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SLO foundation seeks donations for new homeless services center

An architectural rendering of a new Homeless Services Center planned for San Luis Obispo
An architectural rendering of a new Homeless Services Center planned for San Luis Obispo

Over the past few months, hundreds of thousands of dollars have flowed into a community effort to raise $4 million to build a new Homeless Services Center in San Luis Obispo.

“There’s been so much support for it,” said John Spatafore, board president of the Homeless Foundation of San Luis Obispo County, which is raising money for the project at 40 Prado Road. “It’s the community that’s made such a difference for this. It’s very much the right thing.”

The Homeless Foundation, which has been quietly raising money for months, still needs to bring in about $1.2 million to $1.3 million to fully fund construction of the 20,000-square-foot, single-story facility.

The foundation still plans to launch a public campaign, likely in late November, Spatafore said.

The new center will consolidate homelessness services in San Luis Obispo and double the number of beds available in the city, replacing the Prado Day Center and the 49-bed Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter.

The city of San Luis Obispo is expected to issue a building permit in two to four weeks, with construction anticipated to start next spring, said Jim Famalette, chief operating officer for the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, which will operate the center.

The Homeless Services Center is expected to open in 2017, “or before the holidays of 2016, I hope,” he said.

The total cost of the center is estimated at $4.5 million, including about $500,000 for costs such as engineering and soil studies that have already been funded, Famalette said.

In-kind donations, such as equipment or materials, or possible fee waivers from public agencies, could also lower the amount of money needed.

Any additional money raised beyond what it takes to build the center will go into an endowment fund to pay for future operations.

Some community members have given or pledged significant donations toward the project, according to a list provided by the Homeless Foundation. Donors can pledge money toward specific parts of the project, such as the dining hall, family dorms, intake area and pet kennel area.

“We don’t have anyone for the building yet, so if you know someone …,” Spatafore said, referring to the $750,000 gift opportunity to name the entire facility.

Plans include a single-story building with a kitchen, laundry facilities, showers, lockers and storage, a classroom for children and community rooms. Separate dorms for men, women and families will be built, with space for up to 150 beds if needed.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided, as well as case management, mental health counseling and drug and alcohol services.

“It’s going to be a much better consolidation of the services that are available to these folks at one single site,” said Roy Rawlings, president of Friends of Prado Day Center, which raises funds to support Prado Day Center.

This week, the Prado Day Center board voted to provide $77,000 in donations given a few years ago, when the center was planned for a spot on South Higuera Street toward construction of the facility at 40 Prado Road. The money has been held in a fund at the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation.

Spatafore said the center needs to be built by 2018, when the city of San Luis Obispo will embark on a massive upgrade of its sewage treatment facility on the opposite side of

Prado Road, necessitating the closure of the Prado Day Center.

CAPSLO partnered with the San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority to purchase 9.7 acres at 40 Prado Road for $2.3 million. CAPSLO used a $1 million state Department of Housing and Community Development grant to pay for its $742,500 share of the property.

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Homeless center donors

About a dozen large gifts have been given for specific parts of the new Homeless Services Center. Donors of less than $2,500 can sponsor the purchase of computer stations, children’s play equipment, washers and dryers, desks and chair sets, dining tables and chairs, and trees, benches and other landscaping.

More information here.

The following donors have given gifts to specific facility needs.

Kitchen: Forbes family, $250,000

Overnight dorms/restrooms: Anonymous donor who wants name recognition to go to Interfaith Coalition for the Homeless, $250,000

Day-use showers/restrooms: Roy and Linda Rawlings, $100,000

Entry foyer: John and Deborah Spatafore, $100,000

Large conference room: Lou Robinson, $75,000

Laundry room: Diane and Craig Foch, in memory of Nancy Coker, $75,000

Intake area: Anneka Scranton, $25,000

Kitchen equipment: Biz and Howard Steinberg, $25,000

Children’s play area: Lee and Allyn Arnold, $25,000

Community garden: Barbara Bell, $25,000

Small conference room: Brian and Jeri Roberts, $15,000

Storage rooms: Katie Lichtig and Mark Loranger, $15,000

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