It’s been 30 years since the pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church opened the church’s downtown Detroit doors to those seeking refuge from a brutal winter storm.

He put on a pot of coffee, set out some folding chairs and offered people a place to get warm. This single act of kindness in 1990 has blossomed over three decades into a day center providing nutritious meals; hot showers and grooming services; laundry facilities; housing assistance and free medical, dental and legal clinics.

The parish’s dedicated warming center ministry expanded tremendously in 2013 through a $800,000 donation from UAW-Ford, funding the creation of state-of-the-art kitchen and laundry facilities, as well as updated showers, restrooms and shaving stations.

In 2014, a $50,000 gift from the Bartush Family Foundation established a clinic space for medical, dental and legal professionals to continuously provide free support to guests.

Spinning off into an independent nonprofit organization in 2016, the program was renamed the Pope Francis Center in honor of Pope Francis’ deep commitment to the poor. The following year, our day center introduced nutritional standards into meal prep, thanks to a second generous UAW-Ford grant. This focus on nutritious foods continues to this day.

We are continually growing and expanding our support. As the number of guests we assist each day has increased, and so has the scope of services and tools we provide.

Our next chapter focuses on bold plans for a revolutionary Bridge Housing Campus, a coordinated solution to chronic homelessness that will provide our guests with a stepping-stone on the pathway to permanent supportive housing.

Bridge Housing Plan

Those who are chronically homeless face the greatest barriers to self-sustainability and require intensive support that no organization in Detroit currently offers. Pope Francis Center is working to fill that gap.