After recently approving the Arcata House Partnership (AHP) grant application to fund the conversion of the Days Inn & Suites in Valley West to permanent supportive housing for the Homeless, Arcata City Council will hold a special meeting on Friday to consider approving a request from the nonprofit to increase the grant proposal to nearly double the original amount.
The project is part of a plan to convert two Valley West motels – the Days Inn and the Redroof Inn – into homeless housing, presented to the city by AHP and local development company Danco. At a meeting on December 15, City Council approved the necessary zoning changes to allow for the development of permanent supportive housing on both sites. The council also approved a joint grant application with the city and AHP for $10,787,000 in state house key funds to cover costs. According to the staff report, Arcata House has since updated the project’s budget to $12 million.
“Following the December 15 approval, AHP has updated the preliminary project development budget to $12 million,” the staff report said. “During the week of January 17, AHP consulted with CA’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which recommended that the request be increased to $19 million to cover potential incremental costs.”
Darleen Spoor, executive director of the AHP, told the Outpost that the change is mainly due to an oversight on the part of the association. Spoor said the planned budget for the project has always been $12 million, the claim amount was incorrect, and the new claim is intended to correct that error. Because HCD recommends asking for more funding than you need, Spoor said, AHP is asking for $15 million for development costs. The nonprofit is additionally requesting $4 million in operating grants, Spoor said, which would help fund operating costs for five years.
Council will vote on two resolutions on Friday — one that will replace the amount of the grant application and another that will repeal and replace the amount of a loan agreement between the city and the AHP. The city will loan AHP the $19 million, which will be repaid (with three percent interest) by the grant. Due to some concerns raised by members of council and the planning commission that there may not have been sufficient public engagement prior to council approval of zoning changes, the agreement The loan was also updated to include a requirement that the housing project “must include a plan for ongoing outreach and input from neighbors and residents.”
After hearing some public concerns about the project, Spoor said AHP also made a change to the project proposal. Initially, AHP planned to allocate the 60 units of the Days Inn building to chronically homeless people – people who have been homeless for at least a year and have some sort of disability. Spoor said AHP now plans to set aside 40 of the units for the chronically homeless and make 20 units available to other types of homeless people – those who have become homeless more recently or are not suffering from any disability. Spoor hopes this will help alleviate concerns from some community members that the project could attract a certain type of homeless population. And Spoor says listening to the community is something AHP will continue to do in the future.
“We’re going to work really hard to let the community know we’re here and we’re going to help,” Spoor told the Outpost. “We’re going to be part of the solution at Valley West.”
The special Arcata City Council meeting will be held on Zoom on Friday, January 28 at noon. You can view the agenda and instructions for participating here.