COPS/Metro and Faith Leaders Recognize City Council and Staff for Policy Change

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COPS/Metro in partnership with Community Churches for Social Action (CCSA), and the Baptist Ministers' Union (BMU), has recognized the effort and commitment of elected officials and city staff for revising the San Antonio Police Use of Force policy to completely prohibit, with no exception, the use of neck restraint (strangleholds, choke-holds) collectively referred to as lateral vascular neck restraint (LVNR), along with the use of no-knock warrants.

"These policy changes certainly will not solve all of the challenging surrounding relationships between police and communities, but they do represent concrete actionable change that help confirm the city's commitment to live into the Compassionate SA ethos," read a press release from the three organizations.

Faith Leaders Recognize City Council and Staff for Policy Change, Today's Catholic

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COPS/Metro Accountability Session

On Sunday September 27th 500+ COPS/Metro Leaders attended our Accountability Session where their institutions committed to deliver 50,000 votes for the November election. Thirteen candidates attended to declare their support for COPS/Metro's agenda of issues on Workforce Development, Police Reform, Education and others.

Check out the full video here

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San Antonio Report Reframes COPS/Metro Ballot Initiative as Opportunity to Celebrate Labor Day in November

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About five years ago, COPS/Metro sought and won “living wage” minimum pay for City workers, resulting in raises for about 20 percent of the civilian workforce. They won similar measures from Bexar County, and some school districts followed suit.

Now two measures on the Nov. 3 ballot offer San Antonians the opportunity to again help lower-rung workers.  Both involve a one-eighth-cent sales tax that for 20 years has provided funding to buy development rights to protect sensitive lands over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

The first ballot measure would transfer those funds to provide about $154 million over the next four years for a job training program projected to boost the incomes of up to 40,000 workers. That’s an aggressive goal, but what gives it credibility is that its approach is based on Project Quest, a jobs training program designed by COPS/Metro 28 years ago.

Interestingly, it was COPS/Metro and their sister organizations around the state that persuaded the Legislature back in 2001 to authorize local governments to spend money on job training and early childhood education. That same law, the Texas Better Jobs Act, permitted San Antonio voters to approve Pre-K 4 SA in November 2012. The highly successful preschool program is up for renewal on the ballot.

[Photo Credit: Scott Ball, San Antonio Report]

Election Day Ballot Will Let You Celebrate Labor Day on November 3rd, San Antonio Report [pdf]

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COPS/Metro Among Heavy Hitters Called By Mayor to Win Voter Approval of Coronavirus Economic Recovery Plan

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Less than two months before early voting begins, Mayor Ron Nirenberg has called in several heavy hitters to steer his campaign to use a sales tax to help residents get back to work after they lost their jobs to the coronavirus.

The campaign, known as “Build SA,” faces the daunting task of figuring out how to break through a noisy November election to convince San Antonio voters to put more than $150 million toward a still loosely defined proposal that city officials estimate would help 40,000 residents get higher-paying jobs....

The mayor has assembled a trio of co-chairs to lead the effort: Blakely Fernandez, a partner at law firm Bracewell and former Alamo Colleges trustee; Linda Chavez-Thompson, former executive vice president of the national AFL-CIO and a former VIA Metropolitan Transit board member; and Sonia Rodriguez, a leader of the local grassroots organization COPS/Metro.

[Photo Credit: KENS5]

San Antonio Mayor Calling In Heavy Hitters for Campaign to Win Voter Approval of Coronavirus Economic Recovery Plan, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

City to Ask Voters Whether to Redirect 1/8 Cent Sales Tax Towards Workforce Education, KENS5 [pdf]

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COPS/Metro Gets Workforce Development Measure on November Ballot

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Voters will be asked to approve a 1/8-cent sales tax to fund job training and college degrees for San Antonians who lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money also would help participants pay rent and other living expenses while they complete those programs.

The sales tax revenue would be dedicated to those purposes for four years....

“Today, San Antonians need this investment more than ever,” Virginia Mata, a leader of the grassroots coalition COPS/Metro told council members Thursday. “It is not only the right thing to do but also the right investment. The seeds that you plant today will have a lasting effect and will help San Antonians rise from the shadows to the light.”

[Photo Credit: Billy Calzada, San Antonio Express-News]

'We Need Action Now': Sales Tax Proposal for San Antonio Economic Recovery Now in Voters' Hands, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

With Workforce Measure on Ballot, Project Quest Ready to Help Mend Economic Wounds, Rivard Report [pdf]

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COPS/Metro Calls for Sustained Investment in Workforce Development as Path to Post-Covid Economic Improvement

[Excerpt]

Since the onset of the pandemic, COPS/Metro with our allies, Project QUEST and the Alamo Colleges, have led the way to ensure San Antonians whose lives have been shattered by the economic free fall can re-enter the workforce equipped with new skills and good salaries. This month, the workforce development program supported by CARES and the city of San Antonio began accepting applicants whose jobs went on hiatus or completely disappeared. These applicants are supported with critical wraparound services that include a stipend, child care, transportation, tutoring and counseling, like the highly successful services provided by Project QUEST, which is recognized nationally for its high graduation and job placement rates. The Alamo Colleges will play a vital role in this program, using Project QUEST’s model along with partnerships that will strengthen and expand its capacity to serve displaced workers.

To be successful, the new Education and Workforce Program will need to adhere to a set of standards like the CARES recovery program, whose primary focus is meeting the needs of the participants. Addressing those needs must be the focal point of decision-making, not business as usual. This means providing quality wraparound services, including a 1-to-100 ratio of counselors to participants, ensuring job placement upon program completion and connecting graduates with jobs that pay a living wage with benefits. And the overall policy direction and management of the program must reside within city government, along with participants, educators and community members who can offer insight into program implementation.

Approximately 160,000 workers have been displaced due to the pandemic. The lion’s share of the funding should be directed toward them. While the majority of tax dollars will be dedicated to workforce development, funds could also go to participants with some college credits who want to complete their degrees. If the higher education institutions adequately address their needs, it is possible a fair number of college graduates could result from a small investment into this pathway. However, using public dollars to offer the same programs and services that previously failed these same students will not do. This is not a scholarship program; it is a jobs program.

[Photo Credit: Billy Calzada/San Antonio Express-News]

Improving Economy of City, Lives Of its Residents in Grasp, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

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COPS/Metro Advances Tenant Rights in San Antonio. Landlords Now Required to Inform Tenants of Rights

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City council unanimously approved an ordinance Thursday requiring landlords and property managers to provide a document called a “notice of tenant’s rights” to tenants they want to evict, a measure they hope will curb evictions locally during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The notice informs renters of their rights within the eviction process, provides them a list of resources, including San Antonio’s COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program, and urges renters and landlords to resolve the dispute through a payment plan before both sides have to appear in court. Landlords who do not comply face a fine up to $500, and can be given multiple citations....

The ordinance has been crafted by housing advocates, including COPS/Metro, and landlord groups, including the San Antonio Apartment Association.

San Antonio Landlords Now Obligated to Inform Tenants of Rights, San Antonio Current [pdf]

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COPS/Metro Presses for Establishment of a New GI Bill

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COPS/Metro, a network of grassroots community and religious organizations, wants $200 million of the city’s and county’s stimulus funds to underwrite what it describes as a GI Bill for the working poor. After beefing up the city fund for emergency housing assistance, COPS/Metro is calling for putting jobless workers through school at Alamo Colleges with a stipend.

“It would be a down-payment for the long term,” said Steve Mendoza, a COPS/Metro leader and co-author of an Express-News guest column outlining the proposal. “Tourism is not going to come back right away. And if we continue to focus on tourism, we’re going to get the same” dependence on low-wage jobs.

He added: “When there’s a crisis, there’s an opportunity.”

[Photo By William Luther, San Antonio Express-News]

Jefferson: $270 Milllion In Stimulus Aid Won't Plug Holes In San Antonio Budget, San Antonio Express News [pdf]

Commissioners Deciding How to Use $79 Million in Federal Coronavirus ReliefRivard Report

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With No Aid in Sight, COPS/Metro Leverages $25M in Local Dollars for Immigrant Support

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While it likely won’t address every need that arises from the economic downturn, [a new City program that provides $25 million in financial relief for San Antonio residents] has been touted as an example of how local government can partly fill a gap for families who don’t qualify for federal aid.

“No strings attached, no citizenship necessary, no documents, no paper necessary. Just residents in San Antonio and economic need,”

said Father Bill Kraus of Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church.

Kraus worked alongside other COPS/Metro leaders to lobby City Council to increase the fund from $15.8 million to $25 million before it gained final approval. And the organization’s leaders are still working throughout the city to identify potential solutions for immigrant families.

Angelica Reyes, a COPS/Metro leader, parent in Harlandale Independent School District, and immigrant, discovered her own challenges as her school-age children switched to at-home learning. Reyes learned that she didn’t have the basic computer skills needed to help her kids adjust to class on a computer. Reyes and other parents and decided to approach the district for help.

[Photo Credit: Scott Ball, Rivard Report]

With No Federal Aid, Immigrant Families, Students Lean on Local SupportRivard Report [pdf]f]

Commentary: A GI Bill for San AntonioSan Antonio Express-News ]

$25 Million Housing Assistance Fund Offers Relief to San Antonians Affected by COVID-19Texas Public Radio [pd

No Evictions for Now in Bexar County, but Renters' Struggles Likely to PersistRivard Report [

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COPS/Metro Boosts San Antonio Relief by $9.2M for Total of $25M for Emergency Housing

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With a 10-1 vote, City Council increased its housing assistance program Thursday by nearly $25 million to help as many as 20,000 families pay rent, utilities, and internet bills and provide cash to purchase groceries, gas, and medicine as they cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

City staff originally proposed a $15.8 million COVID-19 Emergency Housing Program but, at the direction of Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) and community advocates, the City was able to identify an additional $9.2 million from various city-related accounts. 

....

Linda Davila, housing co-chair for COPS/Metro Alliance, said the program represents a major step toward protecting vulnerable families. However, her the community organizing group's data suggests that 30,000 local residents now teeter on the brink of financial disaster. That puts the total need closer to $70 million.

"We're going to ask the county to match that [$25 million] if they can," said Davila, who represents St. Timothy Catholic Church. "Then we'll have to go after private dollars to fill in the gaps."

COPS/Metro began pushing city leaders two weeks ago to expand the emergency funding. Because local dollars added to the pot come with fewer restrictions, they'll be available to a larger number of local residents, including those without documents.

"We weren't going to let it go," Davila said. "We met with one councilperson after the other. We met with the city manager, the assistant city managers."

San Antonio, Bexar County Boost Housing Assistance 30 FoldRivard Report [pdf]] 

San Antonio Council Votes for $25 Million Fund to Help Residents with Rent, Food and MedicineSan Antonio Current [pdf]f]

Commentary: It's Time for San Antonio's New DealRivard Report [pdf]]

City Council Vote on Possibly Adding Millions to Housing Assistance FundFOX San Antonio [pdf]

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