Churches urge attention to homelessness

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The national leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) have urged their churches to advocate for affordable housing for the homeless by writing or visiting their members of Parliament.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson have urged the government “to address homelessness in Canada as part of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.”

Archbishop Hiltz and Bishop Johnson sent a joint letter, dated Feb. 27, expressing their concerns to Monte Solberg, minister of Human Resources and Development Canada.

“… We are concerned that no plans have been announced to renew major federal government housing and homelessness programs that are set to expire at the end of fiscal year 2008,” the two leaders wrote.

They noted that while Canada is a rich country, between 150,000 to 300,000 citizens are homeless and an additional 1.5 million are at risk of becoming homeless. “Rental rates are increasing while household incomes of rental families are decreasing,” they said.

The two churches have developed a joint resource that explains the initiative to address homelessness and provides tips on how individuals, parishes, and congregations can advocate for the issue. The resource gives tips for writing and visiting politicians and provides a sample letter that can be adapted. There is also a bulletin insert that can be used to inform and invite people to get involved in the initiative.

The two leaders said that they both take inspiration from the prophet Isaiah, who asked what true religious observance is: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?” (Isaiah 58:7). Their vision, said Archbishop Hiltz and Bishop Johnson, “is to go beyond the prophet’s call, to create a society where the hungry are able to eat their own bread, and the homeless poor are brought into their own house.”

The joint letter and joint resources may be viewed at www.anglican.ca – click on “The Primate,” then on “communications.”

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