At first glance, the dispute between Grace Episcopal and the Facebook group members seems a clear-cut case of how social media can effect change: A concerned resident encouraged like-minded people to contact the church, they did, and the church declined to serve as a host site. Viewed through a different lens, however, the incident highlights the potential for harm that can result from jumping to conclusions — and then broadcasting them via social media.
Although Asheville has numerous shelters for the homeless population, its organizers say this particular shelter fills gaps in the city’s current system. “The focus is on intact families,” explains shelter worker Gene Ettison.
The Winter Safe Shelter program at Asheville Primary School, as explained by Counterflow Asheville, will prioritize families, LGBTQ people and residents who are Black, Indigenous or people of color. The shelter plans to operate nightly through the end of March, housing up to 10 people per night with space for another 10 support staff on site.