Activist community

Local Community of Pan-African Uplifts Groups – The Gothic Times

Q: Did the families start to get back on their feet once the help was given to them?

A: Certainly, we stayed in touch with a few different families. Some are still struggling, but others we were able to help at really crucial times. Some have obviously avoided homelessness thanks to this program.

Q: Is homelessness a systemic issue?

A: It’s definitely a systemic thing. In New York, there are more available homes than homeless people. The issue of homelessness or homelessness is not an individual failure is a failure of the state. Even now, on a smaller scale like Jersey City, there are so many vacant properties and so much land to build on. This land can be built for adequate, affordable or free housing for people to get back on their feet. It just isn’t built. It’s kind of one of those things where capitalism continues to be homeless so the working class has a place to look and say okay I don’t want to be there so I have to go to my job everyday.

Build more unity in a community event. Photo courtesy of BMU.

Q: How is Build More Unity funded? How is the program holding up?

A: The funds we obtain to maintain our programs or distribute our resources come directly from the community itself. So we have the well-known Cash app, Venmo, and things like that. Then, if we have a program on our flyer, that information is on our flyer or biography. The people who have seen us and who have known us have chosen to make regular donations in order to maintain our programs in progress. Recently we had a conversation and talked about designing merchandise for ourselves. Not necessarily to build a brand but just to be able to maintain ourselves. So it’s ok if we have merchandising, our merchandising can fund some of our programs and things like that. We are a little against government sanctioned funding. If the majority of our funding comes from the state apparatus, then we are limited in what we can say or do. That’s why we try to be entirely community-funded.

Q: What types of businesses are allowed to donate to Build More Unity?

A: We are not looking the financing of large corporations that abuse workers and capital. We are not seeking grants, resources or corporate donations. We do this with local companies with which we have partnerships. When Storm Ida hit, we were walking around and emptying the mess out of business basements. As well as the basements of the owners to help them with this work. We were putting together a bunch of people from the organization and we did it for a few different companies here in Jersey City. Now, these companies are among the people who make regular donations to us.

Q: Do you think Build More Unity has educated or inspired other defenders?