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Modesto could provide $2.85 million for plan to turn motel into housing for homeless

Can this Modesto motel be converted into housing for the homeless?

The Housing Authority is in talks with the owner of the American Budget Inn & Suites to buy the 103-room motel in Modesto, California, and plans to turn it into permanent supportive housing for homeless people.
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The Housing Authority is in talks with the owner of the American Budget Inn & Suites to buy the 103-room motel in Modesto, California, and plans to turn it into permanent supportive housing for homeless people.

City officials Tuesday could give the Housing Authority $2.85 million so it can buy a 103-room Modesto motel and turn it into studio apartments with services for homeless people.

City staff recommends the City Council award the Housing Authority of the County of Stanislaus the funding. The $2.85 million would come from money Modesto receives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Housing Authority is working with Modesto and Stanislaus County on the project. The authority would own and operate the property while the city and county would help pay for the project.

The Housing Authority has been in talks with the owner of the American Budget Inn & Suites at Kansas Avenue and Highway 99 for the purchase of the property. The $2.85 million represents part of the cost of the purchase and renovation of the two-story motel, which was built in 1974, and is in an industrial area.

Housing Authority Executive Director Barbara Kauss emphasized nothing is final until there is a deal but said she hopes the sale could close by the end of this month. American Budget Inn owner Vijay Solanki said he and the authority have come to terms on the purchase price, and he is waiting for the authority to tell him it has lined up the funding.

The Housing Authority would provide as much as $1.5 million toward the project, Modesto as much as $2.85 million, and Stanislaus County CEO Jody Hayes has said the county is committed to making up any funding gaps for the purchase and renovation.

Kauss has said the purchase price is confidential until a deal is reached.

Officials have said that if the purchase goes through they hope the converted motel could reopen by the end of the year as the Kansas House, providing homes for 150 to 200 people, from single men and women and couples to a single parent with a child or adult siblings or friends who want to live together.

Officials have stressed this is not a homeless shelter in which people check in each evening and leave during the day and don’t receive services.

There would be an on-site manager, and residents would be placed in Kansas House based on referrals from the service providers and others who work with them. So it is for homeless people who are doing the work to better their lives. And residents would receive services while at the Kansas House.

There is no time limit on how long residents can stay, but the expectation is that within a year they would move up the next rung in housing.

Officials have said the project is much needed, not only because it may be the first of its kind in Stanislaus County, but it provides the next level of housing above emergency shelters.

The city report states Modesto would transfer $2.85 million from its Neighborhood Stabilization Program to its Community Development Block Grant Program for the Kansas House project. Both funding sources are from HUD. City spokesman Thomas Reeves said the city has not designated the $2.85 million for other projects.

The City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

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Kevin Valine covers local government, homelessness and general assignment for The Modesto Bee. He is a graduate of San Jose State University and grew up in San Jose.
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