Marin County leaders desire for its homeless residents to finally get housed in a 70-room hotel house by the end of the year. However, they encounter strained negotiations to make that wish happen. Similar situations also occur in two other Bay Area cities as the nationwide Homekey program proceeds with its plans of converting lodges into permanent supportive housing units intended for displaced residents.
Richard Hoyt, a 56-year old homeless man, inspired Marin County’s wish to get homeless people to have their own residences. He wheeled past Novato’s Inn Marin Hotel, gazing at the building’s well-kept red-tiled roof and gleaming white walls. He expressed his sentiment to reside in a nice place like that.
“But I’ve applied for housing for nine years here in Marin, a rich county, I tell you,” stated Hoyt. “And I’m still homeless. Feels hopeless,” he added.
Concerned City Council members and neighbors in Novato commented on the conversion of the Inn Marin Hotel, noting that the process is happening too fast. Additionally, they also mentioned the lack of discussion regarding the Homekey program’s effect on the district. It seems apparent that Corte Madera and Milpitas experience the same argument concerning the Homekey hotel propositions.
According to most Novato officers and residents, they clarified that they are not wholly against the idea. Instead, they wish to have equal participation and say about the matter, as county officials revealed to be the ones who picked the disputed hotels for the project. To resolve such conflicts, the Marin County Board of Supervisors scheduled a meeting on Tuesday morning.
In the summer of this year, the Homekey project began its operation. It is also mandatory to use its federal funds by the end of 2020. Picking and rehabilitating guest houses within a couple of months deem unusual and rushed. Marin County’s homeless policy analyst Ashley Hart McIntyre empathized with the concerns surrounding the housing program.
“But this is a great opportunity to make a real dent in our homelessness,” explained McIntyre, adding, “So we’re doing more outreach to the neighborhoods.”
At the beginning of November 2020, the nation has awarded over $835.6 million for 93 projects equivalent to 6,055 units. That is estimated to be $200 million more than the original target. For permanent supportive housing, the Homekey project uses federal COVID-19 aid funds to purchase hotels all over California for the proposal. Almost $300 million came to the Bay Area to secure 1,810 rooms because of that amount, including two large hotels in San Francisco.
According to several Novato citizens, they appreciate the project’s lofty objectives. However, people question some points concerning the Inn Marin proposal. They mentioned that the project could reduce property values and attract more homeless people in the process. Additionally, the conversion of Inn Marin might hurt the city’s economy by losing a potential amount of $300,000 every year.
Joe Davidor (73) and Pat Davidor (72) have something to say about the situation. According to the married couple, they have a homeless son who works as a Warm Wishes charity volunteer who is cautious about the project. He expressed his readiness to help the homeless anytime but is conflicted with its implementation in the neighborhood.
“I guess the rushing for the funding is the problem,” he declared. “There are better locations, though. And we all just learned about this – not enough time to discuss it. That’s not right,” he added.
Nevertheless, promoters of the project argued that the hotel’s location is perfect for homeless housing due to its proximity to medical centers, jobs, shopping, freeway ramps, and public transportation.
Nasheka Dossman, a 38-year old mother of two kids residing in a nearby apartment, supports the project’s goals.
“It is a concern, yes. A lot of us do have kids, and we want it to be safe,” Dossman said. “But these are human beings. There’s a real need here,” she added.