July 5, 2018

By Angela Greenwood

It was a long time hub for prostitution in Sacramento County, but an old motel along the North Watt Corridor will be turned into affordable housing for homeless and low-income families.

Mercy Housing purchased the building five years ago and construction is set to start soon. Officials with the project say they plan to help create a new environment in the crime-ridden community.

Once a breeding ground for blight, the Courtyard Inn in North Highlands could soon be a catalyst for change. The motel, notorious for prostitution and drug deals, was sold to Mercy Housing in 2014.

In the next few months, they’ll break ground on a revamped 92-unit housing complex for low-income and homeless families, complete with 24-7 staffing and medical and mental health services. It’s a $32 million project, with $8.5 million being paid for by the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency through county and city funds.

“Not only does it improve the property that has been a problem in the past, but it also provides brand new housing for people,” said Janna Haynes, spokeswoman with Sacramento County.

Business in the area have long battled crime and are happy to see things turning around.

“It’s just exciting,” said Rebekah Evans, the Executive Director with the Watt 80 District, a business improvement district founded in 2015 to take the streets back.

“Every ounce of change, bringing more money into that business, is just exceptional.”

Lee Strape has lived just east of Watt Avenue for nearly 50 years and said she still sees transients and prostitutes roaming the area daily.

“I don’t see any change in anything.”

She says she welcomes anything that will clean up her neighborhood.

“It would be nice. that would be great. I’m definitely gonna keep an open mind.”

An old motel known best for housing criminal activity will now become a future home to help those who’ve been struggling.

“This is a great option to improve communities and improve lives,” said Haynes.

Sacramento County officials say there won’t be an application process for folks to move in, but will instead be taking in people who they’ve already identified through different outreach programs over the years. The housing is expected to be complete in 2020.

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