Council President Sabina Matos Affirms Council Support of Providence Community Health Centers

Council President Sabina Matos Affirms Council Support of Providence Community Health Centers

At tonight’s City Council meeting, Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) proposed and passed a resolution supporting Providence Community Health Centers. This resolution was co-sponsored by Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Councilman John J. Igliozzi Esq. (Ward 7), Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilwoman Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Councilman David Salvatore (Ward 14), Councilman James Taylor (Ward 8), and Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9).

“During a time when public health is of great concern, we must be using our resources to support organizations like Providence Community Health Centers. Their work has given over 65,000 residents access to quality, affordable primary care services. As we have learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, more work must be done to expand healthcare access. Let us do our part to give Providence Community Health Centers the tools they need to continue their great work,” stated Council President Sabina Matos.

Providence Community Health Centers (PCHC) has operated as a non-profit organization in Providence since 1968. With nine locations across the City, PCHC provides services including family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, behavioral health, optometry, dental care, and urgent care. PCHC treats all patients regardless of their ability to pay and offers multi-lingual, culturally sensitive care. In January of 2021, PCHC broke ground on a new health center location at 31 Atwood Street in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence. The new location will be called PCHC Atwood and is due to open in early 2022.

“I am so excited for the new PCHC Atwood location. I commend Providence Community Health Centers for their work addressing racial and economic inequities in healthcare, affecting our most vulnerable neighborhoods. As PCHC does this work on the ground to reform systemic issues within public health, I ask my colleagues in government at the State House to support this undertaking,” added Council President Matos.

The new PCHC Atwood location will create space for 14,000 new patients in the Olneyville area. The Olneyville neighborhood is a diverse region of the City, with many minority groups, immigrants, non-English speakers, and other groups that are often underserved in the medical field. The area has been hard hit by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Additionally, this new location will create fifty new full-time, sustainable-paying jobs. Providence Community Health Centers is the largest primary health care provider in the City of Providence.

Council Urges Rhode Island General Assembly to Pass Bill Preventing Termination of Utilities During Periods of Declared Emergency

Council Urges Rhode Island General Assembly to Pass Bill Preventing Termination of Utilities During Periods of Declared Emergency

At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilman John Goncalves proposed a resolution endorsing and urging the passage of Rhode Island House Bill 2021 H-5442, an act that would prevent the termination of utility services during periods of a declared emergency, including the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic. This resolution was co-sponsored by Councilors Helen Anthony (Ward 1), Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), and Kat Kerwin (Ward 12).

“Rhode Island unemployment rates remain at astoundingly high due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, so many hardworking men and women lost their job or were forced into dire economic situations. Nobody should have to choose between buying groceries and keeping their heat on. This bill would provide some relief for those who have found themselves faced with these difficult circumstances,” stated Councilman John Goncalves.

House Bill 2021 H-5442 would impose a moratorium on the termination of utility services throughout a limited period of any emergency declared by the Governor of Rhode Island, with particular guidelines in place in the event of a public health epidemic. Customers would be protected for the duration of the emergency and for 90 days after the emergency has ended.

“One year into the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is time we begin to think about what systems we can put in place to protect the financial and physical well-being of Rhode Islanders if we are faced with another crisis like the one we are currently fighting through. House Bill H-5442 will provide immediate relief while also building a long-term crisis response framework. I commend and support the members of the General Assembly who have worked to put this bill together,” added Councilman Goncalves.

The resolution will be sent to the Special Committee on State Legislative Affairs for further discussion.

Council Supports State Efforts to Protect Rhode Islanders from Harmful Chemicals in our Water Supply & Food Packaging

Council Supports State Efforts to Protect Rhode Islanders from Harmful Chemicals in our Water Supply & Food Packaging

Tonight the Providence City Council passed two resolutions, sponsored by Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), to support several initiatives before the Rhode Island General Assembly to reduce Perfluorinated and Poly-Fluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) in Rhode Island’s water supply and in food packaging in our state. The resolutions were co-sponsored by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5),Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Chairman John J. Igliozzi Esq. (Ward 7), Councilors Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), John Goncalves (Ward 1), and Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), James Taylor (Ward 8), and Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3).

The first resolution supports and urges the passage of House Bill 2021 H-5523 and Senate Bill 2021 S-107, which will require the RI Department of Health to set a Maximum Contaminant Level for PFAS and requires that our public waterways and drinking supply be sampled and monitored for PFAS contamination. The second resolution supports and urges the passage of House Bill 2021 H-5356 and Senate Bill 2021 S-0110, which eliminate the manufacture, sale, and distribution of food packaging to which PFAS have been added.

“These initiatives in our General Assembly and State Senate are significant steps in the effort to improve food and water safety in Rhode Island. PFAS are persistent chemicals that are known to cause harm to humans and the environment. It is time for the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Management to take action to set standards and testing protocols to protect the health and safety of Rhode Islanders. I know that my colleagues in government trust science and believe that we should do everything we can to protect and care for the health and safety of Rhode Islanders and our environment. PFAS have been linked to cancer, developmental issues in children, problems with fertility and pregnancy, and a host of other serious health problems. That is why we must act now to reduce these harmful chemicals from our food and water,” stated Councilor Rachel Miller.

PFAS are highly persistent chemicals that have been widely used in consumer products since the 1948. They are often used in food packaging to prevent grease and other fats from sticking to the paper packaging. However, PFAS are released during production processes and remain in the environment for long periods, entering the air and bodies of water. Because of this widespread contamination, PFAS can often be found in the blood of both humans and wildlife. Over the years, concern has grown regarding the health consequences of frequent exposure to PFAS.

“One of the most precious resources we have in the State of Rhode Island is the Narragansett Bay, and we must do whatever we can to protect this natural resource. Further, PFAS that end up in our water inevitably end up in our sea life. As a state with a robust seafood industry, we have to protect and preserve the catch’s quality. Doing so will protect jobs and this important economic generator. I applaud Councilor Miller for working to ensure that we are supporting important green and healthy initiatives at the General Assembly, and I too add my voice to the chorus of my colleagues who want to see these bills pass and enacted,” stated Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan.

The resolutions passed, and copies will be sent to the Rhode Island General Assembly and the Providence Delegation.

Providence City Council Calls on the United States Senate to Pass the Equality Act

Providence City Council Calls on the United States Senate to Pass the Equality Act

Tonight, the Providence City Council members voted to pass a resolution urging the United States Senate to pass the Equality Act. The resolution was sponsored by Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13). It was Co-sponsored by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Majority Whip John J. Igliozzi, Esq. (Ward 7), and Councilors Helen Anthony, Esq. (Ward 2), Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), John Goncalves (Ward 1), Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), Councilman Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Councilman James Taylor (Ward 8), and Councilman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3)

The Equality Act was introduced to the House of Representatives by Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline and in the Senate by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021. It was finally passed by the United States House of Representatives in 2019 and 2021 but has died in the United States Senate committee. After the United States Supreme Court’s June 2020 ruling in the Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, which upheld protections for gay and transgender individuals in employment matters under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its subsequent amendments, now there is more support in the Senate for passage. The City Council members are urging the body to take this bold and meaningful action to codify the rights of every person living in the United States.

“First, I want to thank our Federal Delegation, especially Congressman Cicilline, who has worked doggedly on this act for the past seven years. Even as it languished in the House and Senate, he still believed that the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community were worth the battle. I am proud that he represents Rhode Island and am grateful for his leadership. The Equality Act will codify and protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, which has been missing from the Civil Rights Act for decades. The Equality Act wil also protect against discrimination in the workplace, in housing, in health care, and even in financial lending,” stated Councilor Rachel Miller.

The Equality Act will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and several other federal laws around employment and discrimination in public spaces, services, and federally funded programs.

“Former United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once stated, ‘We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to society, because we fit into a certain mold, because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination.’ With that statement, she was referring to what women have endured for generations. It is equally true for LGBTQIA+ communities that face higher rates of suicide, bullying, and the alarming rates of murder amongst transgender women. The Senate must pass the Equality Act, and I know that our Rhode Island Delegation is supportive, and I hope that we can all agree that discrimination of any kind needs to be removed from our legal system,” stated Council President Sabina Matos.

Many studies have shown that members of the LGBTQIA+ community face high levels of discrimination in housing. The bias is noted to come in many different ways: being denied housing, charged higher rents, or being removed from housing once a landlord realizes the orientation or the gender expression of the renters. Additionally, the Equality Act will add protections to LGBTQIA+ individuals living in 27 states which do not have state-wide LGBTQIA+ anti-discrimination laws.

“There are currently 27 states where, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, my right to be free from discrimination in employment, housing, and other civil protections is not protected by law. I am proud to be a member of this body that tonight took a stance for equality for all,” concluded Councilor Miller.

Copies of the resolution will be sent to the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation. The City Council members hope that the United States Senate will pass Senate Bill 393 – The Equality Act.

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics Announced for February 17, 19, and 20, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics Announced for February 17, 19, and 20, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics Have Been Announced for this week for Providence Residents 75 and Older:

Wednesday, February 17, 2021: http://bit.ly/3ajpbJi
Managed by Providence Emergency Management Agency

Friday, February 19, 2021: http://bit.ly/3aiqTdS
Managed by Aesthenis Pharmacy in partnership with the City of Providence

Saturday, February 20, 2021: http://bit.ly/3dcbGNm
Managed by Providence Emergency Management Agency

*Internet Explorer will not work with the above-provided links. Anyone who registers that is not 75+ or a resident of Providence will have their appointment cancelled. In the coming days, additional clinic dates will be added to https://www.providenceri.gov/vaccinate/.

Residents who need assistance signing up for an appointment are encouraged to dial 3-1-1 to speak with a representative who can walk you through the enrollment process in English or Spanish. Although additional staff are supporting phone lines, residents should expect longer than normal wait times as MCCS anticipates a higher than normal call volume.

Providence City Council Calls on the United States Senate to Pass the Equality Act

City Councilors Call on Residents to Vote “Yes” on Questions Two, Three, and Five in Upcoming Special Election

At last week’s City Council meeting, Councilors put forth several resolutions urging Providence voters to vote “Yes” on ballot referendum questions two, three, and five in the special election taking place on March 2, 2021. In December 2020, Governor Raimondo signed a state budget for the 2021 fiscal year that restored funding to cities and towns, used federal coronavirus relief funds to aid struggling Rhode Islanders, and did not raise taxes. In addition to the FY21 budget, there were also seven bond referendums regarding $400 million in bonds for education, affordable housing, green infrastructure, transportation, and other initiatives. All three resolutions were sponsored by the full Council.

The first resolution, proposed by Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1), asks that voters vote “Yes” on ballot question two to support a $74 million bond for environmental and recreational projects.

“This bond would create funding for a proposed park on the former I-95 land along with local recreational projects, the dredging of the Providence River, the restoration of local wetlands, much needed municipal resiliency projects, and more. We are encouraging Providence voters to vote ‘Yes’ on question two in order to create meaningful and lasting environmental improvements not only in the City of Providence but across the State of Rhode Island,” stated Councilman John Goncalves.

The second resolution, also proposed by Councilman John Goncalves, advocates that voters vote “Yes” on ballot question five, which includes a $15 million bond for early childhood care and the Educational Capital fund.

“I call on all Providence residents to vote ‘Yes’ on ballot question five. This funding will be key to ensuring our students have a strong start, as early childhood care and education is what supplies children with a solid and broad foundation for success both in and out of school,” stated Council President Sabina Matos.

The third resolution, proposed by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), and Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1), urges residents to vote “Yes” on ballot question three, in support of a $65 million bond for affordable housing projects throughout the state.

“This bond will allocate millions of dollars towards the building and maintaining of affordable housing in Rhode Island. In addition, millions more will go directly towards community revitalization projects. I encourage residents to support this initiative, as affordable housing and community development will be central in the recovery of our economy and public health moving forward,” added Council President Matos.

The special election will occur on Tuesday, March 2, with polls open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. The deadline to submit mail ballot applications is Tuesday, February 9 and early in-person voting begins on Wednesday, February 10.

To request a mail ballot, click here: https://bit.ly/36He8r5
To find your polling location, click here: http://bit.ly/2MowkPz

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