Written by Michael Palomba
In a unanimous vote, the San Diego City Council has approved the purchase of two hotels that will be converted into homes for the homeless. Residence Inn Hotel Circle and Residence Inn Kearny Mesa were approved to be purchased for $67 million and $39.5 million, respectively.
Also included in the decision are contracts with on-site support services, Father Joe’s Villages, and People Assisting the Homeless. The services provided will include mental and behavioral health assistance, health care services, substance use services, case management, life skills training, education services, and employment assistance.
San Diego was granted $37.7 million through the state’s Project Homekey, which is a $600 million program that was created to help house homeless Californians during the ongoing pandemic. While the grant does not quite cover half of this latest expenditure, it alleviates the burden on taxpayers by a notable margin.
“By converting these hotels into housing and continuing to navigate folks into other types of long-term housing, San Diego will continue to be a statewide model as we focus on proven solutions that have reduced homelessness in our community,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
The hotels will require minimal work before they can be put into use and the furnishings at the properties, which are said to be in “good” condition, will be included in the purchase.
“I applaud Council’s decision to approve the purchase of two hotel properties, and around 330 affordable rental units, as part of the state’s Project Homekey program,” said City Councilman Chris Ward, the immediate past Chair of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless. “This action is a testament to San Diego’s commitment to best practices and the safety of our most vulnerable neighbors. Also, the procurement of these two properties is another step forward in developing a homelessness system that is person-centered and focused on creating housing opportunities that are affordable for all San Diegans.”
Some residents are worried about their home values and the effect these homeless shelters will have on their neighborhoods. A Kearny Mesa woman said that she is all for helping those in need, but also noted that it should not be at the expense of those who are “not rich.”
City Council President Georgette Gomez assured residents that “we are going to manage this in a responsible way,” but failed to explain how she plans to do that. She instead made an emotional play. “These are humans. This is a human issue,” said Gomez. “Just like any of us, having housing, a roof over our heads, can create stability. We need to not react from a place of fear.”
The project is expected to be completed before the end of 2020.