The Homeless Architect firm knows what works because we have helped over 100 Rescue Ministry projects across the US, Canada, and Jamaica. We have the experience you need in putting together a Case for Support, getting the Board on board, and adapting the design of each facility to your community.

We understand the unique needs of Rescue Ministries having served on the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission Board of Directors for 10 years, Chairman of the Board for 2 years, Business Administrator/Executive Director for 2 years and on CityGate Network Board for 7 years. Brian Nelson is the co-founder of the Maui Rescue Mission and Chairman of the Board of 3 Rescue Missions.

We take great pride in our nickname, “The Homeless Architect” having spent the last 35 years responding to the non-profit sector’s need for high quality architectural design and consulting.


We specialize in Rescue Ministry Architectural Design

  • Site Master Planning and Analysis
  • Architectural Design
  • Functional Spanning and Allocations
  • Presentations to Boards of Directors and Agencies
  • Capital Campaign Explanation and Guidance
  • Capital Campaign Graphics
  • Zoning and Planning Analysis and Agency Guidance
  • Special Use Permits * Consultant/Coordinator for Grants
  • Project Management through Design Process

More about the services we provide We work on all types of Rescue Mission projects. Some requests are for remodels or expansions; while others are built from scratch. Some require purchasing a piece of land; while others use existing property and remodel of current facilities. We are available for consultation and advice at every step from concept through Design Process.

Our goal is to get you the very best facilities and the highest return on your investment. Because we have worked with so many ministries, we are able to be very efficient with our time saving you money and frustration.

We will also guide you in applying for grants on a national basis and design materials to graphically state your case.


Marcia and Brian live on a 10 acre horse ranch in
the Santa Ynez Valley, near Santa Barbara, California.
They have been married since 1972.

Marcia’s business, Horseman’s Hangout, is a rider and horse training business.They have 2 sons, a granddaughter and grandson.

Sadot and Maritza have been married since 2005.
They have two kids, Adarie and Alex.

Sadot has been a volunteer counselor for the Salvation Army’s, Men’s Adult Rehabilitation Center, since 2002.
A ministry that has transformed the life of many men, including himself.



Initial Consultation

We typically make a 3 day trip to gather a wide array of information and offer consultation on issues such as zoning, real estate options and fundraising. We will “ask you a thousand questions” and leave you with an Executive Summary and Next Steps Outline.

Case for Support

We will guide you in complying of all the data like the size of the ministry, number of beds, parking requirements, number of volunteers and any special needs for your community.This helps ensure that the appropriate size piece of property or project is selected.

Conceptual Design

We will produce a colored site plan, floor plans, and exterior color renderings for use in the capital campaign and for your presentation to donors. We design facilities to help get you the most points towards grants by stating your case clearly.

Capital Campaigns

There are more private and corporate funds available than ever before. We can guide you to new sources of funding that can cover 40-45% of your project. We will offer your Board explanation and guidance through the process as well as produce graphics for brochures.


Specializing in Rescue Ministry Written Programming

The first step in planning a facility is a written program. The program is based on the NEEDS in the community (not necessarily just what the Rescue Mission is led to provide).

We tell the staff that we will be “asking them a thousand questions” in order to analyze which of the community needs will be met by the Rescue Mission and what is the Mission’s role and commitment to meet those needs.

We then calculate the square footage needed based on the program including the building, parking demands, site amenities, zoning constraints, etc.

Specializing in Rescue Ministry Architectural Design

We begin with the site plan, which includes zoning requirements and parking demand. Then we create a conceptual design with the floor plans to meet the programming needs.

We work with a local architect to be assured that plans meet the local design criteria.

We are the only architect firm who specializes in functional design for all types of Rescue Ministries.

Specializing in Rescue Ministry Capital Campaign Guidance

Based on the conceptual design, we work with the local architect and/or local contractor to establish a construction budget.

After adding the costs associated with conducting the Capital Campaign, we help guide the Rescue Mission in choosing a Capital Campaign consultant and educate the staff and the Board of Directors on their roles and responsibilities.

We create a “Next Steps” outline including tasks, who is responsible for each step, and establish a Time Line to complete those tasks/steps.

“It has been and continues to be a pleasure to work with The Homeless Architect and Brian Nelson on our recent Capital Campaign.

They presents themselves in a professional manner and communicate well with both our Board and our Staff. Their ideas and drawings of those ideas are exceptional!”

Jim Kizer

Executive Director, Great Falls Rescue Mission

Specialty Presentations to the Board of Directors and Agencies

A community-wide Rescue Mission campaign is not like a church or Christian school campaign. It is a Community Campaign for the least, the last, and the lost.

Most Board members have not been involved in such a campaign. Public agencies and planning commission meetings can be filled with misguided emotions. We have extensive experience in both arenas and have helped Boards understand their roles.

Together, we can turn community nay sayers into believers in our cause.

“Brian is a specialized architect who pays attention to the details. When you work with Brian, you not only work on the building, but the services and operations of the facility as well. Brian designs to fit the needs of the mission and the clients.

He considers all the functions of the buildings and gets into the details of the operations. That way he can design a building that allows services to flow. He asks the hard questions and makes his clients consider why we do certain functions.

Brian’s value is not just in his design work, but in many other specialties he brings to the table.”

Paul Spence

Vice President of Development, City Gospel Mission


Q: Should we hire a local architect? Don’t they all know how to design a Rescue Mission?

A: Yes, you need a local architect, but also need an expert in Rescue Mission design. We like to use the analogy of taking your Mercedes into a VW mechanic to be worked on: they ask, aren’t they both cars, with an engine, doors, windows, a transmission, carburetor…? Yes, but the VW mechanic doesn’t have the expertise, tools, parts, and specific knowledge to do the best job for you. The same goes for a Rescue Mission design: it is not a church, a home, an apartment, a commercial building…! Yes it has walls, doors, windows, offices, a chapel, dorms, etc., but how it functions is different than all those other types of buildings. With our expertise and background in the design phase, and working in conjunction with a local architect, you will get the very best facilities and the highest return on your investment.

Q: Won’t it cost more to have you come and design our facility and hire a local architect?

A: No! In the long run, it will save you money, plus time and frustration. Because we have worked with so many ministries, we are able to be so efficient with my time and fees, that even after combining my fees with the local architects, you will actually end up paying less; in the long run, the fees for architecture is a very, very small portion of the overall costs.

Q: We have a local architect who will donate his services Shouldn’t we just use him?

A: See the first question. Also, it will probably cost more in the long run due to their lack of experience and the facilities will not function as well. It might be like you living in a house for a long time that you really don’t like how it works for your family, but you will make do because it costs less.

Q: What specific experience do you have in Rescue Ministry?

A: We understand the unique needs of Rescue Ministries having spent over 35 years responding to the non-profit sector’s need for high quality architectural design and consulting.

We have worked with over 90 Ministries across the US, Canada, and Jamaica. We have served as Chairman of the Board for 3 Rescue Missions, the Executive Director of Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, on the Board of Citygate Network for 7 years and co-founder of 2 Rescue Missions. We have conducted many Board/Task Force retreats, lead meetings and motivational seminars for RM staff.

Q: What do you typically do on your first visit and what will we have in our hands to use after you leave?

A: We like to say, “We will ask a thousand questions” of you, your staff, and the Board, and then we will write an executive summary which usually includes estimated square foot numbers and acreage required for any new/expanded facilities, a review of your budget and expected capital campaign amount, and I will write a “Next Steps” outline for tasks to be performed with projected dates for completion and who will complete each item. Plus we conduct a bi-weekly conference call that includes all the team players.

Q: What is the next step after your first visit?

A: The conceptual design (We actually get to put on our architect’s hats) which includes a colored site plan, floor plans and exterior color renderings for use in a capital campaign and for presentations to your donors. We will also guide you in applying for grants on a national basis. We will design the facilities to help get you those grants by presenting your case clearly and graphically.

Q: My question to you is …

How can God use us and what He has taught us to help your ministry? ………….

More questions? Contact The Homeless Architect firm


PO Box 1897 Santa Ynez, CA 93460

Cell: 805.895.9011



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