Dozens of workers to be laid off as city leases Holiday Inn for homeless shelter

Pacific Host Hotels confirms ‘fewer than 50′ to be laid off Nov. 1

SAN ANTONIO – The City of San Antonio’s plan to convert a downtown hotel into a shelter for people without homes is leaving dozens of the hotel’s workers surprised and without jobs.

The city council voted Oct. 19 to lease the 313-room Holiday Inn at Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Santa Rosa Avenue and have San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries (SAMM) operate it as a 200-room, low-barrier homeless shelter. The two-year, $8.8 million lease begins on Nov. 1, and SAMM hopes to move its clients from the city’s current shelter at a different downtown hotel and have them settled in by Thanksgiving

A Holiday Inn employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said hotel staff learned of the plan through KSAT’s reporting. Official word from management didn’t come down until the next day, they said.

The hotel is operated by San Diego-based Pacifica Host Hotels, which emailed KSAT the following statement Friday afternoon.

“There are fewer than 50 employees affected by this transition, and we are actively working to shift employment to other neighboring hotels,” the statement reads, in part. “Interviews are being held at the hotel early next week to support staff with the transition. Lastly, SAMMinistries plans to extend over a dozen jobs to impacted staff.”

A Pacifica spokeswoman confirmed in a follow-up email that “fewer than 50 employees affected” would be laid off on Nov. 1 but would have opportunities to interview with Pacifica Host, SAMM, or other hotels.

While Pacific Host only has one other hotel in San Antonio, the spokeswoman said “we are also actively placing associates with other hotels within our portfolio outside of San Antonio” and other area hotels will be part of next week’s interview opportunities.

The Holiday Inn was previously used by Haven for Hope for roughly two-and-a-half years during the pandemic to help with social-distancing.

Offering a low-barrier shelter is central to the city’s efforts to get 400 people off the streets in FY 2024. It is meant to help chronically homeless people transition off the street and hopefully into a more long-term situation somewhere else.

However, the plan to use the Holiday Inn has been slammed by the childcare center next door, which said it was “outraged” and urged city leaders to reconsider the location.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.