Councilwoman Nirva R. LaFortune is a Providence City Council Member representing the city’s third ward, which includes the neighborhoods of Mount Hope, Hope Village (Summit), Collyer Park and Blackstone. She is the first Haitian American to hold elected office in the state of Rhode Island.
Since joining the council following a special election in August 2017, Councilwoman LaFortune has served as the Vice Chair of the Special Committee on Education.
The City of Providence announced on March 29, 2019 that the state-mandated full real estate property revaluation is complete and real estate property value assessment notices will be mailed on April 15, 2019. At this time, the following 2018 real estate revaluation procedures have been executed: Data Collection of Building Data, Building Permit Inspections, Review Analysis of Sales, Cost and Land Analysis, Income & Expense Review, Commercial Market Rate Analysis, and Table Calculations.
Providence property owners will soon receive a notice (after April 15) advising them of the new appraised value of their real estate property prior to when the new value will officially be added to the tax roll.
What You Will Receive
Sample Notice A: English
Sample Notice A: Spanish
Sample Notice B: English
Sample Notice B: Spanish
How To Request A Review
The notice that contains the new appraised value will also explain how to arrange for a personal informal hearing to review the proposed assessment if they so choose. Recipients are asked to follow the instructions on your notice to book an appointment with Vision Government Solutions, Inc. for a hearing on any parcel. Please bring any information to support your request for a change; hearings are by appointment only. You can make an appointment online at www.vgsi.com/schedules or by phone by calling Vision Government Solutions at 1-888-844-4300.
Hearings will begin on April 23, 2019 and end on May 17, 2019 and will be held at either the Fox Point Boys and Girls Club located at 90 Ives Street or the Neutaconkanut Recreation Center located at 675 Plainfield Street.
The Hearing Schedule is as follows:
Monday-Thursday from 10 AM to 6 PM
Friday from 10 AM to 4:30 PM
Saturday, April 27 and May 11 from 10 AM to 4 PM
The notices providing the results of the informal hearing will be mailed no later than May 31, 2019 with final values delivered on June 3, 2019.
Per RI General Law 44-5-11.6, cities and towns are required to perform a statistical update every third and sixth year and a full property revaluation every nine years. Vision Government Solutions uses recent sales and market data to inform their findings.
Property owners should not use the current tax rates when estimating their 2019 tax bill. Once the notices have been mailed, property owners may view their 2018 Data on the Vision Government Solutions website.
The legislation is particularly important for women of color, who are three to four times more likely to die for pregnancy-related reasons than white women.
“Doulas have been shown to make real, measurable improvements in the health outcomes for women and babies during pregnancy and childbirth, preventing complications, and reducing the cesarean and preterm rates. They are cost-effective, ultimately saving medical dollars because patients using them require less medical intervention overall,” said Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence). “All women, but particularly women of color, who are three to four times more likely to die for pregnancy-related reasons than white women, should be encouraged to use a doula during pregnancy and childbirth.”
Doulas are trained professionals who provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to women during pregnancy, childbirth and the first few postpartum weeks. They assist in making women as comfortable as possible during birth, providing help with breathing techniques, massage and advice, and can help advocate for the woman during the birth. Births assisted by doulas have significantly lower rates of cesarean section, with one study showing a 39 percent reduction.
The National Partnership for Women and Families, which has advocated for coverage of doula services for improved health outcomes, estimates the reduction in cesarean births that could result from public and private coverage nationwide could save Medicaid at least $646 million per year, and about $1.73 billion for private insurers.
At 23.8 per 100,000 live births in 2014, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and, along with Serbia, is one of only two developed nations whose rate has been rising, having increased 26.6 percent between 2000 and 2014.
In Rhode Island, the maternal mortality rate between 2013 and 2017 was 11.2 per 100,000 live births.
Nationally, maternal mortality is far higher for black women than white women. According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 2011 to 2014, the mortality rate for black women was 40 per 100,000 births, compared to 12.4 per 100,000 for white women. Studies have suggested that racial bias and unequal treatment of black women exist in the health care system, often resulting in inadequate treatment.
Under the bill (H5609), services from a trained, qualified doula would be eligible for coverage through private insurance and Medicaid, including the state medical assistance program, for up to $1,500 per pregnancy. The bill, which would take effect July 1, 2020, would also set industry standards and create a statewide registry of doulas to assist women in connecting with qualified professionals, while simultaneously helping to assure that doulas are fairly compensated for their work.
Currently, Oregon and Minnesota permit Medicaid coverage for doula services and New York City has launched a pilot program.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Ana Quezada(Democrat, District 2, Providence). The bill has bipartisan support in the House.
“Planned Parenthood of Southern New England believes that carrying a pregnancy to term should not put women’s lives at risk. As a member of the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, we will fight to ensure black women receive the high-quality care they deserve, and perinatal doulas are fairly compensated for the care they provide. Maternal mortality in the United States is a public health crisis and its severe impact on black women is unacceptable,” said Kavelle Christie, Public Policy and Organizing Specialist of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “In partnership with SisterSong, leaders in the reproductive justice movement, and Rhode Island social justice and health care organizations with a long history of advocating on behalf of their communities, the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom will work to ensure women of color are seen, heard, and provided the high-quality health care they deserve.”
The bill was announced at what may have been the first press conference held at the Rhode Island State House in which all of the speakers were women of color.
The press conference was emceed by Aniece Germain, president of Hope and Change for Haiti. Hope and Change for Haiti is a member organization of the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom.
“I always think that if I knew of doula services I would have had a different experience when I had my children,” said Germain. “I remember having questions unanswered by fear to look stupid. I remember I fell in the bathroom at the hospital one day after giving birth. I kept asking myself what could have been done to prevent that from happening. Was there anything that could support me? I am sure I was neither the first nor the last black woman experiencing this situation. Having a compassionate doula culturally integrated with me would have made a difference.”
“I had my son in ’97. I was 17 years old. I was a black teen by herself, and I was afraid and I was alone” said Felicia Love, Co-President of Rhode Island Doulas. “I had no idea about doulas. I had no idea about the resources that were available to our community. In 2013 I got pregnant again and I knew I wanted to have a completely different experience. So I did my research, and I found a doula.”
The problem was, Love lacked the money to afford a doula. Eventually a doula offered her services to Love for free.
“A doulas work does come from the heart,” said Love, “but we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our family for other families.” It is important that doulas are adequately compensated for the work they do.
Love became a doula herself because she wanted to give the experience of her second child’s birth to other people.
Senator Quezada didn’t know about doulas until she was asked to introduce the bill in the Senate. Since then, Quezada has educated herself about the importance of doulas.
“That reminded me about a story my mom told me when she had her first baby many years ago in the Dominican Republic“, said Quezada. “When she was pregnant she didn’t know how she was going to have that baby. She thought she was going to throw up and the baby was going to come out. That was her real belief, because she didn’t have anybody around her to support her… She was a very innocent person…
“Then I remember my husband telling me his mom had seven children at home, without care, without medical, without anybody there but her mom… that was in Guatemala.
“As a woman of color, coming to this country and knowing what so many women go through in other countries, it’s very hard for me to not support a bill like this…”
Jennifer Rourke, a member of The Womxn Project, told her harrowing story of having her symptoms ignored after she gave birth before she was finally told, after days of being run around and flirting with death, that she was suffering from post-partum preeclampsia. Rourke is the mother of four children.
“Having someone there to advocate for me would have been fantastic,” said Rourke. “I have private insurance. I actually have the ability to pay for a doula, I just didn’t think I needed it. And I just think back to when I was 16 and I gave birth to my oldest son, and I’m like, what if that was a young girl in the hospital, like me, and she didn’t know what was going on? If she didn’t have someone by her side?
“This bill is so important for some many people, but mainly for black women. Because black women are four times more likely to die giving birth…”
“Motherhood is difficult. Giving birth is traumatic. It’s the closest thing to death,” said Providence City Councilor Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3). “Because when you go into a hospital, a birthing center and you decide to give birth, you’re not sure you’re going to make it out. You hope you will and you also want someone to be there that’s going to support you.”
LaFortune made an important observation during her speech: “Having birthing options and support should not be a privilege, it is a right!”
Reprinted with permission from Steve Ahlquist of UpRiseRI.com
Hope and Change for Haiti held their second annual International Women Day Celebration at the Rhode Island State House on Friday. The event was emceed by Pearl Farquharson. United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island) attended, as did Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner.
Hope and Change for Haiti advocates for women and immigrant rights and to promote cultural awareness. The group was founded by Aniece Germain and Dr Norly Germain.
Caroline Jackson Morgan received a citation award from Senator Whitehouse for her volunteer political and social justice advocacy work.
Below is all the video from the event.
“Women’s rights must be a guarantee for all,” said Aniece Germain. “This struggle, to end all forms of discrimination against women, is real.”
“We still have some fights ahead of us in Washington,” said Senator Whitehouse. “We are still fighting for equal pay for equal work. We are pushing back hard against the efforts to degrade women’s health.”
“Part of achieving balance, not just as individuals but as activists and for the movement, is to know that we’re not just one individual or one organization,” said Dr Hilary Levey Friedman, President of the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Organization for Women (RI NOW). “Together we can find a balance and represent everybody.”
“This is a time that many of us have found troubling and disturbing at a national level,” said Treasurer Magaziner. It is “a time when we feel that all of the progress that has been made towards equality and justice over the centuries and the decades is being threatened… Here in Rhode ISland we have push back against that trend…”
Singer/songwriter Alison Rose performed he song, Hope.
“Although we have made significant strides in improving healthcare throughout the country,” said Providence City Councilor Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3). “Black and immigrant women are still at risk for poor health and economic outcomes.”
“We in the House are about to count 27 women among our 75 members,” said Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown), to applause. “And there’s 16 [women] in the 38 member Senate. Both chambers are at a record high for female representation. That’s something we should all be proud of.”
Quatia Osorio CCHW, CLC is a certified perinatal community health worker, certified lactation counselor and community birth and postpartum doula. She is studying to become a midwife.
“Challenges in maternal health are challenges for all of us,” said Osario. “We need to ask ourselves as a community: Do you know someone who has recently given birth? Have you checked on them?”
“It was a really big moment when the House passed the Reproductive Privacy Act,” said Jordan Hevenor, co-director of The Womxn Project, referring to the passage of a bill the night before that codified the protections of Roe v Wade into Rhode Island State Law. “For us, this issue is not a political issue it is a personal one. It is about each of us having the right and ability to make our own decisions. It is about honoring the agency of women. It is about women being able to decide how to build our families and our relationships.”
Tiara Mack is an educator and activist and a boardmember of Women’s Health and Education Fund (WHEF).
“Women [are] broadly defined in this new age to include so many into the fold – Black, Brown, Trans, gender nonconforming and a host of other identities – unify us into a shared fight for power. Women have come to challenge and confront issues with ferocious grace and determination through countless obstacles and systems meant to ensure our failure.”
Dr Norly Germain, Executive Director of Hope and Change for Haiti provided the closing words.
Reposted with permission by Steve Ahlquist of UpriseRI.