Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday an additional $200 million for Project HomeKey, which includes more than $56 million to fund four permanent housing projects across the Bay Area.
Project HomeKey is a statewide initiative that buys different motels, hotels or apartment buildings and transforms them into permanent or interim housing for unhoused residents.
Newsom, along with San Jose leaders Mayor Sam Liccardo, Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Councilwoman Dev Davis gathered on Friday at the Bernal Monterey Emergency Interim Housing Community to tout the project’s success.
“The $200 million will provide us with now $800 million total for this effort, 78 projects under contract, construction or completed in 45 jurisdictions in this state,” Newsom said.
The Bernal Monterey site is the first of three sites in San Jose to complete construction and provide unsheltered residents secure housing and various social services during the Covid-19 pandemic. The sites, which will have a combined 307 units, are funded through the state’s Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program and money San Jose received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
“By eliminating red tape and deploying more innovative, cost-effective construction methods, San Jose is showing how we can build housing in four months—where it previously took four years—at one-eighth of the standard cost of development,” Liccardo said. “It will become a national model for saving lives and rebuilding communities.”
San Jose’s three interim housing sites follow the same model as Project HomeKey.
Over the course of the funding allocation, San Francisco has received more than $29 million to transform a 130-room property into permanent housing with supportive services.
The city of Oakland was awarded nearly $17.5 million for two projects. One is the conversion of a recently rehabilitated hotel into 82 units for some of Alameda County’s most vulnerable residents. The other will provide 21 permanent housing units with supportive services, of which priority will be given to veterans with Veteran Affairs housing vouchers.
Santa Clara County was also awarded $29.2 million to acquire a 146-stay hotel in the city of Milpitas that would eventually be developed into a 132-unit apartment complex with supportive services.
However, the Milpitas City Council voted on Thursday night to sue anyone involved in the construction of the new housing project in attempt to block it, a move Newsom fervently disagreed with.
“I don’t want to see them walk away from that...That opportunity may never come back,” Newsom said about the City Council. “You are going to look back in your life and you are going to regret this...that you could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done the right thing and helped turn another human’s life around.”
Of the $200 million allocated to cities and counties for Project HomeKey, $81.4 million was released in the sixth round of awards with more than half going to the Bay Area. The remaining approximately $25 million was awarded to Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
To date, $709 million of the $800 million budgeted has been awarded to provide 5,068 units of housing. The average per-unit cost was $139,000—well below the average cost to build new housing units in the state, according to Newsom.
Project HomeKey started in July and is the state’s second phase of tackling California’s unhoused population and the looming threat of thousands of evictions at the end of the statewide moratorium.
The first phase was Project RoomKey, which temporarily housed over 22,000 Californians in hotel and motel rooms from April to September of this year.