(February 18, 2015) A federal judge in Texas ruled this week to temporarily block President Barack Obama’s Executive Action on immigration reform, which would provide deportation relief and work authorization to millions of undocumented immigrants across the country. This includes an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was set to go into effect today, Wednesday, February 18, 2015, as well as implementation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, who co-chairs the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Immigration Reform Task Force, released the following statement:
“President Obama acted within his authority when issuing an executive action that not only benefits many hardworking families, but would also strengthen our economy and communities. Hartford has already been enriched by the cultural diversity and entrepreneurism of immigrants, but would grow richer with the implementation of President Obama’s action. While disappointed in U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling and the delay it causes in helping people who are eager to be a part of our society, I am confident the President’s action will prevail.”
Judge Hanen’s ruling in State of Texas vs. United States of America does not affect the existing DACA. The program provides deportation relief and work authorization to anyone who was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, arrived in the United States before June 15, 2007 and arrived before the age of 16.
Ballpark to Anchor Redevelopment of A New, Mixed-Use Neighborhood known as Downtown North
(February 17, 2015) Today Hartford Mayor E. Pedro Segarra, Hartford City Council President Shawn T. Wooden, City Council members and Rock Cats Owner Josh Solomon joined hundreds of community members for the historic groundbreaking of what will be Hartford’s first ever minor league Ballpark. Located at the intersection of Trumbull and Main Streets, the new Ballpark will anchor the redevelopment of the Downtown North neighborhood and will be home to minor league baseball beginning in the spring of 2016. This is the first time in over 60 years the City of Hartford will have a professional baseball team. With 72 home games, it is estimated that over 400,000 guests will visit the park each season.
“This is a truly historic day for the City of Hartford. What was once a sea of parking lots for over 40 years will soon be transformed into a thriving new neighborhood that will bring more housing, more jobs, more customers for our businesses and more economic opportunity to our great city,” stated Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra.
“Many people were involved with this project, but I especially want to thank Council President Shawn Wooden, the Council, our Treasurer, and the hardworking people of Hartford for all their support,” added Mayor Segarra. “We should feel proud of what we have accomplished. We are connecting two neighborhoods long separated by a highway, and revitalizing an area that has been underserved. I am more optimistic about our future and our progress than ever.”
Today’s groundbreaking is the result of countless hours of hard work and input from the City Council, members of the Stadium Authority and, most importantly, the Hartford community,” stated Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden. “Thanks to community input and the true collaborative effort over the past eight months, plans for the new Ballpark and the redevelopment of the entire Downtown North neighborhood are better today than when the initial plans were presented.”
Last week the City reached a final agreement with DoNo Hartford, LLC, the developer of Downtown North and Connecticut Double Play, LLC, the owner of the Rock Cats Double AA Minor League baseball team. The new mixed-use neighborhood will include a supermarket of up to 50,000 square feet, a brewery, new housing, retail, restaurants, and the minor league ballpark.
“Thanks to everyone’s hard work, the redevelopment of Downtown North and the new minor league ballpark will soon be a reality,” stated Rock Cats Owner Josh Solomon. “We’re looking forward to baseball weather and providing affordable, family entertainment during baseball season and year round activities for the entire Hartford community and the region.”
Terms of the agreement include 30 percent revenue sharing for all non-baseball events at the ballpark, a project labor agreement, a guarantee of a Double AA Minor League team for the term of the lease, and hiring preference for Hartford residents and minority/women owned businesses for all direct and indirect contract work.
A report by the University of Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis (CCEA), found that the projected benefits of developing Downtown North includes over 1,800 jobs during construction, sustained employment in excess of over 1,000 jobs at full development.
Fans are also invited to participate in the “Name The Team Contest” which began today on the newly created website www.hartfordplaysball2016.com. Fans can suggest a new name that will replace the Rock Cats and are encouraged to submit their suggested name, which must include “Hartford,” along with a brief explanation of their entry.
The fan whose submission leads to the team’s new name will receive the Ultimate VIP Baseball Package (Two Lifetime Season Tickets, Team Jacket & Cap, photo in the Game Program). Four runners up will receive a pair of season tickets for the inaugural season.
(February 13, 2015) Today, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $2 million to the Housing Authority of the City of Hartford for large-scale capital improvements to public housing rentals. The Housing Authority of the City of Hartford will spend the annual grant on improvements to approximately 1,000 of its federally-funded apartments for families and elderly and disabled residents, including plumbing, accessibility and electrical upgrades, in addition to substantial unit rehabilitation. The properties are owned by the Housing Authority, but are operated through the use of federal funds. Some of those properties include, Smith Tower, Betty Knox Apartments, Kent Apartments and Mary Mahoney Village.
“This capital improvements grant from HUD will make a difference to the homes of many Hartford residents. The grant will fund significant repairs to the City’s public housing options, preventing the properties from falling into disrepair and providing Hartford residents with secure, comfortable and affordable homes,” said Mayor Segarra.
“We are very grateful for the continued support of HUD,” said Annette Sanderson, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Hartford. “These funds will be used towards our mission of providing safe, decent and affordable housing for City residents.”
“Every American deserves a place to call home where they can successfully raise their kids, enhance their financial security and build a better life,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “Through this funding, HUD is committed to strengthening our nation’s affordable housing units and to providing folks with the springboard they need to succeed.”
The grant is part of $22.7 million that HUD awarded this year to public housing authorities in the state through HUD’s Capital Fund Program. The program supplies funding to approximately 3,100 public housing authoritiesin the country every year. View funding by public housing authority here.
(February 13, 2015) Today, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra announced that 10 free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) centers are open from now until April 15 to help eligible residents prepare their income tax returns. The service is available to lower-to-moderate wage-earning individuals and families with annual incomes of up to $53,000. At the VITA centers, IRS-certified volunteers will help those who are eligible prepare and electronically file state and federal income tax forms free of charge. Volunteers can also determine whether someone qualifies for state and federal credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, and related childcare and education credits. Returns are available in seven to 10 days on a pre-paid debit card or through direct deposit into a personal bank account. VITA is also a portal to job training opportunities and budget coaching for individuals and families.
“Filing taxes can be complicated work and these centers are here to help people through the process," said Mayor Segarra. "Many families stand to benefit from a tax refund, which can help financially. I urge anyone who thinks they are eligible to call and take advantage of this free and valuable service."
In 2014, VITA centers helped more than 5,200 taxpayers in Hartford, resulting in more than $12.6 million in refunds and credits to working families. The average federal refund amount to tax filers served in Hartford was more than $1,900.
To see if you qualify and to make an appointment at a VITA center, dial 2-1-1 and press 3, or go towww.211ct.org/taxes. Free online help is available to households with a combined income of up to $60,000 in 2014 at www.myfreetaxes.com.
The VITA centers were made possible through a partnership between the City of Hartford, Bloomberg Philanthropies/Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund, Community Accounting Aid and Services, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Human Resources Agency of New Britain, Liberty Bank Foundation, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, United Way of Connecticut/2-1-1, The Village for Families & Children and Walmart Foundation.