Homelessness is a major issue worldwide. Today, there are over 100 million people who have no place to call home. But this one church is a strong example of how many organizations can do something proactive to help. One of the reasons why homelessness is so hard to eradicate is that it’s difficult to know where to begin.
Shelters are filled to bursting, and the rehabilitation process is often insanely difficult to manage. St. Boniface Church in San Francisco has been effective in eliminating one of homelessness’s major health issues.
Many homeless people suffer from a lack of sleep. Even in shelters, homeless people are sometimes too scared of being assaulted or robbed to get any kind of sleep. But everyone knows how important sleep is for a well functioning mind. After learning of this major issue from The Gubbio Project, St. Boniface Church decided to do something about homeless sleep deprivation. So they opened their doors to the local homeless population.
Now around 225 homeless people sleep on the pews of the church every weekday from 6am!
The church does not discriminate. Anyone who needs a place to sleep is welcome. That means that there are no forms, no sheets, nothing to discourage someone who desperately needs rest from sleeping in the church. Of course, St. Boniface Church conducts a daily mass. But the church has managed to incorporate its homeless guests along with its religious duties in a nonobtrusive way.
The back two-thirds of the church are used by the homeless people, and the front one third is used by worshippers. The pastors at the church feel very strongly that the people that need the church for rest should not be disturbed. So far, the project has been a complete success. No matter your beliefs, it’s inspiring to see an organization do all it can to help a needing community.
And other churches have taken note of St.Boniface Church’s example. They are now unrolling similar programs. It could be that St. Boniface Church has pioneered one of the key solutions to the global homelessness crisis. One example is Beth Emmanuel Church in Ontario, Canada. Canada has incredibly cold winters. And so the church began a program where homeless people can take refuge from the harsh winter weather.
And multiple churches across New Jersey have partnered with the Family Promise program, which helps homeless families find shelter inside churches. Under this program, homeless families are moved between churches each week, being given food and a place to stay from any church that can accommodate them.
And now a range of governments are trying to encourage churches to take in the homeless.
In Niagara Falls, the local government recently funded a two-year project where homeless people can take refuge in the local St. Andrew’s Church.
However, it has taken a long time for churches in North America to take up this approach.
The Gubbio Project, which is what houses the homeless people in San Francisco’s St. Boniface Church, has been running since 2004.
Hopefully, this idea will spread much further and much more rapidly, and homeless people everywhere will be able to turn to churches, mosques, synagogues and all places of worship as a safe place to stay and the start of a journey to a better life.