MERCED, Calif. (KGPE) – Governor Newsom has designated $24 million dollars to the City of Merced for Project Homekey, a project set to bring permanent housing to thousands of unhoused people across the state.

The money will go toward renovating a motel that was used to temporarily house people during the pandemic from Project Roomkey, and turning it into nearly 100 units to house homeless and low-income people.

Out of a list of counties and cities across the state set to be awarded millions of dollars for Project Homekey, Merced received the third-highest amount of state dollars, with nearly $25 million in funding.

The Pine Inn Motel on V Street in Merced is set to become a permanent housing solution for 96 people in the city.

The motel was used to temporarily house people during the pandemic under Project Roomkey.

“These units were already somewhat made for this,” said Director of Development Scott McBride, “they have the bones that need to make it work. The money we can get to make it happen and do the due diligence, and it looks like it can work.”

Merced City Manager Stephanie Dietz and Scott McBride will be watching over the motel’s renovation.

“We never presume to solve homelessness, but we’re always working towards a function of zero. It’s really about creating an opportunity for stabilization,” said Dietz.

There are roughly 200 homeless individuals living in the streets of Merced. This project could house 50% of them.

“We’re looking at one project taking half of our unsheltered individuals off the streets. This absolutely will make a huge impact to our community and in particular for our disabled individuals who are wheelchair-bound, there are 15 units set aside for their lifestyle as well,” she continued.

Project Homekey isn’t just for those without a home, but for those that could lose it in the future.

“Who are those on the verge of homelessness? Who are those living paycheck to paycheck or seeing their rents increase? So, these units are available to the community as they need them,” said Dietz.

The city of Merced says without any hiccups, and working with several construction partners, they will have the motel ready for move-in before the end of this year.