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Who We are

our mission

Town Bizness exists to bring the necessities of a dignified human life to the unhoused population of Oakland, CA.

These necessities include good food, reliable shelter, clothing, toiletries, bedding, and basic creature comforts such as, safe propane stoves and heaters, radios, and more, depending on each client’s needs.


Respect, dignity, humanity

But that’s not all. Fundamental to our work is the bedrock conviction that every human—and especially the most vulnerable among us—deserves to be treated with respect, dignity, humanity, and loving kindness. 

We meet our clients—our houseless family, as we prefer to call them—where and how they are, without judgment. We build mutual trust over the course of weeks and months. This is not easy work. Some of them suffer from mental illness or substance use disorder. All of them are disillusioned by false promises, traumatized by their experience of living on the streets, and demoralized from being rejected, ignored, and dehumanized by society. Few of them are willing to trust outsiders. They are all too familiar with transient do-gooders who cannot see them as full humans, but only as a means of confirming their own virtue. 

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From elderly military veterans who’ve been unhoused for decades, to young drug addicts for whom being unhoused is a new and terrifying reality, to ordinary people thrust into extreme poverty by economic bad luck, we approach each and every one as an individual. We don’t give them what we think they need and demand gratitude. Instead we ask them what they need, what would bring them comfort, what would make their lives more bearable. And, with the help of our generous donors, we bring them those things.

The goal is to provide relief, humanization, and a connection to benefits and services to escape their circumstances. 

and it's working. 

Our History

Town Bizness was founded by Signe Nielsen. Following a series of personal misfortunes, Signe went from being a successful business professional to being an unhoused addict living rough on the streets of the Bay Area. Over time, with loving, supportive, nonjudgmental help, she was able to escape those circumstances, recover from her addiction, get clean, and rebuild her life.

While on the streets, Signe learned what it is to be cold, hungry, and ignored and dehumanized by society. She also saw first-hand how racism complicated the problems of unhoused people of color. These experiences fueled her passion for justice and her desire to help others achieve some measure of dignity and justice.

Founder Signe with Town Bizness volunteer, Rayvell 


Signe began by volunteering for a local church serving meals to the unhoused community. But she soon grew frustrated as she saw how great her clients’ needs were and how meager the help she could provide delivering a single meal each week. 

Mike was one of her clients. He was 72 years old and barely able to communicate, living on the median of a freeway off-ramp. In the dead of winter, he had no shoes, and his feet were filthy and painful. He wore an unusual size. On an impulse, Signe posted to Facebook asking her friends for help buying shoes for Mike. In minutes, dozens of people were offering to help. This was the seed from which Town Bizness was born.

Nonprofit status

Signe began doing the work that still consumes many of her days. She visited unhoused people on sidewalks and in camps, spent time with them, earned their trust, learned their needs. 

She began to maintain a wishlist on, and asked her followers to purchase those items and send them to her. Scores of her supporters responded, and continue to do so. Some contribute a lot, others of more modest means contribute what they can. Everything helps.

Over time the operation grew, and Signe was able to recruit both volunteer and paid help, often from among her unhoused clients and those who had successfully escaped houselessness and wanted to help others do the same.

Growing numbers of her friends and supporters urged her to establish a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation in order to open up new sources of funding, grants, and corporate matching donations. In early 2023, she completed the necessary paperwork and registered Town Bizness as a new, IRS-recognized charitable organization.

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