Archive for July, 2009

Kensington Welfare Rights Union

July 31, 2009

Kensington Welfare Rights Union  

Basic Info

The Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU) is a multiracial organization of, by and for poor and homeless people. We believe that we have a right to thrive – not just barely survive. KWRU is dedicated to organizing of welfare recipients, the homeless, the working poor and all people concerned with economic justice.

Contact Info


Philadelphia, PA

Recent News

– Welcome to the group from Grace United Methodist Church, Millersville, PA that has joined KWRU for a busy week of food distributions, other service activities, house to house canvassing with health care workers’ union, and educationals on poverty and economic human rights! We’re truly blessed by all the energy, concern, and material aid they’ve brought us.

– The film “Explicit Ills” by Mark Webber, filmed here in Philadelphia with KWRU members, founder Cheri Honkala, and a great cast including Paul Dano, Rosario Dawson, Tim Dowlin, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Frankie Shaw, is out on DVD. Get it through Netflix or Blockbuster.

– The federal government is set to release economic stimulus money in Philadelphia, millions of it to specifically solve the problem of homeless families in the city. Secretary Donovan said HUD released $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money yesterday to cities and states to help people hold onto their homes and to rapidly rehouse those already in shelters.

The federal aid will be used, for instance, to pay delinquent utility bills or cover security deposits on apartments.

Philadelphia will receive $21.4 million of that stimulus money over three years. Dainette Mintz, director of the city Office of Supportive Housing, said the first grants should be made in August.
See the July 10th Inquirer article in our Links section.

– KWRU needs your financial support! Long-standing grant support is increasingly threatened and we who believe in fighting for economic human rights in Philadelphia must give what we can. Please send checks or money orders to KWRU at PO Box 50678, Philadelphia 19132.



After a good discussion of “Charity v.Change” with KWRU founder Cheri Honkala, the group from Grace UMC showed off their portraits by Cheri’s son Guillermo.

Seven families homeless because of meth bust

July 31, 2009


The American Red Cross has opened a shelter in Hancock County for seven families displaced by a meth lab explosion at an apartment complex.

The explosion happened Thursday night at the Waveland Manor Apartments on Auderer Boulevard and Waveland Avenue.

A haz-mat team was called in to dispose of the dangerous chemicals. Three officers were sent to the hospital with skin irritations and tightening of the chest, after they went into the apartment.

Police arrested the two occupants of the apartment.

The families in nearby units were evacuated. The Red Cross says the families had to dispose of their clothing because of contamination.

A shelter is open at Lagniappe Baptist Church for the families. The apartment complex is a public housing facility, so the housing authority will be working to find new places for the families displaced by the meth contamination.

Katrina fraud trial ends with guilty verdicts

July 31, 2009


Kenner residents Jerome and Catherine Foreman have been found guilty of Katrina fraud after a four-day trial.

The Foremans received a $150,000 homeowner assistance grant through the Mississippi Development Authority by claiming a Diamondhead home they owned as their primary residence, federal prosecutors said, although they did not live there.

Also, prosecutors said, Jerome Foreman filed a valid FEMA assistance claim on a Kenner, La., home that was his primary residence, then defrauded FEMA by collecting $6,706 in disaster assistance on the Diamondhead house.

Jerome Foreman was found guilty on two counts of making false statements, one count of making a false claim, and one count of theft against the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He was also found guilty of one count of making a false statement and one count of theft against MDA. Catherine Foreman was found guilty of theft against MDA.

The Foremans are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 28 by U.S. District Judge Halil S. Ozerden. Each faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

HUD and the state Auditor’s Office investigated the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. attorneys Ruth Morgan, Kiana Foster, and Alyssa Farrell.

Anyone with information concerning possible fraud during Katrina recovery can call either the Department of Homeland Security Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or the FBI Fraud Hotline at 1-800-225-5324.

Glenn Beck and the Boys

July 31, 2009

  Updates from Citizen Wealth:

The Campaign to Save Working Families.

Fans of Citizen Wealth!

First, thanks for becoming ‘fans’ of the book I really appreciate it.

I wanted to send you a message today because something is happening out there. The Glenn Becks of the world are doing whatever they can to fight the change that American’s are demanding on Health Care, EFCA, and the basic ability for lower income families to win income security.

In fact, on his show last night Glenn Beck aired a so-called “exclusive” interview with me from the Citizen Wealth book event in New Orleans. Beck and his boys asked a question about maximum eligible participation. They find the concept of low income families fully accessing legally entitled rights to benefits as somehow, what can i say, RADICAL. I don’t think so, and I don’t think you think so either.

In another Beck inspired video the same two bloggers posed as Health Care reform activists. You can read all about it — and see the videos — on my blog at:

It’s pretty ridiculous how low these guys will go.

For those of you who use Twitter I’m asking that you use the “retweet” button on the blog to help fight back against these guys and their tactics of division and misinformation.


p.s. If you have a copy of Citizen Wealth, then tell your friends — it’s time to fightback against this bochincha! If you haven’t ordered your copy of Citizen Wealth yet, you can get it from Amazon at:

July 31, 2009

Waveland Community CoalitionWaveland Community Coalition One hundred and eleven (111) members and growing! Please, welcome our newest members for the months of June and July: Walmart, Henderson Ford, GM&R Construction, Habitat for Humanity, Speedy Printing, Colleen Kirby, Noel Phillips, Bill McIntyre, Denise Breland, Randy Ponder, Mary Turcotte and Nick & Petie Hyman. For more info on the WCC, visit our website at

Salvation Army pulling out of Hancock County

July 31, 2009

1. Salvation Army pulling out of Hanock County, Pearl River County and others. Critical loss of service to this area.  If concerned – contact Salvation Army urgently.
2. Katrina Relief and WCF now in new building at Steep Hollow on Highway 53 and working on one stop shop (stillhave an office in Waveland on Herlihy St. as well) 


July 31, 2009


Hey Kathleen,  
What a great facility and team!  I’m jealous.  Here’s the DOL grant that we spoke of.  You can write us in under Technical Assistance: Willie Spreadley – Construction Training and Worksite Procedures and me – Program Operations and Management Consultant.  Or whatever works for you.
Kindest regards,
Bishop E. Rene’ Soule’, Director
YouthBuild Rebuilding Company of Mississippi, LLC
4309 13th Street Gulfport, Ms 39501
P: 228) 575-0563 C: 228) 234-8314 F: 877) 206-9389

Bank vice president faces more charges

July 31, 2009


Claude A. Coleman, 44, a vice president and branch manager with Regions Bank, faced additional charges of child molestation and child pornography in Jackson County Court on Thursday and his bond was set at $850,000.

He also faces a charge of sexual battery in Lauderdale County and is on hold for officials there, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said.

Coleman was arrested late Tuesday at his home in the Lamotte subdivision of Gautier, where sheriff’s investigators seized his computers and other items in the home.

Coleman on Thursday was charged with two counts of child molestation and 15 counts of child pornography.

Sheriff Byrd said the charges stem from a two-month investigation into Coleman that was triggered by a call from the mother of an alleged victim.

She told investigators that she believes Coleman molested her son 10 years ago when they were neighbors of Coleman’s. Her son was 13 at the time, Byrd said.

Byrd said Thursday that the investigation is still active, and they are interviewing witnesses who saw Coleman take children to a fishing camp at Cumbest Bluff.

The charges in Lauderdale County stem from activities at a hunting club near Meridian.

Byrd said Coleman was believed to have been the sole chaperone for boys and young teens on trips to the camps.

12-year-old Wiggins girl battling leukemia

July 31, 2009

12-YEAR-OLD BRITTANY FRANZEN was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia after a doctor's visit and tests were done on July 20.  

12-YEAR-OLD BRITTANY FRANZEN was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia after a doctor’s visit and tests were done on July 20. (Submitted photo)

A short two weeks ago 12-year-old Brittany Franzen’s greatest concern was starting school next month. Now, her greatest concern is whether she will live to see any of her classmates again.

Brittany and her family’s world came crashing down after a recent doctor’s visit.

Earlier this month her right breast became swollen and began to hurt. Medical tests were done and on July 20, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Her liver and spleen are both enlarged. She has tumors in both of her breasts, right lung, collar bone and leg.

Brittany of Wiggins has been admitted to Children’s Cancer Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson where she is undergoing an aggressive 10-day chemotherapy regimen. Her body will be allowed to rest a few days and the chemotherapy treatments will be resumed in an effort to arrest the rapid advance of the disease.

She also may need bone marrow transplants. She is being given a 40 percent chance for survival, said her stepsister, Victoria Knight.

The signs of illness first surfaced in March but went unrecognized, Knight said. Brittany developed small bumps on her back but they were misdiagnosed as acne. It turns out the bumps were actually small tumors.

Brittany’s life-threatening illness is only the latest in a series of tragedies the family has faced recently.

Their Waveland home was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. And for 18 months, the family lived in a FEMA camper trailer before moving into a FEMA mobile home. They completed work on a permanent home only a few months ago, but the damage may already have been done.

The camper trailer and mobile home tested positive for high levels of formaldehyde, Knight said. Formaldehyde has been linked with causing leukemia.

Brittany’s mother, Bonnie Whittington, has cerebral palsy – a disease that affects her speech and ability to walk. Her stepfather, Duncan Whittington, has been a service technician for GE Medical for more than 15 years. He now finds himself in a situation where he is away from work for extended periods as the family attends to Brittany’s medical crisis. He fears that in addition to the loss of income, the absences may also affect his job.

Brittany is covered by her stepfather’s health insurance plan, but there are additional costs – medicines, insurance co-payments and traveling expenses.

“The bills are mounting up and we’re finding it tough to pay these expenses and still keep up with such things as their home and auto payments,” Knight said.

There are a number of ways that people can choose to help the Whittington family.

“Brittany is a very sweet and very scared 12-year-old girl,” Knight said. “Cards and letters of encouragement go a long way to brighten her day.”

– Integrating Supportive Housing Innovations into Health Care Policy and Practice:

July 31, 2009

This pre-conference institute features a presentation and roundtable discussion on emerging practices, policies, and strategies that seek to integrate supportive housing and the health care system. With the promise of significant healthcare reform on the horizon, policymakers and practitioners are faced with a tremendous opportunity to establish supportive housing as an integral component and extension of a comprehensive and responsive healthcare system, and as a versatile and effective solution to today’s pressing health policy problems. Specifically, the institute will feature presentations on: a) supportive housing models and initiatives that seek to improve housing stability and health care connections/outcomes for high/frequent utilizers of health services; b) integrated supportive housing and community health center models; and c) supportive housing initiatives aimed at reducing the inappropriate institutionalization of vulnerable people in nursing homes, long-term care and inpatient settings. In addition to these presentations, the institute will include a roundtable discussion around policy and practice innovations that seek to strengthen ties between supportive housing and health policy and systems.

   – Shelter from the Storm: Creating Trauma-Informed Homeless Services – Homelessness Resource Center:
Homelessness and trauma are inextricably linked. Many people who experience homelessness have also suffered from physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, injury, and other traumatic events. Additionally, homelessness itself is traumatic. Trauma leaves lasting scars that can impact all facets of the person’s life and relationships. It is critical then that homeless service providers work to provide trauma-informed care—or care that recognizes the impact of trauma and responds in ways that facilitate a process of healing and reconnection. This session will equip direct service providers with a greater understanding of the impact of trauma and with skills to create trauma-informed services.

Making the Old New Again –  Obtaining and Converting Surplus Property to Help Homeless Persons:

This meeting will provide an overview of key federal programs that make vacant property available for homeless assistance, discuss legislative advocacy efforts to obtain similar legislation at the state and local level, and provide tips for successful development and utilization of former government property. The program will include a discussion of potential hurdles to redevelopment, including NIMBY opposition, connecting clients to transportation and other resources, and provide examples of how local nonprofits have overcome these challenges to convert former government properties into housing, child care centers, and other service facilities for homeless persons.