The Australian Catholic bishops have registered their deep concern over the alarming growth in the problem of homelessness and insecure housing in Australia, the Catholic Leader reports.
In their Social Justice Statement 2018-19, A Place to Call Home: Making a home for everyone in our land, the bishops call on Australians to look beyond the immediate challenges of the average household budget, to consider those who are homeless or facing housing stress because of skyrocketing rents and property prices.
“It seems hard to believe that in a rich nation such as ours, the latest Census figures show that the number of Australians who are homeless has grown to more than 116,000,” Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge wrote in a letter to parishes around Australia.
“House prices and even rents are spiralling out of reach of too many families and placing huge financial stress on ordinary people, even when they are employed.
“For those living on pensions or allowances, finding secure housing can be a far greater challenge – one that often takes a terrible toll on social wellbeing and mental health.”
In his foreword to the statement, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council chairman Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen wrote that a ruthless housing market was leaving people struggling to find secure and affordable housing, whether they lived in cities or in regional areas.
“That struggle has a corrosive effect on family life, on employment, on study and on our capacity to contribute to and benefit from our society,” Bishop Long said.
“At its worst, the struggle leaves the vulnerable in our society homeless – sleeping on the street, in cars or in doorways, or hoping for a space on someone’s couch or floor.”
The statement draws on Jesus’ famous parable of the Good Samaritan, reminding us that we have the same experience as the Samaritan – we see people in the street in need of help, wounded by violence, misfortune or poverty.
A Place to Call Home (Australian Catholic Social Justice Council)