The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Canada has embarked on a 3-year campaign under the theme of “SAFE, SECURE AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT.” The National social justice committee believe that if we can take one major issue and focus on that issue over a 3-year period we will be able to have a positive impact on the issue, as well as demonstrate to our general membership what social justice looks like in action.
By selecting housing and homelessness, we are placing a focus on more than just affordable housing. As many Vincentians learn through the home visit and other engagements with our neighbours in need, housing can also mean feeling safe and secure, living in accommodations that are not below basic standards of construction and safety. The housing may mean home ownership or rental units. We must also realize that many families currently having living accommodations, may be a month or two away from homelessness. Homelessness is a major issue with many people on waiting lists for accommodations or they have been homeless for long extended periods of time.
Our campaign felt it very important to emphasize housing as a basic human right as well as recognizing the effect of having a home is to the dignity of everyone. In Canada, the general perception a person/family should not be spending more than 30% of their income on housing and accommodations. We have seen families spending well above this 30% level, which in turn places them in very precarious situations.
Our campaign will emphasize the need for our grass roots membership to get involved in their communities. They know the local needs, shortcomings as well as any local efforts to collaborate on housing issues. Our members can make a real difference to the housing and homelessness crisis through their advocacy, actions and prayers.
We also believe this campaign can result in four outcomes for our fellow Vincentians:
- Engage in broader and more meaningful Vincentian works,
- Deepen our Vincentian spirituality,
- Promote Vincentian activity, and
- Develop the Society and its members.
Together with our neighbours in need, we can have a positive effect on housing and homelessness.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.