Click here for West/Southwest IAF Key Victories in 2023

Central Valley IAF Calls For Housing Where Infrastructure Already Exists

[Excerpt]

...the city’s own 2023 draft Housing Element (page 1E-2-36) concludes there is capacity within city limits for 46,392 new homes — on land with ready access to water, sewer, roads, and schools, and available right now to build the housing Fresno needs. We urge the [Building Industry Association] BIA and its member developers to take advantage of these opportunities to fill the gaps in our city with attractive housing for all families in Fresno.  This situation creates opportunity, too, for the City Council:

it’s time to focus on getting housing built in vacant and underused sites in all parts of Fresno.

That new focus should include supporting developers with the improved infrastructure and other incentives that will inspire them to build so that every Fresno family has a good roof over its head.

[Photo Credit: Craig Kohlruss, Fresno Bee]

Fresno May Grow to its Southeast, But At What Cost and Who Pays? This Needs More StudyFresno Bee [pdf]  


Texas IAF Featured in National Catholic Reporter

[Excerpt]

"Catholic social teaching isn't ideological," [Bob] Fleming said. "It says, 'Go out to the people, talk with them, understand them, let them tell you what's going on.' "

....[Sr. Pearl] Ceasar shares Fleming's sentiment about the compatibility of Texas IAF's work and Catholic social teaching. In the 1960s, she studied the documents of the Second Vatican Council, which she said greatly impacted her outlook on the responsibilities of individual Catholics and the Catholic Church.

"Vatican II didn't address the doctrines of the church; it addressed the relationships in the church and who we are to be as Catholics," Ceasar said. "Meaning that we are to be engaged with people, we are to be engaged in the community."

For 50 years, Texas IAF Organizing Group Has Drawn on Catholic RootsNational Catholic Reporter [pdf]


Catholic Herald: 'People of God' Should Thrive in Environment 'That Promotes Common Good'

In photo: Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, Archdiocesan Director of Social Concerns, speaks at the podium in front of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Houston with other congregational and community leaders, including Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS.

[Excerpts]

The historically African-American neighborhood inside Houston’s northern 610 Loop has held townhall meetings and protests since last year to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). But its Director approved a permit this past January for Texas Coastal Materials to build a concrete and rock crusher across the street mere yards away from the busy public hospital.

Now residents, state representatives and Church leaders hope a letter-writing campaign gathering thousands of signatures to Gov. Greg Abbott will help him to overturn the Standard Air Quality Permit 173296 given to the company.

Father Martin Eke, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in that neighborhood, said, “The company tells us it will not be a problem. But my parishioners and I live here in the community. The crushed gravel with its particulates will only add to the air pollution here.”

....[Sister Maureen O’Connell] added, “The letters reflect the commitment of the people of God and their desire to live and thrive in an environment that promotes the common good.”

Kashmere Gardens Community, Churches Protest Another Polluting CompanyThe Catholic Herald [pdf]

[Update: TCEQ's own Office of Public Interest Counsel (OPIC) finds that "good cause to overturn the ED’s decision exists, based on substantial evidence provided by the Movants that the entirety of the facility will not be located further than 440 yards from a school or place of worship."]


500 ACTION Tulsa Leaders Secure Commitments from School Bd. Candidates

Months before the election for several Tulsa Public School Board seats, 500 leaders from 14 institutional members of ACTION Tulsa assembled to establish a public relationship with school board candidates and press them to work with the organization on issues surfaced through several hundred conversations among parents, grandparents and students.  

Parent leaders like Dania Gaona, told stories around lack of safety for young students walking to school, mental health, teacher support and campus safety.  

In Gaona's case, because her three daughters live within 1.5 miles of the school, they are not eligible for bus service.  With no crossing guards at busy street intersections, Gaona says her family Ubers to school, but that "we have many children who walk unsupervised to MacArthur across the busy intersection.”

Most candidates publicly committed to collaborate with Tulsa ACTION leaders, who pressed candidates on behalf of their schools, congregation and neighborhoods.  The assembly was part of a large-scale effort to build nonpartisan citizen power with the capacity to improve conditions in the community.

After the meeting Tulsa ACTION leader Claire Tomm declared, 

"I hope [people] leave feeling inspired to get out and vote in April, and to get more involved, and most importantly just to strike up a conversation with neighbors, community members about what matters."

[Photo Credit: Elizabeth Caldwell, Public Radio Tulsa]

Nonpartisan Group Urges School Leaders to Focus on Family PrioritiesTulsa World [pdf]

Candidates for Tulsa Public School Board Meet to Hear Citizen ConcernsPublic Radio Tulsa [pdf]

Tulsa Public Schools' Board Candidates Hold Forum at University of TulsaNewson6 [pdf]


TWM Fights for Expansion of Childcare Funding in Kent County

After publicly calling on Kent County to put expanded support of childcare on the upcoming November ballot, 120 Together West Michigan leaders, including multiple religious pastors, piled into a County Commissioners meeting to reinforce that call. 

Parents, grandparents, clergy and supportive members of the community asked, "How are the children?" before demanding that Kent County allow voters to decide on a millage that would finance the expansion of childcare services for residents.  

Advocates Call for Expanded Childcare FundingWZZM 13 News


EPISO/Border Interfaith Stands with Annunciation House

Leaders of EPISO and Border Interfaith join with a large and united group of organizations across El Paso in opposing Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attacks on Annunciation House, an organization that has been tirelessly serving migrants for decades. Migrants and those who serve them should be treated with dignity and respect, not scapegoated and persecuted for short-term political gain.

EPISO and Border Interfaith represent a broad-based coalition of churches, schools, nonprofits and neighborhood associations. Leaders from across our organization have been active volunteers with migrant shelters in El Paso and know first-hand the invaluable support that Annunciation House and others offer migrants on their difficult journey.

Statement in Support of Annunciation House, Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso

Catholic Church Will Not Be Intimidated by Ken Paxton's Threats to Annunciation House, Bishop Seitz SaysEl Paso Matters [pdf]


Vatican Official Dr. Emilce Cuda Joins COPS/Metro & West/Southwest IAF for Dialogue About Organizing

COPS/Metro Alliance leaders welcomed the Vatican's Emilce Cuda, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, for a tour of San Antonio's West Side, followed by a two-day conversation about faith, organizing, and the role of the Catholic Church in confronting the crises facing its communities.

[Excerpt]

Cuda met with local parish leaders and organizers, and toured neighborhoods that have been transformed by the work of the COPS/Metro Alliance in developing neighborhood infrastructure, housing, health care, job training programs, and other economic development measures....

Meeting with organizations like the COPS/Metro Alliance, as well as other communities/organizations in the United States, Cuda said, is helpful to this mission because they’re able to share best practices for and approaches to community organizing....Cuda said that this push for community organizing is in line with the agenda of Francis.

“[Francis] said the way to arrive to a better life is better politics, and the better politics to him is a social dialogue, and my work is how to help to his agenda, so to open different ways to build bridges, to start a social dialogue between people that have a different interest and different necessities.”

Vatican Official Says Pope Francis Will Cause New Social Dialogue in ArgentinaCrux Catholic Media [pdf]


TMO Leaders Hold Press Conference Calling on Governor Abbott to Overturn Concrete Crusher Permit



On Friday February 16th, TMO leaders gathered a press conference to call on Governor Greg Abbott to overturn the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) permit that would allow construction of a concrete crushing facility next to the LBJ Hospital. Concrete crushers can have dire consequences for the communities that surround them including particle and noise pollution, damaged roads, and cracked windshields. Houston Public Media warns that the risks of fine particle exposure can include "elevated levels of heart disease, stroke, asthma, cancer and other respiratory issues."

To sign the petition and voice your support, click here.

Press Conference
Community Leaders Urge Greg Abbott to Reverse Permit for Concrete Crushing Plant Near LBJ HospitalHouston Public Media [pdf]
Community Organizers Ask Governor to Pump the Breaks on Concrete-Crushing FacilityHouston Press [pdf]
Houston Religious Leaders Protest Concrete Crushing Plant near Hospital, Chron.com [pdf]
Religious Leaders Join Opposition Against Proposed Concrete Plant by LBJ Hospital, Houston Chronicle [pdf]


Valley Interfaith Celebrates VIDA Job Training Successes

Urges More Cities and Counties to Invest in VIDA

Valley Interfaith leaders Rosalie Tristan and Joe Hinojosa celebrated VIDA's recent fundraising success as the culmination of 28 years of dreams and hard political work.  Almost three decades ago, Valley Interfaith established and, over the years, sustained the labor market intermediary to help transform jobs in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Valley Interfaith Leaders Proud of VIDA's SuccessRio Grande Guardian


CTI: Companies Should Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes, Just Like All of Us

[Excerpt]

“Tax breaks should be decoupled from school funding and from school board decision making, period,” said Rev. Miles Brandon, a [Central Texas] Interfaith leader and pastor of St. Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church...

Brandon said the new program is better than what existed previously because it no longer includes direct payments to schools, which he described as a “perverse incentive” for districts to approve deals despite the cost to the state's overall education system. He also said the decrease in the total size of each tax abatement is an improvement over Chapter 313, as is the requirement that each deal must pass the governor's office.

But he said Austin Interfaith will continue to encourage school board members to vote in opposition to any request by a company to participate in the new program...“As we see how this law unfolds, I think we will continue to oppose" applications, Brandon said."

[Photo Credit: Arnold Wells, Austin Business Journal]

Texas' New Incentives Tool is ReadyAustin Business Journal [link]