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New Coalition To Tackle Challenges Unmet By LAMC
12/9/2015 4:25:30 PM

Mattese Lecque
Staff Reports

It’s been nine years since the S.C. State Port Authority awarded an unprecedented $4 million in mitigation funding to seven North Charleston neighborhoods as it develops its new facility at the former Charleston Naval Base.

The communities that traditionally had been exploited and ignored then displaced were being given an economic shot in the arm to enable them to survive redevelopment.

But some say the organization of neighborhoods is moving too slowly. Residents of the Liberty Hill community have formed a new coalition to advocate for its empowerment.

The coalition of seven North Charleston predominantly Black communities dubbed the Lowcountry Alliance of Model Communities (LAMC) consists of the Accabee, Chicora/Cherokee, Five Mile, Howard Heights, Union Heights, Windsor Hills and the Liberty Hill neighborhoods.

The communities received the funds and determine how it should be used, but the City of North Charleston acts as the conduit through which the funds flow. And with other governmental agencies, the city provides technical and other assistance.

But in the nine years of its existence LAMC only has had moderate successes: the communities have set up an educational endowment ($250,000), developed a master plan ($325,000) and purchased two buildings ($282,000) for use as an office and as rental property. A plan to construct affordable housing in the seven communities faltered. Since 2006 the organization has received about $2.1 million and spent some $888,000.

A few months ago residents of the Liberty Hill community where two progressive church congregations, Charity Missionary Baptist and Royal Missionary Baptist, are located formed the Liberty Hill Initiative Program tasked with transforming the 29405 zip code area from economically depressed to economically and socially vibrant.

Charity Missionary Baptist Church established its Charity Foundation in 2005 which started the initiative about eight months ago. In the past four months, Royal Missionary Baptist Church’s Royal Foundation joined with the Liberty Hill Improvement Council and the Neighbor Works organization to form a coalition that will provide multigenerational approaches to youth mentorship, academic readiness training, housing liveability improvements and empowerment of families, said Charity Chair Rev. Nelson Rivers, Pastor of Charity Missionary Baptist Church.

Liberty Hill resident Mattese Lecque said the new coalition has been formed to address the challenges facing the traditional neighborhood that include redevelopment and encroachment on a massive scale. LAMC, for all its good intentions, has not met those challenges, she said.

“Some people who may be compromised because of their relationships with the city’s administration get angry when questions are asked and we have been lazy by not taking leadership, but we’re saying we can’t wait for answers from LAMC after some $1 million has been spent yet no one can see who’s benefiting from the mitigation money,” Lecque said.

She said the new organization plans to work co-operatively with LAMC and other organizations and request their financial and technical assistance as well.

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