Coastside Inn Shelter Sign
San Mateo County Board of Supervisors purchased the Coastside Inn and are now in the process of approving a permanent operator. File Photo

San Mateo County officials confirmed on Thursday that they had chosen LifeMoves to be the permanent operator of the new Coastside transitional housing shelter.

LifeMoves is one of two well-known social service organizations that answered San Mateo County’s request for proposals seeking a permanent operator for the Highway 1 shelter that until recently was a hotel. County manager Mike Callagy plans to formally announce the choice at the Half Moon Bay City Council meeting on Tuesday.

The Coastside Inn was converted into the area’s first-ever shelter after the county purchased the 52-room hotel with $8 million from federal CARES act funding. As late as February, it sheltered 10 unhoused people — all from the Coastside — who were either over 65 or dealing with preexisting health conditions that left them at heightened risk for COVID-19. It was operated by Samaritan House in the beginning, but officials said they would seek a permanent arrangement through a more normalized bidding process and include the city of Half Moon Bay in those deliberations.

LifeMoves and We HOPE bid on the project. Samaritan House did not seek the job going forward. Both bidders have experience running shelters around the Bay Area. But, according to documents obtained by the Review through a Public Records Act request, it appears LifeMoves had the advantage of local support.

In answering the Request for Proposal, LifeMoves says that in 2020 it served 559 families in four shelters and one safe-parking site in San Mateo County as well as sites in Santa Clara County. It proposes to serve about 150 people a year out of the Half Moon Bay site, and suggests a rigorous program of case management, onsite addiction counseling and help finding affordable housing wherever it may be found.

LifeMoves anticipates needing 14 staff members at the site. It says it would lean on local agencies — including Abundant Grace, Ayudando Latinos a Soñar and El Centro de Libertad — for help with job training and other client needs. It proposes to build a “privacy fence” around the outside of the property to assure it does not become an eyesore.

LifeMoves says it follows a “housing first” model.

“Once a client is housed, it is easier for them to then focus on other barriers they may have to self-sufficiency, such as increasing earnings and/or addressing behavioral health challenges,” the agency wrote.

The documentation suggests it might take over the program as early as April 21, and that all 52 rooms would be filled by mid-July.

The organization envisions clients staying less than 120 days and that at the end of the stay 30 percent of adults and 80 percent of families will have found permanent housing. The 35-year-old agency has a $33 million budget and a long history of working with unhoused people in San Mateo County. It is requesting $419,000 to run the program for through June. It projects an annual cost in the first full year of $1.7 million to operate the shelter.

Last month, several area nonprofits, including El Centro and MidPen Housing, wrote letters of support for the application.

“Abundant Grace appreciates the exceptional work of LifeMoves on the coast with the (Homeless Outreach Team) coordination and case management, and the many ways we have developed a good collaborative working relationship over the past several years,” wrote Abundant Grace Executive Director Eric DeBode.

WeHOPE is an East Palo Alto-based nonprofit with two decades of similar experience working in four Bay Area counties. It proposed a similar budget and to employ 19 staffers in the program. It, too, suggested a rigorous day of treatment options and case management with similar goals for permanent housing.

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