Brevard County Commissioners defend decision to skip church event on local housing crisis

Brevard County Commissioners last week lashed out at critics who want them to do more to deal with a growing housing crisis on the Space Coast, accusing the church leaders and nonprofits who organized a recent gathering of the needy — which they were invited to but did not attend — of politicizing the issue.

Commissioners made their feelings known during the board report portion of the planning and zoning meeting on May 5, spending roughly 10 minutes on the subject to explain their absence from the Brevard Justice Ministry event in Suntree last week.

Commission Vice Chair Curt Smith said he was unable to attend the meeting and made Housing and Human Services Director Ian Golden available for them to speak with.

“I want to point out there was a big brouhaha, I guess you could call it that with the Brevard Justice Ministry Monday night,” Commission Vice Chair Curt Smith said.

The Brevard Justice Ministry is a coalition of churches targeting housing insecurity as a key issue impacting people of all backgrounds on the Space Coast.

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At a meeting held on May 4, Ministry leaders invited commissioners to attend but none did. Commissioners John Tobia and Kristine Zonka said they had scheduled or already had held separate meetings with the organizers. But all excused themselves from the big Suntree meeting or claimed prior commitments, though a county spokesman said the commissioners couldn’t attend without violating Florida Sunshine laws. 

Commissioners also lashed out at FLORIDA TODAY’s reporting on the event.

“The article wanted to throw us under the bus because we each had different reasons for not being there,” Smith said about the FLORIDA TODAY report.

This article first appeared on FloridaToday.com

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