(The Center Square) – The city of Berkeley approved extending the lease for 43 hotel rooms for homeless people for an additional 30 months at a cost of $5.36 million at the city council meeting Sept. 19.
Peter Radu, assistant to the city manager for the city of Berkeley, said the approval was a contingency plan. Radu said the city is waiting to see if it will be approved for a state grant that would give them the money to buy the hotel outright.
“The conversion to permanent supportive housing is our preference, but because the current lease on the motel ends in just over a month (10/31), we needed a back-up plan in the event our HomeKey application isn’t successful,” Radu said in an email to The Center Square.
Homekey is a state program that funds municipal efforts to house homeless people, often by funding the purchases of hotels.
The city was first awarded around $4.7 million from the State of California Encampment Resolution Funding grant to operate the Rodeway Inn. On April 26, 2023, the Council approved a contract with Adobe Services to manage the Rodeway Inn. The lease will expire Oct. 31.
There is a $2,000 per room deposit for damages due at the time of lease termination, a continuance of the urgency ordinance previously issued on April 26, 2022.
“It was a provision in the original lease that we will extend if HomeKey is not awarded,” Radu said. “The idea is that, because this is a low-barrier and harm-reduction oriented program to serve high needs individuals, the risk of property damage is real. Hotels, when renting rooms to a tourist, will pass damage on to the room occupant by charging those damages to their credit card; the same logic applies here (namely that the occupant—in this case, the city—should be responsible for damages caused by our occupancy there.”
As previously reported by The Center Square, in states like Colorado, Arizona, California, and Washington, cities are spending millions buying hotels to shelter the homeless.
The new contract will begin Nov. 31 and expire on Apr. 30, 2026.
According to documents, Since the beginning of the program for Peoples Park, 110 people have been served. Among the 72 who have left the program, 35 have moved directly into permanent housing.