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The grounds of an empty motel after a rain storm.

Terner Center Releases Homekey Report

U.C. Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation recently released a report on successes and lessons learned from California’s Homekey Program. This program’s innovative model provides local public entities with grants to purchase existing buildings and convert them into housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Developed during the pandemic, the program’s first round issued approximately $800 million in grants to 94 projects, the majority involving the purchase of hotels and motels that had been hard hit by the pandemic. These first grants added 6,000 rooms or units to the state’s supply of interim and permanent housing in under six months, at an average initial cost of $238,000 per unit.

The report uses statewide application and expenditure data and practitioner interviews to explore the successes and challenges of the program’s first round of funding. Seven case studies on local approaches, including Los Angeles, Fresno, Oakland, and Riverside, offer a robust portrait of how the first round of Homekey funding has been deployed and how service providers, developers, and local agencies are implementing the program on the ground.

The report finds that Homekey’s emphasis on speed and fully funding projects were critical in achieving time and cost savings. However, more must be done to ensure projects have sufficient funding for long-term operating costs as well as resources to support resident well-being.


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