A construction project aimed at providing housing for the chronically homeless in the community is well underway in downtown Eureka.
The Danco Group is about three months into the construction of a 50-unit three-story building located at the corner of Fourth and B streets in Eureka and, if all goes to plan, the project will be completed by the time the holidays roll around.
“Our goal and our projection is we’re going to open the facility on Christmas Eve,” said Danco president Chris Dart on Tuesday. “Our gift to the community. We may have to change that to Happy New Year, but that’s what we are planning at this stage.”
Dart said the $20 million project is part of the company’s overall strategy of giving back to the community and half the new living spaces will be available to homeless or at-risk veterans. The other half will be for the general homeless population, particularly those with mental illness.
“In general, people were saying that something must be done (about homelessness) and one of the missions of Danco is to improve the community,” Dart said. “It’s one of our five core values and this is about much more than the bottom line. The project costs were higher than anticipated and we’ll be lucky to break even. But we believe it will help solve a lot of problems and help people get into the program and get back on their feet.”
Danco worked closely with the city of Eureka to first find a suitable site for the housing project and later in cooperation to begin the construction process, according to Dart.
Eureka’s Community Development director Rob Holmlund said the completed project will allow for those in need of housing to find a place to live and also take advantage of services offered by the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.
“This is not a city project. We are trying to be as helpful as possible in addressing housing and homelessness,” Holmlund said Tuesday. “It has a really nice architectural design, a nice facade and it will be three stories. This is probably one of the largest buildings constructed in Eureka in decades.”
The facility will feature residential units in groups of seven and there will be space for the Veterans Administration to assist those veterans in need of help along with support staff from DHHS.
The building will have a fully enclosed courtyard and residents will have controlled access.
“All the research we have done shows that housing is really the only solution to homelessness,” Holmlund said. “If we can get them off the streets and into a stable house, we can help them stabilize their lives. We are working really hard to construct housing in Eureka that is available to all income levels and this is a good start for people who have served our country and who now need a stable place to live.”
Holmlund said the project got rolling as the city was searching for locations for such a project. Both he and Dart said they ran into some “not-in-my-backyard” sentiment as they searched for a suitable spot, he said.
Holmlund said the property which was formerly a used car lot, was sold to Danco by the previous owner and it’s situated in a spot in Eureka that not only assists the residents but also keeps it away from those who don’t want it in their neighborhood.
The housing will be across the street from the Veterans Resource Center, it’s along the U.S. Highway 101 corridor, has a bus stop outside the front door and is close to the food bank.
In addition to providing service for veterans, 25 units will be available to the mentally ill who are chronically homeless as well.
DHHS’ Sally Hewitt, a senior program manager, called the project a step in the right direction.
“This project is another positive example of public and private entities working together to help bring more housing to our community,” she said. “We’re proud to be a part of it.”
Dan Squier can be reached at 707-441-0528.