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Caritas Village housing project in Santa Rosa secures $1 million from county vintners

A $1 million gift by the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation is the latest sign of progress for the roughly $120 million Caritas Village, a combination housing and homeless shelter project slated for the northwest corner of downtown Santa Rosa.

The gift, announced last week, brings a fundraising campaign for the project, a joint effort of Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa and Burbank Housing, slightly closer to its $28 million goal. Public funds, such as tax credits and grants, are also eyed to help pay for the ambitious 46,000-square-foot project. It would include shelter space for 210 homeless people and 126 apartments for low-income renters.

“We are humbled to be able to help support a solution for those in need within our county,” said Michael Haney, executive director of the vintners’ foundation. “We could not have done this without the contributions of our wine community and generous donors.”

City Council approved the project in a whirlwind of back-to-back meetings earlier this year, including a unanimous key vote in a meeting held on Election Day in March. City staff had fast-tracked the project because it aligned with previous council goals to foster downtown housing, affordable housing and a bolstered response to homelessness.

Caritas Village would require the demolition of several century-old buildings, transforming an entire block in the southernmost sector of the historic St. Rose neighborhood on the north side of the Santa Rosa Plaza mall. Construction was tentatively set to begin early next year when City Council gave its blessing, though that schedule was contingent on funding.

Catholic Charities, the main homeless services provider in Sonoma County, already operates a shelter and drop-in center on the site.

Catholic Charities’ fundraising proceeds will go toward Caritas Center, the homeless services-oriented side of the project, which is estimated to cost $45 million. The apartments, dubbed Caritas Homes, is estimated to cost $75 million, and that side of the project is being managed by Burbank Housing.

With $1 million from the vintners, Catholic Charities is now at almost $24 million of its $28 million capital campaign goal, said Len Marabella, the chief executive officer.

The nonprofit had planned an investors’ briefing in late August via Zoom, but that had to be canceled due to the lightning-sparked fires that broke out last month, Marabella said.

“Instead we were able to have one-on-one conversations with many of the investors to share the good news about the campaign, and our entitlement status, and our project progress,” Marabella said in a statement.

You can reach Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or will.schmitt@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @wsreports.

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