In 2004, Father Louis Vitale of the St. Boniface church in San Francisco and the community activist Shelly Roder started The Gubbio Project.
The project opened the doors of the church for homeless people in need of shelter, and hundreds of people daily pass through it, using the pews to sleep on, and getting blankets from the staff.
The website of the project explains that everyone is welcome, respected, and treated with dignity, and no questions are asked. Also, local churchgoers still visit the facility throughout the day, while 2/3 of the church is reserved for the Gubbio project.
A representative of the project says that this sends a message that the unhoused neighbors will not be kicked out when those with homes come in to worship, and at the same time, it means that the community includes all people, the tired, the poor, those with mental health issues and those who are wet, cold and dirty.
Moreover, this project claims that the lack of sleep is one of the most crucial health issues for the homeless. About 225 unhoused neighbors seek safety and rest on the pews in the sanctuary of St. Boniface church each weekday starting at 6 AM, and for an additional 100 guests at St. John’s the Evangelist in the Mission.
The project takes its name from a town in Italy where, according to legend, St. Francis negotiated a peace agreement between frightened townsfolk and a hungry wolf. He brokered a deal between the two parties in conflict believing that communication could be the way they can find common ground.
Unlike other homeless shelters, people report that they always feel safe and protected at The Gubbio Project.
However, Mark Lane said that we have started to criminalize homelessness. There are 4 laws against the homeless, no feeding, no camping, no sleeping, no cars, no panhandling.
The city of Seattle was planning to set up razor-wire fencing to keep the homeless from camping, San Francisco was using Robots to scare them away from encampments and spent $8,700 installing large boulders under overpasses to prevent homeless people from setting up camps and force the existing ones out of the area.
Additionally, over a dozen activists were arrested for feeding the homeless in Wells Park in El Cajon, and the authorities reported that the law is aimed to prevent the spread of disease.