FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Two Fresno motels will now be used as temporary shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness after Fresno City Council voted unanimously to buy the two properties on Thursday.

Councilmembers say the purchase of The Ambassador Inn and The Villa Motel will help house 107 individuals and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population in Fresno.

Although a closing escrow agreement deadline on the motels is set for April 1, a sub-agreement recently approved by the city council allows homeless individuals to move in as early as Tuesday.

The Ambassador Inn on Olive Avenue will house 56 individuals while The Villa Motel on Parkway Drive will house 51.

In total, the city will be paying around $5.7 million to purchase the two properties. Mayor Jerry Dyer’s Chief of Staff Tim Orman says the sales price was determined based on comparable properties within the area.

Throughout the past year, the City of Fresno has worked alongside the Fresno Housing Authority and various other community leaders to renovate motels along Motel Drive in hopes of providing shelter for the homeless population.

However, some who spoke at Thursday’s city council meeting warn that camp cleanups have not fixed the long-term homeless problem.

“They may have cleared H Street, they only forced us to go to the main streets or where the businesses are or where we’re more seen because we’re still there and homeless because they haven’t offered another solution,” said Fresno resident Noel Tyler.

Several motels were purchased by the city back in February of 2021 using federal and state dollars for an ongoing effort called Project Homekey, which works to promote safe and affordable homes to communities in California.

Assistant Director of Planning and Development for the City of Fresno Phil Skei says because the motels are already in compliance with health and safety codes, officials are hoping to use Project Homekey funds to make “more significant improvements” to the two properties.

Skei says the city hopes to make these temporary shelters into permanent housing sometime in the future.