The Red Roof Inn in Valley West may soon be converted into housing for the homeless | Photos: Jacquelyn Opalach


Faced with the ongoing challenge of securing housing for homeless people in our community, the City of Arcata is working with The Danco Group and Arcata House Partnership (AHP) to convert two Valley West hotels — the Red Roof Inn and the Days Inn & Suites, both on Valley West Boulevard — into housing for those experiencing homelessness.

The proposed projects, Arcata Community Development Director David Loya told the Outpost, will require a zoning change to allow the lots to be used for emergency housing and will need to be approved by both the City Planning Commission and the Arcata City Council. If approved, this project would provide approximately 130 rooms for homeless individuals in Humboldt.

“The challenge we’re facing with homelessness right now is unprecedented,” Loya said in a phone interview with the Outpost on Tuesday morning. “This [project] is a relatively simple fix. Those buildings are already there.”

The project would be largely funded though grant money from the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Homekey program — a statewide effort, built on Project Roomkey, to rapidly expand housing for people experiencing homelessness. The Arcata City Council will also need to approve the grant application, before the City can submit the proposal.

The Days Inn & Suites on Valley West Boulevard

If the grant is awarded, AHP would purchase the Days Inn and would provide rooms for chronically homeless individuals. Darlene Spoor, executive director of AHP, told the Outpost that an individual is considered “chronically homeless” if they have been homeless for at least one year and have some sort of disability.

Last year AHP utilized Project Roomkey funds to place homeless individuals in rooms at the Days Inn, helping provide them with shelter during the pandemic. That program has since ended though, Spoor said, and she is eager to secure more housing for those in need.

“I think as we visibly see more people who are homeless, its important to know that a big part of that is because we don’t have housing,” Spoor told the Outpost. The community support is going to be critical to us, so we can help. The biggest question I get is ‘will this bring more homeless people to Valley West?’ And I say ‘they’re already here.”

Supplemented by funds from the Homekey grant, Danco would purchase the Red Roof Inn, allotting some rooms to chronically homeless individuals and some to other people who are homeless. Danco will do some minimal construction on the hotel — including remodeling the rooms and removing the swimming pool, which is expensive and difficult to maintain and could present potential liability issues. 

Of course, converting the hotels into housing would have at least a small financial impact on the City, due to the loss in Transient Occupancy Tax. But Loya said the sacrifice is well worth it. “What we’re getting in exchange is the chance to provide our homeless community with housing,” he said.

In order to gather community feedback on these proposed projects, Danco and Arcata House Partnership will be hosting two public meetings on Wednesday, Dec. 1 to share information on the project. The first meeting will be held at noon in the Arcata House Partnership parking lot — 4677 Valley West Boulevard — and is specifically for residents experiencing homelessness. Loya told the Outpost that the meeting is open to all members of the public, but the main purpose of the meeting is to gain input from the people who would be served by the project. A free lunch will be served and socks and warm clothing will be handed out to those in need.

For other community members to learn more about the projects and provide their feedback, there will be a public meeting held over Zoom on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. You can access the meeting at this link, or with meeting ID 863 2854 5516.

The public will also have an opportunity to comment on the project when it comes before the Planning Commission on Tuesday, Dec. 14 and when the project comes before the Arcata City Council during its meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 15. 

Though Loya is not exactly sure how long the entire process will take, he said that, assuming the council approves the project and the grant application, he hopes the projects can be up and running by summer 2022.

“The sooner, the better” Loya said. “[This housing] is something our community is in desperate need of. But it’s just not happening fast enough.”

You can find more information on the project on the City of Arcata website.