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Homeless Families Begin Moving Into Former Palm Avenue Motel

The Super8 motel on Palm Avenue in the Nestor district of San Diego. July 16,...

Photo by Tom Fudge

Above: The Super8 motel on Palm Avenue in the Nestor district of San Diego. July 16, 2017.

Families experiencing homelessness began moving into the transformed Super 8 motel in the Egger Highlands community this week, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Tuesday.

With renovations recently completed, the city, the San Diego Housing Commission, homeless service provider Alpha Project of San Diego and the City Attorney's Office worked together to ready the units as a temporary housing solution for homeless families and children.

The city's purchase and transformation of the motel on Palm Avenue was approved by the City Council in July 2017. It will ultimately be used as transitional housing for participants in the San Diego Misdemeanants At-Risk Program for chronic misdemeanor offenders with acute drug and alcohol addiction.

"Serving the various needs of homeless individuals and families while preventing the spread of COVID-19 has forced San Diego to leave no stone unturned as we look for new solutions," Faulconer said. "The recent rehabilitation of this motel presented us an opportunity to use it as a much- needed temporary shelter for families and children seeking safety and relief from the streets while they continue their search for a permanent home."

In March, the city began moving families and children already in shelters to motel rooms to allow for proper physical distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since that time, the city and the San Diego Housing Commission have provided shelter and services to families on a case-by-case basis.

"As our community grapples with the fallout from this pandemic, we're all keenly aware that there's nothing more important than the health and safety of our families," City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. "Opening the Smart on Palm facility to families seeking shelter from COVID-19 is consistent with its mission of supporting and protecting vulnerable San Diegans."

The city has provided long-term housing to nearly all of the families originally housed at the Cortez Hill Family Center, who have been staying in motels during the pandemic. Three families originally at the Cortez Hill Center — along with others living on the streets — are being welcomed into the new shelter this week.

"It is impossible to even think about reestablishing your life when you're on the streets trying to feed, protect and shelter your family as best you can. This temporary facility will give families peace of mind that they are safe as they work to get back on their feet," said Bob McElroy, president and CEO of Alpha Project.

The new facility includes 42 transitional housing rooms, laundry facilities, administrative offices, meeting and training rooms, a shared kitchen, communal spaces and outdoor patios and gardens. Some shared and communal spaces may not be fully utilized per current public health guidelines.

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