Homeless people will be one step closer to having a new lease on life once a former Gainesville motel is renovated using $4 million in grant funding the state awarded Alachua County on Tuesday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a total of $28.4 million in funding to 23 Florida communities through the Community Development Block Grant–CV (CDBG-CV) program, administered by the Florida Department of Economics (DEO), which primarily benefits low- and moderate-income residents.
Claudia Tuck, Alachua County’s director of community support services, said the money is earmarked to upgrade the former Budget Inn motel located at 4401 SW 13th St., which the county purchased in November 2020 in an effort to help the homeless situation.
“This is going to be a complete renovation for a motel that we purchased last year,” Tuck said. “It’s going to be focusing on the most vulnerable residents in our community—homeless individuals.”
Tuck said the renovated units will be for permanent housing where the occupants will have a lease in their name and be paying a third of their income toward rent.
“It’s not going to be any kind of a shelter or transitional housing,” she said.
The groundwork to transform the motel into apartments came prior to acquiring the property.
“We already, prior to purchasing, went through land code revisions that were required for zoning,” Tuck said. “So there was a Unified Land Development Code change that allows for the conversion of motels that meet certain criteria into apartments. And part of that we have to install fire sprinkler systems and related to that is waterlines, fire hydrants and alarm systems, so basic code things.”
Upgrades will also be made to windows, doors, electrical and plumbing, air conditioning, rehabbing a community building on the grounds, improving the laundry facility, replacing roofs, parking lot improvements, and making two units ADA compliant.
The goal is to have the renovation completed in a year, but that will depend on construction timelines and approving the grant funds through the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners.
“We don’t even have the paperwork on the contract on the grant yet,” Tuck said. “It was just announced by the governor yesterday, so we don’t have the contract that we will have to take to our board to sign. We already have been going through some of the steps anticipating either renovating it under the grant or modified under our own funding, so we have an RFP [request for proposal] out for an architect so we’ll be ready to go with that as soon as we get the contract.”
Affordable housing continues to be a major topic in both the county and the City of Gainesville.
On Tuesday, the Gainesville City Commission held a workshop to discuss single family zoning changes and the removal of occupancy limits that will be addressed during its July meetings. The city has held three workshops on zoning and affordable housing. During its May 27th meeting, the city commission approved staff to develop a framework for how a $50 million bond could be spent to help create affordable housing in Gainesville.
In recent months, the Gainesville Housing Authority and Gainesville Housing Development Management Corporation have opened new housing units for low income elderly, disabled and veteran families off SW 8th Avenue and in North Lincoln Heights with a goal for 500 units over five years.