Jamboree Housing Corporation announced the successful closing of $55.3 million in state funding from the newly established Homekey, California’s innovative $550 million program to purchase and rehabilitate housing, including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties, and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Also known as Project Homekey, Jamboree will fund the creation of 262 permanent studio homes in Northern and Southern California with these dollars.
Jamboree’s 30-year development history created a unique opportunity to leverage the company’s geographic reach and proven expertise to convert motels into permanent housing earlier in the 2000s. This was the type of experience the California Department of Housing and Community Development needed when looking to deploy Homekey funds before year’s end. Partnering with both Santa Clara and Orange Counties, Jamboree is quickly working to bring these homes from concept to completion in mere months per the program’s timeline.
While permanent supportive housing was gaining momentum in the late 2000s as a national best practice to address chronic homelessness, Jamboree began to evaluate the effectiveness of a motel conversion/rehabilitation model for supportive housing development. “Jamboree has successfully created permanent housing with supportive services for more than a decade,” said Laura Archuleta, Jamboree president and CEO, of the mission-driven, community development organization she leads. “In 2010, we began to invest in this model of housing as an economical way to address California’s growing homelessness crisis, while also creating revitalization opportunities for communities.”
In 2012, Jamboree developed its first motel conversion through a partnership with the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA). Hotel Berry, an historic yet severely blighted icon just blocks from the State Capitol, was transformed into permanent homes that now serves formerly homeless veterans and people living with mental illness. Despite substantial development hurdles – including a complete seismic retrofit to the building and the preservation of all historic architectural elements – the development proved a cost-effective solution to the challenge of homelessness in downtown. At a development cost of approximately $250,000, The Studios at Hotel Berry has saved the Sacramento community millions in taxpayer dollars over the last eight years.
Partnering with both Santa Clara and Orange Counties, Jamboree recently secured more than $50 million in the first round of Homekey award announcements. In Northern California, Jamboree and Santa Clara County worked closely with local housing advocates such as Destination Home in addition to the State Attorney General’s office to avoid costly delays from a Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) community protest. This public/private partnership will convert a three-story extended stay motel into Hillview Court, featuring 132 fully furnished, studio apartments to serve the area’s most vulnerable, formerly homeless residents. Special attention is being given to the ground floor of Hillview Court, which will be transformed into a large community space for onsite property management and supportive services, along with an activity and lounge area for residents. “Despite many setbacks, Jamboree and the County of Santa Clara remains dedicated to making Hillview Court a reality under the new Homekey program,” said Archuleta. “It exemplifies Santa Clara County’s commitment to end homelessness through proven best practices like supportive housing.” Hillview Court will play a critical role in helping the county reach its goal to create 6,000 new supportive housing opportunities. To date, 21 new housing developments have created 1,612 new and 484 renovated apartment homes for six cities throughout Santa Clara County.
In Southern California, Jamboree partnered with the County of Orange and the City of Stanton to secure $20.6 million in Homekey funds to convert the Stanton Inn and Suites and Tahiti Motel into permanent supportive housing. Stanton Inn and Suites also will create 72 supportive housing studios as part of Project Roomkey – a coordinated effort by state and local agencies, and community partners to secure 15,000 rooms in hotels and motels throughout California to move people experiencing homelessness into a space that allows for safe and supported isolation and quarantining during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Located approximately a mile away, Tahiti Motel will add another 60 supportive housing studios for some of Orange County’s most vulnerable residents. Both motels were part of the Tier 1 Homekey awards, meaning they will begin serving unhoused community members within the next 90 days after necessary repairs and upgrades to the apartments have been made. The investment of millions in Homekey dollars will breathe new life and opportunity into this important corridor for the City of Stanton.
To ensure residents will be able to transition from homelessness to housing, Jamboree and Orange County have partnered with local nonprofit American Family Housing to provide onsite supportive services. These onsite services will safeguard the health and stability necessary for formerly homeless residents, while also helping individuals live successful, independent lives. “Jamboree has partnered with the County of Orange many times over the decades, but the aggressive timeline of Project Homekey funds made these two developments unique,” said Archuleta. “California is the only state utilizing its CARES Act funding this way, and we’re grateful to our county and city partners who were ready to provide creative and immediate solutions for unhoused residents in this pandemic.”
Governor Newsom announced Homekey in June of 2020, and in July made $600 million in funding available. Of that, $550 million was provided to cities and counties by California’s direct allocation of the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief Funds, with an additional $50 million provided by the state to supplement acquisition and provide initial operating funds. To learn more about the Homekey funded projects, visit bcsh.ca.gov/homekey.
This article was released by the Jamboree Housing Corporation.