For the most part, the human race has a natural Instinct to want to help those In need but acting on this instinct Is often easier said than done. In today’s society people tend to lead lives with a heavy focus on materialistic gain, personal appearance and perceived social standings. In trying to attain these things, as a society, we are overlooking the rising Issue of homelessness and the Issues that lead people to a life on the streets. But when you give a feast, Invite the poor, the crippled, he lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the Just. ‘ (Luke 14:13-14) By Ignoring these Issue’s we are widening the gulf between those who have ;everything’ and those that have ;nothing’. As Catholic’s we are called by Pope Francis to respond to the issue of homelessness. Some people are forced to live in conditions that are considered to be below the poverty line with little access to amenities that are essential to survive.
In these circumstances, where some don’t have somewhere to call home, their dignity ND rights as a human have been forgotten, even exploited. Although there are those that choose to turn a blind eye to this problem, there are also groups that are providing services and trying to improve conditions for these people in need. As humans we are taught from a very young age that we deserve dignity and have a basic right to life. ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. ‘ (United Nations, 1948) In Australia, there are currently 05,237 people that are living in some state of homelessness without their basic rights or dignity (Homelessness Australia, 2012). People can find themselves at risk of becoming homeless for many different reasons. Some of the main reasons outlined by the Salvation Army were addiction, lack of affordable housing and physical abuse.
In the ACT, the government has proposed the Implementation Plan for National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. In this document they ‘have established the framework to guide the ACT in the delivery of services across the continuum from rills and homelessness to safe and secure, affordable housing. ‘ (ACT Government, 2012) This approach is a temporary solution to minimizing homelessness as total eradication of the issue Is not realistic or achievable. Defining homelessness requires one to define and explain the difference between having a home and having a house.
A house Is ‘a building for human habitation’ and a home Is the family or social unit occupying a permanent residence. ‘ (Oxford University Press, 2014) As mentioned by Father Peter Day, these people may not only be physically homeless but also omelets In their heart. (Day, 2014) People affected by homelessness are not necessarily just lacking a house but more importantly they are lacking somewhere to can only be worked on individually, ‘one person at a time’ (Day, 2014). In Australia there are small groups and individuals that are providing services and support to the homeless.
As the government is not able to fund all services, community involvement and donations are required. (Day, 2014) In the ACT there are a range of services not only offering affordable housing for people but there are also revises offering them somewhere to feel safe and belong and also somewhere to learn skills to get them back on their feet and off the streets. As seen in the TV mini series Oasis, the Salvation Army is providing young homeless men and women with a stable environment whereby they are learning new skills and gaining confidence to participate actively in society.
It also shows us that there are people that are refusing to engage in the services being offered. As Father Day mentioned, we need to ‘offer’ our services and ‘not force’ them into these places. If they are seeking assistance they need to be able to readily know where to find it. There are other services, like the HOME in Sunbeams and other shelters as seen through the Gary Knobs in the documentary Homeless, which provide love and nurturing for the homeless, something that the government services and programs struggle to provide.
In Homeless Knobs expresses that he feels as though he belongs somewhere, a feeling that only a group of people going through similar circumstances can create. As a nation, the response that has been given to the call to action of Pope Francis is adequate but will not ensure the rate of homelessness remains static let alone decreases. ‘People have a right, indeed a duty to participate in shaping a more Just and human society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. (Catholic Church, 1994)Len the story of the Good Samaritan, we are shown that although the Samaritan had indifference’s towards the Jewish man, he put aside these indifference’s and helped him. The same approach, disregarding stubborn tendencies, should be undertaken in the approach to helping he homeless. We should not fear or pity these people, but treat them with respect and dignity as a way of assisting them with getting back on their feet.
We should follow the lead of Pope Francis when he washed the feet of 10 young men and 2 young women prisoners. This act shows us that although Pope Francis is calling upon us to act, he is also acting himself, leading by example. Not only is he washing the feet of these young people, but he has also been caught sneaking out of the Vatican to feed the homeless people at night in disguise. People that are homeless do not just require a one off act that will put them temporarily out of their state of despair.
They require ‘consistent love and care. ‘ (Day, 2014) As the Catechism states, ‘Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity, (Catholic Catechism, 1992) we should not put ourselves above the homeless, they too are people and deserve to be treated with the same respect as those that re living above the poverty line.
Australia has proposed its plan to assist the homelessness by building and providing affordable housing. But this does not This creates a physical structure, a roof over their heads, but it does not create a home. They may not be physically homeless anymore but they may be still be homeless in their heart. Instead of reacting to the problem, society as a whole could take a proactive response to this ever-growing issue. Try to identify and address the signs in people that indicate they may be headed to a life on the streets and enemies the risk of homelessness before it becomes an issue.
Taking the call of action from Pope Francis and acting on the issues of mental illness, domestic violence and inequality in the workplace to ensure those at the most risk are supported early in their battle to avoid the worst case outcome. In doing so the issue of homelessness could be reduced and the pressure on the communities which provide services to these people would be minimalists and the individuals that are most at risk could be given the resources and support to attempt to keep them off the streets.
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