Washington, DC – Today, six leaders from Western New York traveled to Washington, DC to attend U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s first-ever legislative summit of African-American Faith-Based Leaders. The summit, titled “Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships: A Plan to Impact Our Communities,” was attended by more than 200 ministers, pastors and executive directors representing faith-based groups, churches and organizations serving African-American communities across New York State. For information on summit participants from your area, contact the Gillibrand office.
“Faith-based institutions are pillars for our state and our nation. These organizations have been invaluable for families across New York, helping them stay afloat through this tough economy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “In order to have an impact on our communities, we must partner with faith-based organizations and support many of the critical services they provide.”
In addition to Senator Gillibrand and other members of New York’s Congressional delegation, participants also had an opportunity to meet with United States Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Reverend Al Sharpton, and representatives from the White House and the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Department of Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce.
The tough economy has left nearly 1 out of every 5 African-Americans out of work. In the face of a difficult economy and extreme budget cuts, Senator Gillibrand’s legislative summit addressed how faith leaders can successfully utilize federal resources to confront current challenges facing African-American communities in New York.
In addition to economic issues, such as unemployment and housing disparities, the summit addressed disparities in access to quality health care and education. Panels of experts guided conversations on how to build financial stability within the African-American community by broadening and strengthening business and employment opportunities, and how federal authorities can work with faith communities to improve health care, make communities safer, and provide more effective, efficient services.
Senator Gillibrand delivered an address to the participants, in which she outlined parts of her legislative plan to address some of the challenges affecting the African-American community. Senator Gillibrand discussed her work to extend benefits for workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and eliminate the fraudulent lending practices that have cost many families their homes. Senator Gillibrand helped author the Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act, which would provide tenants whose units are foreclosed on the right to live out their lease.
Senator Gillibrand also addressed concerns about the unemployment rate by highlighting her push for passing the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, which would spur small business growth and create jobs by increasing access to loans from credit unions.
Senator Gillibrand also focused on her legislation to eliminate health disparities, including the National Black Clergy for the Elimination of HIV/AIDS Act, which provides $567 million to help fight HIV/AIDS in the black community, and the Eliminating Disparities in Breast Cancer Treatment Act, which would end racial disparities in access to treatment by establishing best practices for breast cancer treatment and penalties for providers that do not offer best practices to all patients.
Senator Gillibrand also highlighted her work to help faith-based organization and many other institutions in New York attract federal money through competitive grant programs. She encouraged all organizations, education institutions, local communities, and businesses to go to the “Grants Central” section of her web site and work with her office to apply for funds.