The 3 Homes

Felicity Reynolds is the CEO of Mercy Foundation, an organization in Sydney, Australia that focuses on understanding, responding to, and ending homelessness.  Felicity is one if the people that I have had the pleasure of meeting through Twitter.  She introduced me to the concept of the ‘3 Homes’, and I asked her to write more about this as a guest blog.  She can be contacted through office@mercyfoundation.com.au or followed on twitter @FlickReynolds.

The 3 homes – a useful way of thinking about what homelessness means – for everyone, not just people who are currently homeless. Originally from Kraybill.

The First Home: This is ‘the self’. The characteristics of this home are physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual in nature. This home needs to be nurtured, rested, nourished and emotionally supported.

The Second home: might cover any of the descriptions provided under the primary, secondary and tertiary definitions of homelessness. It is the place where we live, and it refers not only to the physical structure but to the living environment within which it is located. This home is where we sleep, where we begin and end every day, where we store our belongings, it may be where we socialise and interact with others.

The Third home: is the larger community within which our first and second homes are located. It provides context to the lives that are lived within it and how that is connected at an individual level. Here the connectivity between individuals, multiple communities, the residential, business and visitors all meet in the same place. The quality of that home is defined by the relationships of all groups within it.

I think this is a useful way to think about homelessness, as it has meaning for everyone. We all need to be attentive to each of our homes. I would also suggest that being attentive to and, perhaps, repairing the first and third homes is easier to achieve when our second home is a stable and safe one. When all we offer homeless people is temporary accommodation or a street it impacts poorly on a person’s psychological well being and their connection with community.

I think this means that it is crucial that we ensure affordable and permanent housing for people who are homeless as soon as possible. Without that, all other aspects of being comfortable in all our homes is made very difficult.

Felicity Reynolds, January 2010

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