MADISON -- Lent is a time to consider what we do "for the least of our brothers." Almsgiving is one of the traditional ways we act on our faith during Lent.
Extending help to alleviate the basic needs of hunger, shelter, and clothing is a way of giving alms. Especially in the extreme cold of Wisconsin winters, shelter becomes a matter of life and death.
A program on "The Root Causes of Homelessness" will be presented by Rachel Krinsky of the Road Home (formerly the Interfaith Hospitality Network) on Sunday, March 14, at 7 p.m. at Blessed Sacrament Parish, 2116 Hollister Ave., Madison.
Causes of homelessness
Calamities, such as the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, are dramatic examples of how people become homeless in seconds.
Less dramatic but more pervasive causes of homelessness are medical emergencies and the ensuing bills, loss of employment, and domestic violence.
Disabilities, both physical and mental, are another cause of homelessness. According to the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, there are about 14 million Catholics with disabilities.
Catholic Charities helps
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Madison is part of the national effort to provide decent housing to people with and without disabilities. It provides 234 units of affordable family housing in Madison, Fitchburg, Portage, and Fort Atkinson. In addition, affordable senior housing is available in Jefferson and Madison.
Across the nation, the broader Catholic community provided housing assistance to nearly 800,000 people in 2007, according to Catholic Charities USA.
The Road Home
The Road Home presentation at Blessed Sacrament will show how engaging people in developing skills and finding jobs creates new opportunities to live in stable housing.
The Road Home has renovated apartments to provide more stable housing for homeless families, an effort supported by many churches which formed the Interfaith Hospitality Network
Blessed Sacrament Parish partners with Temple Beth El and Bethany United Methodist Church in providing food, companionship, and housing at Temple Beth El one night a month. This temporary shelter gives people a place out of the cold in the warmth of shared meals, fun activities for their children, and a safe place to plan their next steps.
All are welcome to deepen their Lenten commitments and learn more about homelessness at the presentation on March 14.