IMPACT pushes for affordable housing, childhood education policy at Nehemiah Assembly

IMPACT pushes for affordable housing, childhood education policy at Nehemiah Assembly
file (Source: wvir)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - IMPACT, Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregations Together, spent Thursday night at its third of four annual meetings to push for change in the community. The group of religious organizations had two priorities: affordable housing and preschool.

The organization asked Albemarle County Supervisors for policy commitments at its Nehemiah Action Assembly.

“Affordable housing is foundational to all the other services that we need in our lives,” said Vikki Bravo, an IMPACT member from Congregation Beth Israel.

One of the asks is to provide $5 million annually to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund once it is created. Supervisor Ned Galloway says yes, while Supervisor Ann Mallek says she can’t promise it since it hasn’t been established yet.

“It’s actually a small amount for the amount of need that we have, but we feel like we can make a dent in the problem with $5 million annually,” said Bravo.

Galloway and Mallek both committed to adding an additional $3 million into the current Housing Fund.

The other major call from IMPACT is for the city and county to pilot an after school option for preschoolers. Janie Pudhorodsky says it’s important for working parents, especially those who haven’t been able to work because of the pandemic.

“It will help those families to get a recovery from COVID,” she said. “Also recovery of lost school education hours too.”

Kate Acuff and Graham Paige, two Albemarle County School Board members, said in a letter: “We are prepared to support a pilot program that would expand access to the extended day enrichment program for preschool students.” They say it will be discussed at a board meeting on April 22. County School Board Member Katrina Callsen joined the call to say she also supported the program.

IMPACT also asked city school board member Sherry Atkins, who said she would push city schools to create a pilot program by the 2022-23 school year.

While IMPACT is working to create those preschool programs in the city, organizers say they’re happy that Head Start has plans to offer an afterschool care program for preschoolers as early as this school year.

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