Five months before the fall election, 150 Austin Interfaith leaders gathered at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church to launch a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort targeting 10,500 Central Texas voters. After approving the AI Agenda of Issues, leaders from congregations, schools, and non-profit organizations pledged, by institution, to sign up 10,500 voters and deliver them to the polls in the fall. Signups will take place both in congregations and institutions, and through blockwalks in surrounding neighborhoods.
Over the previous five months, Austin Interfaith leaders held over 250 small group "house meetings" with 2,500 participants to understand what issues communities are facing and to identify potential leaders from those conversations. What resulted is an agenda that includes workforce development and living wages, affordability and housing, community policing and safety, infrastructure and sustainability, healthcare, education, and immigration reform.
"It was exciting: clergy, teachers, parents, congregation members, healthcare workers, and union members all coming together around a shared vision for our county and with a practical plan to make it happen. This might be the largest and most diverse volunteer group in Austin working on voter turnout this fall," said Elisa Gonzales, a leader from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church who delivered the focus statement at the Delegates Assembly.
Joining the Austin Interfaith Delegates Assembly yesterday were representatives from the organization's expansion projects in Hays, Bastrop, Williamson, and Western Travis County, who are planning similar efforts in their communities. "We are one Central Texas community spanning many counties. We need to organize around a shared vision for the whole region," said Gary Duck, a Co-Chair of the event from St. Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church in Williamson County.
After hearing from immigrants about their reluctance to report crime, including domestic violence, for fear of being detained, Bastrop Interfaith leaders initiated a conversation with Bastrop County Sheriff Maurice Cook about community safety, including improved communications between the Sheriff’s Department and the community. Leaders will soon meet with Bastrop County’s Crime Prevention Deputy and Victims Services Coordinator in order to advance the conversation.
In previous house meetings, residents of Stony Point had identified trash in their neighborhood as an issue of concern. Leaders worked with Bastrop County Judge Pape, helping leverage a county-funded free clean up day last fall. It proved so popular that resident leaders negotiated a second clean up, held the first weekend of June. Over 40 people hauled pickup loads of trash to the dumpsters, some making several trips! Bastrop Interfaith leaders used the opportunity to talk to people while they waited in line, to better understand their concerns and to include them in upcoming house meetings.
Valley Interfaith & Bishop Daniel Flores Leverage 2 Votes for Discharge Petition on DACA, Target Third Congressional Rep
Less than four months after Valley Interfaith delivered 10,000 letters calling on Rio Grande Valley lawmakers to take action on DACA, US Congressional Representatives Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) and Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) announced they will sign a petition in an effort to force the House to take up immigration bills. Both said they would sign Discharge Petition #10, which will set up a "Queen of the Hill" process to consider four bills that would address the uncertain status of DACA recipients. The bill that receives the largest number of votes in support will pass.Read more
Over 350 leaders from 35 institutions of Working Together Jackson assembled with Mayor Lumumba, securing commitments to form a West Jackson Working group with WTJ to develop a plan for the rebuilding West Jackson.
The Mayor committed to having the Zoo Area Progressive Partnership (a WTJ member) vet all new members of the Zoo Board as well as to convening the newly formed Medical Corridor Commission, raising $1.5 million to fund Fresh Food Finance, and participating in the WTJ research work around public transportation by riding a long with WTJ members.Read more
60 Austin Interfaith leaders packed into Austin City Council Chambers for a hearing on CodeNEXT to support speakers Florence Briceno from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic and Rev. Michael Floyd from All Saints Episcopal who testified for strong neighborhoods and affordability, and against displacement.
Leading the campaign to increase funding for owner-occupied housing rehab and affordable housing, COPS / Metro is now participating in the City of San Antonio's affordable housing taskforce.Read more
After compelling testimony and intervention by leaders from Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith, the Shreveport City Council reduced Calumet's tax exemption request by 49%. The original request was for $858,444.30 and the amount approved totaled $437,769.70.Read more
After commemorating the end of REST (a rotating and temporary winter shelter program created by Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) for homeless individuals and families) MOC leaders are now focusing on identifying funding for more permanent housing options, including a "housing first" approach to homelessness. "We have realized for some time that was just a lifeboat," said Purdy, a member of the First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael. "We kept people fed and out of the rain and cold but we did not end homelessness."
And after learning that most tenants that inquire about the landlord mediation program refrain from participation for fear of retaliation by their landlords, leaders are renewing their push for a "just cause" eviction ordinance. "It's hard to imagine tenants feeling safe requesting mediation from landlords, if the landlord has the right to evict them without cause," Meredith Parnell, chairwoman of the Marin Organizing Committee's renter protection team, said at a public hearing.Read more
Braving torrential rains, hundreds of Louisiana Association of Educators and Together Baton Rouge leaders publicly launched, together, a public campaign to raise teacher pay (see photo above).Read more
With three months to decide how to spend $21 Million in HUD funding for affordable housing, several San Antonio Councilmembers are getting direct reminders from COPS / Metro leaders about their campaign promises to invest $6.5 Million in the rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing in older neighborhoods.
In spite of dispute over whether the commitment referred to new money or previous allocations, leaders are pressing on.Read more