by Mayukh Saha,
Homelessness and poverty are the gravest problems of the 21st century, and a big percentage of the population falls prey to these evils. There is a lot to be done in this regard, but the start can always be small.
Change can be brought right from one place and that is what is happening at St. Boniface Church in San Francisco. This started about fifteen years ago, thanks to The Gubbio Project, with Father Louis Vitale who represented the church and was aided by Shelly Roder, who is a social worker.
Ever since this practice was started, hordes of people seek and are given shelter in the Church every single day without any formalities- one just has to turn up. Bedding is provided by the church. The thing that really strikes a chord with everyone is the fact that no one is ever asked to go away, whoever turns up, will find a place for themselves, no matter what. About 66.7% of the Church area is reserved for the Gubbio Project but the rest of it has also been made available to the people who go to the church and are not necessarily homeless. The website says that this is done to send a message to people, it being that in God’s home, everyone is welcome.
There is a general feeling of dissatisfaction when it comes to homeless shelters that they make homeless people feel like they are being imprisoned and there is always the reality of violence. However, this is not the case with The Gubbio Project. People who are a part of this project have extensively talked about the security and safety that is provided by the church to everyone who finds themselves under its care.
Homelessness is a social evil but the society has spent more time eradicating the people and not the problem in itself. Many states in the United States of America have and still continue violent and merciless methods to do away with homeless people. For example, Seattle had invested in razor wire fences to make sure that homeless people are unable to set up camp on the roads but they did not make any efforts to house these people. In fact, San Francisco itself had come up with robots that went along the streets and shoo away all the homeless people there and also report them to the law. It does not stop there- they also made boulder blockages on the overpasses so that there could be no homeless camps.
There have also been tons of instances of people being imprisoned for having fed homeless people and it gets really ridiculous now- a fourteen year old boy was one of those arrested.
The world seems to have forgotten that the issue of homelessness can only be helped when we help the homeless. Kindness is an underrated virtue and the St. Boniface church is a live example of the same. Let us try to make the world a better place, shall we?