One year has passed since the United Nations’ General Assembly affirmed a Resolution on Homelessness,  “Inclusive social development policies and programmes to address homelessness, including in the aftermath of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19)” (A/RES/76/133).  This was accomplished only years after the formation of the Working Group to End homelessness.

It was a great achievement for the Vincentian Family and the Working Group.  What has been its impact? How many affordable homes have been created by Member States? How many street sleepers have been offered “housing first” with services to help them rebuild their lives?  How many abused women and their children have sought and found safe housing? How many widows have been able to stay in their family home, on their land and supported in their efforts to find work to sustain their families? How many slums and inadequate housing were improved?

WE DO NOT KNOW.  As with so much of the work of the United Nations, Member States moved on to the next critical issue:  the environment, migration, peace.

The only way this Resolution is going to make a difference is at the national and state level is through a confluence of the work of the Vincentian Family at the UN and the work of the many branches of this powerful family throughout the world.  There is great potential for systemic change around homelessness.  The foundation has been laid.  We have a Global Resolution, we have the FAMVIN Homeless Alliance.  We have commitment. We need to work together.

All Vincentians need to be aware of the major provisions of the Resolution.  The Resolution can be taken to local meetings with Mayors, town councilors, tribal leaders, other advocates. The document recognizes that “Homelessness is a global problem, affecting people of different ages and with diverse economic, social and cultural backgrounds, in both developed and developing countries. Further, homelessness “constitutes an affront to human dignity and may be an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights and that urgent national and international action is therefore required to address it.”

What actions are being taken to address homelessness?  What visibility is given to this issue?

In 2006, the Vincentian Family created the Systemic Change commission which subsequently published a Manual for systemic change in 2017.  Perhaps this Advent, a season of hope we could dig out that manual and see if we can bring homelessness into perspective as a systemic change project.

We are embracing hope as we look towards the third Sunday of Advent.  The advent wreath reminds of this cycle of hope and love.   According to Vaclav Havel, “Hope is a dimension of the soul, …which gives us the strength to love and continually try new things.”[1]  Let us re-commit this Advent to ending homelessness by moving forward to create systemic change with people experiencing homelessness in our communities. Blessings of Advent!

MaryAnn Dantuono, AIC

[1] Vincentian Systemic Change Manual, p. 43 (2017)