(Columbia, SC) – Columbia currently ranks in the top 10 of the nation’s eviction rates, with Richland County having an average of 19 evictions every single day. Moreover, more than 16,000 households in Richland County pay more than half of their income on rent and utilities, and this makes it nearly impossible to supplement the cost of other necessities like food, medical expenses, and transportation.
Like air to breathe and food to eat, housing is a basic human need. Affordable Housing Trust Funds are a proven strategy used in more than 750 communities across the nation to create housing affordable to those most vulnerable. The Trust Funds use local public money to spur the creation or rehabilitation of affordable housing to ensure that everyone has a place to call home.
Richland County is getting $80.63 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and that money must be spent on the greatest needs in our community for long-term sustainability and stability and the creation and rehabilitation of safe, affordable housing must be a core part of where the County invests these funds. At the MORE Justice Rally in March, member Robynne Campbell of Rehoboth Baptist Church explained “If Richland County Council is serious about housing, if they’re serious about taking care of the community, they would implement a trust fund to get to the root of the problem.”
In 2021, gun violence in Richland County DOUBLED with 32 total murders by gunfire. There have been 19 homicides in Columbia so far this year with 11 of them due to gun crime, which is as many homicides as all of 2021. MORE Justice is asking for a solution that works. Columbia and Richland County need a proven and proactive solution to address the root of gun violence. Group Violence Intervention (GVI) is proven to address this need and our local officials need to take the steps necessary to fully implement this strategy, stop the violence, and allow our neighborhoods to thrive. Group Violence Intervention (GVI) is proven to reduce shootings in communities by over HALF.
This is why our city needs consultation from the experts at the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College to collaborate with our community and our law enforcement to address the gun violence problem at the root and create considerable change. With people being shot nearly every week, we have no time to lose. At the MORE Justice Rally in March, Rev. Carey A. Grady of Reid Chapel AME Church stated: “As members of the faith community, we are deeply impacted by Gun Violence. Clergy, we are doing the funerals. We see the spiritual and psychological impact of Gun Violence is having in our community.”
The Midlands Organized Response for Equity and Justice (MORE Justice), a diverse interfaith organization of 26 congregations throughout the Midlands will hold their 5th annual Nehemiah Action Assembly at 6:30 PM at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center (1101 Lincoln Street, Columbia, SC 29201). MORE Justice will bring together hundreds of community members to advocate for best practices concerning affordable housing and gun violence.
The organization has invited all public officials from Richland and Lexington Counties to attend the Nehemiah Action on April 4th. Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann and Richland County Councilmembers Overture Walker, Allison Terracio, and Paul Livingston are committed to attend to address the community’s concerns about housing and gun violence.