Newark considering state Homekey grant for homeless housing

NEWARK – Newark plans to apply for a $39 million state grant to purchase a hotel in the city and convert it into permanent housing for homeless and very low-income people, the first such resort in the city. ‘history of the city.

“This is the kind of affordable housing that really isn’t being created enough,” said Louis Chicoine, director of Abode Services, a Fremont nonprofit supportive housing provider that would manage the site.

“We just see an increasing number of people on the streets, especially families in our area, who are really struggling. They have their kids in school while they live from motel to motel,” Chicoine said in an interview.

Newark City Council is expected to consider the application Thursday, which would leverage the latest round of funding from California’s flagship project, the Homekey Project, a program to quickly house thousands of homeless people across the state.

Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration said nearly $850 million was distributed in the program’s first round in 2020, aimed at creating more than 6,000 permanent homes, and the state plans to spend $2.75 billion. dollars for the program – heavily backed by federal coronavirus relief funds – during this period. year and following.

The city plans to convert the TownePlace Suites hotel at 39802 Cedar Blvd., which has 125 suites, ranging from studios to two-bedroom units, all of which already include kitchens. Two of the hotel’s suites would be converted into a management unit and a community services office, and 123 suites would be converted into apartments for residents, according to city reports.

The city will also consider injecting $6 million of its own money — about $4.5 million from its affordable housing funds and $1.5 million from its share of American Rescue Plan Act funds. .

The city is also requesting about $4 million from Alameda County in matching funds for the project, according to Steven Turner, the city’s director of community development.

Homekey grant funds provide up to $1,400 per unit for three years for running costs and resident services, according to city reports.

Turner said in an interview that because the hotel was only built in 2000 and renovated in 2015, it is in very good condition and the conversion from kitchen suites to permanent apartments will require minimal work.

“So where it could take two or three years for a brand new affordable housing development to go through rights and construction before starting to rent units, the Homekey program…would happen in a matter of months,” said Turner.

“Being able to bring affordable housing online in months rather than years is an incredible opportunity,” he said.

About half of the apartments would be reserved for people who are homeless and the other half for people at risk of homelessness, earning very low incomes of 30% or less of the area’s median income. For a single person, 30% of the median is about $29,000 per year, and about $41,000 for a family of four.

Abode Services would oversee the purchase, conversion and long-term management of the property.

“Newark has no dedicated affordable housing projects for this income level. It would be the first in its history,” said Chicoine of Abode Services.

Chicoine said people living in the converted apartments would have leases and responsibilities like any other apartment tenant.

“They have to be good neighbours, they have to pay some rent and follow house rules, etc., and they get services while they’re there,” he said.

“It’s sort of the gold standard for making sure people are successful and either out of homelessness or at risk of homelessness,” Chicoine said.

The Newark City Council meeting is Thursday at 7 p.m. To view the meeting on YouTube, click on this link. To participate via Zoom, click on this link.

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