Hawaii DOT Settles Driver’s License Exam Lawsuit

Discrimination against foreign-born residents was alleged when translation of some exams was discontinued.

·By CHAD BLAIR

The Hawaii Department of Transportation and the nonprofit Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) said Friday that a lawsuit was settled regarding the translation of driver’s examinations for vehicle licenses.

United States District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway approved the settlement.

In 2013, FACE said it was concerned that speakers of Marshallese, Chuukese and Ilocano were being disenfranchised because exams were not available in those languages.

Faith Action for Community Equity

Marshallese and Chuukese

Marshallese and Chuukese making their case to the Maui DOT in April 2013.

Translations of the driver’s test began in 2001, but they were later suspended after new state laws led to changes in the test. The DOT did, however, provide translations into eight other languages including Japanese and Tagalog.

FACE filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the DOT discriminated against foreign-born residents of Hawaii “by not offering a translated exam for a period of more than five years after previously existing translations were removed from service when additional questions needed to be added to the exam,” according to a joint press release.

For its part, the DOT says it consistently disputed that there was “any discriminatory motive” involved in decision-making about the translated exams. In a statement, DOT Director Ford Fuchigami said his department is committed “to serving all of Hawaii’s residents regardless of who they are or where they are from.”

The DOT currently offers the examination in 13 languages, said to make Hawaii the only state under 2 million people to offer the exam in more than 10 languages, including Hawaiian.

FACE said it is pleased with the outcome of the case.

http://www.civilbeat.com/2015/05/hawaii-dot-settles-drivers-exam-lawsuit/

Caring Across Generations!

child_grandmaThursday, April 30
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in Davies Hall at St. Andrews Cathedral

Talk story with Ai-Jen Poo

Help us build Hawaii’s movement for care and caregiving! This event is a conversation about the challenge of caregiving in our state. National leader Ai-Jen Poo will read from her recent book The Age of Dignity, as well as lead a discussion about how our families are planning for aging and long term care.

Join the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1041074595920387/

Learn more about Caring Across Generations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3F8isOxNGM

AiJen Poo is the founder of the National Domestic Worker Alliance and the author of The Age of Dignity. She is the co-chair of the Caring Across Generations.

 

STOP PREDATORY PAYDAY LENDING — signed letter

As Faith and Community leaders in Hawaii, it is vital that we speak out against predatory lending practices hurting the

families in our congregations and communities. Payday loans, short term loans where our families are being charged more

than 450% APR, are spreading on our islands, trapping families in a cycle of debt.

As many of our faith traditions have taught us, this is usury and all major religious traditions share a deep opposition to usury.

In our ministries and communities, we see many households struggling financially. As we work together to empower families

and strengthen our economy, the last thing we need to do is saddle households with bottomless debt.

We believe that a limit of 36% APR on Payday Loans in Hawaii would be more fair, would parallel the national protections

already on the books for military families and would make it more likely for our local families to be able to pay these debts

without falling further and further behind.

View full letter with signatures below:

layout-letter-one-page-1

Hawaii Could Reign in usurious payday loans

Published in the Star Advertiser April 8, 2015

By Kim Harman

Hawaii law allows payday lenders to charge families 459 percent APR (annual percentage rate) on 14- to 32-day loans.

This high interest rate is the result of a loophole that was created in Hawaii law in 1999; prior to 1999, payday loans were not legal here.

Payday loans are small, short-term loans, often secured with a post-dated check that come due on your next “payday.”

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, payday lending is a $46 billion industry nationwide and is growing here, in large part due to Hawaii allowing such high interest rates.

Early this session, Senate Bill 737 was introduced to reduce the interest rate on payday loans from the current 459 percent to 36 percent. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already cap their payday in terest rates at 36 percent or have made them illegal altogether. The federal government has capped interest rates on payday loans at 36 percent since 2006 for all military and their families. The Department of Defense has found the cap to be so successful in protecting military families from the payday debt cycle that they are requesting authority from Congress to expand the cap to cover other types of high-interest loans, such as car title loans.

But in Hawaii, families are targeted by aggressive payday marketing, charged $86 every paycheck for interest on a $500 loan and trapped in a debt cycle that is very hard to escape. Even successful financial literacy programs run by veteran community organizations such as Catholic Charities and Hawaiian Community Assets struggle to find ways to get these families out of the cycle.

Borrowers have been at the state Capitol, telling their stories to legislators. Veronica, a young mother, was trapped in her payday loan for 11 months. Napua, whose son just joined the Army, told the House Consumer Protection Committee of being ashamed that she fell for the “easy money” promised by a payday storefront.

The Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection has testified in favor of the 36 percent cap at hearings this year. A broad coalition of clergy, advocates, environmentalists and more has called for an end to these usurious interest rates that take advantage of our most vulnerable families.

One legislator on the Finance Committee asked me a few weeks ago: “If we tell the stores and the gas stations that they cannot inflate the price of water and gasoline when a tsunami warning is declared, why is it OK for payday lenders to inflate the cost of credit when a family is in financial crisis?”

Many in Hawaii are in agreement that 400-plus percent interest rates are usury and should not be allowed. Catholic, Methodist and Episcopal bishops here and across the country have been particularly outspoken in support of a 36 percent cap on payday loan annual interest rates.

Supporters of the current interest rate argue that it is unfair to call their fees and charges “interest.” The Truth in Lending Act as well as the Federal Trade Commission require that payday lenders combine all these costs into an APR or annual percentage rate so that borrowers can compare the cost of credit from one storefront to another. In the U.S., we all must use APR for loans, no matter what an individual lender would prefer to call it.

Two weeks ago, President Barack Obama spoke out against predatory payday loan practices. The national Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is holding hearings and doing what it can to curb abusive payday practices, but the CFPB, like the U.S. military, was never authorized by Congress to cap interest rates for the general public.

Capping interest rates is the No. 1 reform that would help local families trapped in the payday debt cycle and must be governed by each state legislature.

Immigration Reform Update: FACE Hosts Mexican Consulate; Thanks Obama For Executive Action

The Hawaii Coalition for Immigration Reform thanked Obama for his Executive Action which has extended legal status to thousands of Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Tongan, and Latino Immigrants in our state. HCIR and FACE was featured in the Washington Post with its Mahalo sign waving right before Christmas. See article at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/12/24/hawaiians-cheer-president-obamas-immigration-actions/

FACE also assisted in the spin-off of a new group – the Aloha Dream Team which is made up of “Dreamers” young immigrants who have been working with us for about a year. They will be coming soon to your church to help people understand the DACA/DAPA opportunities! We will be their fiscal agent as they seek to raise funds for their work.

Chuukese Christian Ministry & FACE host the President of the Federated States of Micronesia

From left to right: FSM President Manny Mori. Rev. Elvis Killian Osonis, Deacon Mark, & Deacon Olery of Chuukese Christian Ministry, Kahului.

 

FACE Maui co-hosted the President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on Tuesday, December 9 at Kahului Union Church. The discussion ranged from the economic status of FSM, to funding education, the importance of translation of vital documents and FACE’s lawsuit against the Department of Transportation. A notary was available to help families with their I-94 and passport renewals. Mahalo to Maui County Immigration Services for assisting with this event.

 

The 12 Days of Christmas…With FACE 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas with FACE

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
A worker-owned homecare coop
On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
2 islands organizing for justice
On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
3 leaders at national training
On the 4th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
4 thousand people eligible for DAPA in Hawaii
On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
5 sign-wavings for minimum wage
On the 6th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
6 funders funding
On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
7 FACE staff a’singing
On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
8 FACE leaders meeting in DC
On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
9 Fabulous Board members
On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
10.10 an hour
On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
11 drivers tests translated
On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
12 months of faith-based organizing!

FACE Interfaith Service on Long Term Care — Transcript

IMG_8748

27 October 2014, 6-7:30 p.m.
St. Elizabeth Episcopal Church; Honolulu, Hawaii
By: Dr. Clementina D. Ceria-Ulep

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, honored guests:

My name is Clementina Ceria-Ulep, a parishioner of Our Lady
of the Mount (OLM) Catholic Church in Kalihi Valley, and laity vice-president
of Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) and an
associate professor and chair of the Department of Nursing at the
University of Hawaii School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene. It is an
honor and a privilege to be here with you this evening to talk about an
issue that is very dear to me and a concern to us all—long-term care.
Before I proceed, let me define the word “long term care.” Long-term
care is the umbrella term for the various supportive services used by
persons who need assistance to function in their daily lives. Long
term care services include nursing, home health, and personal care;
rehabilitation, adult day care, case management, social services,
assistive technology and living services. My interest on this issue
stems from my experiences while growing up and during my practice
as a nurse.

 

Long-term care is the umbrella term for the various supportive services used by
persons who need assistance to function in their daily lives.

 

My family was fortunate to immigrate to Hawaii from the
Philippines through the kindness of uncle Lawrence, a plantation
worker in the early 1900’s. In the Philippines, my family and I lived
first with my paternal and then later with my maternal grandparents.
My paternal grandfather then in his 90’s, helped my father in the farm
while the rest of my grandparents supervised the home–cooking,
cleaning, caring, and disciplining of the grandchildren. I remember
that our grandparents ruled their homes and were revered by their
children and grandchildren. To this day as my family and friends will
tell you, I am quite fanatic about keeping the house clean, a legacy
from my grandmothers.
Growing up, my first exposure to the issue of long-term care
was through my parish’s involvement in providing volunteer care for
the residents of Beverly Manor, a nursing home near Kalihi Valley
Homes. Once a week, our youth group–Junior Filipino Catholic Club,
visited and worked with the residents on arts and crafts projects. I
recall spending five years as a volunteer at Beverly Manor, where
loneliness seemed to be the order of the day. Over time, I got used
to the atmosphere. Then one day, I invited a high school friend to
accompany me on a visit to Beverly Manor. On our ride back home, 3
my friend cried all the way. She sobbed, “That’s so sad…I would
never put my grandparents or parents in a care home!” How many of
you, during your first visit to a nursing home, made the same
promise—not to put your parents in such a “horrible” place, but ended
up doing so because you simply could not help it?
While studying in Virginia, I befriended Helen who lived alone
and was in her early 90’s. She used to treat some students and I to a
musical play. One day, she broke one of her hips and became
dependent on others. Every day, I would visit and administer her
vitamin B injection. When she moved to a care home, she had to sell
all her prized possessions and used her lifetime savings to pay for
nursing home.

…she had to sell all her prized possessions and used her lifetime savings to pay for her nursing home.

 

— Continue Reading…

HCIR Media Event Thanks President Obama for Executive Action

On November 21, Hawaii Coalition for Immigrant Rights/Immigration Reform (HCIR) held a media event at Harris United Methodist Church. The purpose of the event was to thank President Obama for taking Executive Action which will extend temporary opportunities to an estimated 7,000 Hawai’i residents, in addition to 5 million residents in the wider United States.

Photography by Shaun Campbell
clarehanuszHCIR

 

Attorney Clare Hanusz explains who will be eligible to benefit from President Obama’s Executive Action.
JohnEgan
Attorney John Egan lists the various ways all of us will benefit from the Executive Action

 

leaders

FACE and HCIR leaders and community supporters gather before the altar of FACE unit Harris Church to give thanks for the civil rights extended to family members of US Citizens and Legal Residents.

Affordable housing summit draws hundreds to State Capitol

By Ben Gutierrez

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) –There’s been a lot of attention given to new condominium construction in areas like Kakaako, but how many people can actually afford some of those units? That was a question tackled by a summit on affordable housing at the State Capitol.”There’s a lot of discussion about the high-end housing we see going up in the urban core,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. ” and people are wondering, ‘Hey, what about housing for the rest of us?'”Many of those people showed up at Saturday’s summit organized by Faith Action for Community Equity, also known as FACE.

There was some discussion about the homeless, with one possible solution coming in the form of renovated container units, turned into housing.

“We need to take away the stigma of homeless housing away from the subject,” said Craig Chapman of Lanihuli Community Development Corporation, which has been building the container homes. “What we’re really trying to look at now is how can we get the working poor families get back into their community.”

But it’s not just the working poor or homeless. It includes the middle class as well, according to organizers.

“Your nurses, your firemen, your policemen, people you don’t necessarily consider ‘needy’ that actually struggle with affordable housing,” said James Fitzpatrick of Hawaii Health Connector and a community organizer with FACE.

Right now, 30 percent of new housing projects must be affordable for people making 140 percent of the area’s median income, or about $134,000 for a family of four. According to the Honolulu Board of Realtors, the median sales price for a single-family home in Honolulu last month was $690,000.

Building housing that’s more affordable will be a challenge for a variety of reasons, including community opposition.

“When you try to build an affordable housing project in a community, you oftentimes run into NIMBY’s who don’t want you to build it there for many different reasons,” said John White of Pacific Resource Partnership.

But the discussion has begun, and organizers are hopeful.

“People have been talking about this for a very long time,” said Fitzpatrick. “So the step after talking — we need to have actions and decisions.”

View videos and more photos over on the HawaiiNewsNow page: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/27395936/affordable-housing-summit-draws-hundreds-to-state-capitol