On October 5th, BFJN will be holding our monthly uncomfortable conversation. This month, we have decided to shed light on the housing injustices we see in our nation, and in our backyard in Boston. My hope is that this blog will be an introduction to the issue at hand and an opportunity for us to learn together.
In the US, 95 million people have housing problems such as payments too large a percentage of their income, overcrowding, and poor quality shelter. The devastating public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 have undoubtedly exacerbated these longstanding issues. Additionally, homelessness is a significant problem in our nation. In 2020, the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that the homeless population in America exceeds over 580,000 people. Over 60% of this population are individuals, and around 33% are families. While California and New York have the highest homeless population, Massachusetts is not much farther down on the list. In 2020, Massachusetts had more than 17,000 homeless people.
In the 2022 homeless census, the city of Boston reported that 4,439 people were actively facing homelessness. This breaks down to 1,545 individuals and 955 families. While the numbers have decreased since last year (down 2.4%), this is still a very high number of people without a home.
Intervention is necessary because without it, we face an unjust recovery that further entrenches racial, class, and gender injustice in Massachusetts.
But, what does intervention look like for the Christian? Since I am no expert on the issue of housing injustice, the one thing I can speak to is the Christian’s duty. The most prominent is the command to love one’s neighbor. Jesus himself commands this in Matthew 22 and the sentiments are repeated all throughout the Bible. In addition to this, Leviticus 25:35 gives us a clear depiction of the Christian’s duty when it comes to the issue of housing. It says, “If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you” (NIV). While this was written in the context of the Israelites, it still has meaning for today. We are required to love and help our neighbors. And loving your neighbor requires action.
Lastly, Proverbs 19:17 says, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” God encourages us to show kindness to the members in our community who are struggling. This includes fighting the housing injustices we see in Boston, the United States, and across the world.
As a final note, I pray that this blog has sparked some curiosity in your mind to learn more about housing injustice. I encourage you to join us on October 5th to hear from experts in the field about the severity of the issue, and what action is needed to work towards a solution.