A Message from Ellen
June 8, 2022
Seven of us went to celebrate the end of the annual justice cycle for MORE Justice [Midlands Organized Response for Equity and Justice] on May 23rd. We gathered in the gym of Our Lady of the Hills Catholic Church in Irmo with Christians, Jews, and Muslims of every color and socio-economic stripe to commit ourselves to continue to work to accomplish small, measurable steps that will make our community a better place for everyone.
One project that MORE Justice has worked on and that you can help support is the funding of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund for Richland County. An affordable housing trust fund gives builders incentives to build/renovate housing for ownership that is both safe and affordable. If we can begin to solve the lack of safe and affordable housing, we can address so many of our community’s ills at the ROOT. Safe and affordable housing has been shown to positively impact schools and learning, food security, gun violence and so many other needs. MORE Justice has asked that a fraction of the federal relief funds be used to create this fund. Even if you are against receiving this federal money (it is coming whether we agree or not), please consider asking the Richland County Council to use $10 million to create a fund that will provide free-market incentives to create more safe, affordable housing in our community. You can do so by contacting the members of the Richland County Council, or by completing the survey that the Council has put out to help identify our priorities for community development. 2022-2026 Richland County CDBG Consolidated 50-Year Plan Survey: https://www.richlandcountysc.gov/Government/Departments/Community-Development/Community-Development-News
I made sure to prioritize affordable mortgages and safe, affordable housing of all kinds in my answers. Then, after the first question, I wrote the following in the comments section.
“Please allocate 10 million of the federal COVID relief money that RC will receive to fund an AFFORDABLE HOUSING TRUST FUND to build affordable homes and so make home ownership a real possibility in our county! So many of the issues and needs on this list could be addressed at the root if you will take this one step for our collective future. Please!”
From the comfort of our homes, we can speak on behalf of those who don’t have a voice. Please help prioritize this great need in our community. Being a follower of Jesus means that we take specific actions to bring good news to our neighbors. Being able to rent or own a place to live that doesn’t take 75% of their income is good news no matter your political party. MORE Justice is also working on proactive responses to the spiraling gun violence in our community. If you want to know more, and if you’d like to be part of the research that may result in more solutions, plan to attend a house meeting in our congregation. These house meetings will be held in September and October. Ask me, Peggy Carey, Jodi Beckham for more information.
Ms. Sydney Gonzales, a brand new staff organizer for MORE Justice, was in worship with us last Sunday and will be calling some of our church members to introduce herself and to listen to our stories about justice. Sydney spent a lot of her life in Sumter, SC (an Air Force kid) and is a recent graduate of College of Charleston. Please welcome her when she calls you, or feel free to contact her to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org . We are required by Scripture to do BOTH acts of mercy and of justice.
Cornel West once said, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
Peace and Justice,
Ellen Fowler Skidmore