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Modesto Turning Old Motel Into 'Second-Stop Housing' For Homeless

MODESTO (CBS13) — The city of Modesto has given the final green light on a first-of-its-kind project to turn an old motel into studio apartments with services for the homeless.

Lorenzo Brown credits the Gospel Rescue Mission for saving his life.

"This could be that stepping stone for someone to reintegrate back into society," Brown said.

He's currently in a program to get back on his feet, so when he was asked if he wants to help renovate an old motel from the 1970s into new transitional housing, he and a few others answered that call.

"I said 'sure.' The bible says if someone asks you to go a mile, you go two. So we're a part of that extra mile club," Brown said.

Brown missed just two days out of the last month to help others just like himself.

"I don't have a lot of money, but I can come out and work and put a little sweat in for someone else just as I would want someone to do for me," he said.

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The volunteers say the work isn't easy.

"We've been pulling out furniture, pulling up carpet, tack boards, stuff like that," Nicolas Van Schaick with the Gospel Rescue Mission said.

They say their preparations will help the Stanislaus Regional Housing Authority, City of Modesto, and Stanislaus County drive down the costs of creating what it calls "second-stop housing."

"I don't know of any project or development in the state of California that has this additional step to help people along that whole continuum of care," Teresa Kinney with the Stanislaus Housing Authority said.

The idea is to bridge the gap between homelessness and homeownership by providing people with a new level of housing once they are ready to leave the shelter.

"It's permanent supportive housing so they can stay as long as they want or need, but to help get them to self-sufficiency," Kinney said.

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The Housing Authority paid approximately $2.8 million for the motel and renovations are expected to cost $5.2 million. They say updating an older building means bringing it up to code. The $5.2 million will go toward installing a new sprinkler system, tearing out the swimming pool, repaving the driveway, replacing windows with energy-efficient glass and adding to the electrical load to install kitchenettes.

These are steps Brown believes are necessary to create affordable housing for those working to better their lives.

The Kansas House will serve about 150 to 200 people including couples, friends, siblings or single parents with one or two parents.

It's expected to open at the end of February.

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