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The Charleston Area Justice Ministry felt the impacts of the coronavirus like the rest of us, slowed down by social distancing measures that eventually led to canceling one of their largest events of the year.

According to Claudette Hart, CAJM’s housing committee co-chair, the action-oriented advocacy group had been meeting with elected officials in neighboring municipalities to discuss a housing trust fund to ensure the construction of more affordable housing yearly. Now, those meetings have gone digital.

“We have shifted to virtual meetings,” Hart said. “We are up and running and still working toward housing. We haven’t stopped. It did slow us down for a couple weeks, but we are back to speaking with various authorities and resources that would be able to help or give ideas into what we are trying to do.”

With limited options, CAJM has found a home for their meetings on an online video chat service.

“Thank God for Zoom,” said the Rev. Charles Heyward, the group's organizing pastor. “The committee has been meeting with officials by Zoom. We just shifted from everyone being in the room to everyone being on Zoom. I wouldn’t say we are trudging along, so much as we have been actively working.”

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Despite the tenacity of the organization, the new normal of life during the coronavirus pandemic has halted some plans in their tracks.

The group’s annual Nehemiah Action, when Charleston-area residents meet with public officials face-to-face to secure commitments to policy priorities, was originally planned for March 30 and was eventually postponed and canceled.

Still, Heyward suggests that those who recognize the need for these measures contact their officials anyway, even if it’s from the comfort of their own home.

“Whether it’s by letter, telephone calls, or petition, they should be speaking to their elected officials, their representatives, telling them to do something,” he said. “That’s why we gather 2,000 people. We do that, and we ask them to do something. The problem exists, and you are in place to address it.”


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