ORUCC’s Christian Witness and Service Ministry sponsors a number of programs focused on housing issues in Southwest Madison. One is Keeping Neighbors Connected (KNC) is a coalition of partners promoting school and family stability in the southwest Madison neighborhood. Orchard Ridge UCC, Good Shepherd Lutheran and Saint Maria Goretti Catholic are the funding partner churches. Joining Forces for Families (JFF), Early Childhood Initiative (ECI), and the Southwest Madison school Social Workers are the neighborhood partners we serve. Landlord Non-Renewals usurped evictions in the spring and summer of 2021 to get around the national eviction moratorium and the slow federal housing funds rollout. These non-renewals affected persons of color more prominently. When learning of this new trend in April, ORUCC CWS opted to retain $6000 of our emergency housing funds to be used for security deposits and essential funds for neighbors moving into new housing due to non-renewals. To date, JFF has accessed $3800. Most recently, $1000 supplemented a family to move into a new apartment. The family, consisting of a single mother with 3 children, contributed $2300 of the moving costs. The mother continues to work with ECI and Employment Training through services offered by our Southwest neighborhood social workers.
The KNC members plus key city/neighborhood advocates joined together in summer ’21 to form an advocate group around stable affordable housing in the Southwest neighborhood. Our official name is Southwest Madison Action Coalition (SMAC)—a housing subgroup with origins from the now expired Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG Grant). In recent monthly meetings, we have heard from key city and neighborhood persons including Justice Castaneda, Executive Director of Common Wealth and Christian Albouras, Madison Alderperson. Both shared extensive information around city housing issues and future paths forward through city and county budgets promoting affordable housing. Of note, is that JFF and Common Wealth both have active representatives serving on SMAC in addition to the 3 church partners from KNC. With dedicated and knowledgeable persons on the SMAC coalition, our hope is to influence and advocate for stability in our Southwest neighborhood and to increase affordable, quality housing options.
ORUCC representatives to both coalitions are CWS members Jane Glaze and Bruce Olsen. We are open to questions and to involving other interested church members in the work of these active groups serving the southwest neighborhood.