Monday, March 30, 2009

Nehemiah Action TONIGHT @ 6:15pm at U Hall

I hope you can make it to University Hall at 6:15pm tonight, March 30, for the Nehemiah Action. Music, testimony, prayer, and a strong call for justice in housing and education.

Great prayer for today:

O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the needs of others; open my ears that I may hear their cries; open my heart so that they need not be without succor; let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong, nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich ... And so open my eyes and my ears that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for thee.

- Alan Paton

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Survey says: Childcare is getting tough and tougher

NBC29 did a piece on survey results from a group called Smart Beginnings on child care options (Survey Results: Child Care Struggles Flow Over into the Workplace) . I was mainly struck by this comment from a respondent:
"The cost (of child care) is just too much and I can't afford it and because of that, I feel my child won't get the early education she deserves to get her ready for school!"
It's striking to me when I hear the voice of parents who need to work multiple jobs, but who understand that child care needs to be more than a pair of eyes on their child. They know that if they don't find a place that engages well with their kids, it will have a strong negative effect on their children's future.

That's a frightening dilemma. You need to work to pay for rent/mortgage, food, etc., but you know your pre-schoolers need positive, engaging care to have a better chance when they get to school. But that costs money - and the space might not be available.

Please consider coming out on Monday night at 6:15PM at U Hall. Show that you want to see better opportunities for those in our area, our friends and neighbors who work in minimum wage jobs in businesses in the city and county, who are faced with the prospect of little to no affordable housing and who worry about their children falling behind in school.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Funding priorities and IMPACT

In an article ("Reserve proposed to fund new projects") in the Daily Progress yesterday, there were a lot of numbers thrown around. There's this much in the reserve fund, that much needed for programs x, y, and z. And it's noted that the Charlottesville Housing Fund is to get $400,000 less than the previous budget.
“Whenever funds are cut, it’s saddening to our community,” said Rickey White, pastor at Union Run Baptist Church and a member of IMPACT, a local interfaith group that has been credited with affordable housing accomplishments. “But we understand the economic situation that we’re in.”
I think it's wise to move our focus away from the dollars spent on one program or another, especially this year. Not that the programs aren't important, or that the money isn't needed. But putting a number on a program is always tricky, and fluid. The question shouldn't be, "How much are we spending?" but "Are we doing enough?"

"Doing enough" includes requesting public funding, but also includes asking questions about existing programs, looking for creative solutions, creating awareness in our community, building a group of people who believe strongly enough in these issues that they won't let them go, because they understand that we won't come out of these difficult times any stronger if we don't do enough.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I'm going to post some inspiring words I've come across that I feel are relevant to IMPACT's goals and methods -  if you've already committed to coming on March 30, please send them along to a friend, neighbor, or relative who might be encouraged to join you!

"It is so important not to let ourselves off the hook or to become apathetic or cynical by telling ourselves that nothing works or makes a difference. Every day, light your small candle.... The inaction and actions of many human beings over a long time contributed to the crises our children face, and it is the action and struggle of many human beings over time that will solve them—with God's help. So every day, light your small candle."

Marian Wright Edelman
Guide My Feet

Great primer on affordable housing

Charlottesville Tomorrow has published a terrific and thorough introduction to the topic of affordable housing in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

They don't spend a huge amount of time talking specifically about those earning below 30% AMI (around $20,000/year), which is what IMPACT is focused on, but there is this powerful quote:

"... the problem of a shortage of affordable housing is more complicated than examining incomes and ensuring that an adequate number of units exist for households at each income level; it is not only people who qualify as “low income” that try to save money on housing.  Since people with higher incomes and University students look for inexpensive housing within the City and there are a limited number of affordable rental units, low-income earners have to spend a higher portion of their pay on rent in order to be competitive in the rental market.  The situation has been exacerbated by the slowdown in the housing market; as the demand for rental units grows, rental prices within the City and County are increasing while unemployment is on the rise and salaries are staying the same or decreasing."

Thanks to IMPACT efforts, some progress has been made (City budgets, joint task force), but the economic climate makes a "perfect storm" for affordable housing, particularly for low wage earners. Please come out on March 30 to support our neighbors who can't find a suitable place to live at a livable price.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

IMPACT's Issues are OUR Issues

It seems as though I can't open the paper these days without seeing how the topics IMPACT has identified as critical issues of justice have become part of the fundamental platforms of many politicians running in the upcoming elections.

First up, Dennis Rooker:

[Rooker] also said he has his eyes set on improving the county’s affordable housing system, as well as “making certain that we fund excellence in education in this county.”

Next, Dave Norris:

But Norris said the city is still not where it needs to be in terms of providing affordable living choices for its residents, though a dent has been made.

And Julian Taliaferro:

Taliaferro emphasized many of the issues elected officials have been confronted with over the past few years — such as public education, governmental efficiency and especially affordable housing and the regional water supply plan — and vowed to continue work on these matters.

It's clear that IMPACT has help shift the dialogue in a positive way - we know that there are no easy solutions for the issues facing us all, and we look forward to working with elected officials to make progress. It's good to know that the elected officials are on board and understand how important affordable housing and education are to us and to our community.