🔔 UPDATED 🔔1/30/2024 with details of the architectural rendering of the building and photos from a Jan. 23 press conference held on the premises.
West Hollywood on Jan. 19 rubber-stamped an agreement with its homeless services provider Ascencia to operate the interim housing facility scheduled to open inside the former Holloway Motel by the end of 2024.
WEHOonline delves deep into the fine print of the $6.6. million, four-and-a-half-year contract.
City Council reviewed a comprehensive plan covering how the Holloway Interim Housing Program at 8300 Santa Monica Blvd. will be run and what the rules will be for those who stay there.
The program will provide a private bedroom and bathroom for as many as 20 homeless people at a time for stays lasting between 30 and 90 days. Those who want to enter the program must meet the federal definition of being “chronically homeless” i.e. have a disabling condition and have been either continuously homeless for a year or more or have had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.
Though Ascencia will have the option of conducting criminal background checks on new residents, it won’t be a requirement. The residents will be allowed to come and go as they please during the day and stay out overnight with prior approval from a staff member. If a resident fails to contact their case manager after two nights of absence, they will be considered to have abandoned the program.
The program will be run under the Housing First/harm reduction model, which sees getting homeless people off the streets as a greater priority than requiring them to be sober or submit to treatment. Residents will not be kicked out of the program if they’re caught engaging in “risky or harmful behaviors.”
If a resident enters the facility intoxicated, they can return to their room with a staff member’s approval as long as they aren’t disruptive. The contract says alcohol, cannabis and other illegal substances (plus any paraphernalia) will not be allowed at the facility, but it does not address whether or how the rule will be enforced. There is no mention of drug testing, but staff members will be trained in the use of NARCAN and other measures to prevent deaths by overdose.
Beyond help finding permanent housing, residents will have access to a wide range of free, on-site services and amenities — including medical and psychiatric care, therapy sessions, public benefits assistance, substance abuse treatment, life coaching, job counseling and legal aid— but they won’t be forced to use them.
Residents will get three meals a day tailored to their individual dietary needs, plus two snacks. They’ll receive transportation to and from “essential services and appointments” via TAP cards, rideshare vouchers or the program’s own vehicle. Every five days, they’ll get their rooms cleaned and linens changed, and be provided with hygiene supplies. They’ll have storage for their bicycles, and they can park their cars at a nearby city lot. They’ll even be allowed to bring in their service animals, who can stay in their rooms or in a dedicated outdoor area.
During their stays, they can take advantage of a “calendar of diverse daily activities” like 12-step meetings, book groups, arts and crafts sessions, exercise and yoga coordinated by Ascencia staff.
No guests will be allowed inside the facility, and residents are not supposed to mingle in each other’s rooms. Each room will have a bed, desk, dresser and chair, and each resident gets a set of linens, a pillow, a blanket, and a set of towels. The facility will have a group activities room with a TV, an outdoor patio, a laundry room, a trash enclosure, a storage area, a food preparation area and, notably, a smoking area (West Hollywood currently prohibits renters from using their own apartment balconies to smoke cigarettes or vape).
The program will have one on-site security guard at all times who will conduct routine patrols within a ¼ mile radius and be responsible for checking all residents in and out of the facility. The guard will also be responsible for making sure residents do not bring in weapons, incendiary devices or other dangerous items. The contract doesn’t mention inspections for illegal substances.
A staff of approximately nine full-time employees will be responsible for running the facility and overseeing the 20 residents, including an on-site manager, a supportive services supervisor and coordinator, two case managers and four resident advisors.
If Ascencia is able to get just 30% of residents into permanent housing, they will have satisfied the main performance goal laid out in their contract with the city.
In addition to the $6.6 million for Ascencia, the total cost of the program includes $463,509.94 in architectural design services by John Kaliski Architects, Inc. and a construction contract with PCN3, Inc. worth $8,707,815. These costs are offset by a Project Homekey grant the city received that provided $4,799,661 in state funds for capital expenditures and $1,008,000 for operating expenses.