Housing concerns focus of interfaith meeting in Statehouse
Leaders of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu and Moslem traditions sent up a united call in Trenton yesterday urging legislators and bankers to embrace measures that will increase the supply of affordable housing and address the ongoing foreclosure crisis in New Jersey.
The faith leaders and several dozen concerned laity and housing advocates rallied for more than two hours in an annual “call to action” on poverty issues which focused this year on the chronic need for housing in this state which was so dramatically increased by Hurricane Sandy one month ago.
By way of impassioned statements, Internet petitions and prepared releases, the gathering, under the auspices of “Fighting Poverty with Faith,” a national advocacy organization which aims to halve domestic poverty by 2020, those present made a faith-based case for increasing the housing supply which can be ignored only at our peril.
Addressing the group, Rabbi Daniel T. Grossman, spiritual leader of Congregation Adath Israel, Lawrenceville, called upon those present to “be more forward” in the campaign for increased housing, citing Jewish teachings that the needs of the community for housing traditionally have priority even over building worship space.
M. Ali Chaudry, president of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, spoke of the need for a “healthy society” in which fair housing is a basic right and Dr. Ved P. Chaudhary, director of Hindu American Seva Charities, talked about the “self less service” involved in meeting the housing needs of the community at large as “our highest duty.”
The interfaith gathering was convened by the New Jersey Catholic Conference, the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations and the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry NJ. Co-sponsors included more than 40 faith-based groups and non-profit organizations around the state.
Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, said it was an important occasion on which to call attention to the critical need for housing, especially for families with children.
“There is much information regarding affordable housing which is needed not just by people on public assistance,” he said before the meeting started. “Individuals and families making $30,000 - $40,000 cannot find reasonable housing.”
From a Catholic perspective, the call to heed the cry for more housing is even more poignant than at other times as Advent approaches, he said.
“As we prepare to welcome our Savior – who was born in a stable because there was no available housing for his family – it is appropriate that Christians and all people of good will work to open their minds and hearts to the shelter needs of so many thousands of families,” Brannigan said.
“As people of faith, we cannot ignore those in need whether they be children who go to bed hungry, parents who are jobless, families who are homeless, the sick who suffer without medical care or the elderly who live in unsafe…housing,” Brannigan said.[[In-content Ad]]