By Megan Fitzgerald, Greenville Journal

Greenville Organized for Accountable Leadership’s objectives remain the same for its second year of justice ministry: improve mental health services and affordable housing in Greenville County.

For the past two months, the local interfaith group has conducted 75 meetings with its participating congregations to identify issues affecting the local community. A range of problems were presented including gun violence, elderly care, access to health care, public transportation and more.

“Of the 800 stories we heard from people in our community, more than 500 of them were related to the ongoing problems related to affordable housing and access to mental healthcare,” said Rabbi Samuel Rose of Temple of Israel and GOAL’s secretary.

The coalition announced it would continue to work toward filling the gaps in these issues at an assembly held at Christ Church Episcopal on Nov. 6. Around 500 members from GOAL’s 26 local congregations were in attendance.

GOAL also voted to focus on mental health and housing during its inaugural year in 2022.

Due in part to the organization’s efforts, more funding was allocated for affordable housing. Greenville County set aside a combined $5 million for affordable housing in its 2023-24 and 2024-25 budgets. The city of Greenville has also directed funding streams to generate millions more for affordable housing, with its annual budget allocating roughly $2.5 million.

To improve mental health services in the county, South Carolina’s 2023-24 budget allocated $3.9 million to help fully staff the local 988 suicide and crisis lifeline. State Rep. Chandra Dillard and state Sen. Karl Allen pledged their continued support to secure permanent funding for the local call center at the assembly.

For GOAL’s second year, the coalition will continue to hold local leaders accountable for fulfilling the promises they made in addressing the affordable housing crisis, said Feliccia Smith, GOAL’s vice president and a member of Valley Brook Outreach Baptist.

“We’re looking for more robust solutions to the systemic problems that we’re seeing,” Smith said. “Our next steps will just be to continue focusing on those issues and making sure that we get justice for everybody in Greenville.”

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