As we mark Homelessness Week, we need to imagine the pain and isolation that are synonymous with not having a roof over our heads, writes Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ. Source: Australian Jesuits.
For most of us, Homelessness Week reminds us of people whom we do not know personally. They are other people who sleep on the streets or under bridges. During Homelessness Week we may be moved to sleep rough for a night at an event held in solidarity with them.
This year, Homelessness Week has moved closer to home. It is about people like us. We read the stories of people who come to the city to work but cannot find accommodation, about ageing people forced from their rented accommodation by rapidly rising rents, about couples and families who live in tents or in their vehicles, about students who come to Australia to study but return home because they cannot find a place to live, about middle-aged people who move back with their elderly parents.
We know some of these people, and we have heard stories of others from our friends. We can imagine ourselves as homeless.
We may not experience, but can readily imagine, the pain and isolation that go with being homeless.
Homelessness is not an act of God. It is the result of priorities we have tolerated that have increased inequality and with it the price of housing and the consequent exclusion of people who are less well-off.
In this Homelessness Week we should, as Jesus would want us to do, look out for people who are homeless in our own neighbourhood and among our friends, join local groups that help people find accommodation and pressure our governments to reform the systems that make for homelessness.
Addressing ‘no fixed address’ (By Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ, Australian Jesuits)