By coincidence, a virtual press conference on solutions to the affordable housing crisis took place the same day that a Quad-City based Realtor announced “Home Prices Continue Upward Climb Despite COVID.”
The news release on home prices rising in the metropolitan statistical areas of Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Dubuque and Des Moines-West Des Moines observed, “families are now, more than ever, finding value in homeownership.”
For families living on lower incomes that haven’t kept pace with rising rent, homeownership remains a dream out of reach. Rising house prices benefit people selling homes to other people earning good wages. It also contributes to the struggle that lower-income families experience in obtaining or maintaining affordable housing.
Lack of affordable housing is one of numerous issues centering on the dignity of human life and care for God’s Creation that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A Catholic News Service article in this week’s Messenger underscores that point in a story citing the Vatican Secretary of State:
“COVID-19 not only provoked a health crisis but impacted multiple aspects of human life: the family, politics, labor, business, commerce, tourism, etc.,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin said. “The broad and interconnected character of the pandemic constantly reminds us of the observation of Pope Francis that ‘everything is connected.’”
The first day of September marked the World Day of Prayer and the start of a month-long global observance of the Season of Creation that concludes Oct. 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. The “Jubilee for the Earth” theme of this year’s observance asks us to “consider the integral relationship between rest for the Earth and ecological, economic, social, and political ways of living” (https://seasonofcreation.org/about/).
We approach these integral relationships in the time-honored Catholic tradition of education, prayer and reflection, followed by action — whatever form that takes based on our talents, skill and financial means.
• View an excellent short video series on Catholic Social Teaching 101: The Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers (https://tinyurl.com/y4p4dde7). This video encompasses the dignity of every human person — beginning with the child in the womb and continuing to the natural end of life.
• Learn about affordable housing. The Quad Cities Housing Cluster, in its report on efforts to tackle lack of affordable housing locally, provides links to resources that take a broader look at the issue, such as the Housing Trust Fund at housingtrustfund.org and Opportunity Starts at Home at opportunityhome.org among other resources.
• Participate in the Campaign Nonviolence Action Week Sept. 19-27. Visit the Pace e Bene website (https://tinyurl.com/y2t3exn9) for more information on this effort to “connect the dots between the issues of injustice and violence, including war, poverty, racism and environmental destruction…” For activities in Iowa, visit the websites for Franciscan Peace Center in Clinton (https://tinyurl.com/y2nsaqbd), Dubuque International Day of Peace (https://www.facebook.com/dbqdayofpeace/) and Kit Ford of Argrow’s House in Davenport (email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Learn about efforts to advocate for an ethical vaccine for COVID-19 on the John Paul II Medical Research Institute website (https://tinyurl.com/y2dpposr).
• Participate in a virtual Evening Prayer for Peace in Our Communities on Sept. 9 hosted by the diocesan Social Action Office (contact email@example.com). The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops initiated this event in response to recent incidents of violence and racial tension in communities across the nation (www.usccb.org).
• Visit the Catholic Mobilizing Network website (https://tinyurl.com/yx9mw9zm) to learn about efforts to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice. (See story in this week’s issue on the federal government’s resumption of capital punishment for federal death row inmates).
This editorial began with the issue of the lack of affordable housing because our need for a decent home in which to live affects all of the other integral issues addressed here. The Opportunity Starts at Home makes the point succinctly in its long-term goal:
“Through federal housing policies that expand resources and correct long-standing structural and racial inequities, we will ensure that people with the lowest incomes can afford a good home, which adds to their quality of life through better health, greater educational attainment, and stronger earnings.”
Pope Francis says that everything is connected. Our concern for our planet connects with the care and love we demonstrate for our fellow human beings and moves us forward in resolving the problems of society, during and beyond this pandemic.
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor