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Could renovating abandoned hotels and motels solve California’s housing crisis?

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Solving the housing crisis is a nuanced question that plagues many people all over the world. In this country, in particular, the problem has caused divisions among political parties. Whichever party you identify with, you are probably as lost as anyone else when it comes to finding a solution. And if you have the slightest heart, watching homeless settlements demolished in a misguided effort to “clean up” communities is just horrible. Where are these people supposed to live when even those with relatively strong salaries struggle to find affordable housing on their own? As long as we see the cost of housing increase, this problem will only get worse for everyone.

Currently, in the great state of California, we face two major housing issues: a severe lack of affordable housing – especially for tenants – and reception and office buildings abandoned due to blockages and restrictions on housing. Covid-19. Adaptive reuse is by no means a new concept. Still, the idea is gaining traction as more and more officials introduce the possibility of converting these large abandoned spaces into affordable housing.

Related: These Wildly Successful Entrepreneurs Were Once Homeless

Could these abandoned spaces help solve the housing crisis?

Using the California Homekey Project as an example, we can take a closer look at how converting abandoned hotels and other viable spaces can be a response to the affordable housing crisis. During the pandemic, cities with large homeless populations decided to move people from crowded streets and shelters to empty hotels. The move sparked an idea in the mind of Governor Gavin Newsom, and California officials followed it by creating Project Homekey.

The state bought entire hotels and old office and apartment buildings and converted them into thousands of new affordable units. Since launching last summer, HomeKey has already created more than 6,000 new units in California, where affordable housing is as easy to find as the proverbial needle in a haystack.

“We have long dreamed of recovering thousands of motel rooms and converting them into homes for our homeless neighbors,” Governor Newsom said in a statement in June 2020.

For the naysayers and skeptics who argue that the homeless need to work to get their housing, well, you need an address just to fill out a job application. A tent that is constantly moved, whether by the choice of the occupant or municipal authorities, is not enough. Did the homeless crisis exist before the pandemic? Obviously yes. But the crisis has only worsened for a year and a half.

Related: How Monique Brandon Solves California’s Affordable Housing Crisis

Millions of people either lost their jobs during the pandemic or suffered pay cuts so severe that they were unable to continue paying their rent or raise funds to throw security in more affordable housing first. As a result, people found themselves with few or no options, bouncing from sofa to sofa or moving into their cars and vans, and many were forced out onto the streets. In a country where the cost of living is increasing at an exponential rate greater than the rise in wages, what did we expect?

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, some communities are fighting back, horrified that low-income or no-income housing is coming to their neighborhoods. Governor Newsom’s plans sparked a slew of complaints and legal problems, as neighbors opted to take legal action when the abandoned homes were announced to be converted into homes for the vulnerable and displaced.

Cities complained that they had not contributed enough to these plans and several purchases failed as a result. That said, there are plenty of local governments on board, and nearly 100 deals have been completed in just six months. Generally speaking, city officials generally agree that converting hotels to housing can be a solution to the growing affordable housing crisis.

The impact on the environment

The conversion of these abandoned housing meets immediate needs and also has a positive impact on the environment. Reallocation of existing structures rather than demolition and development of new ones generally results in a lower environmental impact. Even if part of the building needs to be dismantled, renovation rather than demolition often saves up to 95% of existing materials.

A strong argument can be made that removing more people from the streets can also improve a city’s pollution problems. Less waste and human waste on the streets and sidewalks are just some of the many ways housing the homeless can improve the quality of life for everyone, and not just for people who can finally say they have a life. safe home. In addition, homeless individuals and families are directly affected by climate change, as people living on the streets are unable to escape the effects of air and soil pollution.

Homelessness is not an epidemic that emerges overnight. It is a systemic problem that cannot be solved by destroying settlements and forcing people to leave the area with nowhere to go. Advocates have spent months trying to find ways to improve these initiatives and are pushing cities to continue these efforts even as the Covid-19 pandemic slows. Pandemic or not, as long as we continue to see rental prices rise, we will continue to see more and more people on the streets, living in tents and cars and wherever it can provide shelter.

Related: Amazon Worker Says She’s Homeless Because She Can’t Afford Rent In New York City

While we still have to wait and see how these initiatives will benefit communities in the long run, perhaps knowing that thousands of individuals and families currently displaced or will eventually have a place to call home can help some of us sleep better. at night in our air. air-conditioned houses and cozy beds.

Of course, you can still offer your services in the meantime. Donate clothing, furniture and whatever else you can to these organizations that work tirelessly to find housing for the homeless. If you have a housing related business, now is the time to look for ways to help. No matter how you look at this problem, the point is, this is a community effort. Federal funding can only get us so far. If you want to see your community improve, you have to find your own way to help, even if it just means going out and voting for policies that have a direct – and positive – impact on the homeless.


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