Pasadena Motel Could Become City’s First Converted into Permanent Supportive Housing

Published : Tuesday, October 16, 2018 | 4:59 AM

Just two weeks after the Pasadena City Council approved a plan to fast-track the conversion of motels and hotels into permanent supportive housing for the homeless, a proposal is already in the works to do exactly that with the Ramada Inn on Colorado Boulevard.

An organization called National Community Renaissance, or National CORE, is in the process of buying the Ramada, 2156 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena Housing and Career Services Department Director Bill Huang said.

“There is a proposal that was brought to us by a nonprofit affordable housing developer to acquire the Ramada Inn and convert it to permanent supportive housing,” he said. “[They] just were able to execute a purchase and sale agreement and get into escrow last week.”

A community meeting to discuss the proposal is planned at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Gregory Armenian Church, 2215 E Colorado Blvd.

The City Council voted Oct. 1 to amend the city’s zoning code to allow for the conversion of motels and hotels into permanent low-cost housing, along with services such as addiction counseling and employment resources, in an effort to take on Pasadena’s growing homeless problem.

In addition to making the conversion possible through the zoning change, the city is considering chipping in toward the purchase of the property from redevelopment funds dedicated to affordable housing projects.

“We haven’t finalized that exactly, but we’re probably looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of around $4 million,” Huang said.

National CORE already runs another permanent supportive housing facility on Mar Vista Avenue in Pasadena called Marv’s Place. It houses about five-dozen people, more than half of them children, according to city officials.

“Folks who are homeless come in there and this is permanent housing. It’s not a shelter,” he said. “Once they moved in there, they were not homeless anymore because they had a permanent place to live,” Huang said.

But while Marv’s Place is home to families, Huang said the proposed Ramada conversion would house only adults.

National CORE manages 63 developments in California, housing about 14,000 residents, according to the organization’s website. It also runs facilities in three other states.

“This would be similar to what was done in Marv’s Place,” Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said. “Union Station (Homeless Services) would be providing the services onsite. Pasadena would be providing some funding support.”

But she added that it is still early in the process, and she wants to hear the public’s input.

“It was the Council’s decision that if a proposal came forward and a property was wanted to be converted, that the first thing we would do is have a community meeting about it, so that is really the first step,” she said. “And until we take that step, as far as the city is concerned, there’s no project, because I need to hear from my constituents and we need to hear from all residents in the city.”

The converted hotel would provide 75 units, according to a fact sheet prepared by city staff.

Applicants would be selected by Union Station and screened with background checks, officials said. Those with violent criminal histories would not be allowed. The site would have on-site management and could open in two to three years.

Huang said remodeling motels or hotels into permanent supportive housing is much faster than building a facility from the ground up.

And something has to be done, he said. “We need to produce affordable housing and specifically to address our homeless population, which went up 18 percent in the last year.”