Imagine putting 40 or 50 homeless men and women together in the same building, living together. Street-hardened people, some addicts or alcoholics, some with a criminal past, all living in the same place, sharing facilities. What do we expect will happen? Do we expect that they will find jobs, meet partners, start families, restart their lives in a positive way? This is the least likely scenario. They are far more likely to be negatively affected by others living alongside them and to remain in the hostel, or return to the street. A hostel will never be a home, it will always be an institution.
In the hostel, homeless shelter environment, there is no inspiration, motivation or positive example. And no-one is showing these people value, affection, human warmth. The hostel system simply puts a physical roof over a man. It does not address his human needs. His need to be valued, spoken to with respect and kindness, or to be motivated and helped to restart his life.
Hostels may get people off the street, but with an address that is recognised as a homeless shelter, among people who will perpetuate their lifestyle, who may even drag them down, living in basic surroundings, that resemble an institution, not a home. This is not the solution to homelessness, which is already the fastest growing and most shocking epidemic of 21st century society.
Project Rome aims to change the way we treat and consider homelessness. In July 2016 we set up the first `Home’ for homeless people in Rome, The Project Rome House. To date, we have given a home to four formerly homeless men who have all gone on to find homes and work, they have re-joined society and left the streets. A fifth came to us with a serious leg injury, he has now recovered and is literally, back on his feet.
We currently have six men living in the Project Rome House, ranging from 36 to 83 years old. Each one was living among dirt and depravity just weeks, or months ago. Now they sleep in beds, use the bathroom, cook and eat together around the same table, socialise with each other and with those in the wider community. They also now help their homeless friends, prepping and cooking meals for them at the Project Rome House, helping Project Rome run its homeless support programme, giving them status and respect among their peers, their families and within the community.
They are no longer seen as `homeless’, they have a new life, new surroundings, new activities and interests.
The Project Rome Residents have all been taught how to prep and cook up to 200 meals by co-founder Steven Barnes. He has shown them the value of nutrition, cooking with only fresh vegetables, good quality meat, healthy ingredients.
The Project Rome Residents help keep the House and garden clean and maintained. They are growing vegetables, they feed and clean the chickens who live in a run they built, and they cut the grass, sort the donations, organise and pack up the car for our three times weekly food runs. The next day, they unpack, wash up, sort donations and put everything away in readiness for our next food run.
They are valued, motivated, they feel cared for, needed, appreciated. They cannot wait to get back into full-time work of their own, to re-connect with families and friends, to find an apartment or room once again. To leave the dirt, desperation and depression of the street behind forever.
The cost of running hostels, keeping men and women in a motiveless institution is enormous and wasted. Hostels and homeless shelters simply perpetuate a lifestyle and worse, bring people down to the level of those they are living alongside. It would be far better for churches, communities and individual volunteers to join together and rent homes for three, four or five formerly homeless people to live together. Each man can have his own space, learn to live harmoniously alongside others, be incorporated into the community, be treated as an individual, spoken to with respect and companionship, motivated and helped.
In return, they can work within the community, maintain, build, lift, carry, cook and help others, where they will be seen as being responsible and capable of finding their own independent means and homes. It wouldn’t take long, freeing up space for new individuals to enter the community’s Project HOME.
The energy of the many people in communities who want to help, who want to give their time and donations to help others, could be focussed into a small community project that brings resutls. A home for those without, with meals, clothes, work and support. So that instead of feeding a problem by taking meals out to people on the street without homes, they create an entire home for them, and their energy and money goes into supporting it.
The cost of community Project HOMES would be minimal, and the results optimum. So let’s create HOMES, not hostels.
If you can set up a home in your community, or if you know a corporate sponsor who would work with us to create Rome’s first Project HOME drop in centre, please message us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 328 877 0259.
If you can help us fund Project Rome House with a monthly donation, we need money to pay for food, toiletries, train tickets, please click Donate, or send your donation via PayPal to email@example.com