MBEP Housing Program Manager Matt Huerta shares the following insights on what kind of impact the region might see as a result of the newly adopted state budget:
The $2.7 billion total is the largest general fund allocation for affordable housing and homelessness in California’s recent history. The state is providing $650 million directly to counties and continuums of care which operate at regional levels to help alleviate homelessness. Our Monterey Bay region is especially well positioned because we have very active continuums of care programs involving all the major homeless services providers that operate in our three counties.
Monterey County and Santa Cruz County successfully applied for, secured, and have awarded millions in state emergency funding to community-based organizations and local government programs that can now be supplemented. Local programs supported by $12 million in Monterey and San Benito counties and $9.6 million in Santa Cruz County offer a variety of services including youth programs, emergency shelter construction/ rehabilitation and operating funds, capital improvements, transitional housing, rental assistance programs, housing navigation, street outreach and permanent supportive housing. Only about half of the funding requested by local agencies were able to be funded, so the governor’s additional funds will be invested quickly.
Some programs offer “wrap-around services” which refers to a set of services that may be needed to fully stabilize a homeless individual’s housing situation above basic shelter including helping them with access to healthcare, education, life skills training or employment. Other programs offer “bridge services” that enable residents who are experiencing a more short-term challenge like sudden unemployment or eviction to stabilize their situation and then they can sustain themselves.
The additional emergency funding is critical for our region, which has seen an extraordinary increase in homelessness, particularly among youth and families. Nearly one in 10 students are homeless in Monterey County, which is the highest rate among all counties in the state according to a study released earlier this year by Pivot Learning and the National Center for Youth Law.
Some of the new investments target urban centers, like the $500 million to boost the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program and $550 million for the state’s Mixed-Income Loan Program (CalHFA) to help first-time homebuyers. Both of these will have limited impact in our region because of density requirements in the case of the Infill Program or lower loan limit requirements that do not work in most of our high-cost housing market in the case of CalHFA Programs. However, all new housing investments should be celebrated since we are so far behind in meeting our housing needs across the state and especially in Silicon Valley’s large job center just to our north.
The governor understands that local land use reform must be part of the solution and in addition to providing $750 million in planning grants, he has also approved the most aggressive set of local housing production accountability measures to date, including the potential for suing non-compliant cities or counties, giving them a year to comply, and then if necessary imposing up to $600,000/month in fines. While we do not expect any local governments in the Monterey Bay region to test the governor’s resolve on this issue, none of the 17 jurisdictions have yet to achieve their Regional Housing Needs for the current period ending in 2023 and most are well behind in meeting the housing needs of very low-income residents who comprise most of our workforce. MBEP will work with our local government partners to help secure more planning funds so that the region’s housing plans achieve compliance and more progress toward our production goals.