Some top local religious leaders joined a prayer vigil Feb. 22 to support a housing nonprofit’s lawsuit against the city of Sandy Springs. The nonprofit also recently launched a website directly targeting Mayor Rusty Paul called “shameonrustypaul.com.”
MHFH, which helps women with homelessness and addiction issues, in 2017 bought more than a third of the 90-unit condo complex at 9400 Roberts Drive, drawing criticism from other residents and legal challenges from the city. Following several code citations, MHFH sued the city in December 2018, saying it’s trying to push out minorities and disabled people.
Now, MHFH is prepping for the lawsuit hearings to begin by pulling its partners at religious organizations, including Temple Emanu-El and Sandy Springs United Methodist Church, which was the first church in Sandy Springs and led to the community’s founding.
About 50 people, including some of the women who use MHFH services, attended the event held at Rivercliff Lutheran Church, where the nonprofit also uses space.
Lucy Hall, who founded MHFH, said the nonprofit originally planned to host a rally at City Hall to try to show the city is has community support and has been successful at helping women recover. But the attorneys said that could lead to other legal problems, so the prayer vigil was held instead. MHFH has also launched a petition website called shameonrustypaul.com, referencing the mayor of Sandy Springs.
A hearing for the lawsuit was scheduled for Feb. 25, but was postponed at the city’s request to March 12, Hall said.
“It’s a little disappointing to me on my end, because I’m really ready to get this over with,” she said.
City spokesperson Sharon Kraun said the hearing was moved due to a witness illness. Kraun did not comment on the holding of the vigil.
Temple Emanu-El Senior Rabbi Spike Anderson, who introduced the vigil, said MHFH has been a partner for over 20 years.
“We think Mary Hall is very well-run,” Anderson said. “Our congregation is very invested in Mary Hall’s success.”
He said the Temple supports MHFH because the Jewish mission is to “take care of our neighbors.”
“To be even a small part of helping people get back on their feet, there is nothing more meaningful than that.”
Other organizations included Sonflower Ministries, a Sandy Springs-based group, Mount Paran Church and St. James United Methodist Church, Hall said.