In the heart of Salinas' Chinatown lies Victory Mission. For 60 years they have opened their doors to men in need of a safe place. "It saved my life. I was a homeless, unemployed, gutter drunk in San Jose," said member, Brian MacDonald.
This week, the non-profit announced defeat. The mission's Executive Director, Ken Cusson, said the property they bought to expand their services is now in the city's hands. "They had pretty much closed all the doors. We felt we couldn't do it. We gave up the property," said Cusson.
Cusson said they originally bought the partially burned down building for $60,000. He said even this was a big ask.
Cusson explained that things became complicated when the city required the mission to pay nearly $400,000 to clean up the fire's mess.
Salinas City Council Member, Tony Barrera, said the safety of the building was their number one concern. "If the city didn't act on it the city would've been accused of not doing enough. If somebody got hurt, we would be liable for that as well," said Barrera.
The city eventually took care of the cleanup, but told the mission they would need to pay the expense.
The mission said they did not have the money the city was asking for.
After the mission filed a lawsuit, the city agreed to forgive their debt in exchange for the building. "The city threatened to take everything we had," said Cusson.
Assistant city attorney, Michael Mutalippasi, told KION that current litigation prevents him from commenting on the case's current status.
Those who utilize the mission's services said they are saddened by the news. "It's disappointing to see the building go. The mission lost $60,000 in the deal they couldn't afford," said member, Tim Leeson.