The Serrano Report - Volume XII, #20
In Washington, DC
Congressman Serrano Welcomes Pope Francis to Washington DC
On Wednesday, Congressman Serrano attended the White House Ceremony to welcome Pope Francis to Washington, DC on his first visit to the United States. Later that day, he attended a mass to canonize Junipero Serra. The event was historic for two reasons: it was the first canonization held in the United States and it was held in Spanish.
Yesterday, Congressman Serrano heard the Pope’s speech to Congress. Earlier this week, Congressman Serrano joined his Democratic colleagues to urge Pope Francis to address poverty, immigration reform, and climate change in a series of videos.
“It was an honor and a privilege to listen to His Holiness Pope Francis. Pope Francis’ message was simple- that we have a duty and responsibility to care for people in this country and throughout the world. He invited Congress—and the American people—to respond to the problems we face as a nation with 'hope, healing, peace, and justice,' and by embracing and living up to the ideals and values that characterize us as a nation. His powerful message will remain with us for generations to come."
Congressman Serrano Celebrates Beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month
Last week, Congressman Serrano celebrated the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15th through October 15th.
“As Hispanic Heritage Month begins, we come together as a nation to honor the culture and countless contributions of Hispanics," said Serrano.
“Since the founding of this great nation, Hispanics have played a crucial role in the formation of its social and cultural fabric. From their contributions on the battlefield, to the undeniably important role they have played in the arts and in sports, in the sciences and politics, this month serves as an opportunity to remember and thank them for their role in making America richer and stronger.
“As a Puerto Rican and the representative of one of the most culturally diverse districts in the nation with residents from all over Latin America, I have always felt immensely proud of our values, traditions, contributions, and achievements. Today, let’s give a shout-out to the countless individuals that have helped us get where we are today.
“Despite all the progress we have made as a community in recent decades, there is still much work to be done to continue moving forward. We have to keep fighting for greater economic opportunities, for comprehensive immigration reform, and for the strengthening of civil rights. Hispanics deserve a fair chance at the American Dream.”
Congressman Serrano Calls for Action to Help Puerto Rico Address its Economic Crisis
In early September, Congressman Serrano and Congresswoman Velázquez, sent a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairmen and Ranking Members urging them to mark up and pass H.R. 870/S.1774, the Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act. Last month, Puerto Rico’s government announced its inability to pay its debt, totaling around $73 billion.
“As you know, Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code allows states to enact state laws enabling insolvent municipalities- including public corporations- to file for bankruptcy, if necessary. For reasons that are not clear, Puerto Rico was not included in the original legislation authorizing Chapter 9. HR. 870/S. 1774 would simply remedy this oversight, and authorize Puerto Rico to have the same power as states. Absent that authority, Puerto Rico is faced with a difficult situation in which investors, insurers, the public entities, and other interested parties are forced to negotiate without an unbiased arbiter to oversee the proceedings and force the difficult decisions that may be necessary,” the members wrote.
Click HERE to read the full letter.
Congressman Serrano Commemorates 14th Anniversary of September 11th
On September 11th, Congressman José E. Serrano commemorated the 14th Anniversary of 9/11 and released the following statement:
“Nearly 15 years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, the memory and impression of this tragedy remains vivid. As we commemorate the 14th anniversary of 9/11, let us keep in our thoughts and prayers those who lost their lives and all the families who lost a loved one. Let us also remember and thank all the first responders and volunteers who put their lives on the line and worked tirelessly in its aftermath.
“9/11 was a terrible day that touched all New Yorkers', and all Americans', lives. The attacks that occurred at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the attempted attack that ended in Pennsylvania, were shocking and horrifying. As someone who was in the city when this tragedy took place, I witnessed firsthand how shocking and heartbreaking this event was for everyone. But in the midst of this tragedy, our city banded together as never before.
“People from every part of the country also came out to help in whatever way they could. We all came together as one, and we invoke that spirit of solidarity as we mark the 14th anniversary of 9/11 and work on other issues affecting our country and communities.
“Today is a day to remember all those affected by the terrorist attack – victims, first responders, volunteers. Today, we honor and mourn those we lost, and we renew our commitments to those who put everything on the line to respond to this tragedy.”
In the Bronx
Congressman Serrano attends Ribbon cutting ceremony at Borinquen Plaza
Last Wednesday, Congressman Serrano attended the ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate the newly-renovated Borinquen Plaza. A partnership between the NHP Foundation, the New York City Housing Development Corporation, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, PNC Bank, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development made this $25 million renovation possible for the 88 townhomes in the development.
“New York is facing an affordable housing crisis. As developers continue building in the Bronx, we need to ensure our families continue having access to quality housing they can afford and still making ends meet. This important investment by the NHP Foundation and other private and public entities will help protect and enhance dozens of affordable housing units in Mott Haven,” said Congressman Serrano.
Congressman Serrano attends NYCHA App Press Conference
On Monday, Congressman Serrano attended a press conference to launch the NYCHA App in front of Mitchel Houses. “The new NYCHA App will allow tenants to easily and quickly submit work tickets, receive important information, and make sure their contact information is up to date from their Smartphone or tablet device. By making this technology available, the New York City Housing Authority has taken one more step to ensure public housing tenants in NYC have access for free to the technology necessary to function effectively in the 21st century,” said Congressman Serrano.
NYCHA Chair Olatoye and State Senator José M. Serrano were also in attendance. NYCHA previewed their new application, as well as their digital van, which is a mobile computer lab and provides free Wi-Fi to NYCHA residents wherever it goes, to local residents.
Congressman Serrano Announces Nearly $800,000 in Funding to Launch Innovative Workforce Development
During the August recess, Congressman José E. Serrano announced that the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has been awarded $739,605 in federal funding to establish a Workforce Investment Now – New York program in the Bronx. These funds were awarded by the Federal Transit Administration’s Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development Program (Ladders of Opportunity Initiative) under the U.S. Department of Transportation. This funding will help launch an innovative multi-sector partnership that will focus on preparing high school students at the Bronx Design and Construction Academy for careers in transportation, design, and construction.
“I am pleased to announce this workforce development grant to help high school students in the Bronx prepare for and obtain middle class jobs in the public transportation sector. By supporting a highly-skilled transit workforce, we are building ladders of opportunity for Bronx residents to move into the middle class and maintain the critical skills needed for an efficient public transportation system. This investment is critical both to the Bronx and to New York City’s workforce preparedness and competitiveness in the 21st Century,” said Congressman Serrano.
The FTA’s Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development Program provides grants to transit agencies to undertake workforce development activities such as creating employment training programs and conducting outreach programs to increase minority and female employment in the transit sector.
Congressman Serrano Announces $125,000 in Funding for Forward South Bronx Coalition
Last Tuesday, Congressman José E. Serrano announced that the Forward South Bronx Coalition (FSBC) has been awarded a total of $125, 000 in grants by the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, administered by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The funds were awarded through ONDCP in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Serrano, as the Ranking Member of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the ONDCP, has helped ensure that the Drug Free Communities program has sufficient funding to support efforts like the FSBC and was instrumental in helping secure this funding.
“For years, the Forward South Bronx Coalition has been providing residents of the Bronx with access to quality resources to help end substance abuse. This funding will expand the coalition’s ability to assist more people, and will help ensure that Bronxites have the help and support they need,” said Congressman Serrano.
“This funding will allow FSBC to measure their reach and growth through the use of capacity surveys and other data collection methods, increase awareness of the dangers of alcohol and marijuana use, and reduce access to those drugs by young adults. There is no better use of funds than making sure our communities are healthy and drug free.”
Forward South Bronx Coalition serves the residents of Longwood and Hunts Point in the Bronx. The coalition is convened by Sports Foundation, Inc. which has been providing residents of the Bronx with substance abuse prevention services for more than forty years.