There’s No Place Like Home9 Aug, 2023
National Homelessness Week 2023: It’s time to end homelessness
Content warning: This story mentions domestic violence.
One of my downfalls, and I’d imagine that I’m not alone in this, is that too often I take things for granted. It’s so easy to spend time thinking about what I don’t have, rather than appreciating all that I’m blessed with. Instead of being filled with gratitude that I have a place to call home, I can find plenty of things to complain about – it’s too small, it needs fresh paint, the neighbours are too noisy (just to name a few things!).
But when I take a moment to really think about it, I know what a blessing it is to have a place to call home.
It is a confronting reality that on any given night in Australia, there are 122,494 people experiencing homelessness (Homelessness Australia, 2023). This includes those living in crisis accommodation, insecure housing and couch surfing, as well as inadequate housing such as caravan parks and illegal camping.
This year’s National Homelessness Week in Australia is from 7 to 13 August. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness of the causes and impacts of homelessness, as well as to highlight the importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a difference.
With the current cost-of-living crisis, the financial wellbeing of Australians has further declined in 2023 (The ANZ Roy Morgan Financial Wellbeing Indicator, 2023). More and more Australians are experiencing financial distress – with those more exposed to rising interest rates and rising rental costs appearing to be more greatly affected by the cost-of-living crisis. Housing affordability is a real concern, with many finding themselves in an unstable living situation.
Cheryl experienced this firsthand. After escaping a domestic violence situation, Cheryl entered emergency accommodation, experiencing financial hardship and feeling hopeless. Ang, a CAP-trained staff member at her local church began to walk alongside Cheryl as they addressed her financial struggles.
“Cheryl is now in a better position to manage her finances, but [our mentoring relationship] also has brought peace of mind and strengthened her to be able to stick to her budget,” says Ang.
Not only did Cheryl’s financial situation change through meeting with Ang, but after a few months of developing a friendship, and attending a course, Cheryl gave her life to Jesus! She began attending Catalyst Church Ipswich, where she found acceptance, love and support.
“It didn’t matter where I had come from, it didn’t matter to them,” says Cheryl.
“They welcomed me with open arms.”
Cheryl moved house recently, and it was the church who showed up, and assisted her in moving to a permanent place of residence.
Having a place to live is one thing, but having a place to call home, where we can feel accepted, supported and most importantly loved, is the foundation to experiencing a sense of belonging and security. There is so much work to do to end homelessness in Australia. But as more and more churches are equipped with CAP-trained Money Mentors, people struggling with financial distress – including those faced with homelessness – can find support and a place to call home in their local church.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
– Psalm 90:1 (NIV)
Words by Rachel Harris