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Downtowners Don't Want Scandalous Cecil Hotel Upgraded and Turned Into Supportive Housing

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The Cecil Hotel is infamous as the kind of place where serial killers crash for a few nights and people are found dead in rooftop water tanks, but it's also a place where many of Downtown's nearly-homeless and very low-income people live. (A few floors are low-budget, hostel-style hotel rooms, too.) But a proposal to make the hotel officially exclusive to the neighborhood's impoverished—which the owner liked—was met with vehement opposition from the community. The proposal, introduced by a group called Home for Good, sought to make the hotel into a permanent supportive housing facility with 384 apartments and on-site social services, plus "75 affordable and 75 market-rate apartments," with the latter coming in at a claustrophobic 165 square feet, reports the Downtown News. While the plan's backers were trying to add much-needed services and housing to help people get off the street (it would include a $10 million upgrade for the building), opponents say that turning the hotel/residences into supportive housing would further "containment," referring to the concentration of services for the homeless in one area of town (as opposed to spreading them throughout town to offer broader access, not to mention visibility of people in need). But then of course a rep for the Downtown Neighborhood Council fretted that, if the Cecil became permanent residential housing, there would be fewer (gross and disappointing?) budget options for tourists and travelers in the heart of the city.

Every opponent also pointed out that the new Cecil would be another homeless-focused housing project in the neighborhood (the Rosslyn is undergoing SRO renovation too), adding stress to an "already stressed neighborhood." (Then again, imagine how the homeless people fee.) For now, the idea is fully off the table, but this is likely not the first push-and-pull like this we'll see Downtown, especially as the need for affordable housing grows in the ever-pricier 'hood.
· The Strange Saga of the Cecil Hotel [Downtown News]