Costa Mesa Turns To Underutilized Motels To Help Meet Housing Goals Through Homekey Project


Two Costa Mesa motels may soon provide permanent supportive housing for homeless people and those at risk, after city council members on Tuesday agreed to apply through the state’s Project Homekey program to help acquire them, rehabilitate and convert them into residential units.

What started in March 2020 as Project Roomkey – a statewide effort to provide emergency shelter to homeless residents during the pandemic – now aims to create permanent living units to cope. to a housing crisis.

And the city of Costa Mesa wants to participate. Council members on Tuesday voted 6-1 to dedicate $ 3.5 million in local matching funds to work with Orange County and the region’s developers and service providers who will build and operate the sites.

Deputy city manager Susan Price said two properties were being considered for the transition – the Mesa Motel on Harbor Boulevard and a Motel 6 on Newport Boulevard.

At Motel 6 at 2274 Newport Blvd. in Costa Mesa could be converted into living spaces through the state’s Homekey project, after council members voted on Tuesday to apply for the program.

(Scott Smeltzer / Personal Photographer)

“These are locations that were driven by developers working with motel owners who were willing and interested in seeing the Homekey program as an opportunity to contribute to permanent supportive housing,” said Price.

Mesa Motel would provide 46 units for eligible homeless and at-risk residents. It would be remodeled by CW Driver and HomeAid Orange County, based in Pasadena, and serviced by the nonprofit Illumination Foundation.

Local partners are seeking up to $ 1.5 million in one-time matching funds from the city, which can leverage the $ 26 million in US bailout funding it received from the Biden administration earlier This year.

The Motel 6 project could provide an additional 94 units – 40 for homeless and at-risk citizens and 52 for low-income seniors 62 and over. It would be rehabilitated by Newport Beach Community Development Partners and served by the non-profit Mercy House, which operates the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter.

Motel 6 at 2274 Newport Blvd.  at Costa Mesa on Wednesday.

If deemed eligible for the Homekey project, a Motel 6 on Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa and the Mesa Motel on Harbor Boulevard could be converted into 140 residential units for the homeless and at risk.

(Scott Smeltzer / Personal Photographer)

Price said the conversions should benefit the city, where hotels have historically presented public safety concerns, ranging from loitering to drug use.

“Many of them over the past year and a half have had relatively low occupancy rates, due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions,” she said of the 29 motels in the area. city. “However, calls for [public safety] the service seems to be increasing.

Data from the Costa Mesa Police Department shows that police and firefighter responses to motels increased by 70% between 2019 and 2021, while the number of police reports filed increased by 91%.

The two projects would also add 140 residential units to the city’s housing stock, helping Costa Mesa meet its state-mandated regional housing needs assessment target of planning an additional 11,733 units by 2029.

For this reason and more, Pro Mayor Tem Andrea Marr enthusiastically supported the movement.

“It is so necessary,” she said. “We can build any homeless shelter we want, but unless we have a way to provide housing… we are not solving the problem. This actually solves the problem.

City Councilor Don Harper, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he preferred to refrain from moving forward because he was unsure how developments might impact the community.

“They can be positive, they can be negative,” he said. ” I do not know. “

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