Happy Monday! We will kick-start the week with some fantastic news: Montgomery County has scored a major victory for housing rights, and we couldn't be more thrilled! Last week, the Montgomery County Council passed the HOME Act by a 7-4 vote. The Home Act's passing means that MoCo tenants will now benefit from rent stabilization measures, offering them much needed relief from the uncertainties of rising housing costs. It brings crucial protections and stability to renters by capping annual rent increases and regulating fees. The HOME Act represents a significant step towards creating a more equitable housing market, protecting tenants from abrupt rent spikes, and fostering a fair and stable living environment for all residents of Montgomery County. As we celebrate this achievement, we are also filled with hope that other counties across the state will follow suit and introduce similar measures to address the pressing issue of rising rent costs. Together, we can create a statewide movement for fair and stable housing, ensuring that all Maryland residents have access to secure and affordable homes.
Plans, plans, plans... the state's climate plans are getting a hurry-up reboot, including the lagging task of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay; the Blueprint for better schools sees likely tweaks from an implementation board; states aroundthe nation see Title I money threatened by the latest GOP House budget, and over 300,000 Maryland families have kids going hungry, that part definitely not planned by anybody but here it is. This and more on the state, national and even international level (German workers taking a lesson from Spain as Europe cooks and burns). It's never ALL the news you need, but we give it all we've got every week.
As we begin this week, we can't ignore the recent developments in Congress that threaten fundamental rights. Last week, the House of Representatives saw Republican leadership seizing the opportunity to advance their agenda through the National Defense Authorization Act. What was once a bipartisan bill became a vessel for restrictive measures on abortion and trans healthcare for our military personnel.
The amendment inserted into the bill aims to limit reproductive freedom for those who serve in our military.
It's crucial to stay informed and engaged with such developments that impact our rights and liberties. At Progressive Maryland, we understand the importance of taking action to protect and advance progressive values. While Congress may be at odds over these issues, we remain committed to pushing forward in our own community.
Good news on FBI HQ siting; not so great on possible deficit: the usual mixed bag of News You Can Use
Advocates for a Maryland site for the new FBI headquarters got a big boost when the criteria for the site were revised, downplaying nearness to the Quantico training ground and emphasizing "cost and social equity" concerns that make Prince George's County a more likely location. News is less tasty about a possible state budget deficit and a definite setback on the Purple Line -- later completion and more cost. And while you may not have been watching, 28,000 Maryland residents were dropped from the Medicaid rolls as the world forgets about the pandemic. Might be some household you know...
Progressive Maryland Launches The 7/10 Black Workers Center to Empower Lower-Income Black Communities and Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
Prince George’s County, MD – Progressive Maryland is proud to announce the launch of the groundbreaking 7/10 Black Workers Center. This unique initiative aims to organize and uplift Black workers, with a focus on formerly incarcerated people. The Center will advocate for equitable local economic development policies that prioritize the needs of working-class people over wealthy developers and exploitative corporations.
The 7/10 Black Workers Center will employ an integrated organizing approach that examines racial oppression and class disparities, while mobilizing justice impacted people as crucial workers that are typically excluded from and exploited by the labor market.
“The launch of the 7/10 Black Workers Center embodies our unwavering commitment to racial and economic justice in Maryland. We’ll ensure that Black workers across the state have access to high quality employment opportunities. This project is about creating thriving communities across the state where people have what they need— money to pay for essentials like housing, daycare, groceries and access to healthcare — and the ability to thrive” said Larry Stafford Jr., Executive Director of Progressive Maryland
Central to the project is the implementation of a pre-apprenticeship program, led in partnership with labor allies and skilled instructors. The pre-apprenticeship will equip Black workers with practical skills needed to compete for skilled labor positions in the construction industry.. The program creates pathways to high-wage union jobs that provide a solid foundation for long-term economic stability. The project also tackles exploitative practices in the low-wage service industry. Progressive Maryland’s 7/10 Worker’s Center aims to build a resilient base among Black workers, fostering a more equitable work environment.
The Worker’s Center will engage in participatory research and conduct in-depth studies of Maryland's Black communities to identify the specific interests and needs of Black workers. The goal is to enable strategic actions that positively change lives and lead to healthier, more prosperous communities.
This week, we are thrilled to announce the launch of several exciting programs aimed at creating positive change in our communities so now is the perfect time to get involved! You'll find a wealth of opportunities to contribute and make your voice heard. Whether you're passionate about reentry work, healthcare reform or environmental sustainability, we have initiatives and campaigns that need your support.
So, keep reading to discover how you can actively participate and make an impact.
Let's harness this momentum and join forces to create lasting change.
In Maryland, energy and environment news stands out; around the states, there is occasional sane behavior among the tales of Red-State lunacy (sue a big-box store for selling popular Pride merch?). And Congress is back with much to do and a short schedule to fritter away before blind panic actually brings low-information votes. But you knew that. Still, we have details that might be helpful.
Returning Citizens Task Force of Progressive Maryland Opens Request For Proposals with New Grant Funding
Prince George's County, Maryland -- The Returning Citizens Task Force (RCTF) of Progressive Maryland is inviting proposals for projects that will support services for citizens in Prince George’s County who are re-entering society from prison. The funds have been generously provided by an individual donor who witnessed, was impressed with, and wants to support Progressive Maryland’s reentry work in the county. This is the second cycle of grants for direct service providers in our community – recipients in 2022-2023 helped support transitional housing, connection to health service, work with at-risk youth, peer mentoring programs, trauma informed care, and the use of creative arts as a means to fully re-enter society.
The application process is now open. The RCTF will accept proposals through July 31 and applicants will be notified of the acceptance (or non-acceptance) of their proposal by August 25. Please note that the grant is for services provided in Prince George’s County, and we require an in-person staff presence in our community. Although any organization may apply, our focus is on smaller service providers. Additional requirements and information as to how to submit a proposal are included in the RFP on this page.
A participatory grant-making committee, made up of individuals either impacted by the justice system or working with those directly impacted, will guide and oversee the proposal selection process. Grants will be awarded in the range of $10,000 to $20,000 each.
The RCTF was formed in 2019 to respond to an unmet need – the lack of transitional housing and programs, social services, and jobs for returning citizens in Prince George's County. Much progress has been made since then, but much more is still needed. The group continues to advocate for voter access and education, ending barriers to jobs and housing, improving access to medical care and provision of other services to ensure returning residents’ successful reintegration into our communities.
Progressive Maryland believes that the state as a whole must address the needs of people impacted by the criminal justice system at all levels as part of a broader people’s agenda to meet all Marylanders needs for housing, education, health care and jobs at a living wage to ensure returning residents’ successful reintegration into our communities. Learn more about the RCTF and get involved here.
As we kick off the month of July, there is much to discuss and take action on. It's a momentous time for our state, as the long-awaited implementation of cannabis legalization takes effect in Maryland.
This step forward represents a victory for justice, equity, and a more sensible approach to drug policy. It is a testament to the power of grassroots organizing and the tireless advocacy of activists like you. Still, we must remain vigilant to ensure that the promises of legalization translate into meaningful change, especially for our black and brown communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.
That task and more are in front of us. When we tackle them together, the barriers fall steadily and at the speed of our choosing
Along with our weekly roundup of News You Can Use about Maryland and its people and politicians, about what states are doing and about what the feds are doing (or not) in pursuit of responsible governance (whew!) we have posted two blogs about People’s Action’s solidarity confab in the DMV last week. In Maryland, this was the beginning of the Cannabis Era and of reaction to the backward-looking Supreme Court rulings on institutional diversity practices ("affirmative action") and the student debt overhang. Check out this and more in News You Can Use.