SACRAMENTO, CA (STL.News) Governor Gavin Newsom’s Administration announced the next phase of its nation-leading homeless housing initiative, Homekey, with the release of funds from the Governor’s $2.75 billion investment to expand the program to purchase and rehabilitate buildings – including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, tiny homes and other properties – and convert them into up to 14,000 more permanent, long-term housing units for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Homekey prioritizes speed and cost-efficiency by making competitive grants available to local governments across the state.
“California is moving with unprecedented speed to house people experiencing homelessness, through Homekey,” said Governor Newsom. “We are going all in on solutions that work – tackling the homelessness crisis head-on with a constructive, compassionate approach and a focus on serving those with the most acute behavioral health needs. This investment will allow us to build on Homekey’s groundbreaking success – creating more housing, faster and with accountability and efficiency.”
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is today releasing the latest Notice of Funding Availability for local governments to apply for Homekey funding.
Since its launch in 2020, Homekey has been the fastest, largest, most cost-effective addition of permanent housing in California history, successfully re-engineering the strategy to create more housing for people experiencing homelessness. Local interest has been strong from the start. HCD began accepting applications for Homekey on July 22, 2020, and within a year, Homekey provided safe shelter from COVID-19 to thousands of Californians and created 6,000 affordable housing units in record time and at a fraction of the cost.
“In the middle of a pandemic, California took bold action to protect individuals experiencing homelessness by creating more than 6,000 units of housing with the first round of Homekey funding,” Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez said. “It was the largest single addition of permanent housing in the state’s history, but our work is far from done. With the next round of Homekey funding, the state will continue its work with our local partners to protect vulnerable Californians by providing safe spaces they can call their own.”
The Governor earlier this year signed a historic housing and homelessness funding package as part of his California Comeback Plan, investing $12 billion to tackle homelessness overall. Of this amount, $5.8 billion – including the $2.75 billion to expand Homekey – will be used for up to 42,000 new homeless housing units and treatment beds, with housing options for those with the most acute behavioral health needs. The additional Homekey funding builds on the first phase investment of $846 million, which resulted in 94 projects in counties and tribal areas across the state that closed escrow last year.
“This administration has set a goal of functionally ending family homelessness in five years, and that’s why investments in programs like Homekey are so critical,” HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez said. “Our team is moving quickly to get the ball rolling on a diverse array of projects, and we look forward to partnering with local governments and stakeholders to make this next round of Homekey even more successful.”
“The pandemic has reinforced what we have long known: the only way to end the homelessness crisis is with more affordable, long term, and quality housing,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Creative and lasting solutions like the Homekey program will help meet the immediate and critical need for housing today, while giving our unhoused neighbors a path to a permanent place to call home tomorrow.”
“The pandemic has impacted so much of our lives, but it has also opened a window of opportunity to create innovative solutions to the homeless crisis,” said Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez. “In partnership with the state, we are taking real steps to end homelessness for thousands of people by creating much needed, permanent housing in Los Angeles through Project Homekey.”