Progress, but no solution to shelter for homeless

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To the Editor:

It is heartening to see a powerful vocalization from our Island community as the cold weather descends, and awareness and concern for our homeless population grows.

This challenge has brought ever-growing segments of our leadership together in an increasingly creative and responsive way, with wonderful new supporters of all kinds.

The Houses of Grace program and the now fully operational Harbor Homes program are great examples of what is possible when recognition of need, heart, unity, and creativity all come together; miracles do happen.

The call to create a more permanent year-round shelter is finally advancing from a timid concept to a practical Island improvement, but this is not solving the existential crisis of the unhoused in a pandemic during the winter of 2020–21, as the shelters of pre-COVID are not working out.

While the current conversation has merit, we are still a society that is lagging behind in our resolve to overcome logistical barriers to manifest even a few small, temporary shelters for this winter. We have the money, the staff, and the safety worked ou.. What we are lacking are spaces (three or four) that can house small groups of six or seven people (including two staffers). We can even contribute rent to this proposition.

While many creative ideas for multiple temporary shelter spaces have been advanced and explored, we are still coming up with nothing for this population for this winter, beginning right now.

The concern is here, the beginnings of true effort are here, but we are trapped in a stasis of good excuses of why this, that, and the other internal space cannot be “a good fit.”

I am sympathetic, and also alarmed. We cannot stop here. There is a beautiful new momentum happening on the Island, born from the crisis of COVID-19, but in truth, the love for our neighbors, no exceptions, is the true driver of all progress we enjoy as citizens.

Please, these challenges are surmountable, and we have all made a good start. May each of us strengthen our ability to make this work, together. We are close, let’s get this done.

 

Marjorie Mason
Chilmark

Marjorie Mason is the Harbor Homes treasurer and a Houses of Grace volunteer.  –Ed.