Have a minute? Send a letter.

Do you believe that equitable access to housing creates stronger communities?

Then send a letter to County Executive Calvin Ball and members of County Council, asking them to take fiscal responsibility and utilize the $64 Million already set aside for the New Cultural Center project.

There is no reason for Howard County Council to delay the project and walk away from $64 Million that will bring a trove of cultural riches to our community and pave the way for hundreds of Howard County families to live and thrive in Columbia.

Background

From 2014-2017, PATH leaders and partners from other organizations fought for and won 900 units of affordable housing in Downtown Columbia.

These units would be spread throughout several exciting mixed-use developments as part of a landmark development agreement. The first of these projects scheduled to be built is the New Cultural Center [pictured], an arts and recreation center that includes market-rate and affordable housing units, on the existing Toby’s Dinner Theater site.

Contingency

This summer, Howard County Council [pictured] moved the New Cultural Center project funds into contingency, which means they’re holding off on funding the project until a later vote. However, if the money isn’t released in the next two months, the project timeline will slip.

If the timeline slips, Howard County will lose $64 Million in tax credits that the state has awarded toward the construction of affordable housing at the New Cultural Center site. The tax credits require that construction be complete and open for occupancy by the end of 2024, which means construction must begin in spring 2021, or Howard County forfeits the money.

Effects

Losing those $64 Million places the entire project at risk, tarnishes the county’s fiscal reputation, and threatens the future of subsequent projects in the landmark development agreement, including the promised 900 units of affordable housing. If the first project in the deal can’t be built because we’ve walked away from $64 Million in funding, then the rest of the projects aren’t likely to be built, either.

Hope

Though the fiscal year has already begun and the budget has been approved, there is still hope! In September, County Executive Calvin Ball [pictured] can file legislation and the Council can vote to release these project funds from contingency so construction can begin in spring 2021.

Send a letter asking County Executive Ball and members of County Council to take action TODAY!

It’s easy—over 100 supporters have done so already, and we’ve prepared a letter template to get you started. Simply click the button below, add a few personal details, and hit send.

For more information and other ways you can help save this project, go to pathiaf.com/seal-the-deal.

Seal the Deal on Affordable Housing

On Thursday, August 6, over 60 PATH members came together to learn how we can defend our bold vision for an equitable Downtown Columbia. We learned of the status of 900 units of affordable housing in Downtown Columbia previously promised by Howard County Council, and the current political landscape in Howard County. 

Pastor Tyrone Jones of First Baptist Church of Guilford closed the meeting with these words.


Good Evening:

My name is Pastor Tyrone P. Jones IV and I am pastor of FBCOG and Co-Chair, along with Rev. Paige Getty of PATH. 

Tonight, we are reminded of what it means to have the potential of a promise gutted and emptied out! A promise is a guarantee, it is an agreement, and it is a covenant made between two parties. What we hear tonight is not the potential of a promise fulfilled, but the pain of a promise denied!!

Over the years, PATH has worked hard and organized thousands of people to make sure that the redevelopment of Downtown Columbia reflected the values upon which the community was founded. We worked hard to ensure that there would be 900 units of affordable housing, and amenities to attract people to our community and make their lives better. 

The legislation was passed, but now our newly elected officials want to undo what has been done, to use the worst aspects of bureaucracy to stymie the best aspects of the redevelopment project. This would mean leaving over $100 Million of state funding for affordable housing on the table, funding that other jurisdictions would be more than eager to have. 

While our community applauds itself for being inclusive, reneging on this commitment would be the second time in only one year that Howard County would actively choose to shut people out, and to choose to be a community that reserves the best of its resources for the privileged elite. 

Reneging on this commitment and forsaking the promise is letting our elected officials get away with turning their backs on the workers in our community, on people who have spent their lives building this community but who cannot afford to retire in this community. 

So PATH, this is the question for us tonight. How many of us who stood proudly with our young people to proclaim that, “Black Lives Matter” just weeks ago will allow this to just die? 

Are we just wiling to put up yard signs proclaiming inclusivity and equity, right as our elected officials are choosing to undo legislation by making our community less inclusive and by deciding to not support recreation and arts and housing that would provide a minimum of balance?

So will we stand by (just frustrated and upset) and let this happen?

Will we stand by and willingly not try to regain, what has been promised for us to have?

Will we stand by and let elected officials dictate terms to us, when elected officials work for those who elected them? 

In I Samuel 30, the scripture records that David made a choice when faced with shifting circumstances. Verse 5 says, that the people were bitter in spirit (frustrated and upset), but David found the strength to encourage himself in the Lord!! But what I love about David is that David did not just Pray, but verse 8 says after consultation, He was given the liberty to Pursue because God promised that they would Prevail!

The work is the pursuit…

If we pursue the promise, we will prevail and have affordable housing! 

If we pursue the promise, people who work here can also live here!

If we pursue the promise, we will not just chant “Black Lives Matter,” but Black and Brown lives will actually matter! 

If we pursue the promise, we will prevail in having a more equitable and inclusive HoCo!

Pursue the promise by telling the County Council to “Keep the Deal!”

So PATH, we are asking you tonight to pursue what was promised and commit to the following: 

  1. Join the Housing Action Team. This group will be organizing the campaign to “Keep the Deal” in Downtown. If you are interested, please sign up to attend the next Housing Action Team meeting on August 13.
  2. Attend the community meeting on Tuesday, August 11, 3-5pm, to show your support for “Keeping the Deal” in Columbia. We just need you to log on over WebEx to be part of the meeting. Sign up to attend.
  3. Talk up this topic in your congregations, in your community, with your friends and neighbors who you think will be supportive. 
  4. Write a letter to the Council and the County Executive about your support for innovative arts and affordable housing in our community.

We are trying not to stoke the flames of the opposition, so be thoughtful, but get your friends and allies to send an email to the council. 

Find 5 people who you will personally guarantee to send an email. Find one other person to come to the meeting on Tuesday.  If you want to meet with your core-team after this meeting, we can set you up in a chat room to do so. 

Like David, we must continue to pursue until what was promised has become a reality in HoCo.

So let’s go after this, with all deliberate speed!

Let us continue to press for our claim, and pursue with passionate purpose, and I believe, we will prevail on a powerful promise!

So let’s Seal the Deal!!

PATH Countywide Action Meeting — August 6

From 2014-2016, PATH fought for and won 900 units of affordable housing in Downtown Columbia, spread throughout exciting mixed-use development projects. Today, those units are at risk, as members of Howard County Council are considering reneging on the Council’s past commitments.

On Thursday, August 6 members from all PATH organizations and congregations are invited to attend a countywide action meeting from 7-8:15PM. This countywide gathering will be part-education and part-discussion: of how we can defend our bold vision for an equitable Downtown Columbia, and how we can act together to make sure it happens.

We’ll be joined by special guest, Pat Sylvester, president of the Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation (CDHC) who will educate us about the affordable housing Developer Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) and current concerns.

Come to learn about the local political landscape that is affecting these development projects and how you can take action with PATH in this campaign.

RSVP below and invite your friends and neighbors! It is important that each PATH member organization has at least one representative present at this meeting.

You will receive an email with a Zoom link to attend the August 6 gathering after you register at the RSVP link above.

Note:This meeting is in place of the session “Connect Your Stories // Create Real Political Change” originally scheduled for Tuesday, July 28. As we began planning for the July 28 event, we heard rumblings about the Council’s desire to back out of their affordable housing commitments, an urgent issue that requires our immediate action. 

A Note from Louise

Dear PATH Community,

Today I end my time as your Metro IAF Lead Organizer, while continuing in the work of transition for the organization. Over the course of several years at PATH, we encountered great challenges, experienced fortunate opportunities, and saw true impact in building powerful relationships for change in Howard County.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR PATH?

The work of PATH continues! 

We will continue to demand equity in all HoCo systems, now and into the next crucial years, making sure that County budget reductions do not continue to impinge on equity in the region, and that systems continue to serve ALL of Howard County.

Consider donating to support the work of PATH in our local communities. The work of PATH matters now, more than ever before

The Strategy Team and key leaders will continue to learn and organize together. Starting July 6, Cynthia Marshall of Maryland IAF will be working part-time at PATH as interim Lead Organizer. Financial matters will be managed by the Strategy Team, per usual. 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR LOUISE?

I’ll still be in Howard County, doing volunteer and contract work through December. I’ll continue in ministry as Unitarian Universalist clergy: As individual spiritual director and coach, a consultant on interfaith power organizing, and a faith leader for worship arts and congregational development. My PATH email address will remain active through 2020, and I remain an ongoing supporter from D.C., where my home office has been since the March shutdown began.

It has been a true joy to learn from you since March of 2018, when I began at PATH and in Howard County.  What a long, strange trip it has become! While this is not the end I would plan (amidst physical separation), I remain full of gratitude for all I’ve experienced among you. 

With great respect and affection,

PATH Update — June 2020

Dear friend,

Since our founding in 2006, PATH has asked two crucial questions at every turn:

Who is being left out of Howard County systems?
How can we reimagine our common public life as more equitable and inclusive? 
 

The pandemic we now face has exposed the crumbling architecture of the societal safety nets that protect our most vulnerable neighbors. Recent events across the country have reminded us that our systems were not built for everyone. In this moment, we grieve, and we feel angry. 

Your donation today will help us continue asking these questions. 

Who is being left out of Howard County systems right now? 

And we hear the answers come back, as always: Black Americans, low-income Latinx/Hispanic families, undocumented immigrants and those deemed the Other, the elderly at risk, and working class people. 

Your neighbors.  

Over the last three months, PATH staff and leaders raised urgent equity issues with:

  • County Executive and staff, for increased language translations of official communications, particularly those related to COVID-19, recognizing that many of Howard County’s most vulnerable residents do not read English. 
  • Howard County Board of Education and HCPSS Staff, challenging education leaders to develop remediation efforts that strategically target students in the achievement gap, with a focus on technology accessequipment, and training to utilize computer-based learning tools. 
  • Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services, asking for a strategic, coordinated response to address food scarcity, and the effects of reduced public transportation. 
  • Howard County General Hospital, seeking that testing protocols be more widely shared, and for supporting resources to equip local clergy to serve their diverse congregations. 
  • Howard County Council, asking that the budget for FY 21 not abandon support of affordable housing development in Downtown Columbia, a commitment the Council made to PATH in 2016.

The work of PATH matters now, more than ever before. PATH has led the County fight toward broad-based equity, diversity, and inclusion since 2005. We see inequity starkly across the nation right now, and our area is no exception. Our public systems are not equitable and do not serve all Howard County residents.  

During this unprecedented crisis, will you help us keep asking the questions?

Your generous donation of any size today can help PATH keep our seat at important public tables. 

We will continue to demand equity in all Howard County systems, now and into the next crucial years, making sure that County budget reductions do not continue to impinge on equity in the region, and that systems continue to serve ALL of Howard County.

Will you be part of this transformation? Will you reimagine Howard County systems for your neighbors with us?

Thank you for acting together in this important time,

Rev. Paige Getty, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, PATH co-chair
Rev. Tyrone Jones, First Baptist Church of Guilford, PATH co-chair
Rev. Robert Turner, St. John Baptist Church, Strategy Team
Rev. Mary Ka Kanahan, St. John United Church, Strategy Team


P.S. On April 30, PATH submitted testimony to the Board of Education. Our statement closed with this admonition:

“We ask you to be explicitly aware that choices you make, responses you design, are geared first to those with English language facility, technological access, and higher incomes and education levels. This is the dominant culture of Howard County and the implicit bias. It is perpetuating barriers, to both survival and the ability to thrive. The only way to address this is to continually ask: Who is being left out? Why? How might we design solutions with a breadth of access, and multiple points of entry?

Will you join us in reimagining Howard County systems and designing new solutions?