The Common Good

I have noticed in my diocese that some parishes have land that is not in use; and I have begun to wonder why. I figured some possibilities are that it could be an investment worth holding on to so that the land can either be built upon or sold. Then excluding the financial problems that come with building on undeveloped land, needing investors, the logistics behind developing land for use etc…

My city alone is working in small ways to make sure the poor an homeless have no where to camp, and they have limited help through orgs that do provide short term rooms, food pantries etc… my curiosity is what would be the down side to letting those who truly need a place to camp safely , that are poor or homeless, to let them do so on undeveloped parish land. I am sure there is a legal aspect to which off hand I think the solution would be to hire a lawyer to draw up a simple contract that states those who camp on the site agree that said parish or diocese is not liable for x,y,or z. There wouldn’t have to be a giant neon sign pointing the homeless or poor to come an camp out.

That and what is involved to create a halfway home for the poor or homeless on such parish land ? I know catholic charities does have some such programs but when I researched for my particular diocese the nearest place is an hour an half away, so perhaps another question is, is there a way to ask such questions to catholic charities.

needless to say the next response is , it is the Bishop who makes such a decision on what to do with the land, granted, but one can not just strong arm a Bishop or even randomly ask such questions, with out first researching things inside an out, an it would be nice to have some kind of program outlined to bring to a Bishops’ attention if one wanted to do such an endevour.

Is it possible for a parish to come together to start a separate collection to build upon undeveloped land for the purpose of helping the homeless and poor. An how would one go about bringing up the subject to a parish, being of course the Pastor of the parish first, but is there someone with in the logistics of a parish that one could also contact before hand ?

again what if any would be or could be of concern. Could a city prohibit such a thing as well ?

It would be nice to even see some kind of shower and laundry area where those who are poor or homeless could be taken care of and be welcomed without being pressured on any level for anything.

Or as well intended as these ideas maybe are they in reality just not able to be done because there are simply not enough funds in a parish, nor people willing to volunteer in any form to such a project. An parishes are donating to other places that take care of the poor an thus no need to build such a thing on site. ?

[Human Nature and Physics will not change in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of multiples of your lifetime. That is due to the fact that we are forever in pitched battle with our environment and time (we are “stuck on a planet” in the “NOW”). Despite the awesome providence of THE LORD, these things are inescapable, and will remain so, regardless of the amount of the Universe that we come to inhabit. Inescapable.

People will always look for a work-around (an “out”) but the remainder cannot allow the “out” to be “the answer,” as it will only invite more of the same, and eventually you will likely be unable to maintain Societal Agreement.] (TERMS, J.M. Thomas R., 2012)

In America, it is not suitable to the furtherance of Society to play ‘third world.’ Some citizens may not fit into Society due to mental illness or drug use, but neither are a valid excuse to be permitted to play “anything goes” or else I will demand My turn and I can guarantee you will not appreciate the results.

Tent cities/shanty towns/boxes in alleys are not the answer to anything, and the proof exists and is already currently evident in too many places in the World to list here.

If there is a valid need, compel the needy to obtain “help” from their friends, family, church or community. If “needy” individuals are not, in some way, compelled to endear themselves to those groups, you are merely risking the ability of those groups to provide help (i.e., get the drowning shipwrecked individual to drop the broken beer bottle before helping them into the inflatable raft).(loosely paraphrased from: TERMS, J.M. Thomas R., 2012)

i will need to purchase and smoke a lot of weed before that answer makes any sense Least.

zoning, insurance, health and safety regs, neighbor complaints (I’d complain for certain) probably several dozen other reasons.

what wouldn’t you complain about .

zoning, insurance, health an safety regs, are all answerable / solveable issues.

in general though I am getting the sense with 130 views and two worthless replies that a congregation would want no such thing on parish grounds. so basically we are to help the poor an homeless but just not when it is close to home, keep the parish for worshiping only.

If a municipality is working to prohibit homeless encampments on public land, you can be sure that you won’t get zoning approval for it either. Believe me, I work professionally on zoning issues. You will NOT get formal permission to allow this from a city or suburb.

Most charitable organizations that care for the homeless don’t simply try to perpetuate that homelessness. Instead, they try to focus on getting people to move towards self sufficiency.

As to why there are often extra lands associated with a parish, it’s cheap to buy a bunch of open land before development fills in an area. It’s brutally expensive to buy developed property surrounding an undersized parish and knock down the buildings to add on to the church or school. So the prudent thing usually done is to plan LONG term and buy now as much as you will likely ever need. A 2,000 year old church looks long term!

is that an argumentative question or are you asking about land-use issues?

no, they’re not solveable issues. have you ever tried to get a conditional use permit or, gods forbid, a variance or zoning change? a county/city is not going to allow a tent city in the middle of planned suburbia.

although you might be referring to your own replies as “worthless” (which I fully understand and agree with), I’m assuming you’re applying that label to my land use objections response. so let me elaborate further.

this is not a matter of what the parish or any individual wants. you’re free to take into your own home a homeless person if that’s what you’re called to do (I assume you’ve done this, right? otherwise, why lecture the rest of us if you’re not walking the walk).

that church property, wherever it is, is on land that’s zone for particular uses, and of those uses, not all of them are immediately available without permission from the government. this is a guess, but “tent city for the homeless” is not going to be one of those uses. so you have to convince government planners that a tent city is desirable, could meet the conditions of fire, health, police departments, and is not objected to by the surrounding property owners, some of whom are not Catholic and none of whom are going to be happy seeing property values driven down.

ProTip: boasting about drug use is not a good idea on this forum.


You’re a tool .

personal insults are looked on with some disfavor on this forum. you should remember that in the future.

For quite some time I have been thinking thoughts along same line. It seems to me that it fits in with Pope Francis’ thinking. Apparently he has chosen not to live in the Papal apartment because it is too big for one person. I seem to remember that when he first saw it he said something like 30 people could live in there. When I heard this I thought that since he isn’t using it maybe priests who are living temporarily at the Vatican or Italy for study could use those rooms. The people of Italy most of whom are Catholics are having a difficult time financially. The grounds at Castel Gondolfo are very large. I thought that apartments could be built and the poor of Italy could move in. My own Bishop is supportive of undocumented immigrats to the United States. Many if not most of them are Catholic. We should after all take care of our less fortunate. I don’t know how big his residence is but I’m thinking maybe he can take in a family or two. If the property is large enough maybe he could build on to take in more. Then on to the unoccupied or undeveloped land owned by the Vatican or the Local Diocese; I think it might be worth a try for all the Catholics who are in agreement with the undocumented immigrants to try to lobby the State and Federal governments to allow the church to build apartment buildings for these folks on that land. Of course they need food and clothing too but that can be worked with parishioners later.

Any thoughts.

I can understand that , but with the land that some parishes have for a long term investment, they could take a part of land an take the time to develop it to set up a facility that can accommodate at least two families that are on the brink of being homeless an construct some kind of program that leads to those families becoming self sufficient, I do not claim to understand zoning laws, if you take a look at catholic charities they do have such programs available, to a degree anyhow, so how could a parish develop unused land to help the poor or homeless become self sufficient, not to turn the unused land into a tent city nor a welfare project that government has established.

you should try trolling and baiting on another forum where I do not have to worry about being charitable I could really let ya know what I think.

Exactly, how can parishes follow what the Pope is preaching to help the poor and homeless with any undeveloped land they may have. be it to help them become self sufficient or provide a temporary place they can camp in safety for a few days or anything. Why just have the land for the sake of having it an not needing it, and then do nothing with it.

if you can’t respond to obvious problems about conditional use permits and zoning, personal attacks aren’t going to help your argument. I’ve patiently tried to explain why your ideas aren’t workable, but you don’t accept that.

if you’re interested in helping the poor, I suggest Catholic Worker or Catholic Charities.




this won’t work in most places in the US, because of land use restrictions that I outlined to the OP. you can’t just establish tent cities on private land because the government won’t issue the necessary permits and the chances of successfully getting a use permit or variance or rezoning for a tent city are very slim. these things don’t happen in vacuum and the residents or landowners around the proposed tent city site are going to be quite hostile at any planning commission hearings. in some parts of a city/county its barely possible this might be tolerated at a low level, but not at what the OP wants to do.

my experience: I’ve represented clients, including churches, before planning commissions and city councils.

Thank you for your input. I know it would take a bit of time to do this but maybe enough people Catholics and others who are for the undocumented immigrants could start a movement to lobby the necessary people to get the job done. Lacking that the Diocese/Vatican could sell the unoccupied or undeveloped land and buy some other land that probably would be cheaper. BTW I wasn’t thinking about tent cities. I was thinking about livable housing with perhaps an auditorium where the Bishops could give lessons to the immigrants about personal responsibility if they are going to accept the Church’s charity. They need to know that they have those responsibilities.

exactly it can be done even though there are laws and rules in place it just takes time and effort to make things happen, the input given thus far annie is really on by yourself and manual , you can take fairwinds input to be worth about as much as trash blowing in the wind. no one was talking about tent cities to begin with, and mr.fab just wants to high jack this thread, take it, the truth is there is plenty of undeveloped land on parish grounds and for what ? to simply have it for the sake of having and to do nothing with it, or to use it as a rainy day fund . I imagine the parish pays some kind of property tax on land owned so you have a certain amount of acres on a land and are only using a fraction of it for a church , parking lot an parish hall, then again. why.

plenty of things could be done with unused land on parish land to help the poor an homeless , but it isn’t, unfortunately the enlightened fairwinds can’t explain that.

you should really just start your own idiotic thread for no one to pay attention to fairwinds instead of high jacking others, but what ever you need the attention I get it, so take this one, least you wont be pestering others for a few minutes . glad I can at least be of help to them.

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