When Pope Francis told a group of U.S. community organizers that their work was "atomic," Jorge Montiel said, "I thought, 'Oh, you mean we blow things up?'"
But instead, the pope spoke about how the groups associated with the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation in the United States take issues patiently, "atom by atom," and end up building something that "penetrates" and changes entire communities, said Montiel, an IAF organizer in Colorado and New Mexico.
Pope Francis' hourlong meeting Sept. 14 with 15 delegates from the group was a follow-up to a similar meeting a year ago. Neither meeting was listed on the pope's official schedule and, the delegates said, both were conversations, not "audiences."
"It was relaxed, it was engaging," said Joe Rubio, national co-director of IAF. "Often you don't see that even with parish priests," he told Catholic News Service Sept. 15, garnering the laughter of other delegates.
Pope Meets US Leaders Patiently Building Culture of Solidarity, US Conference of Catholic Bishops / Catholic News Service [pdf]Read more
EPISO/Border Interfaith Leads Public Outcry Against City Project that Threatens to Demolish Local Homes
“Our community has heard from hundreds of residents who are opposed to this route, and many have just learned in the last few weeks that their homes may potentially be lost,” said Lorena Silvestre, a leader with EPISO/Border Interfaith and local resident.
“Of the three routes proposed, this one clearly hurts the most people who are elderly, Spanish-speaking and on limited income. These are families that built their homes with their own hands. We do not accept the argument that this is the “best route” to alleviate traffic.
This is just the route [the City of Socorro] thinks people will not fight back. They are wrong."
"VOICE — Voices Organized in Civic Engagement — reports that the poorest Oklahomans inevitably fall behind on their payments and are victim to an endless cycle of bench warrants, arrests, driver’s license suspensions and incarceration, thus exacerbating the state’s incarceration problem.
Many offenders can only afford a public offender[sic], cannot afford bail and are only given the evidence against them 10 days before trial. Thus, 95% of charges are pleaded out regardless of a person’s guilt, according to VOICE...Read more
“What I would say to those in Together West Michigan: If your hope was to ensure that homeownership was a priority and focus, you have succeeded.”
Commissioner Stephen Wooden’s comment was one of many acknowledgements Together West Michigan (TWM) won on August 10 from Kent County commissioners as they voted on the rules for the county’s new Affordable Housing Revolving Loan Fund. Because of TWM’s months of work, the fund includes a goal that 10% of the affordable units be owned by families, rather than rented.
10% Ownership Goal Included In County’s Affordable Housing Fund, Together West Michigan
Kent County to Launch Affordable Housing Revolving Loan Fund with Initial $58M, Crain's Grand Rapids Business [pdf]
TWM Leader Testimony, Kent County Commissioners Court [video from 02:30]
More TWM Testimony, Kent County Commissioners Court [video from 18:00]
Leaking faucets, holes in the floor, and rats running across children's feet at night. An apartment manager refusing to start repairs without proof of US citizenship. These are just some of the conditions that leaders of Bachman Lake apartments, like Iris Romo and Ericka Ventura, unearthed in a neighborhood conversation campaign.
When tenant leaders at Lumin Bachman Lake Community School began to share these stories, the city didn't take them seriously. However, Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI) leaders knew that this was unacceptable. After all, they had been instrumental in the development of housing standards that were now being violated. In 2016, DAI had compelled the City of Dallas to impose these standards, and the tenant leaders had been a key part of that effort.
The Community Lighthouse Project is equipping churches, health clinics and other community spaces with solar panels and batteries, so they don’t need to rely on grid power and faulty generators to stay open in emergencies. The nonprofit undertaking the project, Together New Orleans, ultimately wants to scatter 86 “lighthouses” throughout the state, so every resident lives within a 15-minute walk...
“We know everyone in the community within a mile or so radius that needs their breathing machine connected to electricity, or they have someone in a wheelchair or somebody that’s bed bound,” said Rev. Antoine Barriere, pastor of the Household of Faith Family Worship Church.
DAI Tenant Leaders Deepen Cooperation with Code Enforcement, See Noticeable Improvements in Housing Conditions
DAI tenant advocacy for improved conditions in low-income Bachman Lake apartment complexes continues to pay off, partly due to increased collaboration with bilingual housing code inspectors. Spanish speaking Dallas Area Interfaith leaders have been at the forefront of action, including meetings with City officials and educational meetings with residents.
Over 70 MOC leaders recently assembled to launch an individual meeting campaign and plan next steps for a campaign to raise the wages of caregivers. Leaders have been writing and testifying in support of lifting the wage floor from $16.96 per hour to a living wage.
"Caregiving work is skilled and dangerous. These same workers were applauded nightly during the pandemic for their willingness to show up at a time when there were no vaccines, when we had no idea how coronavirus spread, when they couldn’t find masks or gloves to protect themselves...Read more