Fresno County secures $15 million to turn former hotel into housing for homeless

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County has secured $15.3 million from the state to purchase and convert the Hotel Fresno, formerly known as the Smuggler's Inn at Blackstone and Dakota, into permanent housing for the homeless.

"The state made the county aware that these dollars were available just about two months ago and the turnaround time was like 30 days to identify a project to put an application in," says Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig. "The County of Fresno moved quickly to identify a location."

The funding is part of Project HomeKey, Gov. Newsom's plan to increase affordable housing and shelter for the homeless.
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About $10 million in state money is being used to purchase the property with the rest going toward renovations of around 160 units for permanent housing.

"This is going to be made available to those individuals that are ready to make those next steps," Magsig said. "So right now in Fresno County, we have triage housing, we also have transitional housing, but this is more permanent."

Fresno City Councilmember Nelson Esparza represents the district where the former Smuggler's Inn is located.

According to him, the City of Fresno has had no formal role in this project to convert the property and rename it "Crossroads Village."

"In terms of the businesses and residents that have voiced their concerns, they feel that Blackstone already has quite a bit of a homeless population that concentrates within the area," he said.

The project calls for the property to be gated with 24-hour security.

Magsig says the county settled on the site because of its centralized location.

"It's ideal in my opinion because you can jump on a bus very easily off Blackstone Avenue," he said. "You can access freeways, you can come to Downtown Fresno and enjoy entertainment options in the north part of town. Really, its centrally located."

Construction is expected to begin in the coming weeks with a grand opening set for early 2021
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