By Lauren Farrauto

Local officials and area dignitaries participated in the official groundbreaking ceremony on April 13 of the Vineyard 2.0 project in Livermore. From left: Wilson Vang of Chase Bank, Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert, Dublin Mayor Melissa Hernandez, Livermore City Councilmember Bob Carling, Livermore Vice Mayor Gina Bonanno, Livermore City Councilmember Trish Munro and Darin Lounds, Housing Consortium of the East Bay executive director.

The City of Livermore and its development team broke ground last week on the Housing Consortium of the East Bay’s (HCEB) new site — Vineyard 2.0.

“This visioning process for Vineyard started about seven years ago in conversations with community-based and faith groups who’ve been serving our homeless neighbors for years,” said Darin Lounds, HCEB executive director, and master of ceremonies for the event.

As the head of HCEB, which is dedicated to addressing the shortage of affordable housing options for people in need, Lounds led the effort to make Vineyard 2.0 a reality in Livermore. He went on to express gratitude for the project’s partners, especially Open Heart Kitchen (OHK), a nonprofit that provides hot meals to hungry people in need in the Tri-Valley.

“Vineyard 2.0 will help provide critical services to people who are seeking stability in their lives,” said Denise Bridges, OHK development director. “Our goal for this project is to serve more than just a meal to our clients; it will allow Open Heart Kitchen to connect our clients to other community agencies and resources.”

The site will offer 24 supportive housing units for the homeless, a resource center, a large dining room that can convert to an overnight shelter, and a kitchen designed specifically for OHK’s use. In addition, the resource center building has offices that can be used to host the Livermore Homeless Refuge and other community-serving programs providing health care information, social services and housing referrals.

The project will also offer a central laundry area and semi-private outdoor open spaces, along with services, such as monthly tenant meetings, healthy living classes and groups, and financial education.

Capital Campaign Committee Chair and OHK Board Member Janette Pace, who spoke during the ceremony, said Vineyard 2.0 will have an immediate impact on the families and individuals who live nearby.

“We used to serve hot meals at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship Church located on this property, but a fire in 2017 destroyed the meal service area and kitchen,” Pace continued. “We anticipate that families and individuals who used to use our services there will return.”

HCEB and OHK aim to serve community members like Tri-Valley seniors, families, the working poor, unemployed/underemployed, veterans and individuals experiencing homelessness. They also will provide access to services for English language learners, neighbors from the surrounding area that are socioeconomically disadvantaged, and individuals with transportation barriers due to disabilities or economic circumstances.

Present at the ceremony were the project’s major supporters, including Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert; Livermore Vice Mayor Gina Bonanno and Councilmembers Bob Carling and Trish Munro; Dublin Mayor Melissa Hernandez; and Pleasanton Councilmember Julie Testa.

Pace continued to note that the event was a historic day for OHK’s service in the Tri-Valley.

“Since 2020, the number of meals served has increased from 542,000 to over 2 million,” she continued. “Open Heart Kitchen is now poised to move into the future with this new flagship kitchen.”

The team hopes to complete the project by summer 2023.

Source: The Independent, April 20, 2022