Partnership for Renewal in Southern and Central Maryland Thu, 04 Feb 2016 02:28:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Feb 9th 2015 Clergy Caucus Luncheon Wed, 03 Feb 2016 03:52:08 +0000 PRISCM Clergy Caucus FlyerCome out to PRISCM first Clergy Caucus of 2016.

The purpose of the Clergy Caucus is to act within the Gamaliel network in ways that faithfully witness to the God of love, power, justice and community.

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Housing troubles face new Pr. George’s county executive Wed, 03 Feb 2016 03:01:36 +0000

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PH2010092302712Originally appeared in the Washington Post on 10-13-2010.

By Ovetta Wiggins

Less than a year after Prince George’s County lost millions in federal housing aid, a report is calling on the next county executive to revamp the housing department by conducting a national search for a director, setting up a local trust fund for housing needs and offering more rental housing.

“One of the most important actions is for the county executive to put in place a highly qualified leader for this department, given all the problems this agency has had in the past,” said Cheryl Cort, policy director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, one of the authors of the “Building Stronger Communities” report.

The analysis, which was released Wednesday by the coalition and the Partnership for Renewal in Southern and Central Maryland (PRISCM), offers a sobering picture of the housing situation in Prince George’s.

Nearly half of the county’s residents spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs, an amount considered unaffordable by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the report says. The county counted 45,300 troubled home loans according to an Urban Institute report cited in the analysis, and about 40 percent of renters cannot afford the median monthly rent of $1,131, the report says.

The authors said the county Department of Housing and Community Development has been “ill-equipped” to handle the housing crisis because it “lacks leadership.”

But Jim Keary, a spokesman for Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), said the report appears to be based on old data.

He said that reforms have been implemented in the agency and that Johnson fired the former director, Thomas Thompson, in June 2008. James Johnson was appointed the acting director.

Keary said the county is properly dispensing money given by the federal government to address the county’s foreclosure crisis. Last week, Prince George’s provided assistance to 600 families through its Down Payment on Your Dream program, which is funded by the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The Neighborhood Stabilization Program is designed to shore up areas hit hard by foreclosures. Prince George’s has the highest number of foreclosures in Maryland.

Despite that investment, a PRISCM official said the county still needs a new director.

“We need someone who is going to bring better housing options and stabilize the living situation in the county,” said the Rev. Michael Turner, president of PRISCM and pastor of Miracle Center of Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Capitol Heights.

The analysis comes on the heels of reports about problems in administering federal money earmarked for affordable housing. In January, the county had to return $2 million that federal housing officials had granted for affordable housing projects because the county didn’t spend the money within a five-year period. And in October 2008, the county nearly lost $5 million in HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

Coalition and PRISCM officials said they know that Rushern L. Baker III, who won the Democratic nomination for county executive last month, has a host of challenges facing him when he takes office in December, including improving education, expanding commercial development and lowering crime. But they hope that housing will be at the forefront.

Baker and his transition team will review the report, said James Adams, a spokesman for Baker. The county’s overwhelming Democratic majority makes the de facto general election.

The report also recommends that the new director assess the housing department to “ensure that previous weaknesses that led to underperformance are corrected.”

It also suggests that more quality rental housing be made available to low-income families. “While homeownership is a desirable goal, the high foreclosure rate shows that homeownership is not always the best housing option,” the report says.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth and PRISCM also want the county to provide more foreclosure-prevention counseling, implement a law similar to one in the District that allows tenants to buy their building if it is offered for sale and develop a dedicated source of local funding for affordable housing.

Original article can be found here:

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PRISCM Talks Transit at Candidate Forum Wed, 03 Feb 2016 02:37:19 +0000

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Holly Nunn writing for The Sentinel (


Two candidates for Prince George’s County Executive were noticeably absent Sunday from the candidate forum organized by the Partnership for Renewal in Southern and Central Maryland.

The name cards designating space for Sherriff Michael Jackson and Councilman Tony Knotts were placed on the table in front of two empty chairs at St. Paul Church in District Heights.

“Let’s take those signs down, they don’t deserve to be up any longer,” said PRISCM President Rev. Dr. Michael Turner of Faith Missionary Baptist Church, 20 minutes into the forum. “The community needs to hear from the candidates.”

Another event organizer removed the signs and ripped them.


Jackson and Knotts could not be reached for comment.

The other four candidates, Rushern Baker, Samuel Dean, Gerron Levi and Henry Turner Jr., each answered four questions about development around metro stations, police misconduct, high foreclosure rates and education.

Baker, who is a former state delegate, emphasized job training, police training, accountability of executive appointments, recruitment and professional development of teachers. Baker called the public education system the county’s “calling card,” saying that good schools bring investment into the county.

Dean, a county councilman, emphasizing his experience said, “county executive is not an on-the-job training position.” He spoke of legislation he introduced as a member of the council to expedite county development process, his experience in human resources to find the most qualified people and called for the county executive to have more control over how funds for education are spent.


Levi, a state delegate, said her 10-step plan for the county addressed the most pressing issues, including executing development plans already in place, employing strong citizen oversight of police activity, utilizing grant money and non-profits, and cutting suspension rates in public schools. In 2009, she secured a $1.1 million grant for an advanced math program for county students.

Turner, a senior acquisition analyst at the Pentagon and chairman of the Prince George’s Veterans Commission, found solutions in resources within the community. He suggested forming partnerships with local mayors and universities to fuel job growth, passing legislation that would give advantages to county residents seeking law enforcement jobs, working with regional and local banks for home loans, and using families and churches to support students.

PRISCM, an affiliate of the Gamaliel Foundation, is a partnership of 29 community-minded organizations in Southern and Central Maryland, mostly churches and religious groups. The event was co-sponsored by Casa de Maryland, an advocacy group for low-income Latinos.

Questions had been developed by the organization over a year of meetings about the community’s vision for the county.


The forum ended with each candidate pledging to meet with PRISCM quarterly to discuss the concerns of the community, should they be elected.

Elections will be held Tuesday, Nov. 2.


This story originally appeared on The Sentinel on June 30th, 2010 and is available here:–Knotts-

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Heeding God’s Call in Maryland Wed, 03 Feb 2016 02:32:45 +0000

Continue reading]]> The involvement of faith leaders in efforts to strengthen gun laws in the United States goes back decades if not further. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, for example, was originally founded by the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society and other religious organizations in mid-1970s. An exciting campaign known as “Heeding God’s Call,” however, is providing the faith community with new opportunities to take the lead in reducing gun violence in our country. Originally started in Pennsylvania, Heeding God’s Call has now spread south into Maryland.

The mission statement of Heeding God’s Call calls for the campaign to “unite people of faith in the sacred responsibility to protect our brothers, sisters and children.” The campaign realizes it mission by: 1) Helping local faith communities organize advocacy campaigns to encourage gun shops to adopt a code of conduct to deter illegal purchasing and trafficking of handguns; 2) Providing support and resources for faith communities to form multi-racial, ecumenical and interfaith partnerships working together, on both social and legislative levels, to prevent gun violence; 3) Serving as a “connection point” for congregations and partnerships to connect with, learn from and support the work of gun violence prevention organizations and efforts already in place, and ; 4) Advocating for faith communities to make commitments to raise voices and take action to prevent gun violence.

Started in 2008, the signature victory of Heeding God’s Call came in September 2009 when the sustained protests of faith leaders in Philadelphia pressured the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to shut down Colosimo’s Gun Center, a store that was the source of one out of every five crime guns recovered in the city. That same month, a Heeding God’s Call campaign took root in the Pennsylvania state capital, Harrisburg. Now, in 2010, new groups have sprung up in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, Maryland.

On October 20, faith leaders from Baltimore gathered at Clyde’s Sport Shop in Lansdowne, Maryland. They

asked the store’s owner, Clyde Blamberg, to sign a 10-point Code of Conduct. This voluntary code asks gun dealers to implement marketing safeguards to prevent illegal “straw” sales; such as videotaping gun sales, deterring fake IDs, and conducting background checks on all store employees. A 2008 report from the Abell Foundation found that Clyde’s was the second largest source of crime guns seized in Baltimore during the period January 1, 2006 through March 31, 2007.

We are not implying that you break the law,” Bishop Douglas Miles of Koinonia Baptist Church told Blamberg. “I’m sure you faithfully follow the procedures. We just want to ask you to help us to help prevent the havoc that is going on in our communities.” “We need people voluntarily who will decide to do the right thing. We can’t just depend on the law to have good communities, we need people of good will,” added Rev. Dr. Eugene Sutton, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. Standing with Miles and Sutton were Rev. Peter Nord, Presbyter Executive of the Presbytery of Baltimore; Rev. Jack Sharpe, President, Central Maryland Ecumenical Council; Rev. Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane, Synod Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Imam Earl El-Amin, Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore; Rev. John R. Schol, Baltimore-Washington Conference United Methodist Church; Dr. Arthur Abramson, Executive Director, Baltimore Jewish Council; Rev. Dr. John Deckenback, Central Atlantic Conference United Church of Christ; and Rev. Denis Madden, Auxilliary Bishop, Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.

We’re not interested” was Blamberg’s immediate response (Clyde’s supporters find no fault with his business practices, instead pointing a finger at the “culture” of “black males in the city”).

The Baltimore group is not giving up so easy, however. “With a primary goal to reduce the flow of illegal handguns on city streets,” Heeding God’s Call will return to Clyde’s Sports Shop on December 11 at 3:00 PM to again ask Blamberg to sign the Code of Conduct.

lamberg is not the only gun dealer in Maryland who has been approached by the faith community. On November 13, the Partnership for Renewal in Southern and Central Maryland (PRISCM) conducted a prayer vigil and protest at Realco Guns in Forestville. 60 people attended the event, including religious leaders, gun violence survivors, and elected officials. They were responding to a recent Washington Post investigation that revealed that more than 2,500 guns used in crimes have been traced back to Realco in the past 18 years. In addition, nearly one in every three guns confiscated by authorities in the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County was purchased from the dealer.

We’re not here today to necessarily gang up on Mr. [Carlos] del Real, who is the owner of this shop, but we are here to bring attention to this shop,” said Youth Minister Raimon Jackson of Gethsemane United Methodist Church. “We are here to…let him know that our community will no longer stand for…the traces of guns that are found in connection with this shop.”

Minister Rosita Barnes of St. Paul’s Baptist Church contributed a prayer: “Lord we ask that you would touch the buyers, the would-be buyers and the sellers…We pray that each would-be buyer in this shop—or anywhere else—looks deep within themselves where we believe [they] will find God and ask the question, ‘Lord, what shall I do?’

The faith leaders in Prince George’s County presented del Real with a copy of the Code of Conduct. He accepted it, but like Blamberg, refused to sign. Like their counterparts in Baltimore, however, these faith leaders were not deterred. They announced they, too, would be coming back, and soon.

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