Building Healthy Communities Long Beach: December 2014
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In this edition of BHC News...
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January 14:
Neighbors United Town Hall

January 17:
MLK Peace and Unity Parade

January 21:
Brown Bag Discussion Series
Community Calendar   |   Partners   |   Jobs   |   Resources
Filipinos organize in Long Beach’s Westside
Filipino Migrant CenterAs the sun rises over Hudson Park in west Long Beach, Filipino seniors gather for coffee, pandesal, and healthy group activities. In Cabrillo High School, Filipino youth in the Sama Sama club meet to talk about the social justice issues happening in the Philippines. At Grace United Methodist Church, low-wage Filipino workers are receiving free legal help to combat wage theft. Altogether, the organizers of the Filipino Migrant Center see these opportunities as avenues to empower the Filipino community and actively engage them in the movement for local and global justice.

California has the highest concentration of Filipinos in the United States. With over four million Filipinos in the country, approximately 17-25% (or one in four or six individuals) are undocumented, leading to issues of health access and immigration. In Long Beach, a large population of Filipinos have settled in the Westside between the bustling Port of Long Beach and the expanding 710 freeway. Many of the Filipino families on the Westside are low-income domestic workers due to lack of job opportunities in their community. As a result, labor trafficking and teenage pregnancies are problems many families face. Within these contexts, the Filipino Migrant Center works to educate, organize, and mobilize the community to address these long-standing problems.

Filipino youth from Sama SamaEvery week, organizers with the Filipino Migrant Center (FMC) knock on doors to talk about the issues facing Filipino residents and let people know about FMC’s services and activities. Through interactions with residents at clinics, schools, and social events, FMC learns more about the current problems Filipino families face, including the emotional needs of the members themselves. “We can’t address the Filipino community’s emotional and mental health just through our clinics and services,” says Executive Director Joanna Concepcion, “it’s also incorporated in the organizing work we do.” 

Beyond the legal services with labor and immigration issues, FMC organizers are also working with Filipinos of all ages to improve the health of the community. The Saturday morning Health and Fun Walks aim to engage more seniors in healthy activities. The Sama Sama youth club (meaning “coming together”) provides Filipino youth a space to learn about culturally relevant education. Social activities (such as their upcoming Christmas Party) provide community building space for residents to meet neighbors. 

Filipino Migrant CenterIn addition, FMC is involved in local organizing campaigns to advance the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants within the broader community, such as the Coalition to End Wage Theft and the Language Access Coalition. Joanna Concepcion adds: “We want to help shape a new culture among Filipinos that they have the power, knowledge, and expertise to define what their future looks like here.”

Community members are invited to attend “Pasko Sa Westside,” the FMC’s end of the year Christmas Party on Saturday, December 20 at the Silverado Park Social Hall from 5 to 8 p.m. Attendees will enjoy music, dancing, and performances with residents from across the westside. For more information about “Pasko Sa Westside” or the Filipino Migrant Center, visit www.filipinomigrantcenter.org
 
Neighbors United seeks protections for renters
Housing Long BeachSixty percent of Long Beach residents are renters. For low-income renters, finding quality, affordable housing is a constant struggle due to the fact that the existing housing in their price range is often old and unmaintained. To make matters worse, fear of retaliation for reporting these substandard conditions keeps many families from getting the improvements their families need to be safe and healthy.  While there have been improvements made in the legal process to create protection from retaliation, the process remains costly and untimely, effectively keeping the majority of low-income residents from reporting these violations to their landlords and city code enforcement. 
 
To find out more about what residents are facing, Housing Long Beach spent several months visiting laundromats, community meetings, and health fairs to survey over 600 low-income renters about their experiences. Read more about what our neighbors had to say by downloading the report. These findings helped launch the Neighbors United for Safe and Healthy Homes campaign, which seeks to bring renters from across Long Beach together to advocate for a new code enforcement ordinance that includes anti-retaliation measures. 
 
According to the survey findings, 74% of low-income renters have experienced at least one safety hazard in the last year. Even though 64% told their landlords about the issues, only 33% had a high likelihood of getting the issues fixed. When an unresponsive landlord does not make repairs, residents can make a report to the city’s code enforcement department for an inspection. Unfortunately, only 5% had ever filed such a report with the city. When asked why, 89% of low-income renters named the fear of retaliation as the most important factor. 

Informed by these statistics, Housing Long Beach’s Neighbors United campaign is a resident-led effort to urge the City Council to pass a Rent Escrow Account Program. The program would allow tenants living in substandard units with unresponsive landlords to pay a reduced rent to the City until the conditions are fixed. Through the policy, real accountability for slumlords and results in health and safety improvements are created while protecting renters from unfair retaliation. Learn more about Neighbors United by visiting www.housinglb.org or calling 562-444-5147. 
 
Long Beach Time Exchange celebrates the holidays (Photos)
The Long Beach Time Exchange Holiday GatheringThis past Saturday, members and local residents gathered at the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach to celebrate the holidays with the Long Beach Time Exchange. At the event, attendees had the opportunity to learn more about time banking, celebrate another year of time banking in Long Beach, and connect with others residents about skills and services to exchange. Click here to see photos from the event!
 
Join us: Unnatural Causes brown-bag lunch series kicks-off
On Wednesday, Building Healthy Communities kicked off our “Brown Bag Discussion Series” with the introduction to the film Unnatural Causes, entitled “In sickness and in wealth.” The documentary series investigates the root causes of our socioeconomic and racial inequalities in health. Throughout the series, residents and community members will have opportunities to learn and dialogue with others about the connections between inequality and health. Bring your lunch and join us in the new year! Our next screening will be held on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 from 12pm to 1pm at the Building Healthy Communities Office (920 Atlantic Ave.). 

BHC’s “Brown Bag Discussion Series” on Unnatural Causes will be held monthly through May 2015. Please RSVP to Christina Amiot at camiot@bhclongbeach.org or leave a message at 562-436-4800.
 
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