Faith group wants Lawrence residents to vote yes on affordable housing sales tax

September 25, 2017. Lawrence Journal World.

The faith group Justice Matters wants Lawrence residents to vote yes on a special citywide sales tax to support affordable housing.

Purple signs with the words “Vote yes on question 3” have begun popping up in Lawrence to support repurposing a sales tax that will more than triple the funding for affordable housing projects.

Katie Sears, associate organizer for Justice Matters, said the shortage of affordable housing has been affecting Lawrence for at least 25 years with little progress toward a solution.

Douglas County Commission to forward report on future jail population to architects

July 26, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

After learning Wednesday of a new issue that has the county jail occasionally housing more inmates than its 186-bed capacity, Douglas County commissioners agreed a report on future jail population numbers should be shared with architects so they can update jail expansion plans.

Group renews push for peer-based conflict resolution vs. traditional discipline in schools

June 26, 2017. The Lawrence Journal-World.

Renewing their earlier calls for transparency and accountability, members of Justice Matters are again urging the school board to consider implementing restorative justice in Lawrence schools.

Gary Schmidt, co-chair of the group’s racial justice steering committee, used Monday’s school board meeting to re-engage the board in a conversation that board president Marcel Harmon said began last spring surrounding racial justice. Restorative justice hinges on empowering students to resolve conflicts on their own through peer-mediated small groups, as opposed to more traditional disciplinary methods.

Justice Matters assembly pushes for action on community issues, calls out local leaders

March 30, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

An assembly hosted by faith group Justice Matters on Thursday brought up community issues such as mental health, affordable housing and school equity, and event organizers weren’t shy in voicing their disappointment that not all local leaders attended.

The conclusion of the third annual Nehemiah Action Assembly likely sent cell phones of two local leaders — School Board President Marcel Harmon and Douglas County Commission Chair Mike Gaughan — buzzing with text messages after their numbers were projected in front of the nearly full Lied Center and the approximately 1,500 attendees were encouraged to text them.

Douglas County Commission hears but doesn’t commit to Justice Matters’ request for interim mental health crisis intervention center

March 15, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

The Douglas County Commission received but didn’t commit to a request from interfaith group Justice Matters to renovate an existing building for use as a mental health crisis intervention center that could be opened this year.