As Vincentians, we witness the effect that the lack of safe, secure and affordable housing has on the people we serve. Across Canada, we have seen how people are often forced to choose between paying the rent or mortgage, or buying decent food or even medications. Others put up with sub-standard or even dangerous accommodations rather than seek out more expensive but safer housing so that they can pay for basic needs. People who might have had adequate housing in the past are more often experiencing homelessness due to higher and less accessible rents. These stories compel us to act and advocate with and on behalf of persons in need.
By stating that safe, secure and affordable housing is a human right, we mean that governments and society in general are obliged to act with respect to housing and homelessness. They must establish “legal recognition of the right to housing, a commitment to equality, measurable goals, objectives and timelines, and a comprehensive plan and accountability measures.”
This approach honours Catholic social teachings about the dignity of the human person, our rights and responsibilities toward one another, and the preferential option we must exert for the poor.
Our recently launched national campaign seeks to expand our Vincentian works by
- connecting and navigating,
- creating and
- becoming agents of positive change
In addition, we hope to
- deepen our Vincentian spirituality,
- promote Vincentian activity, and
- expand the Society and its membership.
The work of the Institute of Global Homelessness and the Famvin Homeless Alliance are examples of how we, as Vincentians, can address these issues on a global scale. The inspiration of such efforts can only enhance the opportunity our national housing campaign has to achieve our objectives. As a “grass roots” organization, we depend on the support of our conference level members to join us in this campaign. I would invite our readers to visit our national website (www.ssvp.ca) for more information about this campaign. In addition, on our website, you may subscribe to Changing Times, our national newsletter which will have on-going news and resources during the campaign. Finally, please pray for our success and for the many people that we serve to find adequate housing for themselves and their families.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is a Canadian Vincentian. 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.