Local leaders and champions of the long-awaited 40 Prado Homeless Services Center celebrated the completion of San Luis Obispo’s new facility, a project that has been discussed for more than 20 years.
The $5.7 million center is on track to open in early October with the finishing touches of furniture, fixtures and equipment still waiting to be installed.
“Once the center is completely ready to go, we want to start serving people as quickly as possible,” said Jim Famalette, the chief operating officer of Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, which will oversee operations. “We don’t want to wait a single day to open our doors.”
A benefit of the new facility, Famalette said, is that it will provide many services in one place, offering beds for up to 150 people, including separate sleeping rooms for men, women, families and those with fragile medication conditions.
Other amenities include 14 animal kennels, 50 bike parking spaces, 86 car parking spots, a commercial kitchen and commercial laundry room where clients can wash their clothes for free.
The 20,000-square foot facility, located on a 3-acre property on Prado Road, is designed for specific daytime services as well as nighttime shelter in a separate wing of the building.
It will make efficient use of the space, Famalette said, consolidating the services of the Maxine Lewis Shelter and Prado Day Center in one location.
The facility has spaces for Community Health Center exam rooms, a computer room to help people look for jobs, and areas for mental health, drug and alcohol, and veteran services.
“One of the challenges for families in particular is that people would have to get across town to transition between daytime and nighttime services at Prado and Maxine Lewis,” Famalette said. “Literally, mothers were pushing strollers to walk across town. Now, it’s all in one place.”
Several local politicians spoke at Monday’s ceremony, including Congressman Salud Carbajal, county Supervisor Debbie Arnold, SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon and SLO Vice Mayor Carlyn Christianson, along with representatives from the offices of Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham and Sen. Bill Monning.
“With the growing price of housing, many of us are just a paycheck away from being homeless,” Carbajal said. “So, today it is such a great accomplishment to bring together the resources in the community to be able to provide that stability and the type of services needed to help people get by.”
Arnold said that she is happy to see the culmination of hard work come to fruition.
“This project has seen ups and downs, and it took a lot of hard work to find a site,” Arnold said. “But we saw two agencies, RTA (Regional Transit Authority) and CAPSLO, come together to find benefits for both. This entire 9-acre property is just part of what’s to come, and on the other side there will one day be a new (RTA) maintenance yard and bus system.”
Community donations contributed to more than 80 percent of the funding for the new 40 Prado center, and a group of about 100 political, nonprofit, community and business advocates collaborated to make the center a reality.
The center likely will offer nighttime services for a couple of weeks before offering the full range of daytime services as the staff gets adjusted to the new operations, coordinators said.
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