The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) is an organization of institutions dedicated to developing power and leadership among citizens in order to transform the city. We work to create relational power that can build and strengthen each member institution as well as shape public policy for the common good. TMO was formed in 1980 to give a voice to people who are usually excluded from major decisions that affect their lives. TMO is a part of a larger network of organizations known as the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a nationwide organizing institute with a fifty year history. TMO is also part of the West / Southwest IAF regional network and the Industrial Areas Foundation national network.

TMO believes that a truly democratic society requires the active participation of ordinary citizens. When people lack the means to connect to power and participate effectively in public life, social relationships disintegrate. Our model of relational organizing helps build real community. It generates social capital through a tight web of relationships across lines of race, ethnicity, class, faith, and geography. This social capital enables us to participate fully in public life and to become more effective actors in our communities.


Mayor Joins Voice to TMO's Call for Grace Period for Renters

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In response to TMO's call for mercy from landlords threatening to evict residents, in the form of a 45-day grace period for renters without penalties, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced he would carefully analyze the issue.  He also called on landlords to grant renters time to come up with the rent. 

Three TMO leaders testified at City Hall: Raul Ramirez of St. Leo The Great Catholic Church, Rev. Simón Bautista, Christ Church Cathedral Church and Rev. Edward Gomez of St. Paul's Episcopal Church /Iglesia Episcopal San Pablo.

For Renters, Harvey Was the First Blow, Followed By Order to Move, New York Times

Mayor Turner Tells Landlords Not to Evict Flood Victims in Response to Pastors’ Pleas, Houston Press

Harvey Wreaks Havoc on Houston's Undocumented, USA Today

Late Fees Add Problems for Tenants Who Missed Out on Work During Harvey, Houston Public Media

Landlords Still Charging Harvey Victims Rent for Destroyed Homes, Death and Taxes

Pleading for Time on Behalf of Renters Behind On Their Rent Because of Hurricane Harvey, Univision [Spanish]

Testimony at City Hall

Piden Plazo Para los Inquilinos Que Fueron Afectados por Harvey y Que Están Atrasados Con la Renta, Univision

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TMO Calls on Landlords to Add Grace Period for Renters

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Acting on stories they heard in outreach efforts around church neighborhoods, 70 leaders from 10 member institutions of TMO convened a Saturday morning press conference to call on landlords to grant a three-week (minimum) grace period for renters in the area and across Harris County.

TMO leaders report that pastors are afraid of evictions for not being able to pay rent, due to a week without work caused by Hurricane Harvey.  This loss of income is devastating to families and evictions will exacerbate financial hardships and instability during this recovery period.

Fr. Ed Gomez of San Pablo Episcopal Church and his members have visited ten surrounding apartment complexes to urge landlords for grace periods, but not all landlords have agreed. If mortgage companies can give lenders 90 days to get back on their feet, leaders argue, then surely landlords can give at least two weeks.

TMO called on the Mayor and Council to urge landlords not to exploit community members when all are recovering from the unprecedented storm together.  Leaders also called on Mayor Turner and Judge Emmitt to create a public works strategy that will hire people who are unemployed to do the massive cleanup that is needed.

Some Apartment Dwellers Face Post-Harvey Eviction, Houston Chronicle

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Hurricane Harvey Update

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Thank you for all of your calls of concern and your prayers on behalf of TMO organizers and leaders.  We are weathering a storm of epic proportions, an 800 year event!   Hurricane Harvey is surpassing ALL other flood events. Thousands here have evacuated and many, many more are being rescued and sheltered as this is being written.  Surrounding areas of Dickinson, Rosenberg, Conroe, portions of Houston, and the communities of Sienna Plantation and First Colony are under mandatory evacuation. 

Houston_-_Photo_From_Inside_Flooding_Car.jpgAs for the organizers, Willie and Maria are stuck in neighborhoods surrounded by water; Sheyda Brown is on the fourth floor of the apartment complex but water has reached on top of first floor; and Mario Duran’s car is under water and his mother had to be rescued by boat.  Elizabeth was working out of town and is not able to fly back because both airports are closed.

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1,300+ TMO Leaders Engage Harris Co. Sheriff on SB4

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More than 1,300 leaders from TMO assembled at Assumption Catholic Church to clarify the impact of anti-immigrant Senate Bill 4.  Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez responded to questions and concerns raised by leaders, as did Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Lori Bender and Carolina Ortuzar-Diaz, an immigration attorney from Manny Ramirez Law Firm.

[Photo Credit: Douglas Pierre]

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We Must Link Arms in Pursuit of a Loving Nation

[Excerpt]

In response to the aftermath in Charlottesville, Va., a group of Houston area faith leaders have written the following commentary.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These are foundational words upon which this country was built and the creed which Americans are to believe and live by. There is no room for hate and bigotry with these words. These words are inclusive of all men — white, black, brown, educated, uneducated, rich and poor, people of faith and of no faith.

In light of the horrific events in Charlottesville, Va., and elsewhere, and under the veil of weak support from the White House to condemn bigotry, anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia, we wish to lift up our voices and represent our faith traditions in concert with American values we all cherish....

We Must Link Arms in Pursuit of a Loving Nation, Houston Chronicle

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Houston-area Leaders Learn How to Put Their Faith Into Action

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Nearly 80 Spanish-speaking leaders from the Houston area learned about the mission of the church, and their responsibility as leaders to put their faith in action, in training delivered by TMO in collaboration with the Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

Pope Francis’ words to the 2nd World Gathering of Popular Movements provided inspiration to the group:

Quisiera volver a unir mi voz a la de ustedes: tierra, techo y trabajo para todos nuestros hermanos y hermanos. Lo dije y lo repito: son derechos sagrados. Vale la pena luchar por ellos.” 

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TMO, Texas IAF Continue Fight for ACE Funding

1705-CMA-SAEN-Project-QUEST-Nursing-Student-Tends-to-Patient-300x242.jpegSince the JET Fund was established in 2009, at the urging of the Texas IAF, the state supported IAF-affiliated labor market intermediaries that navigated more than 800 lower-income, nontraditional students through community college.

The Adult Career Education (ACE) Grant program, the effort’s most recent permutation, now faces an uncertain future.  In efforts to slash the state budget, Texas legislators are moving to eliminate all “special item” expenditures, even those that pay for special programs at colleges, over and beyond the normal higher education funding formulas.

“It has nothing to do with our program or the effectiveness of it,” said Elizabeth Valdez, lead organizer for The Metropolitan Organization in Houston.

A recently-released gold-standard study established that the Texas IAF’s flagship program, Project QUEST, was the only program in the nation to demonstrate sustained, sizable and statistically significant gains.  In photo, a Project QUEST-supported student works with a patient.

[Photo Credit: William Luther, San Antonio Express News]

Proposed Higher Education Funding Overhaul Could Come With Collateral DamageTexas Tribune

Senate ResolutionSenate of the State of Texas

Escalating Gains: Project QUEST’S Sectoral Strategy Pays OffEconomic Mobility Corporation

Study Affirms Project QUEST Achievements, San Antonio Express-News

Texas Job Program Shows Unusually Strong, Lasting Gains, Study FindsAustin American Statesman [pdf]

Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) Grant Program: The Wise Investment for Proven Economic DevelopmentTexas IAF

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Conozca Sus Derechos

English version here

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Todos que residen en los EEUU, inclusive los inmigrantes indocumentados , tienen ciertos derechos constitucionales.  Los siguientes videos repasan qué hacer si los agentes de ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents) te visitan en su hogar, su trabajo o en público. 

Resumen de sus Derechos:

1) No son obligados a abrir la puerta de su hogar
2) Tienes el derecho de mantener silencio
3) Tienes el derecho de hablar con un abogado

Este esfuerzo es parte de una estrategia de inmigración de largo plazo en Houston.

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Know Your Rights

Lo mismo en español

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All people living in the United States, including undocumented immigrants, have certain U.S. Constitutional rights.  The following videos discuss what to do if Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents (ICE) visit your home, place of work, or stop you in public.

Summary of Rights:

1) You do not have to open the door to your home
2) You have the right to remain silent
3) You have the right to speak to a lawyer

This effort is part of a longer-term immigration strategy in Houston.

 

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TMO Leaders & Capital IDEA Grads Join 200+ Texas IAF Organization Leaders at Capitol

1703_-_TMO_-_Day_at_the_Capitol.png40 TMO leaders and Capital IDEA graduates joined over 200 Network of Texas (NTO) IAF  organization leaders at the Texas state capital to talk to our state representatives and senators about restoring full funding of the Texas Innovative Adult Career Education Fund (ACE Fund). Our delegation met with 20 legislators and/or their staffs asking them to support the ACE fund at its full $5 million, and also supporting bail reform, local control, and opposing ant-immigrant legislation.

Leaders from our network were guests of the legislature as a resolution was read in support of the ACE fund by five Texas House members including Representative John Zerwas, whom our leaders got to sign on to the resolution.  Our entire delegation was asked to stand.  Later that day the Senate also read a resolution in favor of the ACE fund.  Now the fight is to get it fully funded in both houses.
 
Our NTO IAF organizations called for this funding at a press conference held on the South side Capital steps.  Several legislators from across the state came out and spoke in support of the ACE fund.  Capital IDEA graduates and other graduates across the state told stories of how the workforce initiatives and the funding helped change their lives, moving them from $10.00/hr part time work to careers earning as much as $70,000 per year!  The average wage of a graduate from these programs is $20.66/hr. 
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