March 17, 2016. FloridaPolitics.com
Pressing hard on issues ranging from homelessness to what to do about ex-offenders leaving prison, ICARE Jax, or the Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment, is unveiling its 2016 action plan this week at a major rally.
“A new initiative we’ll talk about is that we want to engage a process to help more ex-offenders leaving the prison system,” said ICARE co-president the Reverend James Wiggins of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
Wiggins points out the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has a re-entry program for ex-offenders, but has only committed 1% of its budget to the initiative.
Also on the agenda, holding the city’s feet to the fire on the closing of a Homeless Day Resource Center (opened in 2013 due to ICARE pressure, but shuttered last fall) and creating more jobs in Northwest Jax, among other priorities.
“A lot of these issues we’re dealing with in our community are systemic. They’re interconnected. That’s why we are taking on this multiplicity of issues,” added co-president Pastor Phillip Baber of Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville.
The pair also told WJCT they’re hopeful that Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry will attend the organization’s April 11th Nehemiah Assembly, which is expected to draw thousands.
“We are in talks with the mayor’s office and believe he will attend,” said Wiggins.
ICARE is a diverse, interfaith coalition of 38 member congregations representing some 20,000 Duval County residents from across city.
Its mission is to powerfully address neighborhood and city-wide concerns by holding city leaders accountable for following through on promises to tackle the area’s biggest problems.
This year, ICARE is addressing youth crime, homelessness, jobs and ex-offender reentry.
“But we listen closely to the community, and other initiatives could be part of future action plans,” Baber said.
Back during the 2011 Alvin Brown/Mike Hogan mayoral campaign, Hogan’s no-show at a big ICARE assembly raised eyebrows, and some think, cost him votes. Curry’s expected attendance would seemingly prove that the city’s power structure is taking seriously the leverage of the vocal interfaith group.