40 Prado is a consolidated center that will provide services to children, families and adults who are temporarily homeless. There will be temporary shelter with separate living quarters for families with children, men, and women. There will be case management coordinating after school programs for children; job training with placement assistance; medical care on a regular basis; and in certain situations, recuperative care for the medically fragile. Construction began earlier this year and completion is anticipated in the summer of 2018.
Why has this happened here when so many communities struggle to provide even basic services?
This happened here because of the compassion and character of our community. Over $3.7 million, approximately 80 percent, of the funds needed for the project came from individual contributions. The remainder came from our city, county and state governments.
Communities throughout California and the rest of the country are struggling to address the many issues related to those who find themselves homeless. We did it. The people of San Luis Obispo County accomplished this because we are committed to addressing this issue, not ignoring it.
40 Prado is unique, not only because of the breadth and depth of its programs, but because it happened at all.
There was, for example, a dinner conversation with a friend of mine who thought this location would be perfect for the consolidated center.
There was the individual who flew, at his own expense, to Phoenix and met with the president of AMERCO, U-Haul’s parent corporation, who held an option to buy the 10-acre plot where the center is now being constructed. After this meeting, U-Haul decided to delay exercising their option to purchase. As a result, the owners of the property offered it to the Regional Transit Authority and Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo for a purchase price $1 million less than the asking price of $3.2 million.
There were the people who met with property owners near 40 Prado and with city and county officials to discuss this project, answer questions and develop a working relationship to further its success.
There were those from Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo who met and developed positive relationships with other nonprofits, Community Health Center and our two local hospitals to create programs that would be critical to providing much-needed services to those families and individuals who would come to 40 Prado and begin the process of achieving stability in their lives.
There were those members of the Homeless Foundation of San Luis Obispo County Board who, through their years of service in the community, developed support for this project throughout the county. Each member of this board has deep and meaningful connections in their respective fields which created instant credibility for this project.
There were countless presentations at our local places of worship, social clubs and civic groups where the reception was always warm and genuine, allowing us to discuss the project, answer questions and solicit support. These opportunities created new and stronger relationships throughout our communities for the community that would be served at 40 Prado.
There was a community outreach plan developed by Barnett Cox and Associates involving local radio stations, KSBY and The Tribune newspaper. Donations spiked when The Tribune wrote supportive editorials and media outlets presented a concerted campaign to promote the project. There is no way to downplay the importance of our local newspaper, television station and multiple radio stations in the success that 40 Prado represents.
The magic of crowdsourcing allowed us to reach countless others beyond our community. A family in Oregon sent a check for $500 because their four children asked them to forgo Christmas presents and donate to this project instead.
Donations of all amounts were made, including a $10 check from a woman in our county who wrote, “I was recently homeless but am now living in my own place. I can only send this small amount, but will send more when I can.” There were countless other examples of this indomitable spirit.
We should all recognize what we have accomplished together and continue working to support the programs and services at 40 Prado.
I am proud to be part of our community and will always cherish the compassion and character we share.
John A. Spatafore is president of the Homeless Foundation of San Luis Obispo County.