I am fascinated by the housing crises that we are living in today here in New Zealand. For those of you who don’t know, our large cities—including the largest one which I happen to call home—is overpopulated and underhoused.
Point the finger at whoever you want to (and I have read hundreds of articles doing just that), but the reality is grim. We have more people than we do have houses for them.
No house available
A few years back, we noticed that our neighbours had a van parked out front with its windows permanently covered by towels and sheets. After a couple of days, my father notified our family that there were actually people living in there.
Somehow, he found out that this young family were without a house simply because there wasn’t one available to them. It wasn't that they couldn't afford it. This blew my mind! My dad helped broker a deal, somehow, and assisted them getting into a home.
That same month, an old friend from High School contacted me via Facebook. He and his one-year-old daughter were in emergency housing. They could afford rent, like the van-load of people we had had outside our house. There just weren’t enough houses available. Unfortunately, my dad couldn’t help them.
The housing crises are real and they are a travesty. Many other Millennials like myself consider it a pipe dream to even own a house one day. Right up there with winning the lotto, becoming Prime Minister one day, and the Wallabies winning back the Bledisloe cup from the All Blacks.
A challenge for the church
In all this, I have often asked the question: where are the churches?
For me, the housing crises present a unique challenge to Christians. How is it that we, informed by the generosity of the Gospel, can pool our resources (much like the early church in Acts), and come up with solutions to the physical needs of our society?
Many older denominations sit on sites that could be used to build communal housing. Large swathes of land sit undeveloped and vacant for most of the week. There are creative conversations that I think need to be had by elders and deacons and lay-people all across this country and in this town.
I heard of a community in Australia who did such a thing. They bulldozed their old building and built flats with their church meeting in the main community building. Several members bought and now live in these flats.
They now have a revenue stream and more importantly the community literally under their roofs. This is a unique response to the housing crises. It also looks a little bit like the Kingdom of God.
What would it look like in your context, to see a radical answer to the housing crises? What would happen if your church decided to do something—anything—to help respond in ways that are creative and kind.
At a time when we are becoming more and more out-of-touch with our increasingly secular communities, the time is ripe to start bold conversations about what could be done.
The time to act has already passed. This is our problem and we, I believe, can be a part of the solution. We can at least try.
Caleb Haurua completed his Masters in Applied Theology at Carey Baptist College in 2017. He is the Youth Pastoral Leader at Royal Oak Baptist Church in central Auckland. He loves to ponder, muse, and share thoughts. Hence why he likes the opportunity to write articles like this one. He is especially passionate about the intersection between Church and Society—seeing Christians grow and flourish as participants in God’s ongoing mission to the World.