Last Fall, HOPE member congregations conducted 50 Listening Meetings to hear people’s concerns and experiences around community problems. At our October 25 Convention, over 400 leaders voted to prioritize 4 areas for research:
Reducing Adult Arrests for Minor Offenses
Addressing Racial Profiling
Increasing Access to Quality Mental Health Services
Addressing Environmental Concerns around Flooding and Pollution
So, then we began our Research!
Leaders on the Criminal Justice, Mental Health, and Care for Creation committees met with experts and decision makers to learn more about the problems and identify winnable solutions.
Then on March 28th at the HOPE Nehemiah Action, we united over 1,600 people at Nativity Catholic Church and Zoom to engage decision makers with our proposals. This was our first in-person action since 2019! It was great to feel the excitement in the room as people greeted each other, celebrated their congregations, and we got all Yeses from our decision makers.
Eight local decision makers present heard the facts on our prioritized community problems, personal testimonies and our “asks” to help us move forward to resolve these problems. We got the following public commitments:
State Attorney Warren, Chief Judge Ficarrotta, Public Defender Holt, Clerk of Court Stuart, and Tampa Police Chief O’Connor committed to expand the Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program to include non-safety traffic misdemeanor offenses;
Tampa Chief of Police O’Connor committed to work with an outside expert to track, analyze, and communicate data on all traffic stops. Sheriff Chronister was not present;
Commissioners Overman and Smith committed to champion/support the development of a Plan to increase 500 units of Permanent Supportive Housing for people with mental illness, in coordination with Mental Health and Housing providers; and
Tampa City Council Member Citro committed to take the lead to develop a plan to enhance at least 5 prioritized stormwater drainage ponds with green infrastructure found in native trees, plants, and green spaces to improve the quality of life in low income and vulnerable neighborhoods while further reducing flooding, heat, and pollution. He also agreed to support the inclusion of green infrastructure principles in the Stormwater Design Manual for future Stormwater Ponds.
This was so exciting!
Thank you to all of the leaders who have invested their time and energy to helping to identify community problems, develop long-term winnable solutions, and built the power of 1,600 people united to win justice in Hillsborough County!