The sale of a 122-room hotel on South St. Francis Drive to provide housing to some of the most needy and vulnerable people in Santa Fe during the coronavirus pandemic — and beyond — is expected to close by mid-December.

The timing is key.

The city of Santa Fe is leveraging $2 million of the nearly $17.6 million it received in CARES Act funding from the state to help purchase the Santa Fe Suites, and it has only until Dec. 31 to spend the money.

The city is working “diligently” with a New York-based nonprofit that strives to end homelessness and is “confident” the sale could be closed by the middle of next month, Alexandra Ladd, director of the city’s Office of Affordable Housing, told members of the city Quality of Life Committee last week.

“We are supporting this project because we believe that the purchase of an underused hotel motel property to keep our population safe during the pandemic is also the first step toward ending housing instability in Santa Fe,” Ladd said. “I want to emphasize that it’s a step. It’s not going to solve the whole problem.”

Ladd also said city government isn’t going into the lodging business — and the hotel won’t be a homeless shelter, either.

“This is a business model; this is not charity,” Ladd said. “This is not something that’s just going to suck government resources and subsidy from now until the cows come home every single year and need another infusion of support. This is a business model this is intended to support itself.”

Though the mix may change, Ladd said 42 units will be set aside for people who are working, but whose incomes have been reduced or whose health needs have been amplified because of the pandemic.

“Another 40 units or so will be reserved for renters with low incomes who may be employed but are not able to participate in Santa Fe’s housing marketplace,” she said. “The remaining 40 units are dedicated to Santa Fe’s chronic and veteran homeless where they can receive that intensive case management and health care and counseling and have all of their needs met in line with their housing.”

Ladd called the hotel “permanent, supportive housing.”

“These people will have their own small apartment unit as a result of living here,” she said.

The units, which average about 320 square feet, are furnished. Rents, which would include government subsidies in some cases, would range from $500 to $840 a month, generating more than $1 million annually.



Ladd said the property would offer a “coordinated entry system” that is part of nonprofit Community Solutions’ “Built for Zero” campaign, of which Santa Fe is a member. Community Solutions describes the campaign as a movement “made up of more than 80 cities and counties that have committed to measurably ending homelessness, one population at a time.”

The model starts with creating a list of homeless people in the community by name as part of an effort to address individual needs.

“This connects actual housing units to that system because it’s all very well to track somebody and to make sure they get the right referrals to different service providers in a network,” she said. “But if they’re not ending up in housing, then we haven’t actually solved the problem.”

Ladd called Community Solutions a “co-developer” in the project and said it is providing a technical assistance team.

“They’re also underwriting the project,” she said. “They’re figuring out how to finance it and then really trying to make that link between the units and the coordinated entry system, which is … part of the Built for Zero approach.”

On Tuesday, Ladd said the local project sponsor is likely to be a consortium of local services providers.

“We are working with Community Solutions on a series of design sessions to clarify the providers’ roles, which will be complete by closing,” she said.

Other partners include what Ladd said last week are “social impact investors,” which she said is uncommon in affordable housing projects.

“I think you’ll start to see it more and more, but these are investors who are willing to provide equity to the project in turn for a smaller return than they would get if they were investing in other types of investments,” she said. “But they’re doing that because they want to have a positive social impact. They’re willing to take a smaller return on their investment to know that they’re actually doing something good for the community.”

The total purchase price of the property is $7 million, contingent on an appraised value.

Ladd said the city also is considering spending $580,000 in federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funds, which would require an amendment to the city’s HUD Annual Action Plan. It would also require a 15-day public comment period and approval of the city’s Community Development Commission and the governing body’s advisory committees, as well as HUD.

Ladd said purchasing a hotel property to house people who are homeless or have housing instability as a result of the pandemic “or to moderate the effects of the pandemic” is an eligible project under HUD’s guidelines.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(20) comments

Samuel Herrera

Isn’t this a tribal owned hotel? The tribes really have the mayor’s number.

David Romero

It appears to be a replica oft the Coronado Apartments.

DeeDee Downs

This is a good thing. Let's all take a deep breath. Celebrate that we live in a city that takes action to meet the needs of the neediest among us, instead of endless arguing, complaining, and moaning. Let's all try to help each other. It's not that hard to be helpful, welcoming, and flexible. Try it. It feels good. It feels better than negativity.

Diane Gonzales

While this is admirable in concept, why has the city not taken the time to let the surrounding neighborhoods know of this acquisition earlier? I completely understand and sympathize with the urgency and need but better communication needs to happen. They are not going to say that it will be Section 8 housing but you know that is exactly what will happen within a short time. There are already two Section 8 apartment complexes near that hotel. The city loves to brag about supposedly addressing low-income housing but turns a deaf ear to the neighborhoods that have to live with certain situations that come up. Webber wants to rush this thing through to spend that money but doesn't seem to care about the impact on nearby neighborhoods. I wonder if this would happen if this was planned for the northside of SF. Oh, silly me, that would never even be contemplated much less tolerated!

Stefanie Beninato

Whoops "there" being midtown campus

Stefanie Beninato

Will this purchase then end the housing of the homeless there? Or is this another project altogether? I am a little confused when Ms Ladd speaks both of long term housing but also pandemic housing...Why would working people want to be in the same building as those who may have or be more vulnerable to COVID? I applaud the city for trying to find solutions for homeless people. The description of how things work concerning the units designated for those homeless is so vague that I wonder if there is a solid plan in place to prevent/manage the problems that have arisen in similar projects. I would also like solid information on how the city/nonprofits will connect those in need with appropriate services? Will there be an office on site for that purpose? Details, details please

Marisol Ituarte

As a current employee I am deeply saddened by the news that I can be losing my job to the people who make my job difficult on a daily basis. I am especially sad because the #1 issue at our hotel was drugs, prostitution & partying and now our city has basically purchased the land to allow those things to be done on the property. I am extremely happy to hear about housing for the homeless but was not expecting that it would cost my job to make that happen. All in all i really wish I didn't have the stress & anxiety i am having while having to comfort the many people who ALREADY live at SF suites as they were already homeless & will be yet again. I also hope my employees will find a job soon or else they too will be homeless.[sad]

David Brown

👍👍👍

William Bruno

👍👍

Angela Sanchez

I am sure none of you live in this neighborhood either. This is upsetting for those of us that live around here. Not to mention Albertsons, Cancer center, pediatric dentist, and other medical offices and businesses that strive for the nice neighborhood are going to be affected by this. I am sure there is other places in Santa Fe to take care of this problem.

Miguel Gabaldon

Angela Sanchez there really is no “other place” in Santa Fe because every other place is someone’s neighborhood. Right now the residents and business owners near Pete’s Place are dealing with the “side affects” of homelessness/health behavior support programs. Those near the “Green Tree Hotel” are starting to feel those same affects now that the City is running a similar program there.

The thing we all need to hope for is that whatever programs are pursued by the City are well managed, successful, and hopefully are able to end/reduce the number of homeless/behavior health issues that are starting to overrun Santa Fe.

Diane Gonzales

Well, the neighborhoods near there have had their fair share of being charitable because of the other apartments complexes nearby at the cost of home value, robberies, vandalism, etc.

DeeDee Downs

[thumbup]

David Brown

👍👍👍

D. Stark

Karla Harby, You point out several really interesting and perceptive points. This housing for those without sufficient means does seem very problematic. How can this be managed effectively and fairly with no damage to the property or, to one another? The thought of the poor animals being brought into the mix is also troubling. I believe you make a valid point regarding Habitat for Humanity. A good part of its efficacy is the engagement with the people it serves instilling pride, confidence, and a sense of personal connection. There has to be a better way to help those that are in need - Housing is absolutely essential but this project seems like an expensive brew of trouble. We need brighter minds engaged with this ever-growing problem. Too many are suffering without proper care.

Karla Harby

This housing project is going to require experienced, dedicated, and passionate management. Big challenges include: 1. Too many units, too much concentration of low income folks in one place; 2. Units are too small for a family or couple to live in, and all single occupancy units brings its own problems; 3. Don't assume low income people want to live anywhere near homeless people. You'll still fill it, but not with the best tenants.

The whole point of Habitat for Humanity, which I have volunteered for, is that the future occupants work beside volunteers to renovate their housing stock, and therefore residents have "sweat equity" in the project. This helps reduce the problem of the housing getting trashed. (Whatever your maintenance budget is, you had better double it.)

I know the needs are great, but this is a project heading for a fall. The city needs to discuss it more with experts who have on-the-ground experience with these tenant populations.

One thing that might help, I think, would be to combine at least some units to create 750 square feet of living space so that you don't have what New York City used to have--single room occupancy (SRO) hotels. Even NYC had to give up on SROs, and they have considerable resources.

People end up poor enough to need housing support for a reason, or many reasons. There are physical and mental health issues, personality problems, extended family problems, substance abuse problems (often alcohol abuse), educational deficits, overall poor functionality. These kinds of things are moving in with the people in these 120? units.

One last thing--don't forget the dogs and cats. In my experience as a Section 8 landlord, it is impossible to stop residents from bringing in their pets and it's not worth it to try. So gear up for issues in the realm as well.

William Bruno

👍👍

Melissa Savage

Davi Brown: How do you propose taking care of people struggling under the burden of COVID, or on the streets with no home in the winter?

David Brown

There goes the neighborhood....want drugs? Now one knows where to go.....

Christian Casillas

Thank you Alexandra and others at the City for continuing to put thought and resources into compassionate and creative approaches to address the complex problem of homeless amongst our fellow community members

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