Juvenile Justice: Civil Citations
Too many children are being arrested for first time misdemeanors in Hillsborough County and Florida. In the past 12 months, Florida arrested about 12,000 children for first time misdemeanors. Hillsborough County arrested about 1,000 of these children, with 70% of them being arrested for first time misdemeanor marijuana possession. Though these children are eligible to receive a state authorized Civil Citation/Arrest Avoidance Program instead of an arrest, eight decision makers in Hillsborough had excluded them from accessing Civil Citation Programs.
A Civil Citation gives children disciplinary programs that help them develop as productive adults through community service, counseling and anger management or drug treatment programs as needed, without an arrest that puts them into the Criminal Justice System. Increasing the use of Civil Citations in Hillsborough will decrease the number of children being arrested and prevent them from having the challenge of a damaging arrest record for the rest of their lives.
HOPE continues to organize to reduce the arrests of our children by getting decision makers to expand the use of the Civil Citation/Arrest Avoidance Program in our county and the state of Florida.
Affordable Housing Trust Fund
Housing costs are hitting families with low wages very hard. Hillsborough County has at least 74,000 families with incomes of $30,000 or less paying over 50% of their income for housing. Decent and safe housing that is affordable is difficult to find. In the Tampa Metropolitan area, only 78 affordable units are available for every 100 renter households with incomes at or below 50% of AMI (~$30,000 or less for family of four). For incomes at 30% AMI (~$17,700), only 27 units are affordable and available for every 100 renter households. Families and seniors with low incomes are often a car repair, illness, accident, or job loss away from being evicted or foreclosed on. Many families constantly move to chase affordable rent, disrupting their own job performance and their children’s education as they move from school to school.
The current high rent market overburdens and stresses the economic livelihood and security of working families and seniors with low incomes in our county. This threatens their ability to meet other basic needs for healthy food, clothing, transportation, medical care, and the education of their children.
HOPE is organizing to establish a Hillsborough Affordable Housing Trust Fund with a designated public funding source to meet the on-going housing needs of low-income families 50% and below AMI.
Improving Access to Elder Care
In the last 5 years, the senior population in our county has seen the greatest percentage growth of all age groups with a 1.4% increase. However, home-based and community-based services, which allow seniors to live with dignity and independence, have decreased significantly. These services include door-to-door transportation to grocery stores and doctor visits and aides to help with basic home chores and personal care. The decrease or stagnation of these services will be a worsening problem, as the population of seniors ages 60+ is expected to nearly double in our county from 245,000 to 443,000 by 2040. According to AARP, a senior aged 60+ with an adult child on average lives 280 miles from their adult child. Further, 9 out 10 seniors prefer to stay at home, but this is particularly challenging for the 27,700 seniors that live in poverty. These seniors live with incomes of less than $1,150 a month and they can’t afford the transportation and in-home services that allow them to remain independent
In-home and Transportation services maximize the independence of our seniors, allowing them to live with dignity in an environment that promotes their health and wellness. These services not only fulfill their needs, but also the benefits of services in the community are visible:
- According to the Florida Council on Aging, the annual average cost for in-home services is $8,046 versus the $64,770 it costs for nursing home services
- According to the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Commission for Transportation Disadvantaged, every $1 invested in medical and nutritional trips gives a $5.07 return in preventative care savings.
HOPE is organizing to increase in-home and community based services for the growing population of seniors, especially low-income seniors across the county.
HOPE’s largest event in the year is our Nehemiah Action, where we bring together over 1,000 people to stand face-to face with our decision makers. In the presence of our people we ask them to commit to make necessary policy changes that will positively impact the issues impacting our families. The Nehemiah Action is named after the Prophet Nehemiah who in a large assembly stood before the nobles and officials of his community and challenged them to stop charging the unjust and unfair interests on loans given to the people — and gained a promise from the nobles to stop. Today, HOPE carries out the same work of holding our nobles and decision makers accountable through our annual Nehemiah Action.
We build toward our Nehemiah Action through carrying out house-meetings to hear the most pressing problems and concerns that are confronting and worrying our congregations’ members, neighbors, and friends……..through research meetings where we meet with experts, stakeholders and allies to understand problems and solutions…….and through mini-actions, vigils, and public events. Here are some images of what doing justice looks like for HOPE!