Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Friday, June 7 @ 3:57 p.m. / Local Government

County Gears Up For Big Renovation of the Legacy; Project Will Add Meeting Space, Community Kitchen, Kitchenette Features to Former Motel

Del Norte County has embarked on a renovation project that aims to turn the Legacy into more of a home for the tenants who live there than the motel it once was.

Department of Health and Human Services staff began shuffling residents to temporary locations within the facility so construction can start on May 31, said Shiann Hogan, the Behavioral Health Branch’s deputy director. In the next two weeks, changes will be made to the Legacy’s former pool area.

A new sprinkler system will be installed and each unit will be equipped with kitchenettes that includes a refrigerator, sink, cupboards and counter space and a two-burner stove, Hogan told the Wild Rivers Outpost.

“They’re excited to see that what we’ve talked about for so many years is finally happening. My staff in Behavioral Health are excited,” she said. “Last Friday, as the tenants were moving, I paid for donuts and one of my staff paid for coffee and we made a day of moving everybody about.”

Del Norte County purchased the former Coastal Inn & Suites at 665 L Street in Crescent City with $1.9 million in state Project Homekey dollars in October 2020.

Up until then, the county had been using the motel at full capacity since May 2020 for interim housing during the COVID-19 pandemic, then-DHHS Director Heather Snow told the Outpost in September 2020.

Project Homekey was a state-funded program that allowed local agencies to purchase hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties and convert them to permanent supportive housing for those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.

Currently, 15 of the facility’s 30 units are occupied, Hogan said. Some units are studios while others can be considered one-bedroom apartments. The residents who stay there participate in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s project-based housing voucher program. This means their rent is based on their income and their household size, according to Hogan.

In addition to housing, a Behavioral Health Branch client service specialist works with Legacy tenants to get their medical needs taken care of, find access to employment and even move into a more independent permanent living situation, Hogan said.

Staff are on site every single day. Once renovations to the former pool area is finished, that space could house one-on-one meetings between a tenant and their case worker or group meetings, she said.

“The other piece is teaching individuals how to live independently, cooking, cleaning, how to maintain a place, how to build relationships with landlords — all those types of things,” Hogan said.

Once all the rooms have been renovated, Hogan said she anticipates that it will be full with a waiting list Behavioral Health staff can pull from as tenants move on to more independent housing.

At its April 23 meeting, the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors approved a contract with S&B James Construction for a not-to-exceed cost of $2.765 million for the renovation. The project is being paid for by state and federal dollars, according to the county’s April 23 staff report.

“What will be happening over the next two weeks is the renovation into what was the former pool area,” Hogan said. “That’s going to turn into a community room with office space and a shared community kitchen. And then they’ll work on some more intensive renovation as far as bringing in water lines and digging trenches. A big part of that is due to the sprinkler system.”

The Legacy renovation project also comes as Del Norte County moves forward on a multi-faceted continuum of housing services on Williams Drive using $10.8 million in state Encampment Resolution Funding. The funding will pay for a pallet home village, staff to operate an emergency shelter and a navigational center, including case management.

In February, the Board of Supervisors approved a plan to allow Del Norte Mission Possible to house its emergency shelter on the Williams Drive property.

According to Hogan, the Legacy, as the county’s permanent supportive housing program, is a big part of the county’s continuum of services.

“Theoretically, maybe somebody enters into the emergency shelter and stabilizes and they do well, they could move to a pallet stove and then transition to supportive living at the Legacy,” she said. “There are also many other paths they could [take] to enter straight into the Legacy.”

Battery Point Apartments and Harbor Point Apartments within the city limits also helps meet the need of permanent housing in Crescent City, Hogan said.

The renovation project will be conducted in phases to minimize disruption to residents. Work is scheduled to be completed within 150 calendar days, ending no later than Oct. 24, 2024. A public ribbon cutting will follow, according to a county press release Friday.


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