter and that the tenants needed to be protected.
As there have been a range of landlord abuses throughout the City, including efforts to kick units out of the Section 8 program, the Congresswoman has introduced new legislation, “the Landlord Accountability Act” to hold landlords accountable. Joined by New York State Attorney General Schneiderman and flanked by a range of advocacy groups, Velázquez announced the new bill on the steps of City Hall in June. This article from City Limits provides a good explanation of the bill.
Among other changes, the bill would ban discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders, establish new financial penalties for landlords that neglect units to remove them from the Section 8 program and create a new grant program to fund local tenant harassment prevention programs.
A detailed summary of the bill is online here.
Lawmakers Seek Protections for New Yorkers’ Voting Rights
A series of high-profile incidents have drawn voting rights issues into the limelight. After more than 120,000 New York voters found they were improperly removed from the Brooklyn voter rolls, the Congresswoman has been seeking to ensure protections are in place for all New York voters.
In May, Velázquez joined forces with New York Reps. Jeffries and Meng to host a voting rights act forum. The discussion focused on the need to reinstate elements of the Voting Rights Act that have been invalidated by the Supreme Court. See WNYC’s coverage of the forum here.
Further scrutiny was drawn to the issue when media reports noted the impact of the voter roll purge was concentrated most heavily in Latino communities in Brooklyn. Rep. Velázquez wrote the Department of Justice calling for election monitors to prevent other voting problems.
She will continue working to ensure all New Yorkers’ most fundamental right – the right to vote - is protected.
There are a range of federal funds available for local organizations seeking to improve their communities. Groups seeking advice on federal funds can always contact the Congresswoman’s district offices for guidance or visit grants.gov
Several new grant opportunities have recently been announced:
- The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced the availability of $80 million in grant funding to support programs that offer youth occupational skills training in additional in-demand occupations, such as health care, information technology or logistics. More information is available here.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development has made available $1.9 billion as part of its Continuum of Care program which is designed to promote a community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; to provide funding for efforts by nonprofit providers, States, and local governments to quickly re-house homeless individuals, families, persons fleeing domestic violence, and youth. Nonprofits, states and local governments are eligible to compete. More information is available here.
- The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has announced approximately $135 million to be competitively awarded for the purpose of expanding access to high-quality, comprehensive services to low-income infants and toddlers and their families through Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnerships, or through the expansion of Early Head Start services. ACF solicits applications from public entities, including states, or private non-profit organizations, including community-based or faith-based organizations, or for-profit agencies that meet eligibility of the Head Start Act. Interested applicants may email EHS.CCPartnerships@acf.hhs.gov for additional information.
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