Miami, FL

Hispanic group focuses on health

July 24, 2002
Health care disparities between Hispanics and whites, brought on by the absence of health insurance, the language barrier and other factors, are gaining attention among advocates who focused on the problems at this week's National Council of La Raza meeting.
     La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights group, held at least one workshop a day on combatting problems including high breast cancer rates, early diabetes and the spread of AIDS, then devoted an entire afternoon to health issues. The annual meeting ended Wednesday.
     "We're able to evidence in black and white this gap, this disparity, between the Hispanic and non-Hispanic population," said Carlos Ugarte, La Raza's deputy vice president for health. "This is a reality. There's no denying it. We have to work toward changing it." 

Housing program for needy criticized

July 23, 2002
HOPE VI, a federal program touted as a savior for the country's most decrepit public housing projects, has caused severe shortages and undue hardships for people who can least afford a place to live, according to a study by national housing advocates.
    The study -- contained in a report titled ''False Hope'' by the California-based National Housing Law Project and other advocacy groups -- was released as Congress is about to consider whether to renew the $574 million program for another 10 years.
      HOPE VI is designed to replace dilapidated public housing complexes with single-family homes. 

Bush homeownership expansion initiatives highlighted

July 23, 2002
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez discussed today the Bush Administration's initiatives aimed at helping more low-income, minority families achieve the American dream of homeownership.
     Martinez spoke at a bilingual town hall meeting organized by HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Martinez told prospective homebuyers and housing industry representatives that President Bush's fiscal 2003 budget request for HUD included programs to help overcome the most common barriers encountered by minority families seeking to purchase their first home, such as downpayment assistance and high closing costs.
     Martinez spoke at the town hall meeting, organized as part of NCLR's annual conference. Cristina Saralegui, host of her own program on the Univision network, joined Martinez for the forum. 

Housing project could favor seniors

May 19, 2002
Miami-Dade County officials may add hundreds of long-sought public housing units to a controversial Liberty City redevelopment project -- but the move could displace dozens of black single mothers and their children in favor of mostly Hispanic seniors.
      More than 800 families live in the barracks-like apartments of the Scott and Carver housing projects. They worked with county officials four years ago to get a highly coveted HOPE VI federal grant to demolish those buildings and build a new community in the half-square-mile, impoverished neighborhood just outside Miami's city limits.
      However, proposed additional units may be earmarked for Miami-Dade's growing elderly population, attorneys representing Scott Homes tenants in a lawsuit against the county discovered last week in a pretrial deposition. They also obtained a redrawn site plan that now includes three areas designated for elderly housing.

ADA lawsuit Vs. Kmart is reinstated

November 23, 2001
A federal appeals court has rejected its own precedent and reinstated a Tampa lawsuit by a former Kmart Corp. manager suing over benefits under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
     The decision Wednesday revolves around two questions -- whether former employees can sue under the ADA and whether people can sue when employers offer different levels of benefits for physical and mental disabilities.
     A split three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta sent the case of James Johnson back to federal court in Tampa for fresh consideration. 

Judge: Fla. to refund handicap tag fee

November 20, 2001
Florida's motor vehicle department must refund an estimated $30 million to people who were illegally charged for handicap parking placards in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a state court judge ruled Monday.
      Circuit Judge Amy Steele Donner said the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles violated federal law when it charged the disabled $15 to purchase the blue placards that they hang from rearview mirrors, allowing them or their drivers to park in handicapped spaces.
      Donner said the ADA specifically prohibits government agencies from charging disabled people to participate in programs aimed at making public accommodations, such as parking lots, more accessible.

Racial profiling issue taking on a new face

September 30, 2001
Fearful that Americans are willing to exchange some of their civil liberties for increased security, civil rights activists foresee increased difficulties in combating racial profiling.
     "The rules are changing. Where [profiling] may have been against blacks or Hispanics, it's changed to Arabs or Middle Easterners,'' said Geoffrey Alpert, a sociologist directing an antiprofiling survey for the Miami-Dade County Police Department.
     Alpert's study was launched earlier this year amid complaints by activists that some officers and specialty patrols stop citizens solely on the basis of their color or ethnicity. Researchers are collecting information from traffic stops to see if minorities are being stopped at a disproportionate rate. 

Racial profiling issue taking on a new face

September 30, 2001
Fearful that Americans are willing to exchange some of their civil liberties for increased security, civil rights activists foresee increased difficulties in combating racial profiling.
     "The rules are changing. Where [profiling] may have been against blacks or Hispanics, it's changed to Arabs or Middle Easterners,'' said Geoffrey Alpert, a sociologist directing an antiprofiling survey for the Miami-Dade County Police Department.
     Alpert's study was launched earlier this year amid complaints by activists that some officers and specialty patrols stop citizens solely on the basis of their color or ethnicity. Researchers are collecting information from traffic stops to see if minorities are being stopped at a disproportionate rate. 

Alonsos get scrutinized over rentals

September 05, 2001
Miami-Dade County police and federal housing officials have been quietly conducting an investigation into the possible overbilling of low-income tenants living in rental properties co-owned by County Commissioner Miriam Alonso and her husband.
     Alonso was out sick from work Tuesday and did not respond to a request for comment. José Quiñon, an attorney retained by Leonel Alonso, confirmed the investigation. He said Leonel Alonso, who administers the couple's investment properties, is the focus.
     "There is no indication of any inappropriate action by the Alonsos to obtain something that they're not entitled to,'' Quiñon said. ``They have been acting in good faith in all dealings with their tenants.''

Black residents tell panel their complaints

August 30, 2001
Fired up by a speech from the Rev. Al Sharpton, black Broward and Miami-Dade residents spoke out Wednesday about instances of alleged racial mistreatment before a hearing of an advisory committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
     "These problems have been around a long time, and it's now at a boiling point,'' said Bill McCormick, Fort Lauderdale NAACP president.
     The hearing, which was attended by more than 100 residents at the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort in Miami Beach, provided a high-profile forum for complaints of race discrimination, police mistreatment, forced relocation from their homes and other issues.

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