The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October as annual World Habitat Day. It is a day to raise awareness around the importance of there being affordable and safe housing in the world. Safe and affordable housing is not something that is available to everyone and as the populations continue to grow there will always be need: “every week, more than a million people are born in, or move to, cities in the developing world. As a result, the urban population of developing countries will double from 2 billion to 4 billion in the next 30 years” (Kissick, et al: 2006). And while this is a deeply pressing issue in developing worlds, it’s also an issue in our own cities. In Camas, the town where I pastor, there is a shortage of affordable, section 8 housing as well. Especially in times during this economic downturn housing needs to be made available for those who are without work, or who have jobs that do not pay enough to cover a mortgage. Good housing actually improves health conditions of those who live there, strentgthens the community and improves the lives of children:
- Children of homeowners are more likely to stay in school (by 7 to 9 percent), and daughters of homeowners are less likely to have children by age 18 (by 2 to 4 percent). (Green and White: 1996)
- Owning a home leads to a higher-quality home environment, improved test scores in children (9 percent in math and 7 percent in reading), and reduced behavioral problems (by 3 percent). (Haurin, Parcel, and Haurin: 2002)
- Children who live in poor housing have lower educational attainment and a greater likelihood of being impoverished and unemployed as adults. (Harker: 2006)
How to help?
While our meeting in Camas is not currently helping with Habitat we are working to refurbish a house we own and make it section 8 compliant because we see this need right here in our neighborhood.
Here’s a short video on some work being done in Guatemala.