Father Joe’s Villages breaks ground on first affordable housing project of 2020


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SAN DIEGO — Father Joe’s Villages hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Jan. 7 for its first affordable housing project of 2020, Benson Place, near the border.

It will begin remodeling the old motel to become 82 units of housing for people experiencing homelessness, complete with supportive services needed to maintain long-term housing.

Father Joe’s Villages will continue to create affordable homes in San Diego for those overcoming homelessness – 2,000 units to be exact – throughout its Turning the Key initiative, of which Benson Place is the first project to break ground.
Father Joe’s Villages recognizes that the biggest barrier to solving homelessness in San Diego is the lack of affordable housing. By creating long-term housing developments like Benson Place and employing existing supportive services tailored for each individual, Father Joe’s Villages will ensure its clients have the tools they need to succeed in permanent housing. This initiative aligns with the City of San Diego Community Action Plan on Homelessness.
Once converted, the motel building near Otay Mesa will house 82 rooms, each including a small housing unit with a kitchen and bathroom. The common and outdoor spaces are designed for all residents to share and will have a laundry facility, community room, full kitchen, dining and lounge areas, computer station, stocked common pantry and barbecue, community garden and bike storage shed. The building will include offices for property managers, case managers and security staff.
“My late husband Roger and I were abundantly blessed by our gracious God with the success of our previously owned business, Rescue Rooter,” said Judy Benson, the Father Joe’s Villages donor who made Benson Place possible. “With this success, we truly believed God was entrusting us with the financial resources to help others in need. Now my family and I are honored and thrilled to be a part of Father Joe’s Villages’ work to help our neighbors experiencing homelessness find a home to call their own.”

Community organizations including Business for Good, A Reason to Survive, Steve Russell and the San Diego Housing Federation, Girls Scouts of San Diego, Father Joe’s Villages’ Ladies Guild and staff, and muralist Ruth McGraw gathered to show their support for Benson Place by each painting a portion of the 17-foot-tall banner showcasing the words “Hope Lives Here.”

This banner was unraveled from the top balcony of the building as a sign of welcoming for its future residents.
Turning the Key is Father Joe’s Villages’ initiative to build affordable housing projects like Benson Place. When complete, the initiative will add 2,000 units of affordable housing dedicated to more than 2,500 seniors, veterans, families, transition-age youth and people with disabilities who are overcoming homelessness. Turning the Key relies on a strategic blend of existing public dollars and private contributions, and once built, the housing locations will generate enough rent to cover expenses related to building operations and services.
“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,” said Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages. “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.”

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