A nonprofit organization known as the Gubbio Project partners with the Roman Catholic church to let the city’s homeless sleep on its pews during daylight hours, even during Mass. The organization also provides a host of services to hundreds of those who are forced to leave when homeless shelters close in the morning.
Executive director Laura Slattery told the Huffington Post that every weekday the program uses the sanctuary’s rear 76 pews between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. while providing access to the church’s amenities like bathrooms, blankets, clothing vouchers and haircuts.
“Homeless people, in addition to needing housing, have primary needs of calm, safety, beauty, and a sense of belonging. We are providing these things."
The organization says on its website:
“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."
The Gubbio Project is unique for its daytime hours and open pews for sleeping. Most churches who allow the homeless to sleep in a basement of the church at night send them into the streets during the day.
The Gubbio Project, founded in 2004, has an average 90 sleepers each day.
Even couples sleep together in the back of the church on the floor since the pews are not wide enough for both of them. (See photos in the slideshow above).
San Francisco is a city with an estimated homeless population of 6,455.
Ken Dotson, a member of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, told the Huffington Post that the city offers around 1,139 beds for single adults and less than 100 for families.
Therefore, the Gubbio Project is welcomed.