EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Newburgh hosted hundreds of people Monday evening for CAJE’s yearly kick-off gathering.
The multi-issue organization, made up of 23-member congregations, gathers every year to decide which issues they’ll pressure lawmakers to act on.
Several groups presented on what they call urgent community needs.
Rev. Floyd Edwards of Mt. Olive Galilee Baptist Church spoke on the lack of affordable housing in Evansville.
“The housing committee will ask Mayor Lloyd Winnecke to allocate $2 million into the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the budget year of 2020," Rev. Edwards said during his presentation. He added CAJE will ask city leaders to implement a yearly funding stream to address housing.
In 2018, CAJE won $500,000 for the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, but researchers have found that it will take four times that amount to fill the current gap, according to Rev. Edwards.
CAJE members in Posey and Warrick Counties addressed lack of housing in those regions as well.
“50 to 60% of people I work with need rent or utility paying assistance," said Beth Russell, director of Family Matters of Posey County. “They’re playing this game of do I need to pay utilities this month or do I need to pay rent this month,” she said.
CAJE members announced it will also campaign for dually-diagnosed children.
“In October 2010 my son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism," Yvonne Martin said during her presentation. “Seven years later in 2017 my son was diagnosed with PTSD. That was the moment my son became a dually-diagnosed child."
Martin explained her son was constantly turned down for PTSD treatment because he has autism.
“We must push for better practices for all mental health providers in this community," Martin said.
CAJE will hold the 2019 Nehemiah Action at the Old National Events Plaza on May 6.