In the mid 80’s, a group of concerned individuals and religious organizations joined together to rally for the rights of Westchester’s homeless. The group, led by pastor Ed O’Brien from St. Bernard’s Church, defied the White Plains mayor and the city council by marching in the streets to show their concern about a homeless man who had frozen to death in the city’s streets.
The group, which eventually became the founding members of SHORE (Sheltering the Homeless is Our Responsibility), opened the first temporary shelter in a White Plains church... after only one week, the mayor shut it down.
Undefeated, the following winter SHORE members organized several churches and synagogues who agreed to open their doors one night a week to shelter homeless men. The men were brought to rotating locations at 5:00 p.m. and picked up again at 7:00 a.m. the next morning.
Worn down by the group’s resolve, the city finally gave up its resistance and rehabilitated an empty post office to be used as a homeless shelter from November to March.
Meanwhile, SHORE was working with Peter Larom, the rector of Grace Episcopal Church, to establish a more permanent shelter. Rev. Larom agreed to open his parish hall six nights a week to house 19 homeless men.
Later, with $500,000 in social loans, the group was also able to rehabilitate a building at
86 E. Post Road in White Plains to house another 19 men. That building became the Open Arms Men’s Shelter which now provides shelter and emergency drop-in services to more than 800 men annually.
In 1990, SHORE established a Permanent Housing Program to provide housing for families that were homeless, or about to become homeless. Today, that program provides affordable housing and support services to 23 families in central Westchester County NY.
From 1995-2002, 14 units of housing were constructed in White Plains, half for low-income owners and half for rental to previously homeless families.
From 2003-2010, a two family house was constructed in Ardsley.
In 2010, management of a renovated two-family house was undertaken in Sleepy Hollow.
Currently, SHORE is in the process of merging with I CARE (Interfaith Council for Affordable Residence), a group similar to SHORE in origin and purpose, with a constituency based largely in the Sound Shore communities of the county. I CARE was founded in 1991 by former Mamaroneck Town Advisor Dolores A. Battalia and a group of like-minded volunteers. In partnership with SHORE, it houses six low-income families in the Larchmont/Mamaroneck community.
Together, SHORE and I CARE are working to insure a stabilized and secure future for each of the vulnerable families who live in their homes.