Commissioner Jesson Speaking at "Together, We Work" Conference
Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson spoke Dec. 5 k at “Together, We Work,” the first conference hosted by Minnesota APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First) and Pathways to Employment.
The two-day event brought together people with disabilities, employers, supported employment service providers and advocates to make connections and discover ways to increase employment opportunities even in times of scarce resources.
New partnerships are making a home of their own possible for hundreds of Minnesota citizens with disabilities- as over 500 people since 2009 have said welcome home to the new possibilities of independent living.
These new possibilities have been created through the Housing Access Services (HAS), which is a partnership of The Arc of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. For many adults with disabilities, living at home or living in a group home is no longer the right fit. They desire the same independent lifestyles that many take for granted. HAS helps adults with disabilities navigate many of the logistical problems with reaching independence, such as finding housing, filling out paperwork and financial documents, moving in, and finding access to jobs and transportation.
Photo credit: Flickr user Taber Andrew Bain
The Minnesota Department of Commerce is working with U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison to stop predatory lending. Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman and Congressman Ellison are holding a special Town Hall Forum on Predatory Lending on August 8 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at Neighborhood Hub in North Minneapolis. Commissioner Rothman and Congressman Ellison want to hear your stories about how predatory lending and foreclosure have affected your community so we can stop these destructive practices. All residents of North Minneapolis are invited to attend.
Predatory lending often targets low-income consumers, causing financial hardship in Minnesota neighborhoods. Scam artists and predatory lenders take advantage of consumers from all walks of life, causing foreclosures and financial hardship in our communities. In recent years, foreclosure and loan modification scams have severely harmed North Minneapolis neighborhoods.
According to the Department of Commerce, nearly 136,000 Minnesota homes have gone into foreclosure in the last seven years. That adds up to almost $13 billion in home equity lost in Minnesota alone since 2005. If your neighbor or someone down the street goes into foreclosure, the average loss in value to your home is roughly $8,500.
Governor Dayton speaks at the 2012 Disabilities Day Rally in the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda.
The Partners in Policymaking Program recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary, marking a quarter century of advocacy, education, and inspiration for people with developmental disabilities and their families.
Since 1987, the program – led by the Department of Administration’s Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC), has provided leadership training for parents of children with developmental disabilities and adults with disabilities. By helping these individuals self-advocate and form relationships with elected officials and policymakers, the program empowers them to positively shape the policies and services that impact their lives.
In a recent editorial for Access Press, a Minnesota disability news outlet, Steve Larson, senior public policy director for The Arc Minnesota commended state leaders for their work to reverse a number of funding cuts to Minnesota Health and Human Services (HHS).
These reversals delayed cuts to the wages of personal care attendants and disability service providers until the next legislative session and reduced the cut to community services for 2,600 Minnesotans with disabilities by half. ” Disability advocates will need to fight again next session to make these reversals permanent,” says Larson.
The issues of funding to key Health and Human Services sectors were first highlighted by Governor Dayton in his 2012-2013 supplemental budget proposal, and were ultimately addressed with his signing of the HHS omnibus budget bill, a bipartisan effort which restored roughly $18 million in funding lost during the 2011 budget compromise. This new spending was offset by savings to the state from a 1 percent cap on health plan profits negotiated by the Dayton Administration which resulted in the return of $73 million to state and federal taxpayers .
Scam artists and predatory lenders take advantage of consumers from all walks of life, causing foreclosures and financial hardship in Minnesota communities. Knowledge is often the foundation of financially secure communities and a consumer’s best defense against the pitfalls of predatory lending.
As Financial Literacy Month continues, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, Housing Finance Commissioner Mary Tingerthal, and Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey hosted a town hall forum at Dayton’s Bluff Recreation Center on Wednesday to discuss the adverse financial and community impacts of predatory lending in Minnesota and the steps Minnesotans can take to protect themselves from predatory lending practices.
The forum began with a panel discussion led by Commissioners Lindsey, Rothman, and Tingerthal regarding recent trends in predatory lending, the state’s role in protecting Minnesota consumers and communities from predatory lending, and the resources available to victims of predatory lending through Minnesota’s state agencies. Following the panel discussion, community members and advocates shared their personal stories about how predatory lending has affected their families, finances, and communities.
As financial products become more complex and scammers become more savvy, the need for on-going collaboration between the Commerce, Housing Finance, and Human Rights Departments resonated with both the panel and attendees. Continued outreach efforts to educate Minnesotans, including our immigrant communities and neighborhoods that have been adversely impacted by these predatory practices, underscore the need for financial literacy. Knowledge is the best defense against fraud and financial abuse.
As Minnesota’s first African American Commissioner of Education, I am responsible for policies that impact the lives and education of nearly a million Minnesota children. I come to this task with a profound sense of gratitude for the opportunity to influence an area I care so deeply about. I also come with a deep sense of humility, and the knowledge that I stand on the shoulders of many who have come before me, including my own parents and my grandfather.
I grew up poor, but I never felt a poverty of love. My mother, just sixteen when she had my sister and only a few years older when I came along, never graduated from high school. Though she struggled at times, she was our greatest advocate. She was also was a firm believer in the notion that it truly does take a village to raise a child. So I was a Head Start baby. I was involved in community programs and I loved going to, and later serving as a youth counselor at summer camp. Each of these experiences opened the door to a world of possibilities. My father, also a consistent presence in my life even though he and my mother were not always together, reinforced the notion that education was my ticket to a better life. He would tell me I could either continue the cycle of poverty into which I was born, or could choose to continue my education and break the cycle. He told me “This is America. You can be anything or anybody you want to be. You might have to work harder than most folks, but if you’re willing, the future is yours to determine.”
As true as those words were for me, they were not, and are not, always true for everyone. Any forward progress that African Americans have achieved has been hard won through the heroic efforts of many, including my own grandfather, Melvin Alston. He played a key role in the relationship between race and public education years before Brown v. Board of Education changed the course of history in the United States.
As Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, I’m responsible for ensuring that the Department promptly investigates charges of discrimination and ensures that every person in Minnesota has the ability to enjoy all of the benefits of society regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, age, sexual orientation, familial status, and public assistance status.
When I reflect on Black History Month, I’m always left with this indelible impression of just how much blacks love the United States and how hard blacks have struggled to help the country live up to the highest ideals expressed in the United States Constitution.
Blacks have spilled their blood for freedom, equality, opportunity and justice throughout the rich history of our country.
One doesn’t need to look long to find stories of Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre , the 54th Volunteer Regiment of Massachusetts that fought in the Civil War, the exploits of the 93rd Infantry during World War I, or most recently brought to the big screen, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.
One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is, “Democracy is the greatest form of government to my mind that man has ever conceived, but the weakness is that we have never touched it.”