Holiday Inn in Central Long Beach to be bought by county, turned into 135 units for homeless

A Holiday Inn in Central Long Beach will likely soon become permanent housing for those who are homeless.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted at its Tuesday, Oct. 13, meeting to move ahead with purchasing and renovating the property at 1133 Atlantic Ave., between 11th and Anaheim streets, for $21.5 million as part of the state’s Homekey program, which funds the conversion of hotels, motels and other properties into long-term homeless housing.

The site will provide 135 units of permanent supportive housing. The board is set to receive comments and finalize the purchase at its Nov. 10 meeting.

“This is an innovative partnership with the State that builds on our effort to get homeless seniors inside during this pandemic,” LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. “By buying this Holiday Inn and other hotels and motels across the County, we can create long-term supportive housing units for seniors in need — quicker and cheaper than building units from scratch.”

The hotel is currently being used to provide temporary housing for those who are homeless as part of Project Roomkey, a program that state officials launched in April to provide hotels and motels with revenue and to keep people who are homeless off the streets amid the coronavirus pandemic.

County agreements with hotels and motels participating in Project Roomkey last three months, with the option for extensions as the pandemic continues. But the Holiday Inn will continue providing temporary housing for people “until these units are eventually turned into Permanent Supportive Housing,” said Liz Odendahl, a spokesperson for Hahn, who represents Long Beach.

A county spokesperson said the hotel — along with other properties purchased throughout LA County as part of Homekey — will be converted into permanent housing within two years. Renovations will include adding small kitchens and ensuring that the required number of units are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Long Beach site will also offer access to health and mental health services, meals, security, and case management along with other supportive services.

Although the majority of the $21.5 million for the site will be funded through the state, the county will chip in roughly $4 million from its $1.1 billion in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations.

The purchase of the site will also include furniture and equipment that is currently being used to provide temporary housing.

The Holiday Inn site likely won’t be the only Long Beach property to be converted into permanent homeless housing through Homekey. Mayor Robert Garcia said late last month that Long Beach and LA County would both pursue projects as part of the program.

“Motel conversions are definitely part of our approach to addressing homelessness in Long Beach,” Garcia said in a Tuesday statement. “I want to thank Governor (Gavin) Newsom for funding projects in our city, and the county for partnering to support the work as well.

“We look forward to converting motels in Long Beach,” he added, “to provide more housing options to people experiencing homelessness in our city.”

Sergio Ramirez, the deputy director of Long Beach’s Economic Development Department, said in a Tuesday phone interview that the city is in “active negotiations” to purchase a property as part of Homekey.

Long Beach has received roughly $17 million to purchase property for the program.

“We’ve identified several properties,” he said. “We are targeting one property in specific that is kind of our primary target, but we have a couple of backup locations.”

Ramirez declined to share any of the specific locations, citing the ongoing negotiations. But he did say the city’s goal is to provide 100 units of homeless housing. Depending on how the negotiations play out, he said, Long Beach may achieve that goal with either one property or multiple properties.

Ramirez said his team expects to know “within the next three-to-four weeks” whether the city can move forward with purchasing its preferred property or if Long Beach will have to move ahead with one or more of its backup options.

Long Beach, along with every other city and county participating in the program, has until Dec. 30 to spend its Homekey funds.

Hahn, for her part, said she was glad the county was moving forward on the issue.

“We are in the middle of not one, but two crises,” she said, “and this effort will help us take on both.”

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