By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
The Navajo Community Planning Group last week heard, and approved, a presentation from Affirmed Housing company to convert the Motel 6 on Alvarado Canyon Road from a 102-room motel to a center for homeless veterans.
That project would provide 85 mostly studio apartments for San Diego’s ever-increasing homeless veteran population.
Affirmed has already purchased the property, and will now begin the lengthy process of getting all the required permits and approvals to change the property over.
John Wurster is the man in charge of the renovation and reconstruction effort that will eventually carry a price tag north of $20 million.
“This is going to be a secure facility open only to homeless vets and their families, if needed,” Wurster said. “It’s going to be fenced and there’ll be round-the-clock security at all times. People need not worry about this becoming a hotbed of drugs and crime- that will simply not be allowed at any time.”
So far, not a lot of people actually know about this, so you can’t really judge what residential fears there might be, but Wurster wants to allay those fears before they get started.
It should be a fairly easy conversion, once the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed. All the necessary water and sewer lines are already in. It’s more a matter of repair and renovation, plus whatever needs to be done to convert motel rooms into actual studio apartments — perhaps kitchenette facilities and the like.
A comparison of current photos and planned renovation reveals the structures won’t be noticeably different.
Asked how this is going to be paid for, Wurster points out that there are “large pots” of money available from local, state and federal sources to defray the costs, not only of building the facilities, but of providing the vouchers for rent for the clients to come.
“Large pots” is defined as hundreds of millions of dollars from the various programs for the homeless.
This project will fit in well with a wave of such projects going on not only around San Diego, but elsewhere in the state and country.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is pushing one such effort, and so is the San Diego Housing Commission. There are others organizing and getting underway, as the magnitude of San Diego’s homeless problem — especially the homeless veterans problem — becomes ever more apparent.
It’s easy to see why.
At Veterans Village of San Diego, where I’ve done some work after I retired from television, the common comment among the residents there is: “If you’re gonna be homeless in the winter, would you rather be in San Diego, or Buffalo, New York?” That’s not a hard choice to make.
The Affirmed facility will be very much like VVSD, in that Wurster says it will offer training programs for vets wanting to get back on their feet. It will offer a dining hall for residents. It will offer counseling and psychological help if needed.
The difference being that VVSD’s programs generally graduate their people in a year, sending them back into the outside world with tools to succeed.
The Affirmed project, on the other hand, is designed to be permanent, or as permanent as the homeless desire to make it.
They will be allowed alcohol in their rooms only — there will be no drinking outside in the common areas.
Anyone caught with drugs, or anyone caught up in a drug-related police action or court case, will be summarily evicted — no second chances.
Wurster says he hopes to get the legal permitting process done in the next six months or so — with an eye to being open before the end of 2017.
—Doug Curlee is Editor-at-Large. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.