Midlands congregations take on affordable housing and gun violence

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Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 10:58 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2022 at 10:25 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Gun violence and affordable housing, two issues that a Midlands faith-based organization says are plaguing the Columbia community.

“The Midlands Organized Response for Equity and Justice” otherwise known as “MORE Justice” is looking to take on these issues.

They held a rally Monday evening to prepare for an upcoming conversation with community leaders.

More than 25 midlands congregations took part, rallying and proposing solutions for city leaders .

“We come together as people to face and to confront the problems in our neighboring communities and to hold the public officials accountable for the changes that they can bring about with the power they possess,” said Reverend Jackie Utley, the pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church.

The coalition says two of biggest struggles in Columbia are affordable housing and gun violence.

“Once we get those issues cemented, then we have different groups that form research committees with each of those topics,” said Dianna Deaderick, a Deacon with the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. “What have they done? Then trying to get those implemented here.”

The coalition will meet with law enforcement and community leaders on April 4th.

They plan to present strategies like establishing trust funds for those who make 50 percent less than the average median income, promoting affordable housing and implementing gun violence reduction strategies that address gun violence at the root.

“This problem analysis will work and bring about change so that we can come together,” said Utley.

The gun violence reduction strategy would cost $400,000 over a two-year period. MORE Justice is asking for $50,000 to conduct the study.

Both Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook and Richland County Sherriff Leon Lott have called on the community to step in when it comes to gun violence, but have been skeptical of these types of studies in the past, citing the high price tags that come with the suggestion.

RELATED STORY | Faith coalition calls for gun violence study and direction to curb the violence

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