The St. Boniface church in San Francisco has opened its doors for homeless people in need of shelter about 15 years ago. Father Louis Vitale of the church and activist Shelly Roder, started this effort called The Gubbio Project, in 2004. Around hundreds of people pass every day through this church, use the pews to sleep on and get blankets.
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“.
This church is open for local churchgoers that want to visit throughout the day. But more than half of the church is reserved for the Gubbio project.
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 complaints that people have concerning homeless shelters is that they may feel like prisons, and might be extremely dangerous as well. But, it seems that the Gubbio project is different, 95% 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.
Seattle was planning to build razor-wire fencing to prevent homeless populations from camping, in 2017. San Francisco was also using Robots to scare the homeless away from encampments and also to report them to the police. Also, they 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. Some 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. But according to activists, the law is criminalizing the homeless.
Mark Lane said: “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.”