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County gains state funding for homeless

Homekey program will fund purchase of factory-built houses

Calendar and Briefs

San Benito County will receive $2.4 million in state funds to purchase factory-built homes for chronically homeless people, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced earlier this month. 

The funds come from the California Homekey program, and will help the county buy a total of 11 prefabricated homes, the governor’s office said on Dec. 1. The program will also pay for supportive services for the residents of the new homes. 

Newsom first launched Homekey to keep unhoused Californians safe during the Covid-19 pandemic and has since expanded it as a cornerstone statewide homelessness program, says the press release. Homekey sets aside funds to equitably distribute awards, including by geography and for projects serving tribes and homeless youth. The program has been able to rapidly house people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, by helping local governments and tribal entities purchase or rehabilitate properties.

The awards announced Dec. 1 total $36 million for four communities, including San Benito County. 

“The success of Homekey proves what is possible when you are willing to challenge the status quo and try a new, outside of the box approach,” said Newsom. “In just a little over two years since its inception, Homekey has given thousands of Californians a place to call home.”

All told, Homekey has awarded $2.753 billion to create 12,676 units across California, says the press release. The program has reportedly been able to develop housing units for less money and more quickly than more traditional homeless housing.

“We are grateful to local communities for coming together to provide a place to call home for individuals experiencing homelessness, and placing them on the path to long-term safe, stable housing with supportive services,” said California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez. “From reusing a medical office building to providing factory-built homes, these final Round 2 Homekey awards show the spirit of innovation. In all, more than 200 Homekey projects have been funded since 2020, which will provide more than 12,500 interim and permanent affordable homes and improve the lives of individuals, families and neighborhoods across California.”

The Dec. 1 announcements also includes $11.6 million to the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo to convert a hotel into permanent housing; $19.9 million for the City of San Jose for interim housing that will be converted to permanent supportive homes; and $2.2 million for Santa Cruz County to convert a former commercial structure to housing. 

The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will release a third round of Homekey funds in early 2023.

“Homekey is proof once again that what California is doing to solve homelessness—and to keep people from falling into homelessness in the first place—is moving with speed, innovation, and on-the-ground coordination,” added HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “HCD first heard about the Anderson Hotel through our work with Preservation Notice Law, and through robust technical assistance and flexible resources like Homekey, we are preserving much-needed affordable homes for seniors to age in place.”