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San Luis Obispo Community Celebrates Grand Opening of Bishop Street Studios

Refurbished Sunny Acres Building Opens its Doors to 33 Adults Living with Mental Illness

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – November 19, 2019 – With community partners, local officials, and the development’s first residents, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco celebrated the grand opening of Bishop Street Studios on November 14, 2019. Bishop Street Studios is a visionary supportive housing project offering 33 new studio apartments to low-income adults with behavioral health needs in San Luis Obispo. FHLBank San Francisco is among the many funders for this vital project, contributing a $660,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant delivered through Bank member Pacific Premier Bank.

Eight years in the making, Bishop Street Studios is a collaboration between Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA) and the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo (HASLO). In the long-abandoned Sunny Acres building, which was once an orphanage, TMHA and HASLO saw an opportunity to preserve the unique character of the building by giving it a new purpose that echoed its past use as a shelter for the community’s most vulnerable. The two agencies renovated the historic building and constructed three new buildings designed to complement the original William Mooser Company building. The result is 33 modern affordable units in a beautiful historical setting.

The grand opening celebration invited community members to tour the refurbished orphanage and other building with some of the new residents. “The turnout exceeded our wildest dreams. We had between three and four hundred folks who came to celebrate this great community achievement,” said Michael Kaplan, TMHA Community Engagement Director. “Among them was a woman who had been a resident of the original orphanage in the 1930’s. She said she wanted to “come home.” It was a great day, and we were delighted to have the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco so well represented.” 

FHLBank San Francisco Senior Vice President, Public Affairs (third from left) celebrated the grand opening of Bishop Street Studios with TMHA, HASLO, local officials, other funders, and the community.

FHLBank San Francisco Senior Vice President Dwight Alexander spoke to the assembled project partners and community members. “Together, you’ve taken a derelict building once used for housing orphans and juveniles and created a magnificent home for those suffering with mental health issues,” he said. “I hope this project serves as a model and precedent for other organizations around the country seeking housing solutions for vulnerable populations.”  

Bishop Street Studios is conveniently located for its residents, within easy walking distance of San Luis Obispo County Behavioral Health facilities, as well as public transportation. It is also close to the Growing Grounds Farm and to Growing Grounds Downtown, two social enterprise businesses run by TMHA. The Growing Grounds programs offer a ground floor opportunity for adults with mental illness to reenter the work force and receive vocational training that can help them find employment in the greater community.

In addition to the AHP grant from FHLBank San Francisco delivered through Pacific Premier Bank, Bishop Street Studios funding partners include: Aetna, a CVS Health Company; Red Stone Equity Partners, LLC; the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; San Luis Obispo Nonprofit Housing Corporation; Ten Over Studio; J.W. Design & Construction; and the City and County of San Luis Obispo.  

Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco

The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco is a member-driven cooperative helping local lenders in Arizona, California, and Nevada build strong communities, create opportunity, and change lives for the better. The tools and resources we provide to our member financial institutions–commercial banks, credit unions, industrial loan companies, savings institutions, insurance companies, and community development financial institutions–foster homeownership, expand access to quality housing, seed or sustain small businesses, and revitalize whole neighborhoods. Together with our members and other partners, we are making the communities we serve more vibrant and resilient.


Kevin Blackburn, 510-377-8999