Integral ecology

Towards the common good. Family and housing first

It is necessary to modify the economic system and orient it to the common good, as the Pope asks. It is urgent to protect the family, address a public housing policy, and strengthen the minimum income guarantee system.

Raul Flores-October 18, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes
family housing

Before the arrival of the Covid 19 crisis, if we go back two years, the reality of our society (not only Spanish, European, global) was still one of inequality, not of a lack of goods, but of an unfair distribution of those goods. And if we link it with the Social Doctrine of the ChurchWe were not making positive progress either in the universal destination of goods or in a society oriented to the common good.

We are facing a form of economic and social development in which, when a crisis arrives, poverty and social exclusion increase; but when we come out of the crisis, we do not recover pre-crisis levels. In other words, most of the population is accumulating difficulties of poverty and social exclusion. 

I would draw three elements from this analysis: employment, housing and health. It is true that a lot of employment capacity has been recovered, and this is great news. But it is also true that employment is less and less able to protect families and integrate them socially. That is to say, in more than half of the families that we accompany from Caritas, someone is working. Despite working, there are many families who have to keep coming to Caritas. Even with two small jobs, they don't make it. 

The housing issue

And why don't they arrive? Because of many factors, but mainly because of housing. We have not solved the housing issue for many years. Families have to devote a lot of resources to be able to pay for housing and supplies. This means that when there is weak income, for small or unstable jobs, obviously we do not reach. And even if we get better working conditions, we don't get there either, because housing requires more and more of our money.

Third, health. The inaccessibility of families to adequate mental health treatment. 

How can these issues be addressed? I begin with a profound amendment. We need to take a decisive step towards a new economy, which instead of being at the service of specific individuals, or of particular interests, is at the service of the common good. This without questioning, obviously, the legitimate space of the economy and, in a way, of initiative. 

And here we link it with nn. 154 and 155 of the encyclical Fratelli tutti. Pope Francis tells us: "To make possible the development of a world community, capable of realizing fraternity based on peoples and nations living social friendship, the best politics at the service of the true common good is needed."

Three elements

We must be able to modify the economic system on which we are based, to reorient it towards the common good, starting from the needs of the last, of the weakest. And here we have to overcome a view based on liberal forms -says the Fratelli tutti-serving the economic interests of the powerful. 

I would also highlight three elements. The first is to increase and redirect investment in protecting the family. For many years, in the specific case of the Spanish State, we have not been paying attention to the family. Large families are the ones who are suffering the most from the effects of this crisis, as well as those of the previous one. We have to be able, once and for all, to degenerate a universal protection to the upbringing.

We have provided ourselves with mechanisms to protect our elders, and we have to provide ourselves with mechanisms to protect the families that are raising children, who in the end are the foundation, the rock on which we build our society.

Secondly, we need to solve once and for all the housing issue. And although it is not easy, we have to take a first step: to generate a public housing stock for rent, which helps people with fewer resources to have a minimum space of security, which is the house, the dwelling, the most necessary environment. 

Last but not least, we have to address the need for this minimum income coverage to be real and to reach all the families that need it most.

There are three elements: family protection, a public approach to housing policy, and the reinforcement of this minimum income guarantee system.

The authorRaul Flores

 Coordinator of the Caritas research team and technical secretary of the Foessa Foundation.

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