Newly Renovated Hotel Churchill Houses 72 Homeless San Diegans
The San Diego Housing Commission, in partnership with its nonprofit affiliate Housing Development Partners, completed renovation of the historic Hotel Churchill in Downtown San Diego to provide 72 321 SF affordable studio apartments. The project is a key component component of Housing First – San Diego, SDHC’s three-year Homelessness Action Plan, which was launched in November 2014. Pictured is the new entrance to Hotel Churchill.
The 102-year-old hotel will accommodate 72 homeless individuals, including 59 veterans from all four military branches. A full-time clinical social worker from the VA San Diego Healthcare System will provide on-site supportive services to veteran residents.
The 56 units for veterans are part of SDHC’s Homeless Veterans Initiative, which aims to house 1,000 homeless veterans by 2017. Veterans residing at Hotel Churchill have an average age of 58 and annual income under $10k. One-third of them are disabled. The hotel is also providing homes for eight transitional-age youths who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and eight former prisoners.
SDHC will provide 72 federal housing vouchers to HDP to offset rent paid by residents. The fully furnished units rent for $942/month. Residents will pay 30% of their income in rent.
“These vulnerable San Diegans now have the opportunity to help turn their lives around at Hotel Churchill,” said SD Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who was among speakers at a ceremony last week that included local Congress members, public officials and a HUD representative. "That’s what this is all about—all of us working together to give that helping hand. The preservation of this landmark is an example of what we will continue to do to address not just veteran homelessness, but homelessness across the city.”
San Diego's homeless population is the fourth-largest in the nation, with 8,700 people without a fixed address and 50% of them living on the streets. SD City Councilmember Lories Zapf, a former foster youth, said 300 SD youths will be emancipated in one year from the foster care system. Most have no financial or social support or job. “About half of former foster youth will be homeless in the first two years after leaving foster care," Zapf said. “That is why it’s so important that the Hotel Churchill is setting aside eight units that will help some of the most at-risk youth that need services.”
The $20.6M renovation was funded in part with $12.1M in federal funds administered by SDHC. Civic San Diego president/CEO Reese Jarrett said this project is a catalyst for new development planned in the neighborhood, including a half-block park across the street that will help invigorate and stimulate the area.
The renovation included installation of viscous dampers, a seismic retrofit technology commonly used in stadiums and bridges. This is the first time viscous dampers, which act as a sort of shock absorber during an earthquake, have been adapted to seismically retrofit a historical structure in San Diego. One of the four viscous dampers installed at Hotel Churchill is along the wall in the lobby shown above.