FRESNO, California (KGPE) – The city of Fresno is partnering with the Fresno Housing Authority and other community leaders to renovate motels along Motel Drive into transitional housing for the homeless population.
“I really do feel, for the first time in my career, that we really do have a plan, and a partnership, and the ability to be able to reduce our homeless population significantly,” Mayor Jerry Dyer said.
According to Dyer, the homeless population in Fresno increased by 68.9% in the last count – which was 13 months ago (and before the COVID-19 pandemic hit California).
“We have a problem with the homeless, and we need more motels,” he said.
That’s why the city purchased five motels along Motel Drive and renovated four of them so far. The goal is to turn the motels into transitional living spaces for Fresno’s homeless population, with a focus on getting rid of camps along the freeways.
“Our goal is to continue to buy motels in the city, convert them, and maintain them as public assets,” said Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias.
Councilmember Arias says people will be housed in the motels for 90 days and provided with wraparound services including mental health services, drug treatment, and three meals a day. Whether their stay extends past that 90 days is judged on a case-by-case basis.
Arias says a new motel inspection program will also start next week focusing on building standards and pricing models, an area that has been a consistent problem.
“Motel owners attempt to cover up, with a fresh coat of paint, or pillowcases, what was taking place for decades in this area,” he said.
Arias says the city is still allocating spending from the CARES Act, and tomorrow he will be asking the council to set aside five million dollars for the acquisition of several more motels.
Of the four motels currently renovated, three of them are currently described as fully occupied.