By Diane Carey, Hometown News Volusia
F.A.I.T.H. (Fighting Against Injustice Towards Harmony) continued keeping a focus on community problems with an assembly Monday, Oct. 30, at Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Daytona Beach.
Clergy and members of F.A.I.T.H.’s 31 congregations made up the assembly along with invited guests Port Orange Mayor Don Burnette and Randy Dye, an area auto dealer, who are both running for Volusia County Council Chair. The crowd was estimated at about 425 people.
But while F.A.I.T.H. strives to resolve community problems, it had to address the same ones as last year – affordable housing, mental health/criminal justice and flooding.
In terms of affordable housing, it was noted that in Volusia County a third of all renter households are using more than half of their income for rent. To afford the median price of a one-bedroom apartment on the market today, $1,450 a month, a full-time worker would need to earn more than $23 an hour for it to be affordable. Yet, the average renter in Volusia County makes $14 an hour.
On average, for every 100 renter families making under $55,760 a year, there are only 36 units of affordable housing available.
For five years, F.A.I.T.H. has been publicly calling upon the Volusia County Council and the Daytona Beach City Commission to create locally controlled Affordable Housing Trust Funds, to create and preserve more affordable rental units in this community. F.A.I.T.H. is requesting at least $2.5 million be used from the $55 million left unallocated from the American Rescue Plan to kickstart the fund.
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry received a boisterous round of applause by stating, “the City of Daytona Beach is one step closer to finally getting the (affordable housing) linkage fees that we all so yearn.”
Fran Owings of Port Orange followed with a poignant story of how she had to live in her car for six months due to a series of unfortunate circumstances beyond her control and a Social Security income of only $1,357 a month. She pleaded “please help residents with much needed affordable housing.”
Both Volusia County Council chair candidates present said they support an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
“All of us in this room and all of us in this community need to step up,” Mayor Burnette said. “We have to find a way to get people in housing so that they can build generational wealth so that not only are we helping people today but for generations to come cumulatively.”
Of course, a trust fund needs – funds.
“If you are going to support a trust fund, you better have some idea about a funding mechanism,” Mr. Dye said. “You have to build support.”
He suggested housing developers be part of the solution.
Both candidates agreed, if elected, they would work to gain support from fellow council members to create on affordable housing trust fund as their solo vote would not be enough.
The flooding issue includes F.A.I.T.H. demanding land development throughout the county must be done at a higher standard. An estimated 60,698 properties in Volusia are considered at high risk for severe flooding over the next 30 years, according to documents provided. This represents 41% of all the properties in the county.
Minister Lynnetta Oglesby of Allen Chapel AME spoke of how Tropical Storm Ian flooded her father’s home in Daytona Beach. “My brother, family members and friends had to rescue my dad out of the house to safety. There were no resources to assist. It was devastating, Minister Oglesby said. “I don’t know what would have happened to us if it wasn’t for family and friends. We really need assistance with flooding in our area.”
In terms of mental health and criminal justice, F.A.I.T.H. will continue to advocate for the use of civil citations and restorative practices for juveniles and extend it to adults.
Michele Band spoke about a family member who, while incarcerated, was treated poorly including not receiving badly needed medications. Joan Monte spoke about an elderly friend who also was traumatized and confused by an incarceration process that was based largely on misunderstanding and not receiving proper medication.
“This is not a story about a drug addict, a thief, a pedophile or a career criminal,” Ms. Monte said. “This is a story about you, or your friend, or your mom or your grandmom. Because as it turns out Volusia County doesn’t discriminate when it comes to healthcare in their correctional facilities. Anyone can fall through the cracks.”
F.A.I.T.H. was founded in 2000 by a group of local clergy to be a vehicle through which congregations of various racial and religious backgrounds could join to address community problems. Rather than providing direct services to address immediate needs of individuals, it confronts systemic injustice by using the power of organized people to hold local decision makers accountable for fair and just policies.
The event was co-sponsored by the Daytona Beach-Volusia County NAACP. For more information, visit faithvolusia.org or call (386) 523-6905.
View the original story here.