"We've been in triage/crisis mode in homelessness, particularly in California, but more so in the Bay Area, managing in place, going from encampment to encampment, and not really like putting the systems in place and putting the programs in place that could actually keep people engaged and get them out of homelessness and into housing," she said.
In addition to 128 apartments, there will be all the things housed people take for granted, and more. Cooking, laundry facilities and showers available to those living in the rough. Job training and placement, safe storage, child care, counseling, privacy, along with workers trying to match people with permanent housing.
With its clean lines, high ceilings and bright, inviting colors, the new center is a mighty contrast to a cramped, century-old hospital down the block that's been used to house survivors of domestic violence.
"Right now we have a really hard time keeping it safe because of the building's flawed designs. We have low windows, people can break into the windows, we don't have line of site all around," Holmes said.
"Instead of nine restrooms for 138 people, there's one restroom for two families. So now it's only two families sharing, versus 10 families sharing one restroom."
The purpose-built new structure is all about practicality and responsiveness. Many homeless people shun big open shelters due to a lack of privacy, quiet and security. At Caritas, those staying overnight will get a semi private roomette. It's part of the dignity Holmes says Catholic Charities wants to restore to the downtrodden.
Adding a real medical clinic and providing treatment before ailments and infections need emergency care is yet another part. It's vastly cheaper for society as a whole to deliver preventative and timely care, than to pick up a hefty ambulance and emergency room tab later.
Set for a soft opening September ninth, the new Caritas drop-in center is scheduled to officially open September 12th.
With workers putting finishing touches on the building, Holmes was still struck by some disbelief.
"When we started in 2015, if you had asked me then if building something like Caritas Village was possible, I probably would have said 'no.' There's so many moments where we thought, it's too complex, there's too many hurdles, too expensive, too many needs that we're trying to meet all in one facility and then, every time, honestly miracles happened."