Socks are not enough. This is the title of a new blog post by street nurse, Cathy Crowe. Cathy has been a fierce, outspoken advocate for a national housing strategy to end the injustice of homelessness in Canada. At this time of year, people often ask her how to help people who are homeless. She has a formula to help us think about how to use our resources—our money, time, energy, creativity, passion, skills, and so on—in the best interests of those that charity serves.
Cathy’s formula starts with charity, but doesn’t end there. While charity helps address the immediate needs resulting from material deprivation, it does not and cannot tackle the “upstream” causes of why people land in poverty or homelessness in the first place. Cathy’s formula is for social justice so that we can prevent poverty, homelessness and material deprivation, and the associated suffering. To seek social justice, Cathy suggests we give:
- one-third of our resources to immediate needs (charity);
- one-third to “upstream” practical solutions, like affordable housing;
- one-third to advocacy efforts for both immediate and long-term responses.