Sometimes something good happens that everyone — local, state and national governments, nonprofit human service agencies and private enterprise — can be proud of.
Such a thing will come to fruition this Wednesday when some of Sonoma County’s most vulnerable and deserving homeless people and military vets move into homes of their own.
At that time, the Palms Inn on South Santa Rosa Avenue will open the doors of 104 safe, clean and dry studio apartments to people now who are on the streets; 60 military veterans and 44 chronically and vulnerable homeless people.
The opening comes after 15 months of successfully negotiating the maze of city, county, state and federal regulations that can often block simple ideas for improving a community.
Creation of the Palms Inn as a destination for the homeless is possible thanks to a long list of many heroes.
It begins with Akash Kalia who bought the motel from his parents in 2012 and who got the idea last year to turn his property into something that could help the community. Kalia was borrowing on a successful program in San Francisco where a hotel was providing rooms to homeless.
The Palms Inn, formerly a Holiday Inn, is not new to the prospect of becoming a place for the homeless. Vacant 20 years ago, it was considered by the Board of Supervisors as a homeless shelter.
That idea was shelved in April 1996 because of fiscal and neighborhood concerns.
Kalia, who for the record is my client, began exploring the idea again last October and his vision became a reality thanks to the collaborative efforts of many people.
Supervisor Shirlee Zane and later the entire Board of Supervisors got behind the idea and put up the money to bridge the gap to fund the first year of supportive services.
Catholic Charities, with Jennielynn Holmes as the point person, is providing the expertise for the actual operation of the housing program and supportive services.
The county Veterans Affairs Office and later the national VA cleared the way for veterans to use their benefits to pay their monthly rents.
City, county and state offices put the project on a fast track to meet land use and water regulatory needs.
A coalition of human and social service agencies put together on-site services to provide future Palms Inn residents with resources and support needed for them to escape from long-term homelessness.
The Palms Inn supportive housing program is a model of how private property owners can work cooperatively with nonprofits and government to pursue their personal business interests in a way that is beneficial to the larger community.
This Wednesday, doors will begin to open for residents eligible for a place at The Palms.
Their rents will be financed with Section 8 housing vouchers or VA support that were good only if they had a suitable roof to rent, sometimes impossible during our scarce supply of affordable and available rentals.
The first resident to qualify for a room, himself a U.S. Army veteran, was hired to be resident manager to oversee general maintenance of the property and to coordinate assistance for future residents dealing with health care and substance-abuse treatment programs.