Recognizing the urgent need for a Catholic organization in the Archdiocese to speak up and advocate for social justice, especially for solutions to systemic racial injustice, lack of affordable housing in neighborhoods of choice, and many other justice issues that confront our communities, the Steering Committee of Beyond the Boundaries is committed to continuing its mission. We are not alone in addressing these challenges and we recognize that collaboration with like-minded organizations is essential. However, we know that the strength of Beyond the Boundaries lies in the power of your voices and the voices of people you represent in parishes and organizations throughout the Archdiocese.
To carry out our mission, Beyond the Boundaries must stay abreast of initiatives in government and private institutions in order to disseminate information in a timely manner so that we all can be informed and able to stand together, guided by our social justice principles, to advocate for a more just society. It also means we must be reaching out to educate others about such issues while growing our advocacy base. And, it means we must maintain our contacts with like-minded organizations to collaborate with them when possible to combat systemic injustice.
For example, in March of 2019 the Baltimore City Council considered Bill 18-308 to prohibit discrimination in rental housing based solely on source of income. Beyond the Boundaries has been advocating such legislation in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and the State for many years. As you know, people who wait for years to get a housing voucher too often are turned away from rentals in a /better’ neighborhood by landlords who will not rent to them for no other reason than their source of income. When the Bill came up for its final vote, a ‘20% exception’ amendment was proposed and immediately accepted. This amendment now exempts a building owner from the law if the owner documents that the building already has five-or-more units occupied by tenants with vouchers. This exemption will come up for reauthorization in 2023 and if data shows the exception is never evoked it will not need to be reauthorized. So we need to continue to pay attention! A similar bill was introduced in the State legislature again this year but did not come out of committee. Baltimore County is under federal mandate to re-introduce its version of the Home Act this year. Other issues are looming which require attention in efforts to bring about a more just society. Beyond the Boundaries must be part of these advocacy efforts.
Want to contact your City Councilman about an issue? Or your state legislator? You can find out who your representatives are and their contact information on a Maryland State website listing Elected Officials.
Suggestions about the most effective way to contact your representatives has been compiled by the Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA) and can be found at ‘Contacting your Elected Officials’.