The Gubbio Project was co-founded in 2004 by community activists Shelly Roder and Father Louis Vitale as a non-denominational project of St. Boniface Neighborhood Center located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood in response to the increasing numbers of homeless men and women in need of refuge from the streets. In 2007, with the exception of the Gubbio Project, St. Boniface Neighborhood Center ceased its operations. As a result the organization applied for and received permission from the State of California for its name to be legally changed to the Gubbio Project, continuing to operate as a 501(c) 3 non-profit, offering respite and refuge for thousands of people in the heart of the Tenderloin, while supporting connection and understanding between the housed and un-housed.
During its first year of operation the project regularly provided services to 30-40 people per day. Today the Gubbio Project provides critical services to at least 315 individuals at two sites daily, 6am – 3pm at St. Boniface Church in the Tenderloin neighborhood and St. John the Evangelist Church in the Mission neighborhood. Services include: a safe space to sleep, meditate, or pray 6am – 3pm; a warm welcome and a listening ear; Drug-free restrooms; referral(s) or support on where to turn for help; hats/gloves/socks, blankets, hygiene kits; chaplaincy; and breakfasts on Fridays at St. Johns... Staff and trained volunteers are available during our open hours, acting simultaneously as safety monitors, hospitality ministers, and outreach workers. The Gubbio Project is the only non-profit organization in the United States that regularly opens the doors of worship spaces for homeless people to sleep or rest during the day.
The Gubbio Project is named for an Italian town where, according to legend, St. Francis negotiated a peace agreement between frightened townsfolk and a hungry wolf. Francis brokered a deal between the two parties in conflict by recognizing that with communication they could find common ground. In San Francisco's Tenderloin and Mission neighborhoods, working poor people live next to desperately poor people and sometimes misunderstandings and conflicts occur. The Gubbio Project is a creative response to this situation—helping housed parishioners and visitors of the church connect with their unhoused neighbors. The Gubbio Project believes that by creating opportunities for these two groups to interact and care for each other's needs, the Tenderloin and Mission neighborhoods will be strengthened.