Hayward and Union City awarded up to $9.6M for housing

a person holding a key

HAYWARD, Calif. — The cities of Hayward and Union City are getting up to $9.6 million to buy housing for people experiencing homelessness.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Hayward, Union City and nonprofit Bay Area Community Services were awarded up to $9.6 million through Project Homekey to acquire approximately seven homes, which will provide an estimated 37 units for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

“We’re really excited to be able to create this type of housing,” Jonathan Russell, chief strategy and impact officer for Bay Area Community Services, told the East Bay Echo. “Sometimes new housing developments can take, conservatively, three to five years to be created. This is the kind of housing where we can acquire it, quickly renovate and have it ready in six months or less.”

Many Homekey projects are focused on buying apartment buildings and hotels and converting them into permanent supportive housing. This project, however, is a scattered site housing project that will follow Bay Area Community Services’ unique Project Reclamation model. That model focuses on buying single-family homes, duplexes and the like and transforming them into co-living spaces where each resident has their own private bedroom with a lock and key.

Volunteers counted 870 homeless individuals in Hayward (381) and Union City (489) during the 2022 point-in-time count.

The aim is to create and preserve deeply affordable housing for people on fixed incomes in communities where they have roots, which in turn helps preserve community ties and mitigate displacement.

“This is building on a model that BACS really innovated in this county,” Russell said.

Bay Area Community Services will take charge of owning, developing and managing the properties while also offering wraparound services to the tenants. With the funds secured, Russell said that they can now move forward with identifying suitable homes, conducting appraisals and making offers.

In total, the state granted $156.4 million in Homekey grants for 12 projects across six counties this round, including two additional projects in Alameda County. To date, the state has funded 14,040 units through Project Homekey with plans to award more funding in the future.

Project Homekey emerged from the pandemic-era Project Roomkey grant program, aiming to provide individuals experiencing homelessness with their own hotel and motel rooms to combat the spread of COVID-19. Homekey provides funding for additional types of buildings and supports a broader segment of people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, such as young people transitioning out of foster care.

“Homekey continues to demonstrate that we can build quickly, and at a fraction of the usual cost, to deliver much-needed affordable homes for Californians struggling to find a place to live,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement. “There’s still more work ahead, but the state is confronting this housing crisis head on.”

Sonia Waraich can be reached at 510-952-7455.

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