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Mayor, City Attorney to use transformed motel to help homeless families

Faulconer said plans to use the site for the SMART Program "are on hold for the moment.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A recently renovated Super 8 motel in South San Diego will be available as temporary housing for homeless families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday.

While nearly 1,300 homeless individuals are being housed at the San Diego Convention Center, homeless families have been moved to motel rooms through the county's Regional Task Force on the Homeless, a city official said.

The motel on Palm Avenue in the Egger Highlands community was originally intended for the City Attorney's Office's San Diego Misdemeanants At Risk Track Program for repeat misdemeanor offenders with drug addiction.

Faulconer said plans to use the site for the SMART Program "are on hold for the moment, because there's nothing that takes precedence right now more than our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

The motel is making available 42 units, shared kitchen and communal spaces, a fitness room, laundry facilities and more.

The complex is configured so families can practice physical distancing from other households, with some communal spaces that "may not be fully utilized per current public health guidelines," according to a city official.

The facility is expected to revert to use for the SMART Program by January.

"During this challenging time, it's more important than ever to ensure our most vulnerable community members are protected," City Attorney Mara Elliott said.

"I am gratified to be able to transition our SMART on Palm facility to provide temporary emergency housing for families in this time of dire need."

Faulconer said housing navigators will assist families in working on securing permanent housing. One of the city's bridge shelters, the Alpha Project, will serve families at the Palm Avenue site, as well as more than 600 people staying at the convention center.

"The streets are no place for kids and families to live. Alpha Project has worked to provide a safe, sanitary place for families before COVID- 19 and will continue to do so during this pandemic," said Bob McElroy, president and CEO of Alpha Project.

"This new facility gives us space to help even more folks while they make the transition from the streets to a new permanent home."

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