Compassionately Hidden: The Church Telling Local Homeless to “Come to Our House"

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Gamma Theta Upsilon

In early 2011, the To Our House (TOH) thermal shelter program opened its doors to homeless men in the New River Valley Area (NRV) of Virginia. The program was a grass roots response to the death of a well-known local homeless man and the goal of the program is to provide winter shelter for single adult men by using rotating host sites at local churches. We highlight that in the NRV local churches have sought to remedy a socially unjust situation by providing shelter for men that was previously unavailable. We illustrate that faith-based outreach in the New River Valley can be viewed as positive compassionate outreach by a caring community. While acknowledging the benefits of this compassionate outreach to more than 25 men in the NRV, we also offer a cautionary note regarding the dilemmas of this outreach suggesting that it has the potential to mask the problems of the local housing market.

rural homeless, thermal shelters, faith-based compassion