Project Homekey

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Project Homekey is a $1.4 billion statewide initiative aimed at reducing and preventing homelessness throughout California. By offering this unprecedented funding opportunity to local governments along with additional tools to rapidly convert or construct new housing units, Project Homekey offers hope for those struggling with housing insecurity.

Data based on units permitted through 2020 and reported to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Updated 2021 data to be posted once available.
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HCD’s Project Homekey offers competitive, project-specific awards to create a range of housing types, from hotel and motel conversions to single-family homes and multi-family apartments. For more background on Project Homekey, click here.

Consistent with the County’s strategic framework to address homelessness, the County of Santa Cruz has applied for Homekey funding for four projects to house extremely low income individuals and families at risk of homelessness. If awarded, these projects will reduce the impact of homelessness on individuals, families and the community.

The four proposed Homekey developments are not drop-in centers, congregate living facilities or overnight shelters. They will be permanent supportive housing, which is standard rental housing with the added benefit of onsite supportive services, such as help accessing health care, life skills and other services, provided by dedicated service providers that partner with the property owner and manager.

Permanent supportive housing provides one of the best opportunities for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to establish housing stability and begin meeting life goals such as career development and financial stability. The proposed developments also meet the County’s strategic objectives and help meet regional requirements for creating new affordable housing (see graphic).

The proposed projects are distributed throughout the County including two in the unincorporated area, addressing another key objective to provide supportive housing throughout the County. Developments within local cities are being coordinated with those cities.

Veterans Village, 8705 Highway 9, Ben Lomond

In partnership with the Santa Cruz Veterans Memorial Building Board of Trustees, the project converts an existing motel at 8705 Highway 9 into 20 units of permanent supportive housing for veterans as risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. The project will offer modular or newly constructed units to supplement existing structures, serving an estimated 20-24 tenants. Units will be studios and one-bedroom units.

Front St., Inc. will provide property management and supportive services to tenants along with staff from the Santa Cruz County Veterans Memorial Building Board of Trustees.

Status: Awarded $6.4 million; Construction still pending; five formerly homeless households have moved in to housing on-site.

Project News: Veterans Village | A better future for all of our Veterans

Casa Azul (801 River Street), Santa Cruz

Led by Housing Matters in partnership with Envision Housing, the seven-unit Victorian office building conversion produces two studios and five one-bedroom units. The project offers new permanent supportive housing near Housing Matter’s existing services and campus on Coral Street, which includes the Loft, the Recuperative Care Center, the Rebele Family Center, and the Page Smith Community House.

Status: Awarded $2.24 million; Construction completed; Move-ins to building expected September 2023.

Project News: Housing Matters completes Santa Cruz’s 7-unit ‘Casa Azul’ apartments – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Park Haven Plaza, Soquel

The project will provide 35 units, 31 for very low-income veterans and youth exiting the foster care system, and four units set aside for families with children under age 18, and one manager's unit. The project construction will be modular construction which helps to meet Project Homekey timelines. The site is located near major transit and traffic routes and is near Cabrillo College, providing residents with educational and programmatic opportunities offered through the school.

Status: Awarded $10.66 million; Under construction.

Project News: Novin Development

Rodeway Inn, Watsonville

Project includes conversion of an existing 95-unit hotel currently being used to shelter at-risk individuals from COVID-19 through another state-supported program known as Project Roomkey. Located at 1620 W. Beach Street in Watsonville, the proposal would convert existing rooms and suites into permanent supportive housing micro-units for extremely low-income residents, with one unit set aside for an onsite manager.

Common area improvements include a community room, computer center, supportive services space, manager’s office, additional offices, and a meeting room. Occupancy is expected within eight months of funding approval.

Homekey application amount: Up to $39 million Status: Denied in Round 2; Reapplied Project Homekey Round 3 funding.

Project News: Step Up in Watsonville

Freedom House, Unincorporated Watsonville

Project includes conversion of a children’s residential treatment program into a transitional housing program for youth experiencing homelessness. The project will include 11 self-contained studio units with kitchenettes and bathrooms, a common kitchen area, indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, and on-site supportive services. The project anticipates serving up to 21 youth at a time when fully operational.

Homekey application amount: Up to $3.5 millionStatus: Awarded $3.58 million in Round 3 funding


If you have questions or would like more information about Project Homekey efforts in Santa Cruz County, please e-mail us at or call (831) 454-7312.

Addressing Homelessness with a Proactive and Evidence-based Approach

With approval by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and based on the work of the nationally recognized consulting firm Focus Strategies, which was engaged to help examine the response to homelessness in Santa Cruz County, the following is being implemented countywide:

  1. Retooling of the Smart Path coordinated entry program - a system to assess homeless individuals and refer them to the most appropriate service - with a goal of more quickly moving vulnerable people into services in order to reduce the number of people who are homeless.
  2. Implementation of systematic diversion strategies to enable homeless individuals or those facing homelessness to utilize existing resources and networks to avoid becoming homeless.
  3. Revision of existing shelter strategies to maximize effectiveness and accessibility of housing resources, designed to more quickly move people from shelters into permanent housing, as well as increase the efficiency of shelters to serve more clients.
  4. Redesign of the delivery of street-level outreach to those experiencing homelessness, based on a new coordinated and standardized approach that brings together outreach teams and their funders to share information, methods and measurable outcomes.
  5. Restructuring interagency homelessness governance to more effectively and efficiently address decision-making, planning, funding and outcomes.
Address: 1000 Emeline Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060 |
| Phone: 831-454-7312
| Fax: 831-454-4642