(Columbia, SC) – The Midlands Organized Response for Equity and Justice (MORE Justice), a diverse interfaith organization of over 25 congregations throughout the Midlands will hold their annual Rally at 6:30 PM on Monday, March 14, 2022 at Reid Chapel AME Church (704 Gabriel Street, Columbia, SC 29203). This year’s Rally will prepare attendees for the MORE Justice Annual Nehemiah Action Assembly where solutions will be proposed for the affordable housing crisis and rising gun violence in Columbia and Richland County.
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. For a person making minimum wage in Lexington or Richland County to afford a one-bedroom apartment at the average price, a person would have to work 82 hours a week. However, there is a solution for this issue. Across the country, more than 780 communities are attacking the affordable housing crisis by establishing and funding an “Affordable Housing Trust Fund”. 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.
In 2021, gun violence in Richland County DOUBLED. There were 32 murders by gunfire in 2021 in Richland County. There have been 19 homicides in Columbia so far this year with 11 of them due to gun crime. That’s how many there were in all of 2021. MORE Justice is asking for a solution that works. For three years, MORE Justice has been pushing for Group Violence Intervention (GVI) which is proven to reduce shootings in communities by over HALF. The City has a framework in place that has similarities to Group Violence Intervention, but our city has not seen the drastic reduction in shootings and homicides that GVI has been proven to produce. 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.
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 and Allison Terracio are committed to attend to address the community’s concerns about housing and gun violence.
MORE Justice differs from other organizations in that we are working to get to the root of community problems. Across MORE Justice congregations, there are programs to feed, house, tutor, and help people with their immediate needs. We are tired of burying people in our communities and needing to help people with housing. That is why we engage in direct action to advocate for fair policies and practices that will ensure that all of our community members are treated with fairness and justice.
For additional information, or to set up interviews with MORE Justice leadership, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call MORE Justice Vice President Ms. Maryann Wright at 732-672-2119.