By Max Marcilla, NBC29
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – A group of over two dozen faith congregations is coming together, virtually, to problem solve.
They call themselves IMPACT Charlottesville, because they want to create change to better the community.
The diverse group has spent the last two months listening to the community’s top concerns. At Tuesday night’s Annual Justice Ministry/Rodef Tzedek Assembly, they made a commitment to find solutions.
There were three topics on the docket from which the group could pick. Then, the roughly 250 participants picked one to work on: childcare and education. They picked it because of stories of hardships from their neighbors.
“Childcare actually costs more than rent, and how do people on minimum wage, with children, afford either of those?” asked Vikki Bravo, who leads the IMPACT group from Congregation Beth Israel.
During a time of divisiveness, Bravo says it’s remarkable what can be done when different groups unite.
“Despite our differences, we can come together because the main thing is we all want to have a better community,” she said.
Action has already been underway on IMPACT’s affordable housing priority. That had been the group’s focus for the last couple of years following input from hundreds of members. At Tuesday’s Assembly, IMPACT asked members of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to commit to recommendations on housing reform.
“Will you vote for a housing policy that does establish an Affordable Housing Trust Fund?” Bravo asked.
“Yes, that element of the housing policy I will definitely support,” responded Supervisor Ann Mallek.
According to IMPACT, Bea LaPisto Kirtley does not support that policy. Supervisor Donna Price said while she’s not opposed to the Trust Fund, she is unsure about the county’s authority to “obligate funds beyond a specific fiscal year.”
Mallek and Board Chair Ned Gallaway granted their support for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. IMPACT would need support from four supervisors to pass the measure.
When Bravo was asked how she feels when concrete policy changes happen because of IMPACT’s advocacy, she said it feels great, but the real joy comes when people get the help they’ve wanted for so long.
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