We Can Learn Much From SSVDP Canada
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul launched its national housing campaign on February 7, 2021, the feast day of Blessed Sister Rosalie Rendu. The theme is “Safe, secure and affordable housing is a human right.” Everyone deserves to have safe and adequate housing for their families. This is their right and it is certainly one that every Vincentian should support. We encourage all members of the Society to consider one or more of the various actions in the Action Plan.
Our National Action Plan begins by encouraging all of us to listen to our neighbours to discover what their true housing needs are and what solutions they feel will work best for them.
- What are your current housing concerns?
- What are the challenges you face?
- What do you think could be done to make things better?
- What is your family’s total income, sources, as well as housing costs?
- At what point are your housing costs too high?
- How do you and your family sacrifice to pay your shelter costs?
- What shelter and outreach supports do you know about?
As we embark on our journey together across Canada to find solutions to housing, we cannot assume to have answers until we uncover the true needs of those underhoused, precariously housed or homeless.
If someone is spending more that 30% of their monthly gross household income on rent, they are likely struggling to pay other bills and put food on their table. Sadly 20% of Canadian households spend more than 50% of their monthly income on rent. The prevalence of food banks and meal programs is a sign of a much greater societal problem.
It may seem like a steep hill to climb, but we must start by learning from those we serve and then by reaching out to others we have yet to serve! Let’s make sure we are climbing the right hill!
Start the conversation!
While COVID-19 protocols restrict our home visits in most of the country, this can be a great opportunity to reach out to our neighbours by phone to check on their wellbeing and introduce our new National Housing Action Plan. Within your conference and/or council, gather a team of Vincentians to reach out to neighbours you serve throughout the year. Engage these families and individuals in conversation to uncover their true housing needs. Within your team select an individual who is willing to become a local Housing Champion for your group.
- Make your questions “open-ended,” encouraging a detailed response rather than one- or two-word answer.
- Refrain from interrupting and be patient while the respondent gathers their thoughts before sharing them with you.
- Record their responses and repeat their answers to ensure you have accurately captured their perspective.
- While you cannot promise immediate solutions to their housing challenges, you can commit to sharing their story (anonymously) with others in an effort to find solutions.
While you may not have answers today, you can share what you have learnt with your conference/council team to determine what steps to take collectively to find solutions for your neighbours! Among other roles, your Housing Champion can be your conduit for information between the local and national levels.
Thank you FR. Michael. We are very hopeful our housing campaign will not raise the awareness of housing and homelessness but also demonstrate to our membership what social justice in action can mean to our neighbours in need.