SLO’s new homeless center needs your help

Thanks to remarkable generosity on the part of several local families, the goal of raising $4.5 million for a new homeless services center at 40 Prado Road is well within reach.

The nonprofit Homeless Foundation of San Luis Obispo County has been quietly working behind the scenes to secure large donations. It’s done an excellent job. As reported in Sunday’s Tribune, several donors have stepped up to pay for specific parts of the facility; one offered $250,000 for the kitchen, and another put up $250,000 for dorms and restrooms. That’s incredible.

It’s also a relief to see the project progress to this point, given its history. The homeless services center was first proposed for county-owned land on South Higuera Street, but that plan was dropped after owners of several businesses in the area complained it was not a good location. Business leaders did, however, get behind the 40 Prado Road site, and the stalled project was able to proceed.

Now, the push is on to raise the remaining $1.3 million needed to build the 100-bed shelter, which will replace the decrepit Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter and the Prado Day Center. The facility will provide several services — including case management, mental health counseling, and drug and alcohol services — under one roof.

The Homeless Foundation plans to launch a public fundraising campaign, possibly in late November. We look forward to it. We aren’t all in a financial position to donate tens of thousands of dollars, much as we might like to do so. But we suspect there are scores of SLO County residents — including many who may have been homeless or close to it — who are behind this project and want to help as much as they can.

We recognize that a shelter won’t end homelessness. But it will provide warm beds, healthy meals and a place to wash clothes and shower, and it will link clients to the case management services they need to succeed.

We urge all who are able to donate to help the community reach this goal. If you like, you can designate your donation for a particular purpose, such as children’s play equipment, indoor furniture, washers and dryers, trees and benches. Any money raised above the amount needed for the shelter will go into an endowment fund for future operations.

That’s good to know; the physical building is important, but it’s the encouragement and support services the shelter offers that will make a real difference in people’s lives.

Want to help?

For information, go to http://40prado.org.

Or send donations to Homeless Foundation of SLO County, P.O. Box 1233, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.