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Rep. Larson Delivers Funding for Sexual Violence Victims, Stalking


HARTFORD —  State Rep. John B. Larson on Thursday announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has awarded over $1 million in federal grants to address domestic violence and provide legal assistance to victims of abuse and stalking in Connecticut.

These awards strengthen services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and provide funding for civil and criminal legal assistance programs at minimum or no cost for adult and youth victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, officials said.

“These services are critical to helping the victims of domestic abuse and stopping violence against women. During this pandemic, there has been an increase in reports of domestic violence and abuse,” said Larson. “This funding is needed for our service providers to meet the demand in services for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. This federal investment will support critical services that protect woman and children during these challenging times. I commend the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence for successfully competing for these grants and for the essential services they continue to provide for our communities.”

“The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence is very grateful to Congressman Larson and the state’s federal delegation for their ongoing leadership around our work to increase safety options for survivors of domestic violence. The past several months in particular have been incredibly challenging with an average 30 percent increase in outreach to CT Safe Connect, our statewide information and referral hub for victims of domestic violence, which links them to a localized domestic violence organization. Domestic violence shelters are at capacity with a near 20 percent overflow being housed in hotels as a mechanism to keep families safe. With the approval of these funds, our opportunity to offer continued victim-centered responses is certainly strengthened and we are appreciative” said Karen Jarmoc, President and CEO of Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence

“The funding provides critical services and support to survivors of sexual violence to The Alliance and our nine community-based sexual assault crisis services programs across the state. Now more than ever we need to ensure that these services are available for anyone impacted by sexual violence and these funds are integral to that goal,” said Beth Hamilton, executive director of the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, based in East Hartford.

  • Connecticut Alliance To End Sexual Violence, Inc will be receiving $800,000 to provide legal assistance programs for adult and youth victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking and $ 152,345 to strengthen services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
  • Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence will be receiving $91,274 to strengthen services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

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Veteran Affairs Will Hold ‘Stand Down 2020’ Event to Support Veterans


ROCKY HILL — The Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs will hold its annual Veterans Stand Down this month.

Stand Down has been a signature outreach event to support Veterans for nearly three decades. And this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have adapted with an event that combines online benefits presentations and for the first time, regional resource access sites. 

Stand Down 2020 will be a two day event.  Day one on Thursday, Sept. 24 will begin with a kickoff ceremony at 9:00 a.m.

at the Rocky Hill Campus broadcast via social media.  Following the ceremony will be a day of virtual informational sessions, including information on a variety of federal and state agencies and community service providers on topics, including housing and homeless services, state labor/employment and vocational resources, veteran caregiver support, legal assistance, education resources and more.

On day two, Friday, Sept. 25, there will be four locations throughout Connecticut, Bridgeport, Danbury, Norwich and Rocky Hill.  These locations will be staffed by representatives of the regional Vet Centers, CT Bar Association and the DVA to provide benefits information, pro-bono legal services and free COVID-19 testing and flu shots by medical professionals. 

During this day, COVID mitigation protocols will be strictly enforced and only a certain number of individuals will be allowed to enter at certain scheduled times, so registration is necessary.

Attached is the Stand Down 2020 poster and schedule of events which I hope you will circulate broadly.

For additional information and to register for Stand Down 2020 please visit: https://portal.ct.gov/DVA/Pages/Veterans-Stand-Down.

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Unemployment Rate Extremely High in Connecticut


By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the State of Connecticut has submitted its application for federal funding to establish a temporary program that will provide a $300 weekly wage supplement to existing unemployment benefits in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration has been authorized to use up to $44 billion in Stafford Act disaster relief funds to assist workers who have lost their income due to the pandemic.

The program requires states to establish an entirely new process for claimants to access the FEMA funding.

New unemployment claimants and existing state and extended benefits claimants will be required to self-certify that they are eligible under the federal guidelines. Existing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants have already self-certified.

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     Photo Credit: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Lamont said that these funds are important, especially for people who are financially unstable.

“This will bring some much-needed assistance to Connecticut workers who have lost jobs due to the coronavirus,” Lamont said.

According to Lamont, the program will add $300 to a claimant’s existing weekly benefit for as long as federal funds are available and help fill the hole left when the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program expired on July 26.

Lamont urged the Trump Administration to come to terms in regards to people who were unemployed during the pandemic.

“It’s imperative that the Trump administration reach an agreement with Congress on comprehensive legislation that provides stable and long-term funding to supplement weekly unemployment benefits,” Lamont said.

It has been available for claim since August 2 and August 9, with additional weeks under review.

If the state’s application is approved by the federal government, FEMA will transfer the funding to the Connecticut Department of Labor, which will then be disbursed to eligible claimants.

Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said that this new program will provide much-needed support to those affected.

“This program will certainly provide some level of assistance to Connecticut’s weekly filers who, without the federal supplement, receive an average of $269 per week,” Westby said. “The Connecticut Department of Labor continues to work closely with the U.S. Department of Labor to get this additional funding out to claimants as soon as possible.

The agency anticipates disbursement in mid-September and expects about 250,000 claimants to be eligible for the federal benefit.

  

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Gov. Ned Lamont Doubles Funding for Rental Assistance


By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont recently announced that he is doubling funding for the rental assistance program for Connecticut residents impacted by COVID-19 from $10 million to $20 million.

The program, which is funded by the Coronavirus Relief Fund that is managed by the Office of Policy and Management, provides payments to landlords on behalf of approved tenant applicants.

The program is administered by the Connecticut Department of Housing in partnership with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) and 11 housing counseling agencies across the state.

The additional $10 million brings the total amount of state funding for renters, homeowners, and residential landlords impacted by COVID-19 to $43.3 million.

Lamont said that homeowners are a major priority as the state is battling the novel Coronavirus.

“Supporting renters and landlords during this public health crisis is critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19,” Lamont said. “I’m trying to get people back to work and children back to school, and having a home you can call your own is a critical foundation for making that happen.”

In addition to the $20 million rental assistance program, the funding provides mortgage relief to homeowners. It also supports renters who were facing eviction before the pandemic.

The funding also helps to rehouse people exiting homelessness or incarceration and supports renters excluded from federal assistance because of their immigration status.

Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said that homeowners should get the support they so deserve during these pressing times.

“This increase reflects Governor Lamont’s commitment to help those families that have been affected by the pandemic and are in need of financial assistance to pay their rents,” Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said. “I am thrilled with the partnership we have forged with the Wells Fargo Foundation to provide financial assistance to the housing counseling agencies.”

Eileen Fitzgerald, head of housing affordability philanthropy for Wells Fargo, said that residents are dealing with stress and anxiety during COVID-19.

“During this unprecedented time, far too many people are struggling financially and facing housing instability in Connecticut,” Fitzgerald said. “This grant for the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority will expand access to relief programs by engaging local housing counseling agencies to work toward keeping more Connecticut residents housed who are facing financial challenges as a result of COVID-19.”

Connecticut’s largest cities also received $10 million under the CARES Act Emergency Solution Grants program to prevent homelessness.

Lamont, with connection to the extra funding, announced that he will soon sign an executive order for the residential eviction moratorium protecting tenants who were currently on their rent at the beginning of the pandemic that will extend to Oct. 1.

The extension will bring this important measure to protect public health in line with neighboring states.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently extended protections for tenants in homes with mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Authority through the end of the year.

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Hartford Common Council to Discuss Residency Requirement


HARTFORD — The Hartford Court of Common Council will hold a virtual meeting on Sept. 2 to discuss–among other things–residency requirement.

The meeting will be streamed and broadcasted through Hartford Public Access Television at www.hpatv.org or channel 96 for Comcast/Xfinity customers.

Items to be discussed during this meeting include an ordinance change submitted by Mayor Luke Bronin, which would update/amend the residency requirements for employees, an ordinance change submitted by Councilman Joshua Michtom.

Another significant agenda item is Bronin’s proposal to strengthen the Civilian Police Review Board.

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Hartford’s Census Rate Dismally Low, Officials Say


HARTFORD — The numbers are in.

Hartford has a dismal record for filling out the census. Consequently, it is the lowest response rate in the nation.

That’s according to U.S. Census officials on Wednesday. That’s why Hartford Public Library will be hosting events to help get city residents to fill out the U.S. Census.

The Library is offering two great incentives — free books and ice cream. The special census events will be at all of its locations from now until Sept. 30 census deadline.

Volunteers will assist with forms and voter registration.

“Voting and completing the census are two of the most fundamental – and easy – things a citizen can do to help their communities. It is our goal at HPL to encourage as many people as we can to participate in the civic process,” HPL’s President/CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said in a statement Monday morning.

Connecticut has a 66. 7 percent response rate, compared to the national average of average of 62.9 percent. As of August, Hartford has a 44.6 percent response rate, the lowest rate of any city in the country.

There are seven Hartford Public Library census events between now and the end of September:

  • August 25 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Barbour Library, Unity Plaza, 261 Barbour St.
  • Sept. 8 and 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Camp Field Library, 30 Camp Field Ave.
  • Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Artbox Lot, 769 Park St. across the street from the Park branch library.
  • Sept. 17 at Dwight Library, 7 New Park Ave., time to be determined.
  • Sept. 18 from noon to 2 p.m. at the main downtown library, 500 Main St.
  • Sept. 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Park Library, 744 Park St.

For more details about the events, visit hplct.org.

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CABC, Inc to Offer Online Workshop on Diversity


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Alliance for Better Communities, Inc. will be offering fall Diversity and Inclusion workshop for government employees, business executives, educators and students interested in building coalition across race, ethnicity and religious creed.

The workshop will be offered online. Registration is $350 for the one-week course with requirements to elucidate comprehension about implicit bias and posttraumatic slave syndrome and how it convolute thought and behavior in adults on the job, in school and in romantic relationships. Course materials and a reading list will be available online.

Workshop will include definitions and articulations of race and racism with its component of xenophobia and ethno-phobia to achieve high levels of cultural competence. More important, the course will engage participants in the discussion of how these phobias hamper cross cultural communications, using anecdotes of lived experiences and how theory buffers praxis in the 21st century. Consequently, participants will enjoy the joy of peace and agape love so they can coexist on the job, in school and in romantic relationships.

The workshop will be taught by award-winning journalist and historian, Dr. Ann-Marie Adams. Adams has been a journalist in the tri-state area of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. She has traveled extensively to Africa, the Americas and the European. Read bio here.

For more information about registration, email socialimpact2.0@gmail.com.

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Gov. Lamont Awards Grant to Improve CT Transit Link


By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD – Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the Connecticut Department of Transportation has been awarded a $6.7 million federal grant to modernize the CTtransit bus facility in Stamford, similar to that of Hartford.

This grant will help to provide accommodations for battery electric buses, which will soon be used on the system.

Lamont said that there will be major improvements to the bus system with this grant, which came from the Federal Transit Administration’s Buses and Bus Facilities Program.

“Connecticut’s public transit system is long overdue for a modernization, and this grant will help in our transition to an electric bus fleet on the CTtransit system, which will provide both environmental and economic benefits to the region,” Lamont said.

The grant will also be used to upgrade the infrastructure at the CTtransit Stamford bus facility to handle battery electric buses. 

Electric buses are currently on order and were funded through Connecticut’s share of the 2018 Volkswagen emissions settlement, along with FTA funds (80 percent federal, 20 percent state). Twelve buses are being purchased for operation in the New Haven and Stamford service areas.

According to a press release, the Stamford facility improvements include upgrades to the building’s HVAC system, electrical upgrades to handle increased loads as well as upgrades to fire suppression systems and LED lighting upgrades. 

These improvements will retrofit the existing bus garage to accommodate the unique needs of the new electric buses.

Federal money for the Stamford facility modernization comes a few months after CTDOT received a $2 million FTA grant for a two-year program that will run autonomous buses on the Hartford-to-New Britain rapid transit bus line. 

Senator Richard Blumenthal said that there are various advantages to having good, efficient bus transportation systems.

“Clean green energy bus transportation reduces pollution and global warming,” Blumenthal said. “These federal funds will help spur much-needed upgrades and repairs for the existing fleet, and pay for new electric buses,” Blumenthal said

Blumenthal said that the state is approaching their original goal for general bus transportation.

“Benefiting our environment and the economy, Connecticut is one step closer to making eco-friendly the go-to public transportation option for all residents,” Blumenthal said.

Connecticut Transportation Commissioner, Joseph Giulietti  said that the department assured people that these new efficient buses will be an improvement.

“CTDOT is committed to incorporating electric buses into our fleet to significantly reduce emissions,” Giulietti said. “This grant represents great progress toward our electric bus future and helps to recognize the ongoing value of these continued investments in our public transportation system.”

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Insurance Industry Grapples With Diversity and Inclusion


HARTFORD — As the nation grapples with issues of race and inclusion, Connecticut Insurance Department Commissioner Andrew N. Mais has led discussions in several National Association of Insurance Commissioners forums on race, diversity, and inclusion within the insurance industry and in insurance practices.

“Inclusion means having everyone having a voice, and for as vital an industry as insurance, it means helping all members of our Connecticut family get access to the products that are relevant to them,” Mais said.

Commissioner Mais has also participated in efforts led by Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz to address social inequities in Connecticut, including the Council on Women and Girls and cultural competency initiatives.

Mais is also a member of the NAIC’s recently created Special Executive Committee on Race and Insurance. This special committee, created in July, is charged with conducting research and analyzing issues of diversity and inclusion within the insurance sector; engaging with a broad group of stakeholders on issues related to race, diversity, and inclusion in, and access to, the insurance sector and insurance products; examining and determining which current practices or barriers exist in the insurance sector that potentially disadvantage persons of color and other underrepresented groups; and making recommendations for action to the NAIC membership.

Further building upon his participation in panels and forums, Mais was the guest host of a special edition of the NAIC podcast “The Regulators” focused on race and insurance. Mais brought together regulators, industry, and consumer advocates to discuss diversity and equity in the insurance industry, an issue that the NAIC is addressing as part of its new race and insurance initiative.

In this special episodeMais discusses racial equity in the delivery and sale of insurance products, as well as racial diversity within the insurance industry. His guests included: California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara; New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride; Aflac Chief Executive Officer, Dan Amos; and Consumer Advocate and Chair of the Connecticut Insurance Department Subcommittee on Big Data, Sonja Larkin-Thorne.

“This podcast is just one of the many conversations that commissioners are having about how we can work together to identify and address biases,” said Mais. “Advancing issues related to racial equity requires talking openly about race and insurance practices, even if the conversations are difficult.”

During the NAIC National Summer Meeting, Mais moderated a panel discussion “Current Racially Based Challenges within the Insurance Sector,”which was part of a larger special session on Race and Insurance.

The panel of consumer advocates reviewed current industry practices that potentially disadvantage minorities, including use of big-data and algorithmic-based underwriting models (i.e., proxy discrimination), access to quality and affordable healthcare, and low levels of financial literacy and access to insurance/financial products. 

A recording of the Race and Insurance panel discussions is available online at: https://youtu.be/H6NwNJ0AmtE

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Sen. Chris Murphy Moves to Hartford, Answers Question About Permanent Residence


By Marie Stewart, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Sen. Christopher Murphy is moving to Hartford.

Sen. Murphy and his wife, Cathy Holahan, purchased a house at Charter Oak Place in Hartford for a comfy price of $355,000. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom Victorian-era house is 3,392 square-feet and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The contract was finalized in June.

Murphy grew up in Wethersfield and lived in Chesire for more than a decade. He attended Williams College in Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law. Afterward, he practiced real estate and banking law with the Hartford firm of Ruben, Johnson & Morgan.

Murphy put his Chesire home on the market in June 2019.

During the 2018 senatorial run, there was a question about where Murphy lived. His primary home was in Washington, D.C. and his children were attending school in DC.

However, Murphy claimed his parents summer house in Old Lyme as his home address while he ran for office in 2018. As the record stands, Murphy ran unopposed in the Democratic primary because someone fraudulently claimed a local journalist was a challenger. That was not the case. The journalist was a victim of media suppression; and her time was used to do so-called “social issues projects.”

Murphy’s team was allegedly the instigators who wanted to glean strategic information about the 2016 presidential election. The Washington Post reported that Murphy was contemplating a run for president in 2016.

Before Murphy was elected for the U.S. Senate in 2012, he served three terms in Connecticut’s Fifth Congreesional District for the U.S. House of Representatives.

He also served for eight years in the Connecticut General Assembly.

Currently, he is serving a second term as senator.

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