Excitement filled the air on Thursday, August 4, when the City of Redlands held a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the conversion of the former Good Nite Inn into permanent supportive housing for the homeless chronicles.
Mayor Paul Barich and the entire city council were on hand to greet dignitaries from U.S. Representative Pete Aguilar’s office, Governor Gavin Newsom’s office, San Bernardino County and the Redlands Unified School District School Board, while that the long-awaited project has officially started.
The Good Nite Inn conversion is made possible by a $30 million grant to Redlands from the Homekey 2 program, administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Much of the funding comes from the US federal bailout, which was passed to ease the financial and community impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shangri-la Industries will complete the construction and renovation works on the site and will maintain the property after its completion.
Step Up, an organization that addresses the root causes of homelessness with comprehensive mental health and case management services, will provide resident support services, as well as an on-site manager.
When completed, the property will include 98 supportive housing units for individuals and couples. Residents will be allowed to have small dogs. The property’s swimming pool will be converted into a dog park.
In prepared remarks, Supervisor Dawn Rowe noted that the project would not have been possible without state money and thanked Newsom’s office and state lawmakers for their support.
Barich stressed that getting to this point was a group project with city staff, including assistant city manager Chris Boatman and his team playing crucial roles. Barich has noticed when he attends community events that the number one concern of citizens he meets is homelessness and what the city is doing about it.
“The Good Nite Inn project will mean a lot to at-risk populations in Redlands,” Barich said. “It will also make the citizens of this region safer. And so we’re doing a lot of good things and I know we’ll be an example for the rest of the state.
Andy Myers, CEO of Shangri-la Industries, said his company would break ground within the next 15 days and hopes residents will be able to move in by the end of the year. Myers, who grew up in the Inland Empire and attended Fontana High School, called it “a privilege to be back in the Inland Empire and doing something meaningful.” He described the project as a “true public-private partnership and a testament to what can be achieved when public sector, private sector and non-profit organizations come together to create the most effective and efficient approach profitable to solve one of the biggest crises.
Step Up Board Chairman Dr. Fernando Torres-Gill described the work being done as more than Redlands or even San Bernardino County, but an example of what can be done for the homeless. chronic shelter.
According to Torres-Gill, “It’s the nature of a compassionate society that we don’t leave individuals abandoned on the streets.” ‘
Step Up has extensive experience providing comprehensive services to projects like Redlands throughout California, as well as Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.
Curt Lewis of Aguilar’s office observed that every night in America up to 600,000 people sleep rough. He predicted that the Redlands project would be a welcome Christmas present for the community.
Following prepared comments, city officials and representatives of Step Up and Shangri-la took their ceremonial golden shovels and plunged them into the earth to the cheers of the gathered crowd.
Shangri-la CEO Myers praised city staff, particularly in the building department, for expediting building permits which are fully approved. The first stage of construction will be to level parking lots and common areas to meet Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards. Myers proudly pointed out that Shangri-la sources its construction products and materials from the United States, and as locally as possible. For example, the cabinets in this project are from Fontana.
April Stock, Shangri-la’s construction manager, will oversee the actual construction. To avoid supply chain delays, all materials requiring long lead times, such as plumbing fixtures and flooring, have already been ordered. Stock also noted that renovations can be unpredictable, as you never know what you’re going to find when you open up a wall. She and her team will be methodical in identifying issues and working to resolve them quickly.
Redlands City Councilor Denise Davis said her hope for the project was to “fill rooms as quickly as possible”.
Davis visited a similar project in Riverside over a year ago. From there, she learned that having accommodation is not enough. The success of projects like this depends on comprehensive holistic services to address issues such as mental health issues and addiction issues. She hopes to see more services in Redlands for the homeless and that the hotel’s conversion will inspire other communities to follow Redlands’ example.
Meanwhile, nonprofit community members who have worked with homeless people in Redlands for years are already helping eligible residents apply to live on the property when it’s ready.
Ed Torres and Sonja Prince of the Center for Spiritual Living in Redlands are providing temporary shelter and support to four women who want to move into permanent housing. As Torres noted, “It’s easy to dehumanize the homeless, but they spend 100% of their money in our city. They pay taxes here. They are residents.
Prince put it more simply: “You have to give to receive.”