Goofy-looking motel with a pointy roof and a yellow sign sticking into the air.
Bay Area Community Services and Memar Properties will use state money to redevelop the West MacArthur Boulevard motel. Credit: Natalie Orenstein

Temescal’s yellow Imperial Inn, with its unmissable kitschy signage, will soon be converted into supportive housing for homeless residents. 

The state’s housing department announced Tuesday that Oakland will receive $15.5 million for the project, one of five proposals the city submitted in this round of “Homekey” funds. The pandemic program channels state money to local governments to convert existing buildings into supportive housing. 

The city applied for the Imperial Inn award on behalf of Bay Area Community Services and Memar Properties, Inc., which will buy and redevelop the motel over the next year. Bay Area Community Services will provide services to the homeless residents who will move into the 47-unit property on West MacArthur Boulevard and Telegraph Avenue.

“I’m incredibly grateful for Gov. Newsom’s partnership and leadership as we work together to end the crisis of homelessness,” Mayor Sheng Thao said in a press release. “Homekey funding is an important part of our strategy to end homelessness in Oakland and across the region.”

Oakland will need to contribute $8.6 million in local money to the Imperial Inn project, according to city staff. 

Yellow three-story motel with a courtyard in the center.
The Imperial Inn has 47 units, which will house chronically homeless residents. Credit: Natalie Orenstein

Since the state launched the Homekey program in 2020, Oakland has received funds for seven projects. An additional project was funded but fell through and the city had to return the money. 

In total, the state is planning to distribute a total of $736 million across California during this third round of Homekey grants. The $156.4 million announced this week will create 556 homes, according to the state. Oakland is still waiting to hear back on four additional applications it submitted, including another Temescal motel, a hotel and a vacant lot in deep East Oakland, and a building downtown.

This is the third Oakland Homekey award for a Bay Area Community Services project. The organization used a $10 million award in 2020 to turn about 20 single-family homes into subsidized shared housing, and a $14.8 million award in 2022 to convert the Piedmont Place motel, again with the help of Memar Properties.

“Homekey is a transformative resource to create new permanent supportive housing at record speeds, and Bay Area Community Services is honored to again partner with the city of Oakland and Memar Properties to quickly develop this desperately needed supportive housing for vulnerable Oaklanders experiencing homelessness,” said Jamie Almanza, executive director of Bay Area Community Services, in a press release.

The Imperial Inn is right across the street from another Homekey project, the former Inn at Temescal, which Operation Dignity and developer Danco turned into veteran housing in 2020.

Natalie Orenstein covers housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. She was previously on staff at Berkeleyside, where her extensive reporting on the legacy of school desegregation received recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists NorCal and the Education Writers Association. Natalie’s reporting has also appeared in The J Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, and she’s written about public policy for a number of research institutes and think tanks. Natalie lives in Oakland, grew up in Berkeley, and has only left her beloved East Bay once, to attend Pomona College.