The Dothan Eagle - Glen East Apartments Residents Discuss Ideas, Programs with US Sen. Doug Jones’ Representative
The Dothan Eagle reported that Ron Sparks, a representative for Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.), visited the Glen East Apartments for low-income seniors in Dothan, Alabama. During the visit, Sparks spoke with residents about their experiences and the need for more affordable housing for seniors. B'nai B'rith is the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income housing for seniors.
Though he had many ideas to discuss with U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, one thing resonated with Ron Sparks after he visited the Glen East Apartments in Dothan Monday.
“My biggest takeaway is how nice this facility is, and there are not enough of them,” Jones’ regional director for the Middle District of Alabama, said. “We’ve got to continue to do everything we can get as many facilities here – this nice – so that the people have a quality place to live the last few years of their life.”
Sparks met with Glen East residents to discuss the issues that concern senior citizens today. A few residents expressed the need for more housing like Glen East, a complex that provides subsidized rent for the elderly.
Glen East’s first phase opened in 2011, and a second phase opened in 2012 – providing 76 apartments. The development exists through a partnership between the Wiregrass Foundation, B’nai B’rith International and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Sparks said the facility highlights the importance of public-private partnerships to meet the needs of American citizens, especially senior citizens.
“You can’t do too much for senior citizens. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and they’re the giants that we stand on,” he said. “I always believe in public-private partnerships. It usually gets the job done a little quicker than trying to depend on government all the way.”
After touring the facilities, including visiting a couple of different apartments, Sparks fielded questions from Glen East residents in a community room. Some expressed concerns about the future viability of the Social Security program, to which Sparks said he believed it should not be a problem for today’s senior citizens.
“There’s probably some reform needed for the (generations) behind us,” Sparks, 66, said. “I don’t think it’ll run out (of money).”
Another expressed concerns over the inability to buy healthy foods, especially in winter months and when unexpected costs arise. She suggested the government provide a $200 debit card for senior citizens to purchase the foods, an idea Sparks said he would refer to Jones for consideration.
Though Jones and Sparks – a former gubernatorial candidate and former Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries commissioner –are Democrats, Glen East resident Gayle McCoy appreciated the chance to discuss issues that affect senior citizens.
“I thought it was nice. I thought what he had to say was good,” she said. “(It’s important) to let us know what Doug Jones thinks and supports. We don’t know what all these politicians believe and stand for. If he’ll follow through on these things (discussed), that will be great.”
The Hebrew Watchman reported that the B'nai B'rith International Disaster and Emergency Relief Fund donated $1,500 to flood relief in Germantown, Tennessee following flooding that occurred in the area on June 7, 2019. Read the coverage below.
Wicked Local - State funding, tax credits will help fund Swampscott’s B’nai B’rith affordable housing project
Wicked Local covered the announcement of an award to B'nai B'rith Housing that will be used to redevelop a former Massachusetts school into senior residences.
On Jackson Park under a large, white tent, Gov. Charlie Baker and Janelle Chan, of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, recently announced $120 million in governmental funding and tax credits to support affordable-housing projects across the commonwealth.
Why Jackson Park? The public green space rests at the bottom of a hill on top of which sits the former, vacant Machon School.
And the nonprofit B’nai B’rith Housing’s yet-to-break-ground redevelopment of the old elementary school into 38 affordable rental units for seniors was among the 28 housing projects that will benefit from the funding awards.
“This project is a perfect example of the creativity and the imagination and the diligence of the town of Swampscott and one of our nonprofits to make affordable housing happen for our seniors,” said Baker standing behind a podium before a capacity-tent crowd. “The big issue we have is not that we don’t do this, but that we don’t do it enough.”
The funding puts B’nai B’rith Housing closer to breaking ground on what will be called the Senior Residences at the Machon.
“The building will feature common spaces such as a library and fitness center,” wrote B’nai B’rith in a statement to the Swampscott Reporter. “In keeping with BBH’s high quality, service-enriched housing model, residents will have access to an on-site resident service coordinator who will partner closely with Swampscott area senior-service agencies to promote wellness, health, and educational programs for all the residents of the building.”
The collective awards announced — $80 million in direct governmental subsidies and $40 million in federal and state tax credits — will help preserve and produce 1,581 rental units, including 1,349 affordable units and 273 units for extremely low income households.
“We truly appreciate the state’s support and are excited to continue working with the town of Swampscott and area service providers to bring much-needed affordable housing to seniors and older adults in Swampscott,” said Executive Director of B’nai B’rith Housing Susan Gittelman.
A Swampscott Housing Production Plan published in 2016 indicates the town’s residents are growing older and will continue to do so over the next decade. That changing demographic demands more affordable housing.
“The over-65 population will nearly double by 2030, while the school-age population will increase modestly,” reads the production plan. “Almost half of senior households have an annual gross income of less than $40,000.”
The Senior Residences at the Machon will reserve eight of the 38 affordable units for “extremely low-income seniors,” according to the state.
“This project is an excellent use of the old Machon School building, supporting seniors who increasingly cannot afford Massachusetts’ skyrocketing housing costs,” said state Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead. “I am grateful to the administration for including this project in its award round, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the administration to reduce housing costs on the North Shore and increase the supply of housing options.”
The funding announcement comes as movement around affordable housing and seniors has taken place in Swampscott. In his remarks, Selectman Peter Spellios mentioned the creation of the Swampscott Affordable Housing Trust Fund and Town Meeting’s adoption of inclusionary zoning.
Meanwhile, a selectmen-appointed Swampscott for All Ages Committee is busy at work. Members have been charged with spearheading the town’s endeavor of making sure Swampscott’s ready to serve residents who are part of an impending silver tsunami.
Last week’s announcement also comes as producing a diversity of housing stock across the commonwealth remains a top priority of the Baker’s administration.
“Our administration has already invested more than $1 billion in affordable housing, and we look forward to working with our colleagues in the Legislature to pass our Housing Choice bill to facilitate the production of more new housing units in communities across Massachusetts,” said Baker.
The byproduct of those investments included the production and preservation of more than 17,000 housing units, including 15,000 affordable units, since 2015. Last year, Baker signed a $1.8 billion housing bond bill, the largest in the state’s history.
In February, Baker refiled the Housing Choice bill to reform state mandates around zoning to help communities pursuing new housing production. His administration has also set a goal of 135,000 new housing units by 2025.
Israel Hayom - 25 Years after AMIA Bombing, Argentine Jews Split over Government Efforts to Make Amends
Israel Hayom interviewed B'nai B'rith International Special Advisor on Latin American Affairs Adriana Camisar about the Argentine government's decision to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization 25 years after the AMIA bombing.
Argentine Jews were expressing despair on the 25th anniversary of a terrorist attack on a Jewish community office building in Argentina’s capital, despite the government's announcement of new efforts to make amends.
"After 25 years, like all the decisions, they did it because of the anniversary. … I know they have good intentions, but 25 years is a lot of time. A lot of people work hard to hide evidence, to erase the evidence, and now I hope they can do something. But I am skeptical,” survivor of the 1994 bombing Javier Miropolsky tells i24NEWS.
Miropolsky was buried under debris of the building where he used to work helping the elderly and disabled for five hours before he was rescued.
“I personally feel betrayed, by all the governments, because it was the country where I was born and someone tried to kill me there,” he said explaining that he first considered himself Argentine first and then a Jew.
The attack changed his perspective, especially when the Israel ambassador came to visit him in the hospital, not a representative of the Argentine government.
“That meant a lot to me. So, I decided to come here [to Israel] – it was a wise decision,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to be a Jew there [in Argentina] right now.”
But Adriana Camisar, Special Advisor on Latin American Affairs for B’nai B’rith International underscored the importance of the Argentine government's decision on Thursday to brand Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
“This is an extremely important decision by the Argentine government because for the first time in 25 years Hezbollah is finally considered a terrorist organization," she stressed.
"And it will be more difficult for agents of Hezbollah to get funds in the tri-border area between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay – which has been for a long time a lawless area, and it is considered the main source of Hezbollah financing outside of the Middle East.”
Camisar said the 250,000-strong Jewish community in Argentina was "vibrant – they love their country, but of course, they just want justice."
Argentine Justice Minister Germán Garavano also told i24NEWS that freezing Hezbollah's assets and adding the group's military wing to Argentina's terror list would help "create deterrence."
He related two other decrees put forth by the Argentinian government to declare a national day of mourning and a series of other actions to preserve the memory of the victims of the attack, as well as extend the period for victims to claim reparations.
i24 News interviewed B'nai B'rith International's Special Advisor on Latin American Affairs Adriana Camisar about the 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Killing 85 people, this bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center was the deadliest attack in Argentina's history.
This article from The Jerusalem Post announces that Antonia Yamin, KAN Israel's representative in Europe, won in the broadcast category of the 2019 B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem award.
Antonia Yamin, the KAN representative in Europe, was this year’s winner in the broadcast section of the B’nai B’rith World Center journalism award.
Yamin said that when she landed in Berlin in 2017, she wondered how she would find stories and tell them well enough to grab the attention of Israeli television viewers.
The first Jew that she saw in Berlin was a man of about 40, who hid his side curls beneath a peaked cap, and who hid the strings of his ritual garment inside the waist band of his pants.
He was somewhat flustered as he became aware that she knew that he was Jewish. It was not the first time that someone had identified his background. There was something of a haunted look in his eyes, and she immediately realized that the story in Europe would be different from anything she might have anticipated while still in Israel.
“The story of the Jews of Europe is a story worth telling,” she said.
Chicago-born Zvika Klein of Makor Rishon won in the print media section for the second time, having previously won the award six years earlier.
Klein said that when he started out as a Jewish world reporter, he was advised by another journalist to graduate from there to politics. When Klein said that he wanted to stay with the Jewish world because he found it extremely interesting, his interlocutor told him that there was no future in such a beat.
Indeed, at that time there were very few journalists that he could count as rivals, but more recently more journalists are discovering that the Jewish world is an exciting subject to cover. The story of the Jewish world includes every kind of Jew, he said.
A certificate of merit was awarded to YNET’s Attila Somfalvi, and a special citation to singer, actor, commentator and former politician in local government Yehoram Gaon for fostering Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts.
Somfalvi was absent because he was covering the Ethiopian community protest demonstrations, but sent a video in which he said that the problem with Israelis is that they like to embrace dead Diaspora Jews such as the ones who were killed in the terror attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
“Why not embrace them when they’re still living?” he asked.
JNS - Washington Security Briefing Offers Tips on Keeping Religious Facilities and Congregants Safer
JNS.org cited B'nai B'rith International's deputy director of the International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, in an article about a discussion held at the FBI for religious groups regarding security challenges faced by religious communities.
Representatives of Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other religious groups gathered together recently at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., for a discussion on security issues facing faith communities.
The timing couldn’t be more apt, as one FBI source noted that this is the most “complex and dynamic threat environment we have ever been in.”
Every day, said the source, foreign governments are researching and identifying ways that they can “exploit” and “sow discord,” and turn people against their own communities. He added that faith communities need to think about the consequences of what happens if the United States and Iran have a deeper conflict, and Hezbollah responds by attacking local communities.
“You need to be thinking about that now,” stressed the source.
The FBI’s advice in a shooter situation? Run, hide, fight.
During the June 18 program, faith leaders heard from officials from the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and others, including assistant director of the FBI’s Office of Partner Engagement Kerry Sleeper. Speakers highlighted the changing and growing threats facing faith communities, and listened as the community leaders discussed concerns of their members, as well as how to move forward and ensure that everyone—federal officials, local law enforcement and faith members—has the tools necessary to prevent future attack.
One discussion led by a specialist in the FBI focused on the preattack behaviors of active shooters. Noting that the agency had studied 63 active shooters, the agent sought to debunk some myths and highlight common threads among attackers.
For instance, the FBI agent said, while many say that these people are loners, in fact, all either lived with someone or had “significant” in person or online interactions. The attackers had, on average, 3.6 separate stressors in the year prior to the attack, and 73 percent had a known connection with their attack site. Where attackers had no connection, they often did surveillance prior to attacking.
Discussions were also held around concrete steps that faith leaders can take to prepare congregants if an attacker strike their house of worship. Noting that it can take several minutes for law enforcement to arrive during an active shooter situation, one official suggested that congregants be taught the importance of the FBI’s advice: run, hide, fight.
“It’s human nature to freeze if you don’t have a plan in place,” he said, adding that people should know where all the exits are and how they would escape. The advice to hide “really means to disappear”—not be hidden halfway or in view of the attacker. The other option is to fight.
“How will you defend yourself? You don’t need weapons; you don’t need jiu-jitsu,” but people do need a plan, the official advised, adding that “there are ways to prepare people mentally, without scaring them.”
‘We are all feeling vulnerable’
Eric Fusfield, deputy director of the International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy at B’nai B’rith International, appreciated the details and analysis, as well as the chance to hear from leaders in other faith communities.
“Our ability to build coalitions is always our greatest strength, and it’s always important that communities that face similar and overlapping threats to come together and identify ways to respond,” he continued. “We need the help and support of our neighbors, and they need ours, so it’s only natural we come together in times like this when we are all feeling vulnerable and want to secure our communities.”
Other sessions included an address by Elizabeth Neumann, assistant secretary for threat prevention and policy at the Department of Homeland Security, who said that the last few years have seen a rise in domestic terrorism from those who are “borrowing” from the ISIS handbook in planning and implementing attacks; and a talk by an FBI agent who recounted his experiences during a shooting in 2012 at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc.
The daylong program was spearheaded by the Secure Communities Network, the Christian Emergency Network and Muslim Public Affairs Committee.
It is believed to be the first gathering of its kind hosted by the FBI and with such a “broad and diverse group” of participants, according to Michael Masters, national director and CEO of the Secure Community Network, which was founded in 2004 auspices of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
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