20 December 2008

New Homeless Shelter Gets It Right

This is more like it.

Less than a week after the pews and floors at First United Church became a night time-shelter, the church's Rev. Ric Matthews believes the experiment is already offering Vancouver's newly minted homeless task force some "important lessons."

"We need shelters to feel more homely," said Matthews... "A shelter may not be a home, but it needs to feel like one."

Unlike most shelters, First United doesn’t have any restrictions on its guests - people can come and go as they please, men and women can stay together and people can bring their pets and shopping carts... Matthews said some homeless people like the First United shelter because it's like a "sleepover with their friends."

"I don't think shelters give people a sense of belonging," said Matthews.

Now all we need is affordable housing which permits the same freedoms. After all, such freedoms are what property owners and more affluent members of society are allowed.

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