Solutions to the homelessness crisis remain long-debated and controversial
The County of Orange recently received $10.7 million from the state of California to convert a Motel 6 into homeless housing.
Funded through the state’s Project Homekey, a program that converts old buildings into homeless housing, the Costa Mesa motel will provide 88 rooms for the homeless, though some are concerned about the high costs of refurbishing and supporting the project.
At $10.7 million, that means each room will cost taxpayers $121,591 per room. In other words, that’s enough to house a homeless person in an actual motel costing $100 a night for 1,216 days, or three years and four months.
Other concerns to factor in include safety, since the motel is located off Newport Boulevard, just one mile from the Orange Coast College campus. Many of the homeless have severe substance abuse and psychological problems, which could make students and campus faculty feel unsafe.
Additionally, critics say Orange County and the state need to look beyond quick fixes to complicated solutions that include comprehensive psychiatric counseling, especially for those with substance abuse problems. Some have pointed to other models such as the Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Tex., which calls itself a “transformational campus” for the homeless.
Despite its concerns, local leaders have praised the project as a first of its kind in Orange County.
“I am thrilled my City is taking advantage of Project Homekey to convert this motel into supportive housing,” said Supervisor Katrina Foley, a Democrat who, prior to her successful supervisorial election last year was mayor of Costa Mesa. “For years we made attempts to address the blight and crime caused by many of these seedy motels.”
While Costa Mesa residents have long debated use of taxpayer funds, only time will tell if the investment will prove worthwhile.