FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Fresno Mission’s City Center promises to be Fresno’s most innovative homeless shelter that aims to house dozens of families and vulnerable youth. 

It’s located right on Dakota east of Blackstone, however, it might look different than any shelter ever seen before.

The CEO of the Fresno Mission says that’s exactly the point, as they want to provide a unique experience that keeps dignity intact. 

“We have a mental healthcare clinic, we have a housing clinic, a job placement clinic, we have a coffee shop, a dining hall, a conference center, office space for more than 20 organizations, a special hub for vulnerable youth dealing with human trafficking or foster care. We have a barbershop,” said Matthew Dildine, CEO of the Fresno Mission.

Additionally, he says upon completion City Center will provide 73 rooms for families and vulnerable kids in need.

And that’s not all, the shelter already has a functioning free grocery store, an indoor playground, and a kids area, with sports recreation areas on the way.

Also, with the help of a $1.5 million dollar donation Monday, the shelter will add a new state-of-the-art playground that features City Center’s 14-foot-tall 30-foot-wide children’s program mascot Georgie the Dinosaur.

Dildine says the shelter and resource center wants to create an experience for homeless kids and families like no other.

“We really started with this question, ‘What does the front door for crisis look like? If you had to walk in in your darkest moment, what should that look like?’ and so here, we really tried to build that type of environment. It wasn’t just the nicest place for a homeless mother to go. It was the nicest place for any mother to go,” he said.

Dildine also says the building and services aren’t the only difference between them and a typical homeless shelter.

He says he would prefer people and families stay longer and leave when they’re ready, even if it takes months.

“When we look at a person that has the world crashing down on them, the last thing we want to do is to rush them out,” said Dildine. “We would rather somebody stay with us four, five, six, seven, eight months, where we can wrap them in love, we can wrap them in services, and we can really provide them a series of inputs that puts them on a pathway to healthy and sustainable living.”

Dildine says the mission is hoping to hold the grand opening for City Center in June 2024.