Written by Julianne Foster
When San Diego News Desk covered the Hotel-to-Homes plan in May, the San Diego Housing Commission’s (SDHC) proposed budget for the fiscal year included $29 million. However, funds have clearly exceeded this amount, and after six months of evaluating different hotels, they announced the purchase of the Residence Inns in Mission Valley and Kearny Mesa for $106.5 million.
According to Scott Marshall of the SDHC, funding for the project is provided by city, county, and state funds. The purchase will go through if the San Diego City Council approves it in October, giving them the chance to have the rooms available by December.
“This is not temporary shelter.” said Marshall, “They are permanent homes that will provide them a path out of the shelter and off the streets.”
Operation Shelter to Home took place amid the COVID-19 pandemic to try and find housing for the homeless temporarily staying at the San Diego Convention Center due to COVID-19. They are meant to use the funds and purchased hotels to turn their rooms into 332 affordable apartments for the homeless.
In May, the SDHC was struggling to find adequate hotels that passed their due diligence evaluations of the properties. In total, 29 sites were considered before the Residence Inns caught their attention. “They were operating as hotels and in good condition,” Marshall added. “They didn’t require a lot of work for people to move in.”
The city is going beyond their provisions of permanent shelter for the homeless as they will provide federal housing vouchers to assist the new residents with rent and offer them health care, life skills training, and employment assistance. These things are meant to not only give the homeless an opportunity to get off the streets, but also the chance to turn their life around and jump back into the working class of society to eventually support themselves.
The main concerns with this project are the lack of confidence in the city’s ability to properly manage funds, as well as the risk of neighboring hotels and motels possibly losing business. Tourists may be concerned about coming to an area where there are a lot of former homeless people, including many recovering addicts. The city has to figure out how to address both of these challenges if the program is going to prove successful.