The donation goes toward building a $22 million, 40-unit short-term, or “bridge,” housing facility in Detroit. The center has now raised $15 million toward that goal. With the $7 million gift, the Center will be able to break ground on the housing project as soon as a site is secured.
The facility will provide trauma-informed care including 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.
“We are truly humbled by the incredible generosity of the Julia Burke Foundation,” says 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.”
Under Fr. McCabe, Pope Francis Center has pledged to end chronic homelessness in Detroit by 2030.
The short-term housing facility will help achieve that goal and fill a huge need in Detroit.
There were 2,535 homeless people in Detroit in 2019, according to a point-in-time count conducted the Detroit Continuum of Care, the Homeless Action Network of Detroit, and the City of Detroit. A point-in-time count provides a snapshot of the number of homeless.
According to that data, 565 were persons in families (193 adults and 372 children); 1,296 were single adults under 24 years old; 103 were youth ages 18-24, and one was an unaccompanied youth under 18. In addition, 280 were chronically homeless and 290 were veterans.
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,” says 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, which had served Detroit’s homeless population for 30 years, is the only day center of its kind in Detroit. It provides services to nearly 200 guests a day. Services include 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 Pope Francis Center moved to the TCF Center from its facility at 438 St. Antoine St. last November. The larger space allows it to follow COVID-19 federal and state guidelines and protect guests from the elements.
Since mid-November it has served nearly 200 people a day. It will continue to provide food, shelter, medical and social services to the homeless through June 1 at the TCF Center.