DETROIT, Mich., April 15, 2021 — Pope Francis Center announced today that the Julia Burke Foundation is contributing $7 million toward a new bridge housing complex aimed at ending chronic homelessness in Detroit.
The $7 million donation means that Pope Francis Center has raised over $15 million toward its $22 million fundraising goal for the housing project. The gift will enable Pope Francis Center to break ground on the housing facility as soon as a site is secured.
“We are truly humbled by the incredible generosity of the Julia Burke Foundation,” said Fr. Tim McCabe SJ, executive director, Pope Francis Center. “Their $7 million contribution shows there is strong support for our efforts to bring an end to chronic homelessness in Detroit.”
Based in California, the Julia Burke Foundation partners with organizations around the world to meet food and other immediate community needs. It also supports groups dedicated to education and social justice initiatives. Last year, the foundation funded portable shower and laundry facilities for Pope Francis Center.
“The Julia Burke Foundation invests in opportunities that enable people to lead a better life,” said Jerry Burke, co-founder of the Julia Burke Foundation. “The more we learned about the Pope Francis Center and its commitment to serving Detroit’s poor, we knew we wanted to be a part of this transformational project that will improve the lives of so many.”
Pope Francis Center is the only day center in Detroit of its kind providing services on a large scale to nearly 200 guests per day. The Center provides two made-from-scratch nutritious meals, laundry and shower facilities and rotating medical, dental and legal clinics, and housing assistance five days a week.
Under Fr. McCabe, Pope Francis Center has pledged to end chronic homelessness in Detroit by 2030. Central to the plan is construction of a 40-unit bridge housing facility in Detroit with trauma-informed care involving intensive medical, respite, psychological, addiction, social and job-readiness services designed to break the cycles of chronic homelessness.
In addition, staff will help guests gather documentation needed to qualify for and access permanent housing solutions. When guests are psychologically and practically ready, they will transition into permanent supportive housing.
In addition to 40 studio apartments, the facility will feature a cafeteria, gymnasium, library, classrooms and health clinic. It will also include an outdoor shelter area with heated sidewalks and overhead radiant heaters for those who have normalized homelessness and struggle to come indoors. This space will provide individuals with a safe place to begin building trusting relationships and start imagining something different for themselves.
Since mid-November, Pope Francis Center has been serving nearly 200 people a day at TCF Center while meeting COVID-19 safety guidelines.
About Pope Francis Center
Pope Francis Center has been feeding, serving, and empowering Detroit’s homeless population for 30 years – and is dedicated to eradicating chronic homelessness in Detroit by 2030. In addition to its everyday services, the center also provides guests with access to medical care, legal services, dental services, social work and mental health support, employment assistance, mail services, bike repair and grooming services. For more information about Pope Francis Center, please www.popefranciscenter.org. You can also follow Pope Francis Center on Facebook and Instagram.