The Homekey Project Names Santa Cruz County’s First Recipient – Santa Cruz Sentinel
BEN LOMOND — A housing project for homeless veterans in the San Lorenzo Valley received a boost of more than $6 million this week with the announcement of a Project Homekey state grant.
The new Veterans Village project will convert the current Jaye’s Timberland Resort into 20 permanent supportive housing units for veterans who have been chronically homeless, as well as veterans at risk of homelessness. The former motel, at 8705 Highway 9, previously provided safe shelter space during the coronavirus pandemic under its former owners. Five veterans still live on site since the non-profit Santa Cruz County Veterans Memorial Building purchased the property in January and will be grandfathered in future development.
“I think we have a little more connection to the community because we’re on the ground, working with these people day in and day out,” Santa Cruz County said.
Chris Cottingham, executive director of the Veterans Memorial Building, said Thursday. “Throughout this process, there are some vets I’ve worked with who I’ve had their face in mind throughout all of this – he’s someone who is going to benefit.”
Rent for tenants in units in the Veterans’ Village will be subsidized using federal housing vouchers, serving “very low-income” tenants earning 30% of Santa Cruz County’s median income, which was $29,200 last year for a one-person household.
The Veterans Village is the first project to receive the grant so far out of four Homekey applicants in partnership with Santa Cruz County, said Robert Ratner, director of the county’s Health Housing Division. The county also plans to apply for future rounds of Homekey state grants, Ratner said. He called Governor Gavin Newsom’s funding announcement on Wednesday — including five other grant recipients statewide — “very exciting.”
“It’s also a testament to the value of community-private-public sector partnerships,” Ratner said. “This particular project involved private donations, support from community organizations, and government support for apps and development. Our Housing for Health team is thrilled to receive notification of this award and we look forward to working with the project team to turn the project vision into reality. We also remain hopeful that other project applications submitted may also receive funding grants.
Housing and expedited services
The $6.4 million state grant will help accelerate the Veterans Village program, both by providing needed funding and by relaxing some county zoning application requirements. The state Homekey program also provides applicants with a timeline: The Veterans Village program will have 12 months to fully occupy its planned 20 units, Cottingham said.
While the motel’s existing eight rooms will need to be refurbished and upgraded, this head start gives Cottingham confidence that the nonprofit will be able to meet the deadline set by the state, it said. he declares. In fact, Cottingham added, the group aims to bring all or most rooms online within eight months — an early end that the state is rewarding with a bonus of $10,000 per unit.
In addition to rental accommodations, Veterans Village will include an on-site case manager and support services manager, as well as job training, counselling, post-traumatic stress disorder support and more. Cottingham said the housing scheme will build a “bridge” to the many services already provided for three decades at the Veterans Memorial Building. The property could also serve as a future veterans services satellite site for non-residents of the veterans village, he said.
“A big part of our goal is to bring the community into the property. We don’t want this to be an isolated project with just 20 vets living there. We want this to be the project that the community of San Lorenzo (Valley ) is invited to participate and participate and be part of it.
This neighborhood engagement effort has already begun with public meetings and open volunteer days on the property every first Saturday of the month.
Cottingham said he is directing veterans interested in participating in Veterans Village housing to attend a weekly Housing Finding Group rally, held at 1 p.m. every Wednesday at Vet’s Hall, 846 Front St. in Santa Cruz.