I have lived in 14 different homes in my 31 years of life. 10 different zip codes. Four states. Some of these homes were eagerly planned for over months of preparation; some of them had to be found with just a few weeks’ notice. A few of these homes stretched an already-tight budget, while a few allowed for a growing savings account. In-unit laundry and a warm garage space were not always guarantees.
Yet varied as these homes have been, they’ve all held one common thread: I was able to choose where I lived. There was certainly more capacity to choose in some moments than others, but I have never been in a situation where there was only one choice available to me. Or none.
This availability of choice never ceases to humble me. Through the ups and the downs of life, I have always had the dignity of a safe, stable, warm home. Even when everything else seemed to be in flux, I knew that I would have a place to retreat to, a place to lay my head without worry, a place where I could control how the dishes were stored and my clothes were hung. And I know that, for too many of my neighbors, this is a luxury that seems agonizingly out of reach.
Why home? It seems almost too simple of a question to even warrant being asked. But sometimes the simplest of questions invoke the deepest reflection. All people deserve the dignity of choosing where they live. So why don’t they have those options now? Everybody wants a place where they – and often their families – can feel safe and secure. So why do we accept that some people are put in danger because of their home, or lack thereof? In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we have more than sufficient resources to provide a quality, affordable home for every single person. So why do we allow grandparents, toddlers, people with disabilities – ANYONE – to shiver in their car on a bitter Minnesota night?
So ‘why home?’ We each need to answer it in our own way, and my suspicion is that most of us could come up with a dozen responses based on the moment and who we’re sharing with. But for me, in this moment, most of it boils down to this: because all people are worthy of one. Period.
And until all people have the same dignity of choice that I have had when it comes to home, we’ve got work to do.