Part of the Bay Area News Group

Richmond firefighters raise funds for Doctors Medical Center

Richmond firefighters raised more than $8,000 this fall by selling pink “Richmond Fire” T-shirts. The money will go to funding breast cancer treatment programs at the Doctors Medical Center Cancer Center in San Pablo our center.

Fire officials will present the hospital a check at 1:45 p.m. Thursday in the cancer center’s parking lot.

A fire truck will be on hand, said DMC spokeswoman Remy Goldsmith.

Firefighters sold the T-shirt at community events to raise the money.

Posted on Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Under: community, Contra Costa County, History, Richmond, San Pablo | No Comments »

Richmond-El Cerrito fire and police ask for support helping needy families

PRESS RELEASE:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 6, 2013

Contact: Michelle Milam  (510) 837-9257

Richmond-El Cerrito Fire/Police Toy Program Needs Santa’s Helpers

Description: Richmond-El Cerrito Fire/Police Toy Program seeks help for needy families 

Richmond, CA —  December 4, 2013 –  First responders from Richmond and El Cerrito are asking the public for help to provide Food and Toy baskets to over 1700 families this coming holiday season.  The Richmond-El Cerrito Toy program is seeking to help needy families who have a hard time making ends meet.  Each year the program gets applications from the two cities from needy families hoping to receive a food basket and toys for their children under 12. This year 1700 families signed up for the program. Others were turned away because of the great need.

 “I think even the most jaded person will believe in miracles when they see these kids faces,” said Richmond firefighter Rod Woods, the brainchild of the 20 year old program, “We believe there are still good people in this world who will help us make this miracle happen.”  “This is not an easy season for many families, which is why we should all help one another when we can,” said Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus, “There are people who gave to this program in the past who will be in line this year due to a job lay off or illness. You always hope help will be there for you if you need it. Sometimes kids give to the program, which is really heartwarming. What better way for parents to show their kids the spirit of the season than to give as a family.”

The public can help donate to the program by visitingwww.toyprogram.org. The public can also help by getting their school, place of employment, or religious organization to make a donation. Sharing the information with friends online via social media also helps. This year every dollar donated up to $10,000 will be matched by Chevron Corporation, so the money goes even further.

The toy program was started 20 years ago when Richmond Firefighter Rod Woods parked his vehicle in a low income neighborhood and distributed toys to the local children during the holidays. A police officer saw that he needed help and assisted him in the distribution. Since then it has grown to serve thousands of needy people each year.

Contact Information: 
Richmond-El Cerrito Food and Toy Program 
Contact: Michelle Milam  (510) 837-9257 
www.toyprogram.org

 

Who: Richmond, El Cerrito Firefighters and Police

What: Toy and Food Program

When: Need online donations

 

Mission

The Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program exists to collect and distribute new, unwrapped toys to economically disadvantaged children in the western Contra Costa County area during the holiday season.

As professional firefighters, we see the ravages brought on by the loss of both homes and property. Our non-profit organization strives to brighten the lives of needy children in Richmond, San Pablo and the surrounding communities, particularly during the holidays. Both monetary donations and donations of new, unwrapped toys are accepted throughout the calendar year. With generous donations from both local corporations and individuals, the Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program distributes toys to children ages 12 and under residing in western Contra Costa County. Also, in conjunction with staff from the Richmond Police Department, the Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program distributes food baskets so that families can enjoy a holiday dinner.

The primary objective of the Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program is to assist underprivileged children and their families in western Contra Costa County during the holidays.

Posted on Friday, December 13th, 2013
Under: Cities, community, Contra Costa County, Crime, El Cerrito, Richmond, Schools | No Comments »

5-year anniversary celebration for RYSE Youth Center

 

PRESS RELEASE:

RYSE YOUTH CENTER CELEBRATES FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY & Hosts 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland Community Event

What: RYSE Center 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland and FiveYear Anniversary Community Event

Where: RYSE CENTER, 205 41st  Street (at Macdonald Avenue), Richmond, CA

When: Saturday, December 14, 2013, 12 noon – 4 p.m.

RICHMOND, Calif… The RYSE Youth Center will be celebrating five years of youth empowerment and community service by hosting its 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland Community Event.

RYSE’s Winter Wonderland, a free community event, will include a toy giveaway for newborns and kids up to 12 years old, music, arts and crafts activities, tree decorating and more! The purpose of this event is to bring communities together, support youth and their families in celebrating the holiday season, and honor RYSE’s fiveyear anniversary and commitment to serving young people in the community.

The Center opened its doors to the community on October 18, 2008 after a string of youthrelated homicides near Richmond High School in 2000 mobilized students to take action to address the violence and lack of safety at school and in the community. Students organized vigils and community forums with more than 1,500 youth and community members, and met and worked with local officials and stakeholders on a comprehensive assessment of youthidentified priorities and solutions.

RYSE Youth Center

Grounded in social justice, RYSE builds youth power for young people ages 1321 living in Richmond and West Contra Costa County to love, learn, educate, heal and transform lives and communities.

Since 2008, more than 3,000 young people have participated in programs and activities. For more information go to www.rysecenter.org.

###

Posted on Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Under: Art and entertainment, Cities, community, Contra Costa County, Crime, development, History, Politics, Richmond, Schools | No Comments »

Arbor Day tree planting event open to all set for Sunday in Richmond

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Arbor Day, October 19, 2013: Greening Our Community

 

Richmond, CA (October, 2013) Something exciting is happening in Richmond. The citizens are coming together to enrich the urban forest and make the city a better place.

 

Tree-planting at an Arbor Day event is an annual occurrence in Richmond, a “Tree City.” The City of Richmond has been renovating Lucas Park, and this year’s Arbor Day tree-planting will occur there. Groundwork Richmond and the Watershed Project are providing the trees and workers to get them in the ground. Richmond Rotary is sponsoring the event. Richmond Trees is supporting the effort and there will also be volunteers from the Explorers and Pogo Park.

 

Arbor Day at Lucas Park

10th St and Lucas Ave

Richmond, CA

 

8:00 am Check-in/Registration & Breakfast

8:30 am Tree planting workshop with ISA-certified Arborist, Molly Batchelder

9:00 am Tree Planting begins

12:00 pm Lunch (for volunteers) & Speakers

All morning family activities

 

Volunteers will arrive for registration and breakfast from 8:00 to 8:30 am. At 8:30 there will be an orientation and demonstration of how to plant the trees. Then the groups will disperse and plant 35 trees (Redwoods, Cork Oaks, Liquidambars and Crape Myrtles) inside the park. Bay Area Rescue Mission is providing lunch for the volunteers.

 

The event is open to the community. There will be a bouncer, music, refreshments and activities for children. At around 12:00, Chris Chamberlain, City of Richmond’s Parks and Landscape Superintendent, will speak to the volunteers and guests.

 

As evident by the collaboration required to create this event, several groups are interested in planting trees in Richmond, and the reasons are clear. The benefits of a thriving urban canopy include:

  • Removing carbon dioxide from the air and replacing it with oxygen, slowing global warming
  • Reducing air pollution by absorbing harmful chemicals
  • Replenishing our groundwater supply by reducing storm-water runoff and allowing water to soak into the surrounding soil
  • Providing an urban habitat for wildlife
  • Softening neighborhood noise
  • Reducing speeding traffic
  • Improving public safety
  • Increasing property values by 15% or more

 

More trees are sorely needed in Richmond, a city with plenty of challenges. However, these events are about much more than just planting trees. They are about building community as people come together to do something positive for the city.

For more information about Arbor Day or planting trees in your own Richmond neighborhood, contact Chris Chamberlain, City of Richmond’s Parks & Landscape Superintendent at 510-231-3004 or visit  http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/

Posted on Friday, October 18th, 2013
Under: Cities, Contra Costa County, History, Politics, Richmond | No Comments »

Leaders intervene to save North Richmond senior center

N E W S  RELEASE from office of John Gioia:

Contra Costa County
JOHN GIOIA (joy-a)
District One
Board of Supervisors

For more information contact:
Luz Gomez – Deputy Chief of Staff
Office 510-231-8689
Cell 925-785-2439

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2013

North Richmond Senior Center Saved from Closure

North Richmond, Calif.,
North Richmond seniors can now breathe a sigh of relief.  For months, residents in this tight-knit community feared that a pending foreclosure would shut-down their beloved senior center. Now, thanks to efforts by Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia and key community leaders, the North Richmond Multicultural and Family Center (aka the Senior Center) will remain open after a last-minute short-sale averted foreclosure.

The transaction, which closed on October 15, ensures the continuation of services and transfers ownership of the building to the non-profit Community Housing Development Corporation (CHDC). Earlier this month, Supervisor Gioia obtained approval by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to use $156,830 in Park Dedication funds to enable CHDC to purchase the building and save the senior center.  Lloyd Madden, Neighborhood House President and CEO, negotiated the short sale price on behalf of their new Board of Directors.

Neighborhood House of North Richmond (“Neighborhood House”) has operated the senior center for nearly 30 years providing residents a safe place to gather for social, recreational, family, and civic events. The center is the hub and heart of the community.

In recent years, Neighborhood House experienced a severe financial crisis leading the building’s mortgage holder to begin foreclosure proceedings due to missed payments. “We came together and brought resources to the table to keep this important community center open” Supervisor Gioia said.

The Park Dedication funds can be used to meet local park and recreation needs, including senior and community centers. According to the County Assessor’s records, the current assessed value of the property is in excess of $325,000.

Through the efforts of Supervisor John Gioia’s Office, Congressman George Miller’s Office, Community Housing Development Corporation, and Neighborhood House of North Richmond, the current mortgage holder agreed to the short sale enabling the transaction. A plan is in place for continued services to seniors and other residents of North Richmond.

“Losing the senior center would have been like losing a beloved family member,” said Corrine Sain, the Center’s Director for the past 29 years. “The entire community depends on us to be here to serve them. I thank Supervisor Gioia, the County, and everyone who helped us to stay open.”

###

Posted on Friday, October 18th, 2013
Under: Cities, Contra Costa County, History, Politics, Richmond | No Comments »

Free North Richmond Green festival set for Saturday

PRESS RELEASE:

You are invited to attend the “4th Annual North Richmond Green Festival,” which will take place this Saturday, October 19, 2013 from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the Shields Reid Park and Community Center located on 1410 Kelsey Street in Richmond, California. This will be a free, family friendly, outdoor event, to celebrate efforts that are being made to improve the environment and the health of the community.

 

The festival will follow a beautification project where volunteers will plant flowers in target locations at the Shields Reid Community Center and at the North Richmond Missionary Baptist Church.

Once the festival begins at 10:00am, the highlights of this community event will include giveaways such as free food, free blueberry bushes, pomegranate trees, olive trees, t-shirts, and reusable water bottles, along with live entertainment, arts and crafts, wild animal tours, jumpers, informational booths and more…

 

Click here for flyer: 2013-GreenFestival-Flyer-N To register as a volunteer, or for more information, please contact, Carla Orozco, at 510-776-7568, or at carlaorozco@live.com.

 

Please come join us for a healthy day filled with family fun and community enjoyment!!

 

Posted on Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Under: Art and entertainment, Cities, Contra Costa County, History, Richmond | No Comments »

Chevron launches major new round of Fuel Your School funding

PRESS RELEASE:

Chevron’s Fuel Your School Program Launch in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

In-person classroom delivery to kick off $1 million local public school funding

With intense budget cuts and an ever-growing list of needed supplies for teachers, Chevron has created an innovative approach to help local public classrooms through its Fuel Your Schoolprogram. Chevron is collaborating with DonorsChoose.org, an online organization that organizes funding for schools across the country, to supply Alameda and Contra Costa counties with materials – ranging from pencils to live spiders – to help make activities come alive for students this year.

 

On Wednesday, Chevron and DonorsChoose.org teams will deliver puzzles, counting trays, shopping simulation supplies and various math and science manipulatives to kindergarten students at Ford Elementary School in Richmond. 

       What: Classroom delivery of needed materials funded through Fuel Your School

·         When: Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 9:15 a.m.

·         Where: Ford Elementary School [2711 Maricopa Ave., Richmond, CA 94804]

   How Fuel Your School Works: Beginning in September, teachers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties submitted projects/materials that need funding at DonorsChoose.org. In the month of October 2013, Chevron will donate $1, up to $1 million, when consumers purchase eight or more gallons of fuel at participating local Chevron and Texaco stations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties to help fund the eligible classroom projects. You can even track the progress of funded projects in participating counties at www.fuelyourschool.com

 

Now follow us on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube

 

Posted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
Under: Cities, Contra Costa County, Politics, Richmond, Schools | No Comments »

Men and Women of Purpose hold open house to raise AB109 re-entry funds

The Men and Women of Purpose, headed by Antwon Cloird and dedicated to providing mental health, job training, substance abuse and other services to parolees in Richmond, are holding a star-studded open house event on Oct. 2.

MWP is a key player in the city dealing with previously incarcerated residents coming home thanks to AB109 prison reduction policies.

For full information about the event click here: MWP Electronic Invitation (1)

Posted on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Under: Cities, Contra Costa County, Crime, Politics, Richmond | No Comments »

Fair housing groups ask courts to squelch investor lawsuit against Richmond

For Immediate Release                                                                                             Contact: See Below      

Monday, Sept 9, 2013                                                                                             

 

Fair Housing Groups Ask Court to Deny Banks’ Effort to

Stop Richmond’s Mortgage Rescue Plan

Industry threats constitute illegal, discriminatory lending practice, and would lead to redlining in Richmond

 

A coalition of fair housing and civil right groups filed an amicus brief in federal court today, supporting the City of Richmond’s opposition to a motion for preliminary injunction filed by trustees Wells Fargo Bank and Deutsche Bank. The trustees (Wells and Deutsche Bank) seek to block the City’s plan to help homeowners by restructuring underwater mortgages.

 

The brief, filed by the law firm Relman, Dane, & Colfax PLLC, on behalf of the National Housing Law Project, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, Bay Area Legal Aid, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, and the California Reinvestment Coalition, argues that the actions the securitization industry has threatened to take to block the program, known as Richmond CARES, would amount to illegal redlining and would violate federal and state fair housing and fair lending laws, including the federal Fair Housing Act.

 

Richmond is 40% Hispanic and 25% African-American, and the fair housing and civil rights groups argue that the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association’s (SIFMA) plan would therefore have a disparate impact on minority borrowers.

 

Kevin Stein, Associate Director at the California Reinvestment Coalition, explained: “Banks continue to fail at keeping Richmond families in their homes, without any real consequences from their regulators.  Instead of fighting the city and threatening to redline Richmond, the banks should refocus their efforts on helping homeowners, especially since more than half (51%) of them are underwater in Richmond.” 

 

Last summer, the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) announced that in response to Richmond’s plan to help homeowners, SIFMA would block any future mortgages made in Richmond from being accepted in the most desirable part of the secondary market for mortgage-backed securities (MBS).  By restricting access, the cost of credit would likely rise dramatically for Richmond borrowers.

 

Marcia Rosen, Executive Director of the National Housing Law Project, explained: “The Banks’ attempt to prevent Richmond from responding to its foreclosure crisis is especially egregious given their role in the predatory lending underlying the crisis.   And the assertion that the injunction is necessary to protect the public interest from their own threatened redlining of the city must be seen for what it is — discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act that would further harm this beleaguered city and its residents.”

 

“What the securitization industry says it will do to the people of Richmond if it loses in the city council and the federal courthouse is racially discriminatory redlining, and it is illegal under federal and state law.  We fully expect that if the industry ever tries to go forward with its redlining plan, a court will step in and stop it,” said Glenn Schlactus of Relman, Dane & Colfax, a civil rights law firm based in Washington, D.C.

 

Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director at Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, explained, “The mortgage servicing industry has lost money for investors for years by failing to work with homeowners on foreclosure avoidance options, particularly principal reduction.  The industry knows that principal reduction is the wise financial choice for investors and homeowners alike.  But now, disingenuously, the industry claims that a plan with principal reduction will hurt investors.  The fact is, the eminent domain proposal is likely to save investors money over the years to come, as well as maintaining communities and saving the city from tremendous losses.”

 

Hearing: A hearing on the trustees’ motion for a preliminary injunction and the City of Richmond’s motion to dismiss the case will be held on September 12, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, presiding.

 

San Francisco Resolution supporting Richmond introduced: A resolution supporting the City of Richmond’s program was introduced today by San Francisco County Supervisor David Campos, recognizing the damage done to local communities by the foreclosure crisis, and supporting Richmond’s efforts to confront the problem head on.

 

Additional background:

The City of Richmond’s local principal reduction program Richmond CARES, launched with a vote by City Council in April, will acquire certain underwater mortgages, through regular purchase or eminent domain if necessary, in order to restructure the troubled mortgages and help the homeowners modify or refinance, getting them mortgages with reduced principal in-line with current home values.  Community, labor and faith groupssupporting the program say it will allow the City to preserve wealth in local hands, especially in communities of color and low-income communities that have been decimated by the foreclosure crisis and see no end in sight. In Richmond, 51% of all residential mortgage holders are still underwater.

 

In August, more than 50 fair housing, labor and community groups sent a letter to Congress, declaring that federal agencies should respect the right of cities like to pursue local principal reduction programs without facing redlining or illegal discrimination by the big banks or federal agencies.     

 

###

Posted on Monday, September 9th, 2013
Under: business, Cities, Contra Costa County, History, Richmond | No Comments »

San Francisco supervisor proposes support for Richmond eminent domain plan

PRESS RELEASE:

Media Alert:  EVENT Monday, September 9, 2013

For More Information: 

John Eller, ACCE   415-725-9869(cell) jeller@calorganize.org

Hillary Ronen Legislative Aide to Supervisor David Campos   415-425-9785 Hillary.ronen@sfgov.org

Nick Sifuentes, 310-866-1692nick@berlinrosen.com

San Francisco Supervisor Campos Announces Support for Program to Buy Mortgages, Fix Underwater Crisis
Will introduce resolution supporting Richmond’s Local Principal Reduction plan and have San Francisco investigate use of eminent domain to save underwater borrowers

 

San Francisco:  On Monday, September 9, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. (Pacific) San Francisco Supervisor David Campos will announce his intention to introduce a resolution before the County Board of Supervisors expressing support for the City of Richmond’s innovative effort to save hundreds of underwater borrowers (Richmond CARES), and instructing staff to explore opportunities in San Francisco to adopt a similar program.

 

“For the last few years, we have seen Wall Street Banks challenge every effort to rebuild our hardest hit communities from the foreclosure and economic crisis,” stated Supervisor Campos “today we need to show solidarity with bold leaders of Richmond in their effort to break the status quo as defined by Wall Street and rebuild their communities.”

 

WHAT:                        Press Conference to announce a City Resolution that would:

1.     Have San Francisco stand with the Mayor and City Councilmembers of Richmond to use similar lawful methods at their disposal as they work to save homes and save neighborhoods; 

2.     Calls on Wells Fargo – whose home is in San Francisco, SIFMA, and FHFA to stop threatening communities with reprisals and litigation and instead work with them to negotiate principal reduction for underwater mortgages as a way to strengthen local economies and help keep families in their homes; and

3.     Explore how a Local Principal Reduction program similar to the one being implemented by the City of Richmond could work here in San Francisco.

 

WHERE:            East Steps of San Francisco City Hall (Polk Street)

 

WHEN:                        Monday, September 9, 2013 10:00 a.m.

 

WHO:                         City supervisors and leaders from labor, faith, and community; underwater San

Francisco borrowers that received principle reduction and San Francisco borrowers who want the same opportunity.

 

On July 30, 2013, the City of Richmond became the first municipality in the nation to step boldly in where the federal government and the banks have failed, offering to purchase more than  600 city mortgages from major Wall Street banks and other servicers to achieve local principle reduction for distressed homeowners. Richmond has been hard-hit by the ongoing foreclosure crisis; as of 2013, 46% of all residential mortgage holders in the city are still underwater.

 

Wrongful foreclosures have caused a catastrophic loss of wealth.  Often targeted by predatory lending, communities of color have been particularly hard-hit with African Americans losing 53% of their median wealth from 2005 to 2009 and Latinos 66%. 

 

The Richmond program is an innovative program that enables cities to preserve wealth in local hands, especially in communities of color and low-income communities, which have been decimated by the foreclosure crisis and see no end in sight.

 

After an unprecedented push by local residents in Richmond to find ways to help struggling homeowners, the Richmond City Council approved the plan in April and sent letters to the banks in late July to offer to purchase underwater mortgages and, if needed, use the city’s eminent domain authority if necessary help struggling homeowners restructure their loans to be in line with the current value of their homes.  The City of Richmond  is working in partnership with Mortgage Resolution Partners, an advisory firm that has lined up the funding and technical support needed to carry out this program.

 

“Residents here in Richmond have been suffering for years thanks to the housing crisis Wall Street created and which Wall Street refuses to fix,” said Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. “We’ve seen too many houses go dark, too many lawns dry up and die, too many families left with nothing after years of hard work. When my constituents started showing up, calling on us to help them save our homes, I knew that this was the right thing for the Mayor and City Council to do.”

 

Though the City of Richmond is leading the way nationwide on local principle reduction, other California cities such as El Monte and La Puente are advancing this as well. 

 

Supervisor Campos is District 9 Supervisor for the Mission and Bernal Heights Neighborhoods of San Francisco, two neighborhoods impacted by the Foreclosure Crisis.  Occupy Bernal was formed last year and has already saved dozens of homeowners from foreclosure through principal reduction by banks and servicers.  Occupy Bernal has proven that servicers and borrowers can work together to achieve what Richmond is proposing and Banks like Wells Fargo is opposing.

 

The Home Defenders League is a national organization fighting against foreclosures, and for a just resolution to the mortgage crisis including the mass principal reduction for underwater homeowners. The League includes 26 community-based affiliates such as the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), national organizing networks the Alliance for a Just Society and Right to the City Alliance, Occupy Homes groups, and thousands of member families across the country. In a few short months, a coalition of more than 50 groups, including some of the nation’s largest labor unions and leading fair housing groups, issued an open letter asking members of Congress to rebuff repeated efforts to unfairly bar local municipalities that enact local principle reduction from receiving federally backed home mortgage loans. For more information, please visit:  www.saverichmondhomes.org

Posted on Friday, September 6th, 2013
Under: business, Cities, Contra Costa County, Politics, Richmond | 2 Comments »