April 17, 2023 —Visalia City Council
Documented by Jackie Schuster
What happened: At its Monday meeting, the Visalia City Council voted 3-1 to authorize city staff to apply for $15 million more in state Homekey funding for the conversion of the Majestic Inn into permanent, affordable housing.
Mayor Brian Poochigian was the sole vote against the pursuit of funding for the project, saying that he wants to be “consistent.” Vice Mayor Brett Taylor was absent from the meeting, while Council members Liz Wynn, Emmanuel Hernandez Soto and Steve Nelson all voted in favor.
The council awarded the original contract to RH Community Builders in July 2022 to renovate the motel located off West Noble Avenue and South Linwood Street. According to the agenda, this additional funding will further “assist with the development and operation” of the project.
Members of the public also voiced opposition, including Visalia resident Gwen Schran,k who said that there are other projects the city can fund, such as her organization, Schrank’s Clubhouse. The organization will soon open four homes with 34 beds without city help or funding, she said.
Another resident, Rosalinda Alexander, said she has spoken about this project before and that the “homeless problem” exceeds what the city can finance. She said that homelessness is a mental health and spiritual issue that can’t be fixed with more housing, but “with our hearts and from a different angle.”
Up next: The next Visalia City Council meeting is May 1 at 7 p.m.