It may look like cleaning a basement, but it is a start. For some it may be a new start.
Nearly eight years after The Salvation Army in Belleville closed its homeless shelter after the city demanded names to see if sex offenders were staying there, The Salvation Army is again working with new community partners to address the local homeless problem. The basement of The Salvation Army was cleared out as the start of Hospitality House, where homeless people can get clean, get some food and get some help to get off the street.
The church and civic groups plan to offer showers, laundry, food and counseling to homeless people. It will provide daytime shelter during severe weather.
An overnight shelter is not in the plans at present. Government agencies will continue to offer motel vouchers to get homeless people indoors.
The variety of people coming together is encouraging, but there is room to bring in more resources. Volunteers ranging from nurses to beauticians will be needed. More civic, business and government groups need to join in.
Despite the assertions and public protests led by the well-intentioned but misguided Rev. Larry Rice, homelessness was never just Belleville’s problem. There are homeless in and from every community.
The shared burden is lighter for all.