Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The university take on affordable housing

Brian Plum (lead organizer for IMPACT) let me know about this article by Sarah Wooten in the Cavalier Daily - "Living through the crisis".

The majority of the facts in the article have been discussed before. The most interesting comments, to me, surrounded the effect (or perceived effect) that the student population has on the amount of affordable housing available to those earning below 50% AMI (average median income).

 "University Off-Grounds Housing Manager Vicki Hawes, however, said the housing that University students predominantly live in has been rezoned as “university high density” for students.

“I don’t think it affects affordable housing available for the general population of Charlottesville,” Hawes said of the student presence in the city."

Some city residents see things differently:

"Another reason finding affordable housing is difficult, Johnson said, is the student population in the city. Students are taking up a majority of the housing in Charlottesville, she noted.
“You can get a lot of students in one apartment and they can pay it,” Johnson said."

Adding the University to the debate complicates things, so I'm glad that they took part in the conversation about the future of affordable housing (see IMPACT Behind the News). And I'm glad that the Cavalier Daily finds this issue important enough to devote a fair number of column-inches to it. I hope that many UVA students read the article and understand that housing is, fundamentally, a human rights issue - and that many many students will come out to the Nehemiah Action on March 30 to show their support for their neighbors who struggle to find a place to live.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Economic Stimulus and IMPACT

Did you happen to see the article by Rachana Dixit in the Daily Progress yesterday about the economic stimulus package? (How will stimulus package benefit region?)

I'm encouraged by the mention of both affordable housing and education, though I admit it's not clear specifically how "the region" will take advantage of money for affordable housing. And the money for education seems targeted on specific programs, which may or may not be the most pressing needs for the community.

Still, I've noticed a fair amount of coverage of affordable housing in the local media recently - people are starting to gain awareness the dire straits of the folks in the economic margins of our city and county, possibly because they're the first to suffer job losses and foreclosures in these difficult times.

On Thursday, Feb 26, the IMPACT research committees for education and affordable housing will present their status reports, as we begin to gear up for the Nehemiah Action on March 30. Whatever issues the committees have chosen, I'll be glad to be there in support. In these times of turmoil, there's no better time to come together with brothers and sisters of other faiths to shine a light of justice in our city and county. I hope to see you there!

Image courtesy of NY Times

Friday, February 13, 2009


Due to a typo and some inattention on my part, I just now noticed that there was a discrepancy in the calendar I was using for the date of the Rally - the date is not February 15 (this Sunday), it is in fact THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26. The location and time are the same (6:30pm at Church of the Incarnation).

My sincere apologies, and I really do hope you will consider coming out for the event on the actual date that it occurs.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

'Tis the Season for IMPACT

Well, it’s getting to be that time of (the IMPACT) year again - we’re starting to ramp up for the Nehemiah Action in March, and there are a number of meetings lined up.

First, there’s a team assembly on Monday, February 9th at 7pm at Wesley Memorial United Methodist. The team assembly is an opportunity for people who are relatively new to IMPACT organizing to hear about various ways to get the word out to more folks at our congregations. For those interested in hearing more about the methodology of IMPACT, please consider attending the meeting at Wesley Memorial United Methodist at 1901 Thomson Road (across from Memorial Gym at UVA).

Next, the IMPACT Rally is going to be held on Sunday, February 15th at 6:30pm at Church of the Incarnation. Members from the 30 member congregations will gather to hear reports from the research committees on affordable housing and education. We’ll then reach out to fellow parishioners, friends, relatives, and anyone who might be interested in seeing long-term change effected in our community. It’s a great event – smaller than the Nehemiah Action, but very energetic. There’s music and testimony, and it really gets you fired up to reach out to as many people as possible for the Nehemiah Action.

Finally, the Nehemiah Action is on Sunday, March 30th at 6:15pm at U-Hall. About 2000 people attended last year, and we’re expecting to surpass that number this year. That 2000 included over 125 people from St. Paul’s, and with your help, we’ll share the experience with an even greater number of friends and family this year.

2009 is a year of changes – some welcome, some not so, but all transformative. We all know that the correct response to  the challenges we face is not “every person for themselves” but “we’re all in this together.” It’s never been more critical that we gather, as people of faith, to show our commitment to forward progress for social justice in our city, our county, our neighborhood, and our community. I hope and pray that in addition to joining me at the meeting on March 30th, you will make an effort to reach out to family, friends and neighbors and give them the opportunity to share this experience and support those in our community who are most often forgotten.