In the Bible, Nehemiah called together a huge crowd to make demands of the rulers for action. It worked. JUST Pensacola, Justice United Seeking Transformation in Pensacola, uses this same approach once a year to meet with local governmental leaders seeking change in critical areas that impact our community. They first hold numerous meetings of citizens in the member congregations to identify common problems, then a focus is chosen and intensive research conducted by interested volunteers. They do not just demand change; they bring a proposed solution to address the issue.
Beginning in 2019, the first focus was on juvenile justice concerns. They have expanded the request for developing other approaches to dealing with misdemeanors in adults that do not involve violence, and last year JUST Pensacola added a focus on the need for more affordable rental housing. They have created a proposal for the City of Pensacola, asking that ~$4.2M per year for 10 years be allocated in a Rental Housing Trust Fund that incentivizes the development of or rehabilitation of affordable rental housing for those who make less than 80% of the annual median income for our area. They estimate this can support bringing about 1000 new rental units over the 10-year period. They have given the City some very specific calculations and suggestions on accessing these resources and a proposed ordinance.
Though the legislature has passed record-setting funding to address affordable housing this session, it is not sufficient: We must have local enticements for developers who literally cannot build at a cost that is “affordable” for the majority of our working families.
The 2023 Nehemiah Assembly will be held at First Baptist Warrington Church at 6pm on Monday, April 24th . The doors will open an hour early. There are 17 congregations of multiple faiths that are united in this effort, and they are inviting all citizens to join them in this assembly. State Attorney Bowden Madden and City officials will be present. The Assembly is conducted as a worship service, with music and prayer and readings, and instead of a sermon, there are conversations with the officials, asking for their commitment to action.
These leaders have been met individually by volunteers; they are not caught off-guard by the “asks.” I hope you will consider joining me in the pews. I am impressed with the work this organization does on behalf of our citizens, and it is clear our collective presence in support of the issues can make a difference to our community leaders. Last year there were ~700 people in the Wahoos stadium. The goal this year is 1200. The dream is that once a year, all people of all faiths can unite in worship and action.
Attached is a copy of the admission ticket which is acceptable at the door. You may also register on the organization’s website and learn more about JUST Pensacola there. Or you may visit the website www.justpensacola.org for more info.