Governor Newsom announces major Homekey milestone: All 94 sites closing escrow ahead of deadline

Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that all 94 Homekey projects have closed escrow, buildings that will provide 6,029 critically needed housing units for people experiencing homelessness throughout California. A total of $750 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars has been allocated to 51 applicants for the 94 projects. These critical investments enable this high-risk population to follow public health guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19, using innovative approaches, such as converting temporary non-congregate housing, including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties, into permanent long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. In addition, $96 million in operating supports – a combination of state funds and philanthropic investment – has also been fully awarded. In total, Homekey utilized $846 million to rapidly purchase and subsidize these 6,029 units in less than six months from start to finish.

 

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“In a matter of months and in the midst of a pandemic, we did what many said was impossible – California created over 6,000 new units, on-time and under budget, helping thousands of homeless Californians move out of cars and tents and into permanent housing,” said Governor Newsom. “Homekey is possible because of federal support to slow the spread of COVID-19 and partnership from the Legislature and local leaders who didn’t settle for excuses and instead got to work to do something historic.”

The average statewide cost to Homekey per unit is $123,987 and the average statewide local match is $23,987, making the average total cost per unit $147,974.

“Homekey has secured more than 6,000 units for individuals who would otherwise experience homelessness or be at risk of homelessness,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez. “Homekey has already started to change lives for the better in many communities by placing individuals on a path to long-term stable housing with services.”

“With equity and inclusion built into Homekey, communities and Californians too often overlooked will benefit, including at-risk and former foster youth, LGTBQ+ youth, people living with HIV, essential farmworkers, vulnerable seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and women escaping domestic violence,” said Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Director Gustavo Velasquez. “I applaud Governor Newsom, California’s state and local elected officials who supported Homekey and its projects, and the philanthropic organizations who contributed critical operations funding to stand up and operate these lifesaving developments.”

Among the successes thus far:

  • In Tahoe and Lake Elsinore, Homekey projects will bring homelessness in those communities very close to “functional zero.”
  • The Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria in Santa Rosa will be able to reduce the number of its members experiencing homelessness by half.
  • In the City of Oakland, Homekey dollars have been spent on a variety of housing types addressing different housing needs.
  • In El Centro, 26 transitional age homeless youths and students who are exiting the foster care system will have safe places to live for up to two years, with case management and wrap-around services available to them.
  • More than 20 Homekey projects are Project Roomkey facilities that are transitioning to permanent, stable housing for residents.

“From crisis comes opportunity and that certainly has been the case for COVID-19 and homelessness,” said Graham Knaus, Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties. “Counties across the state rose to this challenge and joined the state in an extraordinary partnership to create new housing on an unprecedented timeline. Homekey allows for temporary shelter to become long-term housing and Counties are grateful for this program that has helped California’s most vulnerable.”

“Homekey is a model for the nation. Congratulations to Governor Newsom and California for creating opportunity, even in the midst of a pandemic and a recession,” said Nan Roman, President of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Through commitment and innovation, the Governor has pulled together federal, state, local and private funding to deliver housing both quickly and affordably.”

“California’s Homekey is a model of innovation worthy of replicating across the country to provide permanent, affordable homes for individuals and families experiencing homelessness,” said Sunia Zaterman, Executive Director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities. “Public housing authorities have demonstrated that they are uniquely qualified to invest funds from this program to transform underutilized hotels and motels into rental homes during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has reinforced the need for low-income households to have a place to call home that they can afford. The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities thanks Governor Gavin Newsom and California lawmakers for this program and congratulates the agencies that are using these funds to positively impact their communities.”

“Throughout California, Homekey is making it possible for public housing authorities to partner with local jurisdictions to quickly create new affordable housing needed to address homelessness,” said California Association of Housing Authorities President Suket Dayal. “The California Association of Housing Authorities is proud that our members are among the organizations awarded funds through the bold, innovative Homekey initiative to provide a path off the streets for vulnerable individuals and families.”

Building on the success of Project Roomkey, Governor Newsom in July announced the availability of $600 million in funding for Homekey, with another $200 million allocated in October. Along with $46 million in philanthropic funding support, total funding for Homekey is $846 million. The purpose of these acquisitions is to create permanent places for at-risk individuals experiencing homelessness to live safely, protecting them from many public health risks including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local interest has been strong from the day the Governor announced Homekey. HCD began accepting applications for Homekey on July 22, 2020 and by the priority application deadline on August 13, a total of 138 applications had been received from 67 jurisdictions statewide, with a total of nearly $1.06 billion requested.

As of December 29, 2020, all 51 local agencies that received awards had obtained their funding, and purchased and closed escrow on their projects.

In addition to funding to acquire units, all 51 awardees have received at least one operational support grant from philanthropic sources or the state’s General Fund to help guarantee the long-term viability of each applicant’s Homekey portfolio.

This press release was provided by the Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom.