VOICE 2017-2021 Organizing Agenda: A Closer Look
Background: In October 2008, VOICE launched with 2,500 leaders from 40+ institutions with much excitement and expectation, committing the collective power of our institutions to create a New Dominion for Justice and Participation in the Old Dominion. Since then, VOICE has proven it builds power for the long-term, winning impressive victories, including:
Frame: Today, we unite again across racial, religious, ethnic, income, and partisan lines to declare that it's time to deliver on the promise of living in Northern Virginia -- housing affordability, good public schools, safe and just communities, and respect for one another and for the diversity that is the foundation for a New Dominion and that powers a strong economy with opportunities for all.
Sadly, this promise is imperiled for many, while for others it has never been realized. Meanwhile, a divisive and deeply disturbing national political climate has disgusted many people, leading some to turn their backs on civic engagement and others to double down on the politics of division.
Over the last 15 months, VOICE listened closely as 3,000 residents in more than 250 sessions throughout Northern Virginia discussed their hopes, fears, and concerns. Their message: The promise of living in Northern Virginia is threatened by:
Vision: We must act NOW to change the trajectory in Northern Virginia -- to reclaim the promise of living here for ourselves and for the next generation. We must reclaim politics as an honorable pursuit in which people working together have the power to change their communities and their country for the better. We must lead by showing that, if we build trust through relationships that cross the usual lines of division, we will strengthen our region for the challenges ahead.
We are called to be POWERFUL agents of CHANGE, to be BOLD, to be PERSISTENT, to demonstrate HOPE for a better Northern Virginia. VOICE is expanding and broadening its membership in each jurisdiction so that we have the power to tackle county- and region-wide issues as well as to be a non-partisan force for VOICE’s organizing agenda in statewide elections for Governor and Attorney General in 2017, and statewide and local elections in 2018 & 2019.
VOICE 2017-2021 Organizing Agenda: VOICE will build the power to make the following changes over the next 5 years:
1) Increase Investment in Affordable Housing: Northern Virginia counties lag far behind their regional peers in addressing the need for—(121,000 units in NOVA by 2023 according to a George Mason Center for Regional Analysis Study)—and investing in affordable housing—Montgomery County, MD and Washington, DC invest $47 million and $100 million respectively each year in local funds to finance affordable housing. Arlington, Fairfax, and Alexandria only invest approximately $12 million, $4 million, and $2 million respectively. Over the next five years, VOICE will organize to increase annual local investment to:
VOICE will also continue organizing with tenants to address housing code violations and preserve their properties from upscale development most notably with:
VOICE will also organize with its partner religious denominations to identify land and investment funds that can be allocated to build affordable housing. Leading by example, VOICE will then challenge all jurisdictions to
2) Organize with Parents/School Staff/Community leaders to build a power base to Strengthen Public Education, including increased funding to invest in top quality teachers and staff, to address school overcrowding, and interventions to address the achievement gap among minority, immigrant, and low-income students and their wealthier peers as well as to win on specific local and county issues that school/community teams identify-- such as transportation for after school programs so all students can participate.
3) Expand Pre-K for low-income families in Prince William County (PWCO), by accessing $3 million in state matching funds annually and winning $17 million to expand Pre-K to the 1000+ low-income students who still need it.
4) Organize for Just and Accountable, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, to Combat the climate of intolerance, especially toward Muslims, and to address injustices in housing, schools, employment, etc. faced by our immigrant brothers and sisters, including the state impasse on immigrants obtaining drivers licenses;
5) Address Gun Violence and Tackle the Roots and Effects of the Unjust and Inequitable Criminal Justice System through the Metro IAF/VOICE Do Not Stand Idly By Campaign.