VISALIA, California (KSEE) – The Sequoia Lodge hotel is the second hotel in Visalia converted into a place for shelter through Project Roomkey – an initiative that sprouted from the state’s Homekey initiative in the wake of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re real excited, I always say out of this whole COVID deal, this dark cloud of COVID, there’s a silver lining and that being the fact that more funds have been put toward the homeless,” said Amy Shuklian, the Tulare County Supervisor District 3 and Chairwoman Board of Supervisors.
$5.2 million was awarded to the project from the state. Ongoing operational costs will come from grants, partnerships, and rents.
“For a project like this, I think just to understand that it costs substantially less to house folks experiencing homelessness in a site like this than to have them unsheltered,” said Chaz Felix, the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agencies Initiative Coordinator.
Felix says there are over 900 homeless people in Tulare County and with the 100 rooms already converted between the Sequoia Lodge and the 99 Palms hotels, 10% of the county’s homeless population have already been housed.
“So we always say we are making a dent and making a difference for these folks, but unfortunately on the back door, we’ll have more that we’ll be moving into homelessness. So, it will never really be solved, but we can make a difference,” said Shuklian.
The Board of Supervisors approved a five-year lease for the sequoia hotel and a 10-year lease for 99 Palms.
“We’re in it for the long haul, we want to make sure that we’re addressing homelessness for the long term and this is just a good step forward for that,” said Felix.