FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) –On Thursday, the City of Fresno broke ground on the first Homekey motel to convert it into affordable housing units for families on Parkway Drive. The Homekey award is a multimillion-dollar statewide effort to combat homelessness.

The City purchased the former Sun Lodge Motel in December 2020 and used it as a homeless shelter as of January 2021. 

” A year and a half later, it is being torn down for the conversion to permanent housing,” said District 3 representative Miguel Arias. 

In 15 months, Promesa Commons will debut 64 units, a mix of studios, and two and three-bedroom apartments. Tenants will pay no more than $1,200 for a three-bedroom. 

“It is that long-term process that’s going to allow this to become a beautiful area, an area that was once infested unfortunately with a lot of crime,” said Mayor Jerry Dyer. 

Dyer says the demand for housing in Fresno has skyrocketed.

“We find that families that should be in a three-bedroom are in a one-bedroom,” he said. 

This year, the City of Fresno has received more than $54 million dollars from the governor for Homekey projects. Promesa Commons is just the beginning of future efforts to remodel Parkway Drive.

“The new award will allow the City to rehabilitate the Ambassador Inn, the Villa Motel, and the Valley Inn, which are just down the street,” said Dyer. 

Homeless advocate Dez Martinez applauds these efforts but also points out these projects take time.

“When you’re unhoused, seeing that, or hearing about new housing coming, but it’s a year and a half away, it’s sad,” she said. “Being unhoused in Fresno, if you’ve never had suicidal thoughts, you will.”

City officials agree more needs to be done.

“So far, we have housed 2,500 homeless residents in our city. There’s still 1,500 left in the streets of Fresno,” said Arias, who announced he’s working to secure more state funding for affordable housing efforts.