DETROIT, Mich., Dec. 3, 2021 — Pope Francis Center held a ceremonial groundbreaking today for its new Bridge Housing Campus, an innovative facility and unique approach designed to eliminate chronic homelessness in Detroit.
Pope Francis Center also announced it has received an additional $6 million donation from The Julia Burke Foundation toward the Bridge Housing Campus. The donation is in recognition of Pope Francis Center’s transformational work to end chronic homelessness and to address higher building and material costs, which have increased the project size to an estimated $30 million.
The California-based Julia Burke Foundation previously committed $7 million toward the Bridge Housing Campus. The campus will feature 40 studio apartments, a cafeteria, gymnasium, library, classrooms and health clinic. It will also include an outdoor shelter with heated sidewalks and overhead radiant heaters for those who have normalized homelessness and struggle to come indoors.
“Today marks the beginning of the end of chronic homelessness in Detroit,” said Fr. Tim McCabe, SJ, executive director of the Pope Francis Center. “Our innovative Bridge Housing Campus will provide a new type of personalized, coordinated care to move people from a life on the streets to a better future.”
Guests will stay for 90 to 120 days and have access to trauma-informed care involving intensive medical, respite, psychological, addiction, and social and job-readiness services designed to break the cycles of chronic homelessness. 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.
Construction on the 5.3-acre campus in the Core City neighborhood is expected to begin in early 2022. The facility — which is bordered by West Hancock Street, Lawton Street and the Jeffries Service Drive — is targeted to open in mid-2023. Once the campus is operational, residents of the surrounding Core City neighborhood will have access to the health clinic, recreational facilities including an art studio, as well as life skills courses and a computer lab.
“The new Pope Francis Center in the Core City neighborhood is going to be a major part of our strategy to better support residents who are experiencing homelessness,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “As a city, we are moving away from simply providing temporary overnight shelter to a model of providing more individual units and a full range of on-site supportive services to break the cycle of homelessness. I’m so proud of what Jim Farley and the team at Pope Francis are doing to treat these residents with dignity and respect.”
The City of Detroit sold the land for the Bridge Housing Campus to Pope Francis Center at a reduced rate to help support the organization’s mission and as part of the City’s commitment to combating homelessness.
Also joining the mayor today was Donald Rencher, group executive for Planning, Housing and Development for the City of Detroit.
“The Bridge Housing Campus will help hundreds of Detroiters escape the cycle of chronic homelessness,” Rencher said. “The Pope Francis Center is a key partner in our efforts to combat homelessness, and we are thankful that we could help them on their mission of helping the most vulnerable members of our community.”
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.
The regular Pope Francis Center services will continue from a downtown Detroit location even after the Bridge Housing Campus is open. On Nov. 1, Pope Francis Center moved temporarily to the TCF Center to serve more people 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 visit popefranciscenter.org. You can also follow Pope Francis Center on Facebook and Instagram.