The Charleston People's Budget Coalition is a group of local leaders and organizations advocating for more equitable city budgets in both Charleston and North Charleston, which truly reflect the needs of their communities. Coalition members include: ACLU of South Carolina, Black Liberation Fund, Charleston BLM, Charleston Democratic Socialists of America, Charleston GOOD, Lowcountry Action Committee, and We Are Family.

Charleston is not safe when 27% of residents face shelter poverty, when more pedestrians die from unsafe streets than almost anywhere else in the country, when many suffer from low wages and a high cost of living, and when our neighbors cannot access the mental health services they need. Charleston is not inclusive when Black neighborhoods face the brunt of flooding and climate displacement and continue to experience daily and long-term damage caused by underfunded public services and gentrification.

North Charleston is not safe when multimillion-dollar investments in fruitless mass surveillance technologies are prioritized over access to healthy foods, decent jobs, safe and stable housing for residents. North Charleston is not inclusive while frequenting the tops of the nation’s lists of highest eviction and gentrification rates.

The Charleston People's Budget Coalition believes now is the time for our elected city leaders in both Charleston and North Charleston to take the first steps toward building a public safety system that ensures the safety and well-being of our entire community. We urge both City Councils, as well as their respective Mayors, to reallocate 8% of their Policing budgets toward youth and education programs, affordable housing, improved sidewalks, weatherization programs, and meaningful investment in the Special Commission on Equity, Inclusion, and Racial Conciliation.

There is a local community-led movement supporting a People’s Budget in both Charleston and North Charleston. 

TAKE ACTION: Sign on to support a People’s Budget here!

We ask Charleston and North Charleston city leadership to improve public safety by taking the following steps: 

  • Improve access to housing: Increase opportunities for home ownership, rental assistance, and transitional housing. Increase the number of Homelessness Outreach Coordinators.
  • Provide opportunities for youth: Increase summer youth employment programs for youth and seasonal workers specifically in underserved communities. Provide financial literacy programs for youth and underserved communities through a BankOn initiative. 
  • Build safe infrastructure: Create and maintain sidewalk programs in neighborhoods with high public transit ridership. Provide subsidies for Weatherization Assistance Programs for low-income neighborhoods. 
  • Directly invest in racial justice: Expand the Department of Racial Reconciliation and Tolerance and hire additional staff. Continue funding the Special Commission on Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation beyond their initial engagement and pay impacted or low-income people to participate. 

The Charleston People's Budget Coalition Long-Term Vision & Policy Platform

  • Reallocate 8% of CPD and NCPD budgets to city programs providing services to communities that have been harmed by centuries of divestment and oppression.
  • Release CPD’s and NCPD’s line item budgets with detail. 
  • Demilitarize CPD and NCPD by ending all participation in federal programs that provide surplus military equipment or funding to buy military equipment, and returning any and all military equipment currently in their possession.
  • Remove the police substation in the Gadsden Green Apartment Complex.
  • Dismantle and defund NCPD’s Joint Operations Center
  • Decriminalize marijuana by ending arrests and citations for minor possession (less than one ounce). 
  • Create true community accountability through a permanent civilian body representative of impacted communities, following the Community Police Accountability Council model by Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Oppression.
  • Create a formal policy that CPD and NCPD will not cooperate with the 287g program and will commit to protecting undocumented people from ICE.
  • Ensure that all announcements and press releases from CPD and NCPD are released in Spanish. 
  • Create inclusionary zoning laws to support the creation of affordable and public housing by the public and private sector. 
  • Protect the communities potentially impacted by the expansion of Highway 526.
  • End civil asset forfeiture.
  • Prevent the expansion of Highway 41 through the Phillips Community. 
  • Abolish cash bail.
  • Pass an ordinance to ban the box on job applications. 
  • Halt the filling of Gadsden Creek.
  • Remove all Confederate statues.
  • End the theft of Gullah Geechee land in the Lowcountry.

TAKE ACTION: Sign on to support a People’s Budget here!