Our creation in 1986 was spurred by the fervent belief that homeless women and children deserve safe overnight refuge. Helmed by a group of faith and community leaders, The San Leandro Refuge for Women and Children opened its doors on Christmas Eve at St. Leander Catholic Church in San Leandro.
In 1988, the organization incorporated as a non-profit and expanded the shelter to thirty beds, christening it the San Leandro Shelter.
Domestic violence is a primary reason that women become homeless. In 1996, Building Futures opened Sister Me Home, a small domestic violence safe house in San Leandro. The same year, a no-cost lease was awarded for property at the former Alameda Naval Air Station. The ground-breaking operations began in July 2001 and by March 2002, Bessie Coleman Court welcomed its first residents.
In 2000, Building Futures expanded Sister Me Home to its present 20-bed capacity; we also began providing a 24-hour, toll-free crisis line. The same year, Building Futures was invited to begin operating our second shelter for women and children: Alameda’s Midway Shelter.
In 2002, Bessie Coleman Court opened its doors to its first residents at Alameda Point.
In 2007, Building Futures became a Housing First agency. This means that all our programs and services aim to connect clients as quickly as possible to a safe place to call home.
The Great Recession (2007-2010) caused widespread financial distress. In response, Building Futures dramatically expanded our housing programs. Our Housing Resource Center was designed to meet Alameda County’s surge in homelessness and housing instability. Over three years, 2,000 Alameda County residents were rapidly re-housed or prevented from becoming homeless. The Housing Resource Center continues to provide and achieve high housing outcomes for our clients from all three emergency shelters, the San Leandro and Alameda warming shelters, and the street outreach program; and for those who come directly/are referred to our Housing Resource Center for help.
In 2014 Building Futures began operating the San Leandro Street Outreach and Warming Center Program. San Leandro residents living on the street are provided with overnight shelter, resources, and two meals. To strengthen services to San Leandro residents, we added Welcome Home San Leandro in 2016: permanent housing and supportive services for disabled, chronically homeless San Leandro residents.
In 2016, we launched The Family Front Door. This collaboration between Building Futures, East Oakland Community Project, and the City of Oakland’s Human Services Department provides families experiencing homelessness with a range of services including housing. The Family Front Door also helped build best practices for Alameda County’s Coordinated Entry System.
Today, Building Futures plays a key role in Alameda County’s Coordinated Entry System, leading three mid-county resource centers that connect clients with shelter, interim housing, rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing.
In 2018 we launched services at the Alameda Warming Shelter. Like the San Leandro Warming Shelter, it’s connected with Street Outreach and Housing Services for those who are unsheltered and face multiple challenges.
Building Futures has grown many times over in the past 35 years. One thing that has remained consistent: the loving support and partnership of the communities we serve. From individuals, to service clubs and faith groups, to the Cities of San Leandro, Alameda, and Oakland and Alameda County—it takes a village to build vibrant communities where everyone has a safe place to call home.