Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thanks for having an IMPACT

Last night the faith community of Charlottesville was 1,500 strong in the stands at the old UVa basketball arena, gathering under the auspices of IMPACT (Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Area Congregations Together). 

We heard concrete proposals for creating more affordable housing to the region, and we got commitments in favor of those proposals from members of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and the Charlottesville City Council. We also heard proposals for early childhood education, though members of the local school board declined to show up.

I am very proud to report that St. Paul's was 115 strong (the second largest turnout amongst the congregations). Thanks especially to John Frazee for working so hard with IMPACT and all of your efforts to get such a strong turnout from St. Paul's. Thanks also to Joan Burchell for your hard work on the education task force.

You can read accounts of the evening and see video of the evening on the NBC29 website HERE or on the Daily Progress website HERE.

For me, the issue was summed up by testimony of Valerie Bowe, who we've heard at earlier meetings. Ms. Bowe, a single mother, has a bachelor's degree and a job in Charlottesville. But she has struggled to find an apartment she can afford. It takes her nearly two paychecks per month to pay the rent. "I kind of had to choose between where I'm going to live as opposed to can I get some food in my refrigerator and I chose where I'm going to live and let the food take care of itself," she said.

The Charlottesville area has a severe shortage of rental housing for those earning $20,000 a year or less -- an estimated 4,000 units are needed. Minimum wage jobs do not pay the rent. Last night our local elected officials committed to doing something, and that is a step forward. Thanks to one and all for coming.

Photo from NBC29

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