Homeless Strategies and Solutions
Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - NEWS RELEASE
SAN DIEGO, CA – Advancing the goal of providing homes for hundreds of San Diegans experiencing homelessness amid the global pandemic, the City of San Diego and San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) today announced the details surrounding the purchase of two hotels that will be transformed into more than 330 new housing units with supportive services.
Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and SDHC embarked on a journey to identify hotels for purchase in March. A Residence Inn on Hotel Circle and a Residence Inn in Kearny Mesa were identified after SDHC reviewed 29 properties and performed extensive due diligence to evaluate zoning, the presence of potential issues, immediate capital needs, pest control and each site’s accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Appraisals and market studies also were obtained.
“Rapidly converting hotels into housing is how we get new units available faster and at a lower cost for taxpayers as San Diego continues to lead the state with innovative homeless solutions,” Mayor Faulconer said. “There’s a reason why San Diego is the only region in the state to see homelessness decline each of the past two years. We now have another opportunity with these hotels to end the cycle of homelessness for hundreds more people.”
“Housing, especially when connected to services, is the only way to end an individual’s homelessness, which is why I applaud City and SDHC efforts to secure these hotels for new supportive housing opportunities,” said City Councilmember Chris Ward, who chairs the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless. “Our region must continue to look towards, follow, and implement recognized best practices to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
In response to San Diego’s application in a competitive, first come, first served process, the State of California reserved $27.7 million in Project Homekey program funds for the purchase of the Residence Inn on Hotel Circle. In addition, the State notified the City and SDHC on September 8 that it has reserved an additional $10 million for the purchase of the Residence Inn in Kearny Mesa.
“These properties present a unique opportunity to bring together the City, County and State and utilize the San Diego Housing Commission’s successful track record with these types of properties to quickly provide permanent rental homes that are a path off the streets and out of shelters for hundreds of San Diegans,” said SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry.
The purchase of the two properties would create 332 permanent supportive housing units, with 72 of the units having two bedrooms, for a capacity to provide housing for more than 400 individuals. The units were determined to require minimal work to be able to move in. No comprehensive rehabilitation of the properties is necessary. The Hotel Circle property was built in 2003; the Kearny Mesa property was built in 1990 and underwent a renovation in 2013.
The County of San Diego Board of Supervisors voted unanimously August 25 to approve Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s request to authorize $5.4 million to fund essential supportive services for the individuals who would reside at the properties.
Residents of the properties would include individuals currently staying at Operation Shelter to Home at the San Diego Convention Center, which opened on April 1 as a temporary shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic and serves about 1,100 individuals per day. Operation Shelter to Home is a collaborative effort between the City, SDHC, County, Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH), San Diego Convention Center and homeless service providers.
In five months, Operation Shelter to Home has helped 525 individuals obtain housing, with hundreds more matched to housing resources like vouchers or other rental subsidies.
The properties will be presented to the SDHC Board of Commissioners for consideration on September 18 and to the City Council in October in its role as the Housing Authority of the City of San Diego.
SDHC’s proposed purchase of the properties would advance the goals of the City of San Diego Community Action Plan on Homelessness, which the City Council adopted in October 2019. The plan identifies near-term and 10-year goals, including the critical need to increase permanent supportive housing by 2,659 units for individuals experiencing homelessness within a decade, with 60 percent of those units (1,595) to be developed within the first four years.