In response to the May 2 Columbian online story, “St. Joe’s plan for homeless nixed,” I’d like to correct some inaccuracies.
First, the proposal was not to provide a drop-in shelter, rather to accommodate prescreened guests who had spent the night at St. Andrew’s Winter Hospitality Overflow. This temporary day shelter, open only to families with children, would have provided much-needed space for warmth, rest, laundry and case management for those in short-term transition. All church leadership councils and commissions were supportive of bringing this idea to the larger parish for discussion. Parishioners who participated in the dialogue were overwhelmingly supportive.
There were, however, concerns raised by some school parents who felt this day shelter would have presented a possible threat to the safety of their children. The Justice and Peace Commission of St. Joseph Parish is currently exploring alternate ways to meet the needs of these families in transition.
Our Catholic social teaching informs us that a basic moral test of our society is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.