Strengthening Working Families Initiative

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Strengthening Working Families Initiative is a four million dollar grant focused on supporting families. The grant will help low income parents with affordable health care and training for jobs in business, technology and healthcare. Kerri Barnes, workforce development supervisor for the City of Phoenix ARIZONA@WORK program talks about the grant.

Carey Peña: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizonte." I'm Carey Peña, in tonight for José Cárdenas.

Carey Peña: A new report shows Hispanics are the fastest growing group of home buyers. We'll talk about a new movement helping to dispel myths and educate the real estate industry about Hispanic buyers.

Carey Peña: Also ahead, we learn about a new multimillion dollar grant focused on supporting working families.

Carey Peña: Plus, a new workshop is helping Hispanic bloggers turn into money making stars.

Carey Peña: That coming up straight ahead on "Horizonte."

Video: "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Carey Peña: The 2015 state of Hispanic homeownership report released by the Hispanic wealth project and the national association of Hispanic real estate professionals of greater Phoenix shows the number of Hispanic homeowners is skyrocketing. While overall, U.S. homeownership rates have declined for the 12th consecutive year. Here to talk about all of this is Amy Swaney with the national association of Hispanic real estate professionals of greater Phoenix, and Ana Benavides, who is the president of NARA. Thanks to both of you for being here. First, let's talk about these numbers. ANA, Latino home buyers, expected to grow at triple the rate of other home buyers through 2020. What do you attribute this to?

Ana Benavides: Well, I believe the market has become softer for the Hispanics. There is more information for them to obtain. The process is still a little bit difficult, but the community has become a little bit more comfortable with the process of buying. You're right, the statistics are 69%, we are the growing, fastest community buying in the United States.

Carey Peña: Being that the Hispanic community got hit so very hard, and I covered this story extensively after the housing crash, and there were so predators going after the Hispanic community, what what does this feel like to see finally this change in momentum?

Ana Benavides: It feels amazing. Especially because we realize the millenials are stepping out and buying. It's very refreshing to see that they still believe that buying a home is an investment. It's a step in stone for them to improve the economics. So owning a home is truly an investment for the Hispanic community.

Carey Peña: But there is, you say, a long way for the industry to go, both real estate professionals and lending professionals. Why is that?

Amy Swaney: Well, absolutely. Because what you find is that the mortgage lending professionals that are Hispanic, only range about 4% of the entire industry. 7% for, if you're a real estate agent. So we have this significant increase in Hispanic home buyers, but not a whole lot of Hispanic professionals to help them with this purchase. So we really would like to push out a lot of the information on cultural competency to step in and fill this void.

Carey Peña: We talked a little bit about that before coming on set. What do you mean when you say cultural competency?

Amy Swaney: It's not about being Hispanic. It's about understanding that your consumer is Hispanic. And understanding the cultural importance of that when handling that transaction. So even though you might not speak Spanish, or you might not be of Hispanic descent, you can still understand the diversity and the grouping together of what we like to call homeownership. There's always that symbiotic relationship that puts those two things together.

Carey Peña: While there is momentum here, there could be a wrench in all of this, depending on what happens during the election. Talk to me about some of the myths that you both feel need to be sort of broken down.

Ana Benavides: Well, one of the myths is that they believe that the Hispanics are all not documented. That we have a lot of illegal undocumented Hispanics in the state. Also that their income, the household income is under the limit, so therefore they don't have the abilities to buy a home. And that is not true. There is a lot of -- we have seen seconds and third generation. This is people were born here in the United States, children, the children of Hispanics that they're born here, and their culture is Hispanics. They look like Hispanics, but they don't even speak Spanish. So that's a myth. And then the other one is, their income, we realize, the household income for a Hispanic family is $59,000 per year. Well, anyone who has an income of $59,000 per year in a household, it's definitely qualified for the purchase of a home. So those are some of the myths. Credit is another one, that they don't have, or they don't understand credit. Even though they may not have established credit, Amy as a lender can testify that there is other ways such as alternative credit, which a lot of the down payment assistance programs will consider that and will take that for consideration to the qualifying requirement.

Carey Peña: How important is it for the both of you in this effort to bring this narrative to potential homeowners? Often times the Hispanic community, we see this with voting, it's difficult to get the message out there. So what are you guys trying to do to make sure people know, maybe now is the time?

Amy Swaney: We've actually taken an effort to go out to the real estate community and educate them on the ability of getting Hispanics into homes. Things like the fact that in Maricopa County alone, we have over 1.2 million properties that are available for down payment assistance. That's available. We can get 86% of those homes, we can find some sort of down payment assistance to make those things work. So we go out and do that, but we also educate the professionals within the industry. We educate them to look at the Hispanic market, not so much in a discrimination, but more diversity and cultural understanding. To understand that they have the same desires and wishes that anybody else wants to buy a home has.

Carey Peña: As a lending professional, do you think just across the board that now is a good time to buy? Janet yellEN has said for now interest rates will stay the same.

Amy Swaney: Absolutely. In fact, with the election coming up, it's imperative that people realize how important it is to buy now.

Carey Peña: One other statistic, before we let you guys go, because I was taken by this, I read that over the next 15 years, Hispanic home buying in the United States is expected to account for 52% of all sales. That's huge.

Carey Peña: It is huge.

Carey Peña: And again, what do you attribute that to?

Ana Benavides: Well, one of the issues to it is that we are second generation, the children are born, they're making families, and they're being quiet for a long time. So now that they have learned education is another factor, we see that the Hispanics are now graduating and they're moving on to college. We also see in the statistics that the buying power is women, the latinas are becoming a very powerful element into this, okay, they're making the decisions. And again, I think it's education. I say education is one of the biggest elements. They're moving into a higher education, so therefore their income is increasing because of it.

Carey Peña: I saw your face light up when you talk about the women. You've been a strong advocate for the community for so years, just in closing personally how does this make you feel?

Ana Benavides: It's refreshing. It's really rewarding to see how the latinas are stepping up. More important than anything else is how they are actually educating themselves.

Carey Peña: All right. Ladies, thank you. Important information. Appreciate you being here with us.

Amy Swaney: Thank you.

Carey Peña: Thank you so much.

Carey Peña: The city of Phoenix has won a $4 million grant focused on supporting families. The strengthening working families initiative grant will help low-income parents with affordable health care and training for jobs in business, technology, and health care. Joining me to talk more about this is Kerri Barnes, work force development supervisor for the city of Phoenix, Arizona, at work program. Thanks for being here.

Kerri Barnes: Thank you.

Carey Peña: So this is huge first of all. Let's start with the headlines. 14 grants were handed out, 54 million in total. How did you guys score one of these grants?

Kerri Barnes: It was through a consortium of a lot of good partners, and interdisciplinary team was developed between the Arizona at work in Maricopa County, city of Phoenix, Arizona department of economic security, child care administration, training providers, association for supportive child care, a huge umbrella of folks who were this this work every day that provided the content for the successful grant proposal.

Carey Peña: You have to go out and essentially approve your -- prove your case. What is that case you were trying to prove to the government, why that money is so desperately needed here in Maryvale and in Mesa?

Kerri Barnes: Those are two areas we chose based on the demographics and the labor market information provided. It's supposed to help fund training for low-income parents who can't afford to go to training because theorize they're under employed or unemployed, and one parent has to stay at home to take care of the children, otherwise they would be afforded-to-the opportunity to attend training and get into high-demand jobs.

Carey Peña: You are an advocate for working families in our community. Why is that so important to try to give them a hand up? Because it is so tough if you don't have affordable child care. You can't further your education, you can't increase the amount of money that you could potentially earn. Talk to me more about that from an emotional standpoint.

Kerri Barnes: I think as any parent, as a mother myself you want the best for your children. When barriers are in your way to provide any opportunity that would equalize you across the playing field with other parents, you want to take advantage of those opportunities. And Arizona actually is higher than the national average for the percentage of children living in poverty, ages 5-17.

Carey Peña: I read this statistic, and correct me if I'm wrong here, but Maricopa County, the nation's fourth largest county, approximately 4 million people, 23% of children living in poverty. That's huge.

Kerri Barnes: It is.

Carey Peña: What will this grant do specifically and how do people participate?

Kerri Barnes: So there's two-pronged question there. What will it do? It will provide an opportunity for a minimum of 600 parents in Mesa and Maryvale to access training opportunities with supportive services as an umbrella for holistic service delivery to ensure they have successful completion and get employment in high-opportunity jobs, as well as the second part of your question, how people participate --

Carey Peña: I shouldn't have asked you a two-pronged question. When you talk about increasing the quality of jobs, talk to me more specifically so the training will be what, and it will allow people to advance how?

Kerri Barnes: Okay. That's a great question. The training will be in four targeted areas. Information technology, health care and business services, specifically insurance, since that's a huge focus for Phoenix, and it's going to provide folks who either have low skills or middle skills the opportunity to upgrade their skills to get into the next level in that career pathway. So somebody who might not be in a minimum wage job will have the opportunity to get trained in one of those four occupations, and get advancement to an entry level position at a higher wage. Those are already employed have the opportunity to get higher into the career pathway to get movement into the different jobs.

Carey Peña: Have you guys identified, and I assume you have, the industries where people need to go into that particular industry because there is room for advancement and what are some of those jobs?

Kerri Barnes: It is computer user support or help desk technician, computer and network administrator, the claims adjustors, and clinical-medical assistance and CNAs.

Carey Peña: On the subject of child care, how will you help with affordable child care?

Kerri Barnes: We also have head start, which has child care funds, as well as the community action program, so they have leverage funds they're contributing to the program as well as we have support service dollars allocated to help fund child care who cannot fall under those umbrellas.

Carey Peña: A lot of times we hear people questioning what government dollars are doing, so in this case the government dollars, 4 million of them are coming here to Arizona. People always question, how do I get a piece of that new hear about a grant, but a lot of times it's a little bit unclear how you participate. So talk to people about that.

Kerri Barnes: So we are actually in the six-month implementation period throughout Department of Labor. As of January 1, people will be able to enroll in the program formally, however we have set up our website to capture anybody's interest in the program, and as do you to our website, ants, you'll have an opportunity to fill out a contact form, which will include your name, email address and phone number, so we can contact you when we do start enrollment. What are the criteria? You have to be -- make less an certain amount? What are you looking for?

Kerri Barnes: They will have to be eligible either for the work force innovation opportunity act head start fund, child care funds, or temporary assistance for needy families. Or be a front line entry level worker, and that can be taking care through contacts with our agency, and you also have to have a dependent child, either 13 years or younger, at least one in the household unless they have a disability, then the age of the child can be higher.

Carey Peña: As you know, because again, you're a great advocate for the community, it can be frustrating. Sometimes people feel like, you know, why should I bother trying to get that money? I just feel so beat down. What do you say to those people, words of encouragement?

Kerri Barnes: I look at the people that I see every day on the streets. I worry, I worry about the children that are with them, because I wonder if they have the same opportunities everybody else walking down the street. When I'm working with a client, I want them to know, you matter. Your children matter. And to always take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you, because it could be that chance that can change your entire life as well as the lives of your children and make a higher community impact.

Carey Peña: When you see someone who comes in down trodden and you're able to help that person find the way to a better life, to improve their job skills, or get more education, what is that like?

Kerri Barnes: It's an amazing feeling. As much as you help one, the next thing you think immediately is, I can help another.

Carey Peña: What can we do as a community to -- these statistics are not good. 23% of our children living in poverty, Maryvale continues to take so many tough hits. You've also identified Mesa. What do we need to be doing better?

Kerri Barnes: Department of Labor is using good demonstration money to fund pilot projects such as this. I would anticipate this will be replicated, and another rendition will be sent out. And we'll apply for that as well. I think what you do is take it one step at a time, one piece at a time. Even when the funding expires, we still have all the partners at the table, the training providers, head start funds, you still have the department of security, you still have temporary assistance for needy families, and you still have the work force system in the state which is Arizona at work to help.

Carey Peña: So how does just a couple more questions for you, effectively how does this work? Do you write one lump sum check to someone if they qualify?

Kerri Barnes: They will go through the eligibility criteria, they'll be enrolled in the program, and they won't see any check or anything like that, their involvement is with the staff member they're working with. So that's all behind the scenes. It comes in the form of support service vouchers, they can't pay their utility bill, they can't pay their rent, we can help them with that.

Carey Peña: You're overseeing how the funds are distributed.

Kerri Barnes: Correct.

Carey Peña: Where do people find out more information?

Kerri Barnes: WWW.arizonaatwork/Phoenix/gra nts.

Carey Peña: Great job. I bet there was a party going on in your office when you heard that you guys were one of the grants.

Kerri Barnes: There might have been balloons.

Carey Peña: All right, thank you so much.

Kerri Barnes: Thank you so much.

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Carey Peña: The recent Phoenix Latino blogger workshop focused on the benefits of starting a website or blog. Joining us to talk about the workshop is Kathy Cano-Murillo, known as the Crafty Chica, and Gloria Martinez-Casillas. Ladies, thank you both for being here.

Gloria Martinez-Casillas: Thanks for having us.

Carey Peña: I don't know you by any other name besides Crafty Chica. I've done many segment was you. Tell us about this workshop.

Kathy Cano-Murillo: It started because I've been blogging since 2003, and I just love digital storytelling, and I -- as I traveled all over the country, these conferences, I realized there were no other Phoenix latina bloggers, or latina bloggers, maybe one or two here or there. So instead of complaining, I connected with some friends of mine and we put together a program to where we had all these people apply, and then we looked through people who already had sites, and where we saw that spark, that potential, and then for four weeks it was like boot camp. I went through and taught them everything I know about blogging, and storytelling, and editing photos, and using all the different social media platforms so that we can tell our stories here from Phoenix.

Carey Peña: And to be clear, for our viewers, it's not just about telling stories or writing a blog, because you're having fun. You're making money doing it.

Kathy Cano-Murillo: Yeah. It's what I do full-time. I'm a digital entrepreneur, and that's what I do full-time. I'm able to monetize in so different avenues, it's such a great time right now what is going on with everything, because there's so many different opportunities out there.

Carey Peña: Monetize in a way that you love. Gloria, what kind of website did you have, and what brought you to this workshop?

Gloria Martinez-Casillas: I started off my website doing a do it yourself, because I make jewelry. So I love making jewelry, to me it's my ZEN, it's something that brings me happiness, and I can also make money selling it. So I wanted to show people how to do that.

Carey Peña: So you went to the workshop hoping to find out what specifically?

Gloria Martinez-Casillas: I wanted to just get all the little tricks of how to get myself out there, how to get myself noticed more. And how to get more people to see my stuff and sell it.

Carey Peña: So what was your biggest take-away?

Gloria Martinez-Casillas: My biggest take-away was what Kathy calls giving your blog legs. So it's learning to do all the little tricks so that people can find what you're writing.

Carey Peña: All right. Let's get down to the nitty gritty. Let's hear a couple of your tricks since you know how it's done.

Kathy Cano-Murillo: The number one most important thing is to realize that you're serving an audience. How can you keep them coming back and keep them interested? It's not necessarily about how many followers you have, but how much your content makes them want to click on it and engage and leave a comment that helps in the algorithm for your stories to move up for more people to see them. But it also means you're doing a good job connecting with people, and if you can get that down, then you can use that as a force for good to share stories, and thoughts, and your perspective on things that you want to get out there to teach people, to inspire to educate, like Gloria started with jewelry making, but now she's showing yoga jaw, she's showing how to take your family camping, what it is to be a mom to an 11-year-old. So once you realize that and you start getting feedback, I'm getting goosebumps just talking about it! You realize the power of it, of how far your stories can go.

Carey Peña: And you also talk to people are a lot about storytelling. Good storytelling, and visuals. Touch on that a little bit.

Kathy Cano-Murillo: Now with our mobile phones, we, all of us have become professional photographers. So it's just documenting life. And making use -- not being afraid of all the different platforms out there, and not saying oh, my gosh, there's another one, I don't want to learn that! I get excited, and I tell the students in the class, you need to look at each one of those as a party. Go to that party and have fun, and share your -- take pictures, make sure they're in focus, make sure they're exciting pictures, you don't just put anything up there. Be thoughtful and purposeful about them, and write a good caption to go with them that gives context.

Carey Peña: This is a family affair for you. I happened to catch an article, I was excited when I saw this, titled "10 latina bloggers you should be watching." Your daughter was on the list! I loved her quote, she says, quote -- I try to keep a positive attitude in my videos, or make people laugh. I feel like it's important to provide a take-away meaning something that will influence their day in a positive way. I thought that was such a good point.

Kathy Cano-Murillo: She's actually at VIDCON right now Los Angeles, which is the ultimate conference for YouTubeers and my son, he also has his own platform that he does as well. So both kids growing up with a mom, a mom blogger, they grew up to have their own businesses also.

Carey Peña: You were sort of a mom blogger before --

Kathy Cano-Murillo: before they even called it a mom blogger!

Carey Peña: Do you feel this entrepreneurial spirit has really swept the country, and in particular you're talking about how in the Latino community this is really taken hold.

Kathy Cano-Murillo: Oh, yes. In so many ways. Because I feel like it gives us a chance to tell each of our own stories, instead of having someone else tell our stories. So for someone to say, oh, you know what, the moms, the latina moms in Phoenix this, is what they like. Not necessarily. We all have different perspectives. You can look at all of our blogs to see that. That's what I love about it. I just want to help more people learn the skills that it takes to do that.

Carey Peña: And you're living your dream.

Kathy Cano-Murillo: Yeah!

Carey Peña: How does that feel?

Kathy Cano-Murillo: I love it. I love it.

Carey Peña: and you're DIYing all the way to success yourself. Ladies, thank you so much. Always great to see you, Crafty Chica. Love your work.

Carey Peña: That is our show for tonight. Thank you so much for watching. From all of us here at "Horizonte," and your Arizona PBS station, I'm Carey Peña in for José Cárdenas. Have a great evening. 13:38:51:02 Captioning Performed By LNS Captioning

Video: "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Video: "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Kerri Barnes: Workforce Development Supervisor for the City of Phoenix ARIZONA@WORK Program

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