Anaheim Tackles Homelessness Through Motel Conversion Program

April 8, 2021 Updated: April 13, 2021

Aging motels, as well as commercial and office buildings in Anaheim, California, are getting a second lease on life as the city addresses homelessness in the community.

The buildings are being converted into affordable housing units under the city’s motel and commercial and office building conversion ordinance, which was enacted in 2019.

The first project in connection with the ordinance is the Econo Lodge Apartments at 2691 W. La Palma Ave. The former 70-room motel is being converted to a complex with 69 studio apartments and a one-bedroom apartment for an onsite manager. The property will also have an outdoor courtyard with a barbeque area, community garden, common room, kitchen, and meeting space where some onsite supportive services will take place.

“The opening of the Econo Lodge Apartments marks another significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to address homelessness,” Anaheim spokesperson Lauren Gold told The Epoch Times.

“Anaheim has long been a leader in creating affordable housing for our community, and the motel conversion program shows how we step outside the box to find innovative ways to build new shelters and housing in a built-out city. We’re happy to welcome residents here in the coming months, getting them off the streets, out of shelters, and on a pathway to a better life.”

Anaheim’s ordinance was adopted to increase affordable housing, while addressing homelessness and supporting the city’s housing-first model.

The program allows for the conversion of motel, commercial and office space into affordable housing, and allows for no more than 100 residents per acre.

The Econo Lodge project is being built by non-profit Jamboree Housing Corp., whose mission is to “build strong communities with quality affordable housing.”

In addition to other housing units in Anaheim, the organization has worked on similar projects throughout the state.

Once built, project requirements include onsite supportive services for residents including drug counseling, mental health services, medical care, life skills classes and job training. Preference will be given to Anaheim residents in need of long-term, supportive housing such as the chronically homeless, veterans, and individuals with mental health conditions.

The $22 million estimated cost for the Econo Lodge Apartments conversion is being funding by state, county, and city taxpayer resources.