Approximately 15 years ago, the St. Boniface church in San Francisco started opening its doors for homeless people in need of shelter. Father Louis Vitale of the church along with community activist Shelly Roder, started the effort, which is known as The Gubbio Project in 2004.
Hundreds of people every day pass through this church, use the pews to sleep on, and get blankets from the staff.
According to the Gubbio Project’s website:
No questions are asked when our guests walk into the churches; in an effort to remove all barriers to entry, there are no sign-in sheets or intake forms. No one has ever been turned away; all are welcomed, respected and treated with dignity.
The facility is still open for local churchgoers that want to visit throughout the day. However, 2/3 of the church is reserved for the Gubbio project.
As a representative of Gubbio said:
This sends a powerful message to our unhoused neighbors – they are in essence part of the community, not to be kicked out when those with homes come in to worship. It also sends a message to those attending mass – the community includes the tired, the poor, those with mental health issues and those who are wet, cold and dirty.
One of the primary complaints that people frequently have concerning homeless shelters is that they may feel like prisons, and might be extremely dangerous as well. However, the Gubbio project seems to be different. 95 percent of those surveyed claimed they always or mostly feel safe at The Gubbio Project, and that those who pass through aren’t treated like prisoners in opposition to many other shelters.
Alas, the world doesn’t always treat homeless people with kindness. In 2017, Seattle was planning to build razor-wire fencing to prevent homeless populations from camping. San Francisco was also using Robots to scare homeless away from encampments and also to report them to police. The same city spent $8,700 installing big boulders under overpasses to stop homeless people from setting up camps. There were many homeless encampments in the area until the people were forced out. Now the City’s government is doing everything possible to keep the camps out of that area.
At least a dozen activists were arrested in February 2018, for feeding homeless people in Wells Park in El Cajon in California. Even a 14-year-old kid was arrested. Authorities claim that the law aims to prevent the spread of disease. However, according to activists, the law is criminalizing the homeless.
As Mark Lane told RT:
It means they are criminalizing homelessness. They’ve created four laws against the homeless. No camping, no sleeping in cars, no panhandling and no feeding the homeless.
Photo credit: David Levene
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