Tato Laviera, the “Chronicler of Life in El Barrio,” Needs Our Help

Nuyorican poet Tato Laviera’s works have reached out to the hearts and souls of the Puerto Rican community and nourished us for decades. Now this poet, novelist and cultural icon needs us to reach out to him.

Tato Laviera has been in intensive care for two and a half months and his health is deteriorating rapidly. Doctors have not been able to identify his illness and he needs financial support. His family is reaching out to literary and cultural groups, friends, colleagues and Laviera fans for help with donations.

Three years ago, Laviera became homeless after undergoing brain surgery. At that time, community members helped him secure the living conditions necessary for him to continue to work. Since then, he has kept busy until his more recent illness, producing  the play The King of Cans, a musical that takes place in New York City and tells the story of homeless can collectors who strive to rebuild their lives while dealing with day-to-day survival on the streets. He also completed a draft of the novel, El Barrio.

The writer, poet, essayist, playwright, who was born Jesus Abraham Laviera in Puerto Rico and has lived has lived in New York City since 1960, committed himself to the social and cultural development of Puerto Ricans in New York. He has taught creative writing at universities. His poetry and plays are linguistic and artistic celebrations of Puerto Rican culture, African Caribbean traditions, and life in the city.  Laviera writes in English, Spanish, and Spanglish and has been dubbed as a “chronicler of life in El Barrio.”

If you can help with a contribution of any amount to this literary legend who has done so much for us, please click here to find out where you can send a check to. 

Source: Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro)


Hurricane Sandy Recovery: How to Get Federal, State and City Assistance

Did you lose wages as a result of Sandy? Did your property or business sustain damage? Take a look at the below resources we have compiled where you can report damage and/or apply for assistance.

Lost Jobs and Wages (State Department of Labor) –

  • If you live or work in NYC and you lost your job or income due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, you may qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).  You may qualify for DUA even if you would not normally be able to get unemployment insurance benefits. To find out if you might be eligible for DUA, call the Telephone Claims Center (TCC) at 1-888-209-8124, or 1-877-358-5306 if you live out of state. Claims will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Answer the questions to indicate that you lost your job as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy. File your application with the New York State Department of Labor as soon as possible.  The application deadline is December 3, 2012. For more information, visit http://www.labor.ny.gov/ui/2012-sandy-services.shtm.

FEMA Disaster Assistance –

  • Apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • Apply via smartphone at m.fema.gov.
  • Apply by phone: (800) 621-3362 or call TTY (800) 462-7585 for people with speech or hearing disabilities. For individuals who use 711 or Video Relay service, call (800) 621-3362. The numbers mentioned are available from 7 AM to 10 PM, 7 days a week until further notice.

To find out what disaster assistance is and if you qualify, or to check the status of your application, please visit fema.gov/apply-assistance.


NYC Business Assistance Programs –

  • New York City, including the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), is coordinating a set of services to assist small businesses in recovering from Hurricane Sandy. Please follow this link for further information.

Insurance –

  • Remember that the assistance mentioned above should be in addition to your insurance claim. 
  • For individuals who need assistance contacting or dealing with their insurance company, you can call the New York State Department of Financial Services (formerly known as New York State Insurance Department) at (518) 474-4567 or (800) 686-1526. There is also a storm assistance number, (800) 339-1759.
  • Sandy was considered a post-tropical storm, not a hurricane, so you should NOT have to pay a hurricane deductible on your insurance policy.

Hispanic Federation Will Award 100 DREAMers $50,000 to Apply for Deferred Action

In the midst of rejoicing with the still-new news of DREAMers being able to obtain protection from deportation and receive work permits for at least two years, there’s a harsh reality for those who qualify for deferred action – the cost of applying. At $475 per applicant, it’s not a small fee, especially for families with multiple eligible DREAMers. This is why the Hispanic Federation, along with 10 Latino nonprofit partner organizations, is going to award $50,000 to aid 100 deserving, eligible immigrant youth applying for the Obama’s Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Immigration Program.

DREAMers looking to confirm their eligibility and apply for assistance with the application fee must do so through the 10 partner organizations, which are listed below:

Make the Road NY (Brooklyn & Queens, NY)
347-SONAR12 (347-766-2712)

Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights (Manhattan & Bronx, NY)
665 West 182nd Street, Ground Floor, New York, New York 10033

El Centro del Inmigrante (Staten Island, NY)
1546 Castleton Ave, Staten Island, NY 10302

Westchester Hispanic Coalition (Hudson Valley, NY)
46 Waller Avenue, White Plains, NY  10605

Center for Latino Progress (Hartford, CT)
95 Park Street, 2nd Floor, Hartford, CT 06106

Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury (Danbury, CT)
87 West Street, Danbury, CT 06810

Immigration & American Citizenship Organization (Passaic, NJ)
647 Main Avenue, Suite 205, Passaic, New Jersey, 07055

La Casa de Don Pedro (Newark, NJ)
39 Broadway Newark, NJ 07104

Juntos (Philadelphia, PA)
2029 South 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148

Esperanza Immigration Legal Services (Philadelphia, PA)
4261North 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140

Donations to support DREAMers can be made to the Hispanic Federation through their website or by contacting Tania Munguia at their headquarters at (212) 233-8955. If this is something you or someone you know is interested in applying for, spread the word and apply today. Best of luck!