Charitable project kicks off

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Some young people leaving the foster care system and adults battling addictions will have new apartments to call home when the Salvation Army completes its largest project ever in San Francisco.

Mayor Gavin Newsom was on hand Wednesday morning to kick off construction of the $53 million project that includes a community center slated to feature a swimming pool, climbing wall and dance studio.

“There are 3,580 kids under

18 who live in a five-block area,” said Major Joe Posillico, commander for the Salvation Army’s Golden

State Division.

Hannah Banta,a 14-year old who lives next door to the construction site, said many of her friends have already gotten involved with drugs and gangs.

“We don’t have a place that’s safe,” she said. “I hope people will be less out on the streets [when it’s built].”

Construction of the 135,380-square-foot building is expected to take about two and a half years, officials said. A single-room-occupancy hotel once stood in the same location but has been torn down to make way for the new facility.

The apartments — 27 units for 18- to 24-year-olds graduating from foster care and 83 for adults recovering from addictions — will cater to people earning less than $27,720 a year. Residents don’t have to be homeless to qualify.

The housing for former foster children is transitional, while about half of the units for those coping with addictions will be permanent. Applicants must complete a drug recovery program to qualify for units for residents dealing with substance abuse, Posillico said.

Teens leaving the foster care system need the basics, such as food and shelter to help get on their feet, said Christi Rossi of Larkin Street Youth Services, which helps homeless young people get off the street.

More than half of the project’s funding comes from the estate of Joan Kroc, the late wife of McDonald’s Corporation founder Ray Kroc.

The Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center is the first of its kind following Kroc’s estate of $1.5 billion donation to the Salvation Army for the construction of community centers across the country.

In addition to the $27 million from the estate of Joan Kroc, federal money accounts for $13.2 million, while the state is pitching in about $7 million. The Salvation Army is funding the rest through donations.

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