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Downtown SLO Partners with City and CAPSLO to Provide Additional Homeless Outreach in Downtown San Luis Obispo

City of San Luis Obispo Provides Matching Grant to Launch Program

Downtown SLO, CAPSLO, City logos

San Luis Obispo, CA— Like all cities, large and small, San Luis Obispo has been affected by the homelessness crisis in California. According to the Homeless Policy Research Institute, homelessness in California increased by more than 22% over the last decade. Between 2018 and 2019, homelessness in California increased by over 16%.

Downtown SLO, the business association best known for its large-scale events like Thursday Night Farmers’ Market and Concerts in the Plaza, works closely with its member businesses to assess the needs of customers and visitors to the downtown. In early 2020, a survey of business owners, property owners and visitors to downtown identified the need to provide solutions for the challenges that accompany increased homelessness. Programs such as the City’s Community Action Team, which embeds a social worker with police for calls for service, have had success, but this program responds to needs across the entire City, not just Downtown.

“Since the shutdown in March, and as we move through recovery, this issue has become more prevalent,” said Bettina Swigger, CEO of Downtown SLO. “If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we must work together, and so we looked to an organization that does so much good already in the community, and we said, ‘how can we partner?’”

Downtown SLO identified CAPSLO, the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County which has been San Luis Obispo County’s federally designated community action agency since 1965. In 2018, they opened the doors of 40 Prado, a unique, state-of- the-art shelter. Swigger and CAPSLO Deputy Director Grace McIntosh serve on the County’s Homeless Services Oversight Council together.

“We at CAPSLO are thrilled to partner with the City and Downtown SLO as we work to assist those in need to help them move towards greater self-sufficiency,” said Grace McIntosh, Deputy Director, CAPSLO. “Oftentimes addressing the needs of homeless individuals and families is a complex issue that can be overwhelming without support. Our Outreach Workers not only help individuals connect to services, but they stay with them through the process to ensure success. So many individuals can fall between the cracks in services without that help.”

The City of San Luis Obispo is providing grant funding in the amount of $30,000 for Downtown SLO to partner with CAPSLO’s professional homeless outreach workers to provide 20 hours of weekly service specifically in the Downtown Business Improvement Area. The professional outreach worker will take a person-centric approach, seeking to understand and address people’s individual needs and connect them to the right resources. This kind of outreach is intended to bridge the gap between those experiencing homelessness and their support system and can often lead to permanent housing and family reunification. This funding will also support a new Social Enterprise program to be launched in early 2021 to provide job training through supplemental Downtown cleaning activities performed by individuals currently or recently experiencing homelessness.

The City of San Luis Obispo saw a compelling need for the program, and also believes in the value of public-private partnerships in helping to address community-based issues. “We are happy to be able to partner with Downtown SLO to be responsive to the business and community needs on this complex issue,” City Manager Derek Johnson said. “This is an important step in investing in additional outreach and a social enterprise and work development program that we hope can continue to grow. Helping people towards self-sufficiency is a critical step to break the cycle of homelessness.”

The City is also providing financial support for additional ambassador hours in the Downtown through Downtown SLO’s proven

Clean and Safe Ambassador program. The City’s total one-year grant to Downtown SLO includes a 50% matching grant challenge of

$28,750. If individuals or corporations are interested in making tax-deductible donations to support this program, they may be made through the Friends of Downtown SLO, a 501c3 charitable nonprofit.

About CAPSLO: Since 1989, CAPSLO’s Homeless Services programs have aimed to help homeless individuals and families achieve economic stability and address obstacles to successful permanent housing. CAPSLO Homeless Services provide homeless individuals with connections to support that meet a variety of challenges. Services are designed to empower clientele to address barriers to accomplishing goals, which lead to maintaining safe, affordable housing.

About Downtown SLO: Downtown SLO is a nonprofit founded in 1975 whose mission is to foster an economically vibrant Downtown. Downtown SLO serves the community by working on initiatives like parking and beautification efforts, coordinating special events and the weekly Farmers’ Market, supporting economic activities and examining Downtown issues. For more information, please visit our website at