News Release

The Church and LifeMoves Help the Homeless in the San Francisco Bay Area

Latter-day Saints also donate time and labor to help prepare new “navigation center”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is collaborating with the nonprofit LifeMoves to support the opening of a 240-bed facility for people experiencing homelessness in the San Francisco Bay area. The goal of this innovative $55 million navigation center in Redwood City, California, is to assist those in need to return to long-term stable housing. 

Navigation centers provide a dignified place to stay for individuals experiencing homelessness while they receive all the services necessary to help them on their way back into long-term stable housing, employment and self-sufficiency.

An official ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the center was held on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

Aubrey Merriman, CEO of LifeMoves, said this new building will benefit people from all walks of life.

LifeMoves-California-homeless-navigation-center-2023Download Photo

“Families, veterans, elderly, children — you know that you’re doing important work when you see children who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness,” Merriman said. “There are people that are one sort of speed bump away from a health issue, a loss of job, falling off a sobriety track. But for the grace of a higher power, that could be us, right?”

In coordination with a group of local congregations, the Church has provided a large grant to help furnish the new facility with bedding, pillows, towels, welcome mats, laundry baskets, alarm clocks, toiletries and other personal items. In addition, around 150 local Latter-day Saints stepped up to volunteer on two different weekends in March and April to organize these items and then set them up in each room.

In the days and weeks preceding the opening, Merriman worked alongside volunteers as they helped prepare the navigation center to welcome its first residents. He explained why Latter-day Saints and others were so eager to help.

“People want to be a part of the solution,” Merriman suggested. “People generally want to go from being on the sideline and spectators to participating in the sport of changing lives. And that’s what today is about.”

Lynnelle Bilsey, senior manager of volunteer programs at LifeMoves, shared her excitement to see Latter-day Saints donate their time to help.

“I love working with faith-based organizations because I love seeing faith in action,” said Bilsey. “And that’s one of my big goals — helping people put their faith into action and rolling up sleeves and seeing how easy it is to make a difference in people’s lives.”

LifeMoves seeks to end homelessness by providing interim housing and supportive services to those in need. More than 2,100 people returned to stable housing through LifeMoves last year. The organization is also building navigation centers in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, with both expecting to house similar numbers of residents. Plans are in place to build several more throughout the Bay Area.

Local Latter-day Saint leader Philip Fletcher said collaboration between LifeMoves and the Church is not limited to this project.

“I’ve been connected with some people that work with this organization that help our brothers and sisters make their way back into a healthy lifestyle and healthy life circumstances,” said Fletcher. “We actually have plans to have our bishops be trained by some of the people that work with some of the people that pass through this center, to make us aware of resources that are available in the community.”

Local volunteers help prepare the navigation center for its first residents in Redwood City, California, on Saturday, April 15, 2023. 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
Download Photo

Fellow Latter-day Saint Mary George, who played a crucial role in coordinating efforts between the two organizations, said joy comes to those who serve as much as to those who are the beneficiaries.

“The members, no matter what they’re doing, they always have a smile on their face,” she said.

“I think everyone just finds great joy in helping others and being together and seeing what we can do as a community to help uplift others,” added Kristine Taylor, another Latter-day Saint volunteer.

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