Room At The Inn

County converts motels for homeless housing

By Howard Schmidt
July 2023

In 2020, after struggling five years to secure financing, Sacramento County finally converted the former Courtyard Inn Motel in North Highlands to homeless housing. Today two new motel conversion projects targeted by the Board of Supervisors are expected to proceed at warp speed.

What changed?

California’s Homekey program. It provides funds to local governments to convert non-residential structures into homeless housing, which didn’t exist before 2020.

County staff is optimistic about the state funding application. If successful, the money requires completion of the conversion work within 12 months.

The county teamed with two experienced affordable housing developers to rehab the Arden Star Motel on Howe Avenue in Arden Arcade and Super 8 Motel on Madison Avenue in Foothill Farms.

The converted units will have individual bathrooms and kitchenettes along with 24-hour management and social services that include life skills, training and counseling. Other amenities are laundry facilities, a community room, outdoor area and pet area. The properties will be fenced and secured.

The John Stewart Company will convert the 128-room Arden site into 71 studios and 52 one-bedroom units, plus two manager units. The price tag will exceed $40 million with $20 million from the state. HOPE Cooperative, formerly known as Transitional Living and Community Support, will handle services.

Danco Communities will oversee the conversion of the Super 8 project into 118 affordable units with one manager unit. This project tops $34 million, with $17 million from the state. Lutheran Social Services of Northern California will assist the residents.

The earlier Courtyard Inn project may be an indicator of what to expect for the Super 8 site. Prior to conversion, the North Highlands motel was a magnet for crime, generating 500 calls yearly for the sheriff. Supervisor Susan Peters, a key player in getting Mercy Housing to convert the motel, said when you drove by the location prior to rehab “there was always a sheriff’s deputy car.”

Supervisor Rich Desmond, who succeeded Peters, says the Super 8 location has been a “source of law enforcement issues.” That conversion should improve the area.

The Arden project is for seniors age 55 and up, with emphasis on age 62 and older. Clients eligible under the Mental Health Services Act will be allocated 30 units. Another 15 units will be for referrals by the County’s Adult Protective Services Program.

The Foothill Farms location is targeted for households earning 30% or less than the area median income. Fifteen units will serve people receiving mental health services.

Desmond describes the projects as “heading in the right direction” and predicts county residents will “see improvements.”

When county supervisors gave the greenlight to apply for the state funding, Supervisor Patrick Kennedy cautioned it’s “not a cheap program.”

Howard Schmidt worked on the federal, state and local levels of government, including 16 years for Sacramento County. He can be reached at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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