By Lillian Hernández Caraballo, WMFE

Members of a faith-based organization in Volusia County are asking their elected leaders for affordable housing and flood mitigation measures.

Fighting Against Injustice Toward Harmony, or F.A.I.T.H., is formed by 30 congregations across Volusia County, and more than a thousand members came together Monday night during their annual Action Assembly at the Our Lady Of Hope Catholic Church in Port Orange. Attendees overflowed the main hall and all demanded the same thing: fair and safe housing policies.

Event organizers invited seven Daytona Beach city leaders and seven county leaders to attend — only two of each showed up. Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower was one of them.

“I ask our residents what their top three concerns are, and it’s always: overdevelopment, flooding, and water quality,” Brower said. “So, I’m asking people, don’t give up. You’ve got to go to your city commissions and your county council.”

Lynetta Oglesby, a minister at Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, shared her story of how Hurricane Ian flooded her father’s home, as he laid, bed-ridden, fighting cancer.

“His last memory of his home was being rescued, loaded into the back of a truck,” Oglesby said, recounting how her father died shortly after. “He never got to go back and see his home repaired.”

She said the city of Daytona Beach has always struggled with flooding, but what they are seeing now is different. And she said the city failed to perform standard procedures that could have prevented the flooding from getting as bad as it did.

“It was the worst that it has ever been. And then, when you hear things like the drainage wasn’t clean, like it should have been and there were things that could have been done. Maybe that would not have stopped the flooding, but it would have decreased the level of the water rising in the homes,” Oglesby said.

According to Brower, Volusia County has five outstanding waterways, all of which are federally designated as “impaired.”

“Which means we’re polluting them. So, we have to do something about it,” he said. “How is development messing up drainage, messing up waterways, messing up original plans, and changing places that were not flood zones before but now are flood zones?”

Members of F.A.I.T.H are asking elected leaders to pass ordinances that support development with low impact on waterways, as well as linkage fees on all new, non-residential development to help pay for affordable housing.

Matthew Mello, pastor at Our Lady Of Hope Catholic Church, said they are also asking for an affordable housing trust fund.

“We’re fighting against some of the unjust structures in our society toward harmony, that everyone gets an equal break, that everyone is well fed, cared for and protected. And that’s the fight we fight. It’s not going to be easy,” he said.

Brower said it’s time to stop pointing fingers and find solutions.

“I’ve been waiting for 30 years for rents to go down, and it’s just not going to happen. The market keeps going up. So, we have to work together as a community to provide housing for the people that make our county function and run,” he said.

F.A.I.T.H. leaders said they were happy with the turnout but will continue to call residents to action until they can get more local elected officials to fully commit.

View the original story here.