Date of publication: 08/11/2021

Vincentian Branches at UN Hold Side Event about Homelessness

Vincentian Family

The focus was to find concrete ideas to fight against this kind of poverty

On Thursday, October 28, the Vincentian Family at the United Nations (UN) presented a Parallel Event of Urban October, “What Happens When People Have Housing? Better City—Better Life.” The speakers came from three vastly distinct parts of the world, the Philippines and the USA (Louisville and New York). The moderator was Teresa Kotturan SCN, NGO Representative of the Sisters of Charity Federation. Sister Teresa opened the event by making the clear connection between Climate Change and people living without stable, secure housing.

The first speaker was Melba Vera Cruz, a member of the International Association of Charities (AIC) in the Philippines. Melba spoke passionately about the destruction of houses by three back-to-back typhoons; there were hundreds of families forced to leave their homes for safety during the typhoon. A program was organized to rebuild as many homes as possible. Melba told about another project that is a joint project planning to build new homes at the cost of $1,445.00 per home. 

The second speaker was Sister Donna Dodge SC, the President of Sisters of Charity of New York. Sister Donna shared the impressive list of housing under the organization of the Sisters in New York, including six on Staten Island, three in Manhattan, and several in Rockland County. The homes are all safe havens for the residents, some who are formerly homeless. They have plans for a new project on Staten Island for 360 units of affordable homes. Sr. Donna ended her talk by telling us “The Sisters of Charity will continue to do all in our power to address and eradicate homelessness.”

Vincent’s Village, 93 units of affordable housing in Manuet, New York (USA)

The last two speakers came from the Louisville Urban League. First was Courtney Robinson, a formerly homeless man who spoke about the trauma of being homeless as only a person with lived experience can. Courtney opened a window into the heart of homelessness by speaking candidly of the depths of despair and depression he experienced when he was labeled as a “Homeless person.” His ability to allow himself to be vulnerable and work to rebuild his life was inspiring.

After Courtney spoke, we heard from the final speaker, Sadiqa Reynolds, the President and CEO of Louisville Urban League. Sadiqa spoke of the 6,000 homeless children in Louisville, prior to the pandemic, this is most likely a much higher number now. She told us the Urban League takes a holistic approach to homelessness, they accept people as they are, where they are, and work from there. If someone is unable to get to the job training due to transportation constraints, they will get a cab for them, or purchase a car for them. Whatever it takes to lift a person from poverty and homelessness is what they will do.

“I would like to invite you to listen to the entire event by going to the link we have here, where you will be able to see and hear the event in its entirety. I believe it was a powerful morning, time well spent. We have been given good suggestions for our battle against homelessness. Let us continue our work to end global homelessness together”, said sister Pattie Hughes, SSVP representative at the United States. Brother Renato Lima, 16th President General of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, has participated in the side event too.

This event was co-sponsored by the Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Congregation of the Mission, International Association of Charities (AIC), International Confederation of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP), and the Sisters of Charity Federation (all NGOs in Consultative Status with ECOSOC).

See the link to the recording of the event: