Manatee County

STREAM

Stronger Together Reaching Equality Across Manatee

Background

About STREAM

Many of us want to “do something” to solve problems in our community, but often lack an effective vehicle to do so. We work to address this gap and invite you to join us.

Founded in 2021, STREAM (Stronger Together Reaching Equality Across Manatee) is a nonpartisan, grassroots organizing group uniting faith communities to answer the call to seek justice and solve critical community problems in Manatee County. Our name STREAM reflects our vision of a community where justice flows like a never-failing stream (Amos 5:24). We believe “loving our neighbor” means standing up and acting to provide fairness and justice for all.

Unique to our approach is a focus on direct action to address the root causes of problems. We do not provide charitable services (often a temporary fix). STREAM works to create long-term solutions by changing problematic policies and systems that are significant drivers of poverty and injustice. Our current priority issues are affordable housing and criminal justice reform.

We currently have 15 member congregations with diverse religious, socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds and who come from all parts of Manatee County. We are actively seeking new member congregations (and individual members).

About STREAM

Staff

Interim Lead Organizer: Jessica Sanchez
jsanchez@thedartcenter.org

What we do

Our Current Campaigns

At our founding convention in November 2021, STREAM selected two priorities to work on: affordable housing and criminal justice reform. We then held a series of house meetings, listening to hundreds of people from across our community, about the concerns they have for their families and community.

Participants in house meetings shared many stories about the lack of affordable housing in Manatee County…

  • Teachers worried about impact of homelessness on their students’ learning

  • Coworkers concerned about minimum wage colleagues who can’t afford rent

  • Friends worried about people who work but are homeless because they can’t afford rent

  • Parents concerned about children who can’t afford to rent/buy in the area

  • Soon-to-be retirees worried about being able to afford housing on a fixed income

Manatee Countians should be able to afford to live in Manatee County, but currently tens of thousands cannot. The wage needed to afford housing in Manatee County is more than 30% higher than the median wage. Housing instability and homelessness are an ever-present problem for our residents – and are continuing to rise. We, as a community, must take action so that our community members have access to housing that we can afford.  That is why STREAM is asking our county commission to create 500 new units of affordable housing every year for families making less than 80% AMI.

House meetings also revealed numerous concerns about Criminal Justice in Manatee Country based on experiences of family members and friends…

  • Inability to find employment due to past arrests (some occurred 40+ years ago)

  • Being falsely arrested and/or searched for “looking suspicious”

  • Inability to find employment due to past minor drug arrests (even after serving time and undergoing treatment)

  • Being thrown into jail for minor offenses (expired car tag) due to inability to pay bail

  • Going to jail after being falsely arrested and incurring significant legal fees to prove innocence

At our Nehemiah Action in 2022, STREAM won commitments from our sheriff and state attorney to create a new civil citation program in Manatee to avoid unnecessary arrests for first time misdemeanors.  Our current work is following up to ensure they follow through on their commitments.

We’re Hiring!

Interested in a career with STREAM?

Lead Community Organizer
Bradenton, FL