Haiti Earthquake Relief - Navajo VP Throws 'Lifeline' to Evicted Churchrock Families - NAPT Opportunities
PanAmericanRelief.org is a secure method to help
Submitted by Michael Zamba
Washington, D.C., January 12, 2010 – After the devastating 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti, the non-profit Pan American Development Foundation is encouraging people to donate through its special website http://mlist.orchidsuites.net/lists/lt.php?id=KkoGBg5VUAhUBx4AAV1USgUABFZTDQ%3D%3D
“This is a critical time for Haiti and our neighbors need our help,” says Amy Coughenour, Deputy Executive Director of PADF. “PADF will be working with civil protection authorities, the private sector and community organizations to provide immediate and long-term assistance.”
PADF – the natural disaster relief arm of the Organization of American States (OAS) – set up the safe and secure http://mlist.orchidsuites.net/lists/lt.php?id=KkoGBg5VUAhUBx4AAV1USgUABFZTDQ%3D%3D so individuals may find out information and make donations.
At the same time, the non-profit organization is also working with major corporations to coordinate their response. Most recently, PADF’s corporate partners like DIAGEO, Chevron, Royal Caribbean International Ltd., Citi and Federal Express provided relief to El Salvador after Hurricane Ike and in Guatemala to help after the worst drought in three decades.
PADF has more than 150 people throughout Haiti working on a number of projects, including community driven development, disaster mitigation and protecting human rights.
PADF is an independent, non-profit organization that creates public-private partnerships to assist the least advantaged people in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Through these partnerships and as a unique affiliate of the Organization of American States, PADF creates economic opportunities, strengthens communities and prepares for and responds to natural disasters.
Having worked in every country in the region, PADF engages community-based groups, governments and the private sector in the process of implementing appropriate solutions for sustainable development.
In the past year, more than 5 million people in 18 countries benefited from PADF and its programs. http://mlist.orchidsuites.net/lists/lt.php?id=KkoGBg5VUAhUBh4AAV1USgUABFZTDQ%3D%3D
Vice President Shelly Met with Evicted Residents
By Kathy Helms
CHURCHROCK – Navajo Nation Vice President Ben Shelly and members of his staff met Monday evening, January 4th with Churchrock family members evicted from their homes three days after Christmas, and threw out a lifeline.
Residents had until January 5th to file either a motion for an extension or a motion for reconsideration of the Dec. 16 Navajo Nation Supreme Court decision that removed them from their homes for nonpayment of rent. “They only give you so many days to respond,” Shelly told them, and today is the deadline.
Shelly said his office had the Navajo Nation Department of Justice review the decision and make recommendations.
Ten families were evicted Dec. 28 from the units formerly managed by Fort Defiance Housing Corp., a non-profit, which declared bankruptcy in 2005. The corporation then was reorganized under new management, known as Sandstone Housing Corp. Residents said they were given a rent-to-own contract with Fort Defiance Housing, but that the terms were changed to “rent only” when Sandstone took over.
DOJ suggested the vice president facilitate a meeting between tenants and Sandstone to try to come up with a payment plan or means for the residents to pay the debt.
Shelly said he also spoke with Mike Halona of Navajo Land Department and had him check into the status of the land where the homes were built.
Apparently it once was part of Fort Wingate, but when the military no longer had a use for it, it reverted to Navajo Nation trust land, Shelly said. “If it's on trust land, the Navajo Nation should have been asked it they could pay the bill. The Navajo Nation was never asked to take over that mortgage. I am very curious to meet with this new company.”
Shelly said another issue they are researching is the taking of land. “When you're taking land from somebody – eminent domain – Navajo Nation law is that you compensate that person. Some of those processes were overlooked.”
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie, who also attended the meeting, told residents, “The question that I have is, was the lease transfer from Fort Defiance Housing Corp. to Sandstone properly done. It sounds like Sandstone is the new owner, and so if that was never properly done – because these are trust lands that we're talking about – then that transfer may be invalid. Sandstone may be trespassing.
“I think we need to seriously look at this before they throw more people out,” he said, adding that he would write a letter today to the attorney general about the matter and also would send letters to all of the delegates asking for help for the families.
A man from Rio Puerco Acres in Fort Defiance said he and other residents are concerned that they might end up in the same situation. Shelly agreed that Churchrock is not the only place where evictions could happen. “This is a big problem.”
Sherrick Roanhorse, a member of Shelly's staff, said the vice president has talked with Gallup Mayor Henry Mendoza. “The mayor has extended his hand to assist Churchrock residents and the Nation as much as he can,” Roanhorse said.
Shelly will meet today with members of Navajo Housing Authority to get an overview of how the project was funded. “There are many things we want to understand and we're doing as much as we can to research the issue. We're learning new things every day,” Roanhorse said. The vice president also will be touching base with Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan's staff.
Lake Valley Chapter President Tony Padilla Jr. drew a big round of applause with a check for $1,000, donated by his chapter to help Churchrock Chapter pay the motel bill for the families.
“I feel sorry for people here. I hope we get something together and you guys have your home back,” he said.
Johnny Johnson of Emergency Management told residents his agency had tried to come up with funding for residents' lodging but they were told that it was not considered an emergency. So instead, they provided food to those in need and offered to set up counseling.
Toby Charley of Navajo Social Services said families may be eligible for $400 in financial aid, which is based on income. Of the four families which have submitted applications, three have been approved, he said.
Linda Hall of New Mexico Human Services Department offered to help with food stamp or Medicaid enrollment. Gertrude Lee from U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan's office was taking notes to update the congressman, who is monitoring the issue; and Tim Shorty from Navajo Housing Authority in Crownpoint told officials that, looking at several chapters, NHA probably could only come up with two houses due to the critical housing shortage across the reservation.
Public Safety Executive Director Samson Cowboy explained law enforcement's role in the evictions. “The police did their job based on the court order. They have to act. Don't think it was their doing -- it was a court order. If they didn't do their job, they could have been held in contempt.”
Johnnie Henry, Churchrock Chapter president, told the group, “I haven't slept well since this happened. The homes should be for the people here. ... This should never have taken place, especially in the holidays. People were emotionally damaged. Why did they put people out in the middle of winter?”
He said the chapter is looking into the matter. One of the documents from the days when Fort Defiance Housing Corp. first proposed the units lists a number of benefits to the chapter. No. 1 on the list: “The existing families will receive a new home and will not be displaced.”
Kelly Robinson, chapter vice president, told the families they have two days left in the motel and that they need to find a place to go. “The chapter will not be able to assist after two days,” he said. “What we're doing with the chapter house is a Band-aid. We're assisting as much as we can.”
Roanhorse said there are eight to 10 families looking for places to live. “That's about 50 people including elders and children – 52 percent of those affected are children, 2 percent are elders – and the rest are adults. A lot of these that are affected come from low-income families. We understand what they're going through and we're doing as much as we can to help them.”
Information: Churchrock Chapter, (505) 905-5949
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