Homes not Streets Campaign
Homes not Streets is our campaign to create stable and sustainable supported housing to protect vulnerable people from homelessness.
At times of pending instability and national crisis three of the great leaders of the Hebrew people, Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke challengingly. They brought into focus the situation at hand, why it was critical to act, and how to act.
These three prophetic figures did not just speak with an optimism that things would work themselves out. They spoke with hope. Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi, makes this distinction between hope and optimism, ‘[…] optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the belief that if we work hard enough together, we can make things better.’ During a period of darkness the prophets ‘were able to see through the clouds of disaster to the clear sky beyond.’ (Sacks, p. 235). The prophets ‘express hope rescued from the valley of despair’ (Sacks, p. 236). Speaking with hope in this way may be seen as an outworking of a high commitment to the value of care. Care comprises both challenge and support.
A further distinguishing feature of the words spoken by these prophets was that they spoke with others beyond their own people, as well as with their own people. To those in exile from their home, Jeremiah said: ‘Seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you […]’ (Jeremiah 29.7). In seeking the welfare of others, something that resonates with life in all its fullness, Jeremiah knew that a compassion for all humanity would be demonstrated. This in turn would reflect the love of God for creation and humanity. One of the ways in which the seeking of the welfare of others could be further enhanced was through praying ‘to the Lord on its (the city’s) behalf, for in its prosperity you shall prosper’ (Jeremiah 29.7).
Delivering critique can be part of a creative dialogue that leads to changed hearts and minds. How critique is delivered is crucial. The prophets demonstrated generosity and respect in how they delivered their critique. Isaiah reassures those he is speaking to of God’s love for them. ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace removed’ (Isaiah 54.10).
The Alabaré campaign, Homes Not Streets: transforming lives through supported housing has begun. All involved with Alabaré are being called to become informed and all are encouraged to engage in a way that is appropriate for their context.
The campaign is prophetic in that it is engaging with MPs, and through them government ministers, the devastating effects of a local housing allowance cap that would impact those we serve. Part of the way of acting is for us to join alongside partner agencies (see Janet Herring’s email letter of 10/08/16 for further information) who share in supporting others who could be affected. Together we increase the potential impact. Together we can share in communicating both clearly and respectfully to those who, in Westminster, have a responsibility to serve the people we walk alongside. The campaign is a hopeful engagement as it is practical. It provides an opportunity for us to bring our powerful values of care, compassion, generosity and respect into a more public arena. As an ecumenical Christian charity we have the potential to add prayer to our action. Prayer: telling God how it is. And I encourage those who wish to, to pray as you can.
Jonathan Sacks 2015 Lesson in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible Jerusalem: Maggid Books