As we noticed nights dip into freezing temperatures, we have been so relieved that somebody had stepped as much as host the warming shelter that we supplied our thanks and help a little bit too quickly. We’re, after all, nonetheless grateful to Sabra United Methodist Church and the non-public people who volunteered to tackle a job nobody else had been keen to do. They achieved in a handful of days what others hadn’t been capable of do in months. It appears, nevertheless, that Sabra UMC won’t be house to this winter’s chilly climate shelter.
On the time of this writing, it’s almost certainly that the warming shelter might be again at Hazel’s Home of Hope, this time within the area that was beforehand reserved for the sobering middle. As a substitute of being staffed by Well being Proper, as was proposed for the opposite shelter, this one might be run by Bartlett Home.
To us, what’s essential isn’t a lot the place the chilly climate shelter is positioned however that there’s one and that it’s up and working as quickly as potential. Our days could also be unseasonably heat, however as soon as the solar goes down, temperatures shortly fall beneath 40 levels. It isn’t protected for individuals to stay unsheltered all evening in these circumstances.
We have been stunned, although, on the animosity proven towards the proposed shelter in Jerome Park and towards the individuals organizing it. We anticipated some pushback — individuals had legitimate misgivings — however the neighborhood responded with much more vitriol than we might have thought.
A number of individuals expressed legit issues: What would occur if somebody was expelled from the shelter for drug or alcohol use — would they be left on the road to wander the neighborhood? Transportation was going to be organized to deliver individuals to the church within the night, however was it additionally organized to take them again within the morning?
These have been affordable questions that deserved considerate solutions. However a number of the pushback appeared to demonize all homeless individuals as criminals and drug customers. And a few of it went to as far as to air the non-public enterprise of one of many volunteers who helped manage the proposed shelter at Sabra UMC with the intention to forged a unfavorable gentle on each her and the shelter.
We don’t need to downplay residents’ worries. It’s pure to need to shield ourselves, our family members and our property. It’s not incorrect to be involved in regards to the uncomfortable side effects of such a shelter in a brand new location. Nonetheless, not all unhoused individuals interact in drug use or felony habits, simply as drug use and felony habits aren’t restricted to the unhoused. It’s one factor for us to be cautious; it’s one other to punish others due to our personal sense of vulnerability.
Maybe Sabra UMC wasn’t the perfect location for the warming shelter. However that ought to have been a conclusion reached by means of considerate conversations, not by means of fear-mongering.