housing principles of the compass
1. Housing is a human right. Everyone deserves a safe, adequate and affordable place to call home. This human right must not only inform governmental laws and policies, but is also a moral principle that is rooted in scripture.
We all need the secure foundation of a permanent home. Many governments (including, recently, Canada) have recognized this human right. Widespread homelessness and a lack of access to adequate housing in so affluent a country as Canada is arguably one of the most critical human rights issues facing this country today.
Adequate housing is not a luxury; it is crucial to the social, economic, emotional and physical well-being of individuals and families. It is foundational to living life in dignity. In short, housing is a human right.
Scripture passages that support the human right to housing and the call to help those living in poverty include:
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
— Isaiah 61:1 (Fulfilled by Jesus in Luke 4:18)
Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
— Deuteronomy 15:10
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
— Matthew 19:21
Then these righteous ones will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?”
And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
— Matthew 25:37-40
He told me, “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God!”
— Acts 10:31 (All scripture passages are from the New Living Translation.)
2. Canada is in the midst of affordable housing and homelessness crises that are getting worse. Their effects are particularly acute in the Mississauga-Lakeshore community.
All levels of government in Canada have acknowledged that an affordable housing crisis is taking place, of which increasing homelessness is a by-product. See the statements under “Policy and Factual Support for the Housing Principles”, link below.
3. The burdens of the affordable housing and homelessness crises increasingly fall heavily on the most vulnerable Canadians and marginalized groups.
Racialized and Indigenous peoples; those living with disabilities, mental illness, and addiction issues; families with children; LGBTQ people; and seniors: all are among those more likely to live in poverty and therefore experience the brunt of these crises.
4. The best communities are diverse and inclusive. Mississauga-Lakeshore is a stronger community when it includes a diversity of income levels and affordable housing is fundamental to achieving this.
Mixed-income communities benefit all who live there, not just the lower-income residents. Our Mississauga-Lakeshore community has the potential to connect people of all income levels, break down barriers, and build stronger neighbourhoods where we all care for each other.
5. People should not have to leave their traditional communities in order to find housing they can afford.
An often-touted solution to finding housing one can afford is to simply relocate to an area that is more affordable. This glib, uncompassionate response is contrary to the values of the Compass. For many Compass clients, moving away would further exacerbate their living situations. Moving is stressful, time-consuming, and expensive; most Compass clients are not able to absorb the time and costs of a move. Many have lived in the Mississauga-Lakeshore community for many years and would like to remain near family and friends, known support services (including those offered at the Compass), education, employment, and other supports.
6. Emergency shelters and in from the cold programs, while vital, are not acceptable long-term solutions to the affordable housing and homelessness crises in our community and our country.
Places, where those experiencing homelessness can access temporary shelter, are extremely important. However, it’s not acceptable to allow these temporary dwellings to become a permanent solution to homelessness. Many Compass clients regard shelters as dangerous places. They are often difficult places to stay for those attempting to recover from additions, as addictive substances can often be found there. Shelter life can further serve to exacerbate the root causes of homelessness and waylay attempts at recovery.
7. The Compass supports human rights-based and housing first governance approaches to alleviating the affordable housing and homelessness crises.
The link between access to safe, affordable, sustainable housing and poverty alleviation is clear. Without access to decent housing, it is extremely difficult to pursue education, maintain employment, or raise a family. Safe, affordable housing allows individuals and families to work, which helps to ensure that they can break the bonds of poverty.
Homelessness has long been tackled using a staircase model: move through different stages of temporary accommodation (including homeless shelters) as you get your life back on track, with a permanent home as the ultimate reward. The Housing First principle recognizes that the steps to recovery, different for each person (for example, mental health support, getting a job, addiction management, education), are made more difficult by a lack of housing.
Under a Housing First approach, “housing is not contingent upon readiness, or on ‘compliance’ (for instance, sobriety). Rather, it is a rights-based intervention rooted in the philosophy that all people deserve housing, and that adequate housing is a precondition for recovery” (Housing First in Canada: Supporting Communities to End Homelessness, 2013, pp. 13-14).
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The Compass is a registered charity: Charitable Registration Number 86235 2754 RR0001 (registered as The Lakeshore Community Outreach Centre Inc)