Sunday, November 1, 2015

Restwell Center Principles

This is a proposal for a no-frills hostel for those who just need a safe place to sleep and clean up:

For perhaps $5 per person per night, the Center will provide:

• A cot in a room full of cots: a dim, fairly quiet place to sleep, on a moment’s notice with no questions asked, and no searches;

·        Dog cages;

• Ear plugs and eye masks available for purchase, as some light is necessary for security and people do snore;

• A constant watch by camera and attendant on the belongings they carry in with them and store under their cots, and cameras elsewhere in common rooms for security;

• Restrooms;

• Separate shower facilities;

• Coin-operated laundry machines to wash clothing and bedding and help fund the shelter;

• A reading and dining room for food that people bring in, with a used book exchange and information on local services and employment listings.

• Quiet. Do not bother the sleepers.

• No exhibition or use of guns, drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.

• Eat only in the dining room.


• Guardian attendants will be paid at least minimum wage.
The best candidates for this job are tough little old ladies. Nobody messes with a little old lady in front of others. Even angry drunks respect them. And if anyone doesn’t, they’ll have people on speed-dial as backup, as well as other guests of the shelter.

• Volunteer janitors, recruited from among the guests, with free lodging and laundry.
Some guests will prefer to work off their nightly cot rent rather than go beg for it. One or two can be chosen daily to do the janitorial work that needs to be done mid-afternoon.

Financing and other Principles:

• No government funding except construction grants.  Government funding is not dependable enough for ongoing services.

• Grants, public or private, are for construction alone.  Large donors are undependable for funding ongoing operations, and leave a large hole when they quit. Small donors are more easily replaced, and are therefore more sustainable.

• The most dependable funding comes from those who care the most: the people who use the service. Therefore, the shelter should be built on such a scale that there are enough cots to fund the shelter when it is full. Fund-raisers can be conducted when times are so good that it is not full.

• Bed Vouchers can be sold to the general public to give to people in need of shelter. This provides a way for people to directly help the homeless without funding their addictions.  Some might like to purchase them and leave them at the Shelter to be handed to those who need them.

• Treat the clientele like customers and guests, not suspects. They are paying for this service.

• The Center should be open 24/7, because some people have to sleep and work odd hours.