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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ charitable fund awards Catholic Charities in Santa Rosa $5 million for homeless families

A charitable fund created by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos has awarded Catholic Charities in Santa Rosa a $5 million grant to shelter local homeless families, the nonprofit announced Wednesday.

The money will help operate a planned family shelter at Caritas Center, a 46,000-square-foot homeless housing development under construction at 465 A St. in the historic St. Rose neighborhood.

The shelter would include 192 beds and 40 rooms for local homeless families, as well as child care, an onsite medical clinic and a program to help residents find permanent housing.

Catholic Charities is set to open the site by the middle of next year.

“As the region’s leading homeless services provider, Catholic Charities has been given an enormous opportunity to continue and expand our services to children and families experiencing homelessness. We are so grateful to receive this funding as we are getting ready to open our new Caritas Center,” said Len Marabella, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, in a statement.

The grant is part of $22.5 million in awards the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund is giving to five nonprofits serving homeless people in the Bay Area.

Additionally this week, the nonprofit, in coordination with the city of Santa Rosa, officially began the process of applying for $11.4 million in state funding to help build the shelter.

The money is being made available through Project Homekey, an unprecedented $3.5 billion statewide program that’s so far helped create 95 rooms for homeless people at three former hotels in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.

You can reach Staff Writer Ethan Varian at ethan.varian@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5412. On Twitter @ethanvarian.

Ethan Varian

Housing and homelessness, The Press Democrat 

I've lived in California for most of my life, and it's hard for me to remember when the state hasn't been in a housing crisis. Here in Sonoma County, sharply rising housing costs and increasing homelessness are reshaping what was long considered the Bay Area’s “affordable” region. As The Press Democrat’s housing and homelessness reporter, I aim to cover how officials, advocates, developers and residents are reacting to and experiencing the ongoing crisis.

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