Housing crisis: to ignore the poor is to despise God

On Wednesday Pope Francis was warning that to ignore the poor is to despise God and that the Lord’s mercy for us is tightly connected to our own mercy for others.

His warning came in the same week that New Zealand was featured in one of United Kingdom’s national newspapers in a story about the New Zealand housing crisis.

The Guardian feature quoted Darryl Evans, CEO of Mangere Budgeting in South Auckland.

“On some roads in South Auckland every second house has additional accommodation erected – be it an occupied garage, a portable cabin with a chemical toilet, or tents pitched on the front and back lawn.”

“Up until a few years ago, a family member might let you camp in the garage at no cost, as a temporary set-up,” said Evans.

“But now landlords have cottoned on to how desperate people are, and are renting out garages or Portakabins for hundreds of dollars.

“This is not people who haven’t been trying. They have been trying very hard and still they’re failing,” said Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army, who has worked in South Auckland for 25 years.

“A few years ago people in this situation were largely unemployed or on very low-incomes. But consistently now we are finding people coming to us who are in work, and have their life together in other ways, but housing is eluding them.”

Last week the government announced NZ$41.1m for emergency housing, but with winter mere weeks away, charities believe any assistance will come too late for most.

“We warned the government six or seven years ago that a housing crisis was looming,” said Roberts.

“Successive governments have ignored our warnings, and now look where we are. The worst homelessness I have seen in 25 years.”

“You might be able to survive like this in the summer, but you can’t in winter. You just can’t live like this in a New Zealand winter.”

Pope Francis speaking on Wednesday morning at the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square decried the inequality and contradictions in the world as he reflected on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

He noted that the lives of these two people seem to run on parallel tracks; their living conditions are opposite and totally non-communicating: the rich man’s front door is always closed to the poor man who hopes to eat some leftovers from the rich man’s table.




Image: theguardian.com

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