The pandemic has brought to light many inequities in our nation, as those living on the margins have suffered more job losses, more illness, less access to healthcare and other resources and more deaths. Perhaps one of the biggest realizations has been how important it is to have a home — and just how many people don’t have one or are on the brink of homelessness. As our homes became our havens during lockdown and quarantine protocols, it brought the affordable housing crisis into sharp focus: Where does one go during a lockdown if one doesn’t have a home? How does one stay safe and protected from COVID-19 without a proper place to live? And what do we do when shelters must reduce population to follow social distancing guidelines? What about the millions of people living paycheck to paycheck who lost jobs and were missing rent and mortgage payments? Can people be forced onto the streets during a pandemic? Catholic Charities was honored to be among the many social service providers who stepped up during this critical time to help our most vulnerable neighbors. Thanks to our volunteers, donors and community partners, during this past year alone, Catholic Charities fielded more than 68,000 calls to our homeless prevention hotline and distributed more than $3 million to assist with current and overdue rent and mortgage payments to prevent homelessness. We gave more than 1,000 people experiencing homelessness the opportunity to sleep with dignity in vacant hotels, move into transitional housing or both. Our Family Stabilization Food Pantry program distributed 2 million bags of food and multitudes of clothing and warm winter gear; and our supper programs provided more than 83,000 hot meals, either in person or to go. It has been an incredibly busy year. And yet we know that when the last penny of extra resources that were made available during the pandemic have been spent, there will still be people in precarious living situations. For decades, Catholic Charities has joined the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in speaking out about the crisis in affordable housing. Quite simply, wages of low-income workers have not kept pace with the rising cost of housing. That means that individuals and families must spend a greater and greater portion of their income on housing, leaving little for other necessities, let alone savings. That puts low-income households in a very unstable living situation, often being only one medical bill or lost paycheck away from homelessness — and for many, the pandemic brought both. Unfortunately, the crisis in affordable housing won’t get better any time soon. As wages of people at the top end of the earning scale have rebounded and even improved since the start of the pandemic, this has heated up the housing market, sending rents higher and putting even greater distress on low-wage workers whose earnings haven’t made as many gains. Couple this with the rising costs of living that we are all facing, and the terrible conundrum of affordable housing persists. This is why the work of Catholic Charities is so necessary and enduring, and why we hope you will join us as we continue to compassionately serve and advocate on behalf of those in the most vulnerable living situations. Whether it’s finding someone an apartment, providing supportive services to stabilize a living situation or boosting earning power through education and training, let us work to give all of our brothers and sisters the opportunity to have an affordable place to call home.