Along with clean air, food, and water, shelter is a necessity for survival. Beyond providing protection from the elements, housing provides the stability and safety needed for individuals and families to thrive. Unfortunately, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, on any given night 610,042 people in the United States experience homelessness. In addition, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there are 10.16 million extremely low-income renter households that struggle to find affordable rental properties.
The shortage of affordable and safe housing is just one example of a structural flaw that traps individuals and families in chronic states of homelessness and housing instability, making it impossible for them to escape the cycle of poverty.
Barbara Brooks, whose story is told in the PBS documentary Waging a Living, is a single mother living in Freeport, New York. She worked full-time and put herself through college to earn an associate degree. Her new degree and strong work ethic led to a promotion, but the additional income meant she would lose much of her housing subsidy from the government. Despite doing everything right—seeking higher education and working full-time—she was faced with the unthinkable choice of losing her home or furthering her career.
Studies and anecdotes show that affordable, stable, safe housing generally means children are healthier and perform better in school, adults are able to find more stable employment, and individuals and families can get out of poverty and lead more fulfilling lives. When it comes to fighting poverty, one of our most fundamental goals must be to ensure that all individuals and families have access to such housing. From policy advocacy at all levels of government to the local and global missions of congregations and presbyteries, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can work to make safe, affordable housing a reality for everyone.
—Anne Fyffe, summer fellow, PC(USA) Office of Public Witness, 2014
Let us pray
Merciful God, thank you for the shelter you provide us in your grace and comfort and the place you have for each of us in your house. We pray that you would use us, in advocacy and in ministry, to provide homes for those seeking shelter in our communities and around the world. Amen.