What does it mean to have a home? Think with me about this for a minute. It is more than four walls and a roof. It is safety and security. It is a little bit of pride. It is a place for hope to grow and dreams to flourish. It is peace.
But what is a home when the roof leaks and the plaster crumbles? When the furnace stops working and 41• is the standard temperature all winter? When trouble strikes and handicap accessibility becomes an unaffordable necessity? When windows rattle, when plumbing leaks and floors rot, when electric panels are outdated and unsafe? What then is home?
Suddenly home isn’t safe and secure anymore. It is humiliating and scary and difficult. It is a place to return to. It is a spot in the world to land at the end of a day. It is four walls and a roof but not much more.
When you live your life in houses that meet the needs of the people inside, when the roofs and windows, the furnaces and plumbing all do their jobs, it is easy to forget what all a home brings to your life. The sense of safety and security becomes standard. The dignity that comes from having a home is expected. The ability to hope and dream is unremarkable. You might start focusing on how to make your house nicer – what new things you can do to make it more beautiful or peaceful or spacious. But you don’t spend much time thinking about how much having a home means.
The elderly widow who is eeking out her existence on social security whose roof starts to leak suddenly begins thinking how very much home means to her. The hard working, low income young couple whose furnace gets red-tagged knows how important a warm and safe home is for their little family. The middle aged woman whose husband left her struggling to provide for her two teenagers recognizes the need for a home that provides safety and hope and dignity even as she has no idea how she will replace the floor in her bathroom and repair the ceiling below because the plumbing started to leak. The wheelchair bound man whose wife has to carry him down the steps whenever they go out because a ramp is too expensive knows the value of a place of rest.
Very quickly, home isn’t taken for granted anymore. Home is so much more than where you land at the end of the day. So much more than a place to lie your head. So much more than four walls and a roof.
Homeless people often live in tents or boxes under bridges. We might avoid those places but we know what homeless looks like for these folks because we’ve seen pictures and heard stories. But I’m pretty sure you can own a house and still be homeless. I’m pretty sure that when the house doesn’t provide security from the elements, when it isn’t safe because ceilings are crumbling and floors are rotting, when it is too embarrassing to let anyone visit, a house is no longer a home. I’m pretty sure you can own a house and still be homeless.
Thank you to all who help Hosanna Industries make houses into homes, who restore hope and peace and dignity, who help keep hopes and dreams alive. We are forever grateful.
-Julie Wettach, Mission Worker