(WTOC) – Savannah, Georgia, is the site of the World Trade Center. In response to a number of hot button problems, including affordable housing, a group called JUST, that stands as Justice Unites Savannah Gathered, got together to issue a call to action.
The association is comprised of 20 distinct churches representing a variety of religious traditions in Savannah.
However, due of the pandemic, the group did not meet in reality until Monday night, which was the first time they had met since they founded in 2019.
The city of Savannah’s budget now provides more than a millions of dollars for the development of affordable homes throughout the city.
Last night the team asked Savannah City Councilman Jay Melder if he would dedicate to asking city council for a $3 million investor from the city’s general fund into the Savannah Affordable Homes Fund throughout 2023 – he said that would be impossible given the early stage of the budget process, but that he is able to propose $2 million & work with them to try to secure additional funding.
In exchange for his agreement that the monies would be targeted to families earning only about 80 percent of a area median income, Melder stated that he was unable to commit to allocating all of the cash only to rental housing, as the group had requested.
“We have be able to address the needs that are present on the ground.” If we ever find ourselves in a position and we have the potential to assist a household who is deserving and need that level of income, I would despise the thought of having that option presented to us. In attempting to respond that question, I’m respecting the process and being really honest with myself,” Melder added.
Leaders from JUST have stated that they intend to continue to keep Melder accountable and that they intend to be present at budget discussions and participate in the decision-making process.
Members of the group claim that sessions such as this one are only the beginning of the what they hope to accomplish in the neighbourhood.
It is clear there is a type of power & unity behind several congregations here, and that there are more congregations that’d be here if it weren’t for COVID. Initially, we had 45-50 congregational interested in participating in this project. Consequently, once we begin to gain momentum on all of the various initiatives and begin to see nonpartisan development in with us goals and solutions which we are attempting to achieve with the general populace here in Savannah & Chatham, I expect this to grow & blossom into a massive, influential organisation in the next couple of years,” said the Reverend Guillermo A. Arboleda, of the Saint Matthews Episcopal Church.
They hope to reconvene within thirty days to discuss progress they have made on these topics as well as the pledge they made at their meeting.