Antioch officials recently unveiled the city’s transitional housing hotel, aimed at getting homeless people off the street.

The city says it is the first city-funded transitional housing site in Contra Costa County. The center will provide mental health and substance abuse support while giving formerly housing-challenged people a roof over their heads.

The former Executive Inn hotel at 515 E. 18th St. in Antioch will be known as Opportunity Village.

The center will cost Antioch $2 million annually and potentially house up to 135 people a year.

At a ribbon-cutting this past Thursday in front of the former hotel, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe praised the work of homeless advocate Nichole Gardner, Antioch’s director of public safety and community resources Tasha Johnson, and Gary Tia, associate director of the nonprofit Bay Area Community Services (BACS).

Thorpe also praised former city manager Ron Bernal and former council member Joy Motts, who Thorpe said “had the political courage to get this done when other people ran for the hills.”

“This is another brother or another sister or a family member who needs a little more. We’re here to help them.”

Gary Tia, Bay Area Community Services

“Joy and I went to visit homeless shelters and that’s when I learned that, if I wasn’t willing to stay at a homeless shelter, then we have to provide something better,” Thorpe said. “And it’s easy to not do anything and still get re-elected.”

“We can’t let perfection be the enemy of progress,” he said.

Johnson said the hotel was “historically known for various criminal and harmful activity.” “But from this day forward, it will now be known as a place of opportunity, a place of hope, and a place of community,” Johnson said.

Carolyn Payne takes a moment to thank God before speaking on behalf of Vicki Proctor, who was honored with the key to Antioch city during the unveiling of a transitional housing hotel at Opportunity Village, formerly known as Executive Inn Hotel, in Antioch on April 27, 2023. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

BACS will partner with the city to operate the site. Tia said homelessness has become an epidemic across the nation.

“People need help,” Tia said. “This is another brother or another sister or a family member who needs a little more. We’re here to help them.”

“I’m grateful that we’ve been able to develop a few resources here that will help people back on their feet,” said Tia. “Help people find jobs, help people find opportunity again, to participate in a life they want to live, a life they deserve. Housing is a right we should all have, just like food and water.”

Acknowledging the ongoing racist and homophobic texting scandal involving Antioch police, Thorpe said the city is going through a maturation process.

“Like any growing city we have had our challenges and we’ll continue to have our growing pains,” Thorpe said “These challenges and growing pains are not divisions. It’s a robust community coming together and learning about each other because they care about the future.”