Costa Mesa ready to pay $ 3.5 million to turn 2 motels into homeless housing – Orange County Register

Two motels in Costa Mesa could be turned into permanent housing for people in need, if funding comes from the state’s second cycle Project Homekey program.

Costa Mesa is willing to shell out around $ 3.5 million for the two projects, which would convert the 43-unit Mesa Inn on Harbor Boulevard and the 94-unit Motel 6 on Harbor Boulevard into homeless housing.

Two nonprofits, the Illumination Foundation and Mercy House, would be partners in the effort, providing services to residents of the new homes.

“I’m a big fan of converting motels to housing because it’s something you can do relatively quickly and create a lot of housing in one fell swoop,” said Susan Price, deputy manager of Costa Mesa, who was coordinating previously the homeless efforts for the county.

Some units at the converted Mesa Inn would be reserved for people with mental health issues, and some of the units at Motel 6 are for veterans and homeless seniors, Price said.

Motel 6 at 2274 Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, November 24, 2021. The town of Costa Mesa could contribute $ 3.5 million to help convert two motels into permanent housing. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register / SCNG)

The Illumination Foundation is working with a developer and the county to seek public funding for the Mesa Inn. Foundation CEO Paul Leon said he looks forward to continuing the new round of funding because he has seen how the undergraduate projects at OC – two converted motels in Stanton – have lived up to expectations.

Stanton city leaders are happy with the results, and the 130 or so units in these projects have created a place for people who had housing vouchers but couldn’t find a landlord to accept them, Leon said. They also helped open beds in temporary shelters.

Costa Mesa has also struggled for years to find permanent solutions to the problems of some of its budget motels, and turning some into homes with a stable, less transient population could help, Mayor John Stephens said.

Under previous ownership, the Mesa Inn was generating so many police and fire calls that the city opened a public nuisance case, he said. The situation improved after the sale of the motel, and Stephens believes that creating long-term housing could make it even better as long-term residents are likely to be more invested in the community.

While it was once an almost overwhelming challenge convincing residents and businesses to accept a shelter or other homeless facilities in their community, Leon said it has gotten a little easier, in part. because people saw that the emergency housing measures taken during the pandemic did not bring the dire consequences that some feared.

“Once you have one or two (projects) and you open them up and know it’s working, the neighbors, they can really tell,” Leon said.

With the converted Stanton motels as a guide, he said, “we know it will be successful because we have the model to handle it now.”

Applications for Homekey state funding are due in January.