NVP’S current work is focusing on the growing need for Valley communities to create communities for a lifetime for all residents, including the increasing number of Valley immigrant Limited English Proficient (LEP) residents, and the disabled to enable residents to age in place.
The projected increase in the number of 65+ residents in the Greater Waterbury area between 2010-2025 is dramatic (from those 65+ being 13.4% of the population in 2010 to 19.5% in 2025). The Valley’s already significantly increased LEP immigrant elderly population is expected to grow much more rapidly than its native-born counterpart. According to the Administration on Aging, between 2008 and 2030, the white population 65+ is projected to increase by 64% compared with 172% for older minorities, including 224% for Hispanics.
Equally dramatic is the anticipated gap between those who need care to remain in their homes and those who will provide care, whether as family members, or more likely as paid homecare aides.
Within the state, the larger demographic trends and the need to address them have been recognized by the Commission on Aging, philanthropic and social service agencies, and especially by the Governor’s office and the Department of Social Services.
NVP is currently meeting with owners and managers of home care agencies to foster greater use of homecare services by immigrant families, who might otherwise rely on family caregivers. With the significant downturn in the economy this is more difficult and we see home care as a more prudent first choice for families than moving their loved ones into nursing homes.
In our meetings with agency leaders we seek to understand how they view this potential market and their efforts to reach out to them. We are interested in comparing notes on what we are learning about what immigrant families need from home care agencies for a successful client/provider relationship.
NVP’s Housing committee was formed after leaders noticed the same houses being sold over and over again after foreclosures. It took time and coaxing for the victims of the predatory real estate and mortgage companies to tell their story, but a pattern of unethical business practice began to emerge, as members were encouraged by their pastors and friends to speak up. It is a real estate system that feeds on those who face the greatest challenges in finding safe and affordable housing. Often when families were looking for a rental unit they were convinced by realtors that they “qualified” for a home mortgage. They were told, “Why rent, when you can buy”, we will help you with the down payment”. Faced with mountains of paperwork in English, and assurances that "we'll fill in the blanks later", they are lured into predatory mortgages on substandard properties. When the homes crumble around them, so do their hope and their credit. In our investigations, we found that some of the victims had perfectly good credit and could have applied for standard mortgages, but were steered away from local banks and reputable mortgage companies and put into less reputable companies. It's a neat “sub-prime” lending system - one that the Connecticut State Attorney General plans to shut down. Last November, NVP presented 45 cases to the State Attorney General, the Consumer Fraud Division and Banking Commissioners of the State of Connecticut, who filed a civil suit.
Brookside cooperatives were created in 1991 to address the issue of permanently affordable housing for low to moderate income individuals and families. Each member owns a limited equity share in the cooperative. This share can be used towards a down payment on a home when the member moves out of the co-op. (see full story)
The Medical Interpretation and Translation Project is the work of volunteers like Aide Lorduy, who extend themselves for the benefit of their community but have no medical background in the terminology needed to diagnose the illness. Through their efforts, a "hot line" was set up at a local social service agency to receive calls on voicemail, which are returned by bi-lingual volunteers on their coffee breaks and lunch hours. Volunteers help Spanish-speaking families find social service assistance, translators to go to medical and tax appointments, and a friendly voice in a familiar language. It soon became clear, however, that these volunteers needed training, particularly in medical translation, and that "after hours" services would soon need to be upgraded to business hours. The Naugatuck Valley Project is currently exploring ways to create a system of translation services; in hospitals, but doctors' offices, and other providers' sites. No one should have to hop off one labor table to help someone on another. We are asking Nationwide to help us pay for staff time to organize leaders to meet with health care providers and administrators in the Valley. Building on the successes of The Multicultural Association for Medical Interpreters (MAMI) in Utica New York, we hope to create a system that will make medical care accessible and comprehensible to Spanish-speaking community members. Someday, we hope that interpretation/translation services might become a career opportunity for bilingual workers.
Our Valley has 167 brownfield sites and in 1997 the creation of the Brownfields Pilot was formed to assist the assessment and remediation of a number of these sites. NVP is now taking this to a higher level. We are organizing to win commitments from both private developers and public sector agencies overseeing brownfield redevelopment for two agenda items. The first is to focus on the redevelopment of one or two major sites that will lead to a significant creation of jobs and other public amenities in the Valley. The second is to institutionalize professional training of Valley workers in a local educational facility in remediation so as to employ the local workforce and teach a new marketable skill. As well as keeping the jobs in the cities where transportation is accessible, we can prevent the destruction of green space in the suburbs and cut down the growing traffic jams on the highways.
NVP believes that if we spend time developing leaders in our youth now and cross fertilize city and suburban youth in a fun and educational setting, that we will break down cultural and mythical barriers in our adults of the future. We believe that this is accountable development when we merge human resources in our institutions to form relationships, discuss their fears and hopes for the future, and forge ahead to bring those human experiences into their future lives. This type of education usually dispels the myth that inner city youth are hoodlums and non-productive people and suburban youths don’t care about those same things. These types of experiences will lead to broader minds and outlooks on immigrants and people whose skin are different colors. The youth always seem to be amazed that they all have so much in common and that their differences are an asset not a liability. The teachers, recruited from private suburban institutions, are proudly gratified in their teaching experiences, feeling strongly that they have made a difference. Last year we educated 30 Valley youth leaders from Asian, Latino/Hispanic, Indian, and European backgrounds in leadership skills such as public speaking, problem solving, and trust exercises. We then took the youth on a field trip to a local amusement park to socialize them as well. This year we plan to double that experience for the youth of the Valley.
Our Congregational Leadership Development Project focuses on strengthening Catholic parishes in the Valley. Through this project, we work with the pastors and existing leadership to recruit and train new leaders and move them into effective action to address identified needs and concerns.