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FGCU launches free workshops to foster equity, retain workers; Supreme Court throws out race claim in SC redistricting case in win for GOP; as millions hit the roads, MI lawmakers consider extra driving fees; CT groups prepare for World Fish Migration Day.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Santa Fe Converts Route 66 Hotel to Affordable Housing

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Wednesday, June 1, 2022   

The conversion of a 60-year-old Santa Fe hotel should offer those seeking affordable housing, including the city's homeless community, a new lease on life.

The Lamplighter Inn, on what was originally Route 66, will be remodeled into a mix of 58 studio and one-bedroom apartments. A broad coalition, including the housing consulting group Project Moxie, is part of the initiative. Matt Lynn, Moxie's director of community engagement, said he expects the facility to open sometime in 2023.

"This is going to prevent people from falling into homelessness," he said. "These are modestly sized units that are renting at a very affordable price compared to the market rate in Santa Fe. This gives them the stability of having a safe place to sleep at night."

The Biden administration has made federal stimulus funds available for hotel conversion projects. Potential residents need to earn less than 80% of the Area Median Income, or about $41,000 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Rent for the Lamplighter housing units will initially range from $725 to $825 a month.

The hotel was purchased with the conversion in mind by a group that includes Anchorum St. Vincent. Jerry Jones, Anchorum's interim president and chief executive, said he believes the collaboration could be a great model for other communities.

"Because you have a service provider, you have the nonprofits, you have the for-profits, you have the governmental entities," he said, "it's a great template for us to hopefully address future inventory in a similar way."

Lynn said hotel conversions are a cost-effective and timely way to address housing shortages, especially with current inflation and supply-chain issues.

"We're not going to be opening up our doors tomorrow, but it's going to move faster than if we had scraped the property and started fresh," he said. "It's a way to quickly get units on the market."

The Lamplighter housing also is located next to Life Link, which offers services to break cycles of chronic homelessness, mental illness, trauma, exploitation and addiction. To that end, 25% of the units will be set aside for people who require supportive services to remain stably housed.


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