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Brockton

Former Brockton hotel to become housing for homeless

Father Bill’s & MainSpring plans to convert the former Rodeway Inn on Belmont Street in Brockton into permanent housing for chronically homeless people.

The social service agency has been using the 69-room hotel — located near the Brockton VA Medical Center — since the spring of 2020 to create more space for social distancing at its downtown shelter during the pandemic.

Father Bill’s & MainSpring bought the property, for a little more than $4 million, this spring and plans to spend about $10 million altogether to turn each unit into an efficiency apartment, according to CEO John Yazwinski. Tenants will pay no more than 30 percent of their income in rent and will receive help to keep them from becoming homeless again, he said.

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He estimated the conversion would be finished within 12 months, with work being staggered so that only a few units are renovated at a time.

When completed, the project will reduce Brockton’s homeless shelter population by about 50 percent, he said.

Yazwinski said the pandemic made it clear that providing emergency shelter for the homeless — “people sleeping inches away from each other” — isn’t the solution to homelessness.

“Hopefully, the state and everyone will look at this project and say, “Let’s do more of this,’” Yazwinski said. “It’s a great model for taking underutilized properties, [repurposing them], and helping do away with homelessness.”

The Arbella Insurance Foundation donated $300,000 to the project, which also is getting other private and state money, Yazwinski said.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.