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Beyond the Homeless Myth

People who don't have shelter are houseless - not homeless! Homelessness has nothing to do with a lack of shelter.

Define Homeless: 'An inadequate experience of connectedness with family and or community,' (Dominic Mapstone). This fact is now recognized by Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme.

If the problem was a lack of shelters for the homeless why aren't all the homeless shelter always full? During winter they are more busy but more shelters won't solve the problem.

So often on the street I've seen people shake a set of keys with a big smile on their face saying 'I've got a place.' But often they end up spending most of their time on the streets anyway because they just don't know anyone else other than other homeless people and an empty room is very lonely.

Homelessness is about a lack of connectedness. Belonging somewhere is about belonging with other people. Like belonging to a family or local community.

The largest social demographic in first world countries that experiences homelessness are actually elderly people who are houseful. Quite often their spouse has died and their children live at a distance. They feel the same loneliness and abandonment as the person living on the street.

People in institutions including prisons or juvenile justice centres often feel the same loneliness or more accurately experience homelessness as the only people they have contact with other than the other 'homeless' inmates are people paid to be a part of their life. These people are the equivalent of people who work in soup kitchens or shelters on the streets.

Imagine that, only having contact with people who are paid to have contact with you! This is chronic homelessness.

The Homeless & Rebeccas Community

Rebeccas Community was founded in 2002 by Social Worker Mr. Dominic Mapstone and Mr. Gerry Denton to support people who experience homelessness or are imprisoned - especially children. Our approach is centred around spending time with homeless people for the sake of getting to know them and becoming a part of their lives so this sense of connectedness is established... at least with our community. We also fund the national schoolies week website, a peer education program that helps promote safety during schoolies week..

Hospitality House

Rebeccas Community runs programs that relieve suffering and help homeless people establish social connections and find their way not only off the streets but into the community. For the past six years in Australia, our home / office / place of hospitality in one has been a place where we welcome homeless people (who we have come to know over the past decade) to either drop-in for a day or to stay for a couple of months.

Beyond the model of homeless shelters, hospitality house is much more like a family home where people come for sanctuary and belonging. We keep in touch with people long after they are off the streets and have moved on from hospitality house. We expect to continue this relationship, if only by phone for many years to come. By acting more like a family and less like a welfare service we are responding to the experience homeless people have in a way that is very unconventional. But it works.

Read Rebeccas Story, the homeless person we named 'Rebeccas Community" after.