IMPACT brings out hundreds urging elected leaders to take action

Nehemiah Action Event 2023
Nehemiah Action Event 2023(wvir)
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:50 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville and Albemarle County religious leaders, public officials, and congregation members called on city and county governments to take action on Tuesday night, March 21. Early childhood education, transportation, and affordable housing are all areas IMPACT says need improvement.

IMPACT, or Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregations Together, drew people from 26 congregations for its Nehemiah Action Event.

“Supervisors, you have the tools, you have the power, and the time is now,” Reverend Matt Seaton with Wesley Memorial United Church said.

It was a chance for people to ask area leaders to put their money where their mouths are. Participants worked together across faiths to list specific goals.

“What we are saying is this -- we need housing for all,” Rev. Seaton said.

One of the top goals is ensuring that one-third of the annual affordable housing funding in Charlottesville will be spent building new homes.

“If we don’t add new housing, we will never get ahead of this problem. We will just keep falling further and further behind,” Rev. Seaton explained.

Another ask is for Albemarle County to offer after-school care options for preschoolers.

“What we want is for the director of those aftercare programs, Kelvin Reid, to allow parents of preschoolers to enter the lottery. And for the county to prioritize the youngest kids for a few lottery spots,” Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s Kelsey Cowger said.

Last year, one goal was to have Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) wait times be less than 15 minutes.

“While we have seen some progress towards this goal, we need to continue to monitor the complex issue of hiring and retaining drivers to ensure that we meet our goals of increased access and ridership,” Zakia Haque with the Islamic Society of Central Virginia said.

Speakers urged the audience to reach out to officials who were not in attendance.

“We’d like you to take that phone out and send an email to the people we’ve listed, expressing disappointment that they haven’t prioritized this issue,” Cowger said.

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