Homeless Coalition begins moving residents into El Nido Motel

Staff Report

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Through Project Homekey funding, the Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless purchased the El Nido Motel in South Lake Tahoe.

Project Homekey allocates state funding to local agencies combating homelessness in the community. Clients, including medically fragile seniors who were living without shelter, started moving in mid-Dec.

“The property will provide much-needed affordable housing and supportive services for the most vulnerable local seniors, people with disabilities, and others at high risk of cold exposure and COVID-19 illness,” a press release stated.

TCH is working closely with program partners and occupants to assess vulnerability and income. Current occupants of the El Nido who meet the income requirements for low-income housing and are at risk of homelessness will be allowed to stay and participate in this program. For those who are over the government-mandated income thresholds, TCH is providing assistance to relocate into comparable units, in accordance with government regulations. Many of the applicants to the Project Homekey program are vulnerable seniors, persons with disabilities, and veterans all facing homelessness.

During the course of purchasing the property, TCH found several occupants of the El Nido who had been living in unpermitted rooms such as the office or communal kitchen. TCH is transitioning those tenants into legal units on site or in a comparable unit at another location and are covering moving costs.

“We have no intention of displacing occupants without a solid plan for relocation,” the press release stated.

In the past year, the coalition has operated the Warm Room during the winter, in fact, last year was the first winter in recent memory that none of the unsheltered homeless died from exposure.

However, during the presentation to South Lake Tahoe City Council on Dec. 15, the coalition said that because of COVID restrictions, they would not be opening a warm room this year.

This makes Project Homekey that much more important.

“With Project Homekey, Tahoe has a rare opportunity to reduce suffering from COVID-19 while creating a positive, lasting impact in the lives of our most vulnerable community members,” the press release stated. “Ensuring that everyone in our community has access to safe housing and supportive services will also save millions from local budgets, prevent negative impacts to sensitive ecological areas, and create safer, happier neighborhoods for all of us.”

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