Low income housing closure seen as positive

August 13, 2008 12:30:41 AM PDT
The decision is causing worry, anger, and concern among the hotel's 60 tenants, but many of those who live and work in downtown area see the closure as positive change.

The Palo Alto Hotel has been on High Street for years for low income tenants. Without it, more people may be living on the streets of Palo Alto come Thursday.

A disabled vet with the nickname "Vietnam Joey" has lived at the end of the hall of the Palo Alto Hotel, for the last six years.

"I don't know how I'm going to move my plants?" asked Joey.

This 60 year old has a lot on his mind with the hotel shutting down in two days. The new owners are building an upscale boutique hotel in its place.

"I'm moving. This is my life and I don't know what I'm actually doing," said Joey.

"A lot of them are just going to be back out on the streets with nowhere to go," said Eileen Richardson, with the Downtown Streets Team.

The hotel is one of the most affordable for low income tenants in the area. It costs $40 a night. The majority who live at the hotel are disabled, mentally ill, or just a few dollars away from homelessness.

"The tenants only received 29 days to find another place and with someone in that situation with disabilities or what not, that's not enough time," said Richardson.

Non profits like the Downtown Streets Team are scrambling to find the 60 tenants new homes. They've placed all, but 18. Joey is going to a hotel in Redwood City, but Rea Reinhardt has no definite plans.

"I think I know enough people that I can shack up somewhere," said Reinhardt.

According to those who live and work on High Street, the long term goal is to get these tenants out of the area.

"Every week we have cop cars out here that are taking care of the menace on the street and I think it's about time someone has shut it down," said a man who works in the area.

"Upscale is better I'm sure, it's sad people are getting booted out but it'll probably be better for the neighborhood," said Chuck Rector, a tech company employee.

Mediators have gotten involved and even though they say the tenants can stay for another two months, management is telling them otherwise. The tenants aren't taking any chances and they're moving out.


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