The topic of housing was covered extensively in the media this past week. The focus has been the announcement of New York City’s plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing.
For those who work with low-income individuals and families, there is perhaps no more pressing need. Families have the most difficult time finding decent housing they can afford. Too many families are forced to make choices among essentials – food, rent, or medicine.
It was also good that the work of the Catholic Church over the past four decades in building and constructing affordable housing was recognized. Of the many positive things the Church has done to help weave the fabric of NY and make our town more compassionate and just, housing may be one area under-recognized. Arguably, our work with at-risk children and youth, our emergency food programs and immigrants, is better recognized. However, this week housing was at the forefront.
I was fortunate to be able to hear the Mayor speak so positively about this work. I had the chance to say a few words about how the strength of this work has been the result of the diverse parts of the Church that have engaged in it – charismatic clergy, talented and expert laity, religious communities, parishes, community based organizations and Catholic Charities, in all five boroughs. Sometimes this gets unwieldy, but when put together, it is a contribution flowing out of our common values that each person is made in the image of God, worthy of dignity and respect and having their basic rights met – and that housing is one of those basic human rights.
The ambitious, complex and critically needed plan of New York City to build and preserve affordable housing does need the continued partnership and energy of the Catholic community. Once more this is a critically important role we play in building a more just and compassionate society.
It was good to hear the tremendous work of so many recognized this week, to spotlight some of it, and to express hope and commitment that this legacy continue and deepen into the future.