The study lounge and computers were set up and the kitchen stocked as the first set of young residents moved this past week into the long-awaited Dream Center, the newly opened Santa Rosa housing site for at-risk youth.
While it still needs to put some finishing touches, local nonprofit Social Advocates for Youth welcomed on Monday four 18- to 21-year-olds into their new apartments at the center, once Bennett Valley’s Warrack Hospital. Sutter Health donated the Summerfield Road site for youth housing.
Four young tenants settled in last week and more are expected to move into the center in the next two months, said Caitlin Childs, SAY’s communication manager.
“There was a kid in there (earlier) making toaster strudel,” Childs said Friday.
Another one was drinking tea and watching television, she said. The youths remain in the foster care system and due to confidentiality rules little else can be shared about them, Childs said.
The center faced fierce opposition from some Bennett Valley residents who feared it would bring troubled youth into their neighborhood. It has 27 long-term apartments, five of which are studios with kitchenettes and accessible bathrooms. Tenants will have access to a laundry room, full kitchen, dining area, computer lab and a television and entertainment hub.
“We have a waitlist of kids who are ready to move in with us,” Childs said. “They’re filling out applications and meeting with staff right now.”
Construction was completed in mid-December, two months after SAY reached its $9.5 million fundraising goal for the project. Officials, who moved into new offices on the northern side of the facility, plan to eventually offer 63 short- and long-term units for 18- to 24-year-olds previously in foster care or at risk of homelessness.