Poverty in Erie, Pennsylvania: The Role of Housing in

the Problem AND the Solution


I. Poverty in Erie

II. Implications of Poverty

III. Theological Position

IV. Solution: Habitat for Humanity

V. Conclusion

VI. Bibliography

When looking at problems in society, one of the biggest that people face is poverty. Poverty is a problem of great importance because it is the cause of so many other problems and is so detrimental to the overall quality of life. There are many causes of poverty that can be addressed. Unemployment, lack of a just living-wage, lack of education and access to education, and the lack of quality affordable housing are all problems that contribute to a poor quality of life and limit the full integral development of the human person. It is impossible to address all of the causes and factors that play a role in the widespread poverty of a particular area. Theologically the existence of widespread poverty has great implications in a society. The responsibility falls on those that are well-off to care for the “least of these,” and this can take on many different forms. The Catholic Church stresses the importance of the family, the ability of one to care for one’s family, and the role of property in this. Combining the care for the least of these with this role of property, one solution to the problem of poverty and a low quality of life is the extension of homeownership to all. An important player in this process is the non-profit organization Habitat for Humanity, as well as the volunteers who show concern for the least of these and make the efforts of Habitat a reality.

In looking at this problem it is impossible to address it as a whole, for poverty exists worldwide. This makes posing a solution on a universal scale highly impractical. Looking at poverty nationally can often be just as difficult. However, by addressing specific instances of poverty on a local scale, the issue of poverty can be attended to on a case by case basis. In good keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, the different circumstances, conditions, and customs of each area can be served. One such area in which it is important to address the issue of poverty is the city of Erie, Pennsylvania. As an area with levels of poverty above the national average, it is important to address the situation in this location.

Poverty is a wide-ranging term that encompasses many different aspects of hardship. Just as it is impossible to pose a single solution to poverty globally, it is impossible to address all aspects of poverty with a single solution. Hunger, lack of health care, homelessness or lack of quality housing, and lack of education are all aspects of poverty. These problems are all interconnected, but it is very difficult to solve all of them at once, even on a local level such as in Erie. Therefore, the problem of housing in Erie, Pennsylvania will be addressed. By examining the situation and the theological implications of this problem, it will be possible to see the role of the Greater Erie Habitat for Humanity as part of the solution to the housing problem and the overall problem of poverty.
Proceed to Poverty in Erie.