Will be used to rehabilitate housing such as hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings
SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom announced Oct. 16 the release of $30.7 million in the fifth round of awards for Homekey, California’s innovative, first-in-the-nation program to purchase and rehabilitate housing — including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties — and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.
The most recent round of Homekey awards goes to three jurisdictions for three projects totaling 210 units, including 122 to house homeless in Paso Robles. Newsom announced during a digital roundtable discussion where he was joined by state, tribal and local leaders focusing on the impact Homekey has had in rural communities across the state.
With Friday’s awards, the state has now provided all available Homekey funding to local jurisdictions, ahead of schedule. More than $627 million has been awarded to 45 applicants and 71 projects totaling 4,646 units. The average per-unit cost to Homekey is $135,000 — well below the average cost in California to build new housing units. The Administration is working with the Legislature to make an additional $200 million in Coronavirus Relief Funding available for Homekey.
“When it comes to homelessness, no community is immune, no person is untouched and while the issue is widely thought to affect only our urban centers, the truth is that it occurs in rural areas, small towns and remote parts of our state,” said Governor Newsom. “Through Homekey, we are making historic investments that will have lasting impacts in our big cities, but also our small towns and tribal communities. These investments are helping thousands of Californians vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure get access to permanent, supportive housing.”
The fifth round of awards includes projects in the following communities:
- The Yurok Tribe has been awarded $2.2 million to acquire 18 units to provide permanent supportive housing with priority given to Native Americans in Humboldt County, where Native Americans represent the second-highest racial group of unsheltered persons and also face increased risks of COVID-19 complications.
- More than $15 million has been awarded to the City of San Luis Obispo to acquire 122 units to house individuals experiencing homelessness in Paso Robles. Paso Robles has no emergency shelter and also has a higher proportion of non-white residents than the county as a whole and a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases. This project will provide both emergency shelter and permanent units.
- The City of Los Angeles has been awarded nearly $13.5 million to acquire 70 units as interim housing while being converted to permanent housing units by the end of 2021. This facility was recently constructed and has large rooms, making it very suitable for permanent housing.
“Communities on the North Coast have some of the highest rates of homelessness per capita in America and it’s shameful. That’s why we have been grateful to work with Governor Newsom, day and night, to secure funding that will build permanent housing and expand resources for mental health and substance abuse counseling for our homeless neighbors,” said Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg). “Project Homekey will help change lives, especially here in rural Northern California, where we need it most.”
Building on the success of Project Roomkey, Governor Newsom in July announced the availability of $600 million in funding for Homekey, the next phase in the state’s response protecting Californians experiencing or at risk of homelessness, following approval by the Legislature as part of the 2020-21 annual state budget. Of that, $550 million was provided to cities and counties by California’s direct allocation of the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief Funds, with an additional $50 million provided by the state to supplement the acquisition and provide initial operating funds. The Homekey funds were expended in compliance with federal regulations in response to COVID-19. Last week, the Governor also announced a partnership with Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit dedicated to developing affordable housing, to distribute $45 million in funding — $20 million from Blue Shield of California and $25 million from Kaiser Permanente — to support operating subsidies for Homekey projects.
HCD began accepting applications for Homekey on July 22. The response from local governments and housing providers was significant — demonstrating the strength of these state-local partnerships. By the application deadline of Sept. 29, a total of 147 applications had been received from 73 entities statewide, with over $1 billion requested.