In late 1993, the City of San Luis Obispo took the lead on coordinating an effort to identify a possible alternative location for the Peoples’ Kitchen noon-time feeding program. The commitment was made to work with all parties involved to find a longer term and more acceptable location than the portico at the Old Mission. As a result of these initial efforts, in 1994, the City Council gave conceptual approval to use property on Prado Road, the site of the City’s Corporation Yard. It was originally anticipated that site improvements could be made to the existing gun club with donated labor and materials. Additionally, city staff was directed to work with involved parties to determine the feasibility of including other services for the homeless on the site.
The Peoples’ Kitchen agreed to participate in the project if a more comprehensive program were offered at the site. A working committee was formed with representatives of the Peoples’ Kitchen, the EOC homeless shelter, the Interfaith Coalition for the Homeless, the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Association, providers of homeless services, and City and County staff. This committee was designated as the Homeless Services Center Steering Committee.
The charge to this group was to come up with a viable concept for providing a coordinated approach to the delivery of homeless services in the community. Additionally, it was expected that the group would develop funding sources with little or no impact on the General Funds of the City or County. After reviewing all potential locations, the committee confirmed that the Prado Road location was the best suited for the proposed coordinated program.
Working with the volunteer services of local architect, Chuck Croster, the initial building concepts were developed and preliminary cost estimates were projected. From the start, it was anticipated that construction funding would be a joint responsibility of the City, County and the business community. Government funding would be approved from Community Development Block Grant funds ($100,000 from the City and $50,000 from the County), while the business community would donate labor and materials. A more complicated funding problem was to find money for the ongoing operational program.
Prado Day Center opened in September, 1997, as the result of the collaboration between the entities that made up the Homeless Services Center Steering Committee. An agreement was reached between the Interfaith Coalition for the Homeless and the Economic Opportunity Commission (EOC) of San Luis Obispo (now the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo or CAPSLO) to have the EOC providing management services and staff responsible for the operation of Prado Day Center.
In order to continue and maintain the operation of Prado Day Center, further funds were needed. A steering committee was formed to organize Friends of Prado Day Center to ensure that funds were raised to continue to operate Prado Day Center and meet the needs of the homeless within San Luis Obispo County.
In 2018 Prado Day Center and the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter were combined in the new facility located at 40 Prado Road in San Luis Obispo. The new homeless services center is called 40 Prado. As the two existing facilities transitioned into the new 40 Prado Homeless Services Center, Friends of Prado Day Center became Friends of 40 Prado.
Friends of 40 Prado is a unique collaboration of several diverse community organizations and community members with the common goal of helping the homeless. These local community organizations are:
SLO Chamber of Commerce
SLO Downtown Association
City of San Luis Obispo
SLO County Board of Supervisors
Interfaith Coalition for the Homeless
Dedicated Citizens in the Community
The overall purpose of this collaboration is to provide support funding for operations of 40 Prado, a service center for the homeless and hungry of our community.