SAN DIEGO -- Father Joe's Villages kicked off its first housing project of the year Tuesday at the future site of 82 affordable housing units.
The project, Benson Place, will convert an old E-Z 8 Motel at 1010 Outer Road into a housing complex for homeless residents. The project's kick- off ceremony included the unraveling of a 17-foot-tall banner from the building's top balcony, reading "Hope Lives Here."
The project is named after Judy Benson, who recently donated $3 million to Father Joe's.
"My late husband Roger and I were abundantly blessed by our gracious God with the success of our previously owned business, Rescue Rooter," Judy Benson said. "With this success, we truly believed God was entrusting us with the financial resources to help others in need."
The city of San Diego plans to open a similar facility nearby in the Egger Highlands area by refitting a Super 8 motel that was the site of regular drug use and prostitution. The facility will include 82 beds and counseling for low-level drug offenders, many of whom are currently homeless. The California Coastal Commission voted last month to allow the project to move forward.
Benson Place is also the first project to break ground in Father Joe's Villages' Turning the Key initiative, an effort by the organization to build some 2,000 affordable housing units for seniors, military veterans, families, youth and disabled people who have dealt with homelessness.
"We've been gearing up for this project for a quite a while, and knowing we will soon be able to provide this long-term housing for our clients fills me with joy," Father Joe's President and CEO Deacon Jim Vargas said. "Benson Place is only the first of our Turning the Key initiative that will create affordable housing options to combat homelessness for good in San Diego."