A California county reduces homelessness with innovative projects, like repurposing a defunct motel into affordable housing

On January 13, 2022, the County of Santa Clara, California received state funding to convert a defunct hotel into affordable housing, in order to help alleviate the area’s housing and homelessness crises.

The $22 million award comes from the State’s Homekey program and will be combined with $3 million from the County’s 2016 Measure A Affordable Housing Bond to pay for the purchase and renovation of the Bella Vista Inn and to offer supportive services through the Housing and Disability Advocacy program. The project will create 67 units of interim housing at 3550 El Camino Real in the city of Santa Clara.

Tackling the region’s homelessness crisis has always been one of our top priorities,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D. “This funding, along with the County’s matching funds approved by voters, gets us closer to our mission of providing every resident the opportunity for safe and stable housing.

Construction at the Bella Vista Inn is scheduled to start this March with completion expected in December 2022. A second phase of the development is under review and, if approved, would result in 120 permanent affordable and supportive housing units in the future. That would add significantly to the progress and goals of the 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness.

Through these collective efforts, our community has helped connect 4886 homeless individuals to permanent housing and added 454 beds to our temporary housing and shelter inventory since January 2020.

The speed and effectiveness of our regional collaboration to jump on these unique funding opportunities is what will help get us to the finish line,” said Consuelo Hernández, Director of the County of Santa Clara Office of Supportive Housing.

This is a big win that will further our mission to provide housing for every person in our area. The relationships we’ve built across jurisdictions really show the importance of ending homelessness in every city and community in Santa Clara County,” she added.

The State’s Homekey program was created to provide more housing across California through the purchase of hotels, motels, and vacant buildings for conversion into permanent or interim housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness – all done at a fraction of the cost and more quickly than new construction.

The Bella Vista Inn project really showcases the essence of Homekey,” said Gustavo Velásquez, Director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. “This motel conversion, with a whole suite of supportive services to get people back on their feet, is a huge opportunity to give community members in Santa Clara County a fresh start.

In the first round of funding, cities in Santa Clara County were successful in securing four awards to create 364 homes for homeless individuals and families. When the State expanded Project Homekey for a second round of funding, the County of Santa Clara and its partners (the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, individual cities, affordable housing developers and other non-profit providers) began to evaluate opportunities to leverage this new funding source to expand the supply of affordable housing in our community.

This Homekey award will allow us to cost-effectively create desperately-needed housing for the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Ray Bramson, Chief Operating Officer with Destination: Home. “With thousands of people suffering on our streets, we cannot miss this unique opportunity to bring people indoors as quickly as possible.”

The Bella Vista Inn project is the first of eight applications in Santa Clara County to be submitted for this round of funding.

Photo (via Office of Governor Newsom) show Governor Newsom meeting with the County’s Office of Supportive Housing staff, along with developer and property manager representatives, at the Bella Vista Inn on Thursday, January 13, 2022. (From left to right: Office of Supportive Housing Asset Manager Mercedes García, Office of Supportive Housing Director Consuelo Hernández, Governor Gavin Newsom, Regional Manager Roxann Espinoza with The John Stewart Company, and Associate Director of Real Estate Development Alicia Klein with Resources for Community Development)

Learn more about the County of Santa Clara’s efforts to end homelessness.

You must be logged in to post a comment