Newark Eyeing State HomeKey Grants for Homeless Housing

Newark – Newark plans to apply for a $39 million state grant to buy a hotel in the city and convert it into permanent housing for the homeless and very low-income people, the first of its kind in the city’s history. The first is campus.

“It’s the kind of affordable housing that hasn’t really been built enough,” said Louis Chicoine, director of Abode Services, a Fremont nonprofit ancillary housing provider that will manage the site.

“We only see an increasing number of people on the streets, especially families in our area, who are really struggling. When they’re living from motel to motel, their kids are in school,” Chicoin said in an interview.

Newark City Council is set to consider applications Thursday that will take advantage of the latest round of funding from California’s landmark Project HomeKey, a program that aims to quickly housing thousands of people without shelter across the state.

Gavin Newsom’s administration said about $850 million was distributed in the program’s first round in 2020, going toward building more than 6,000 permanent homes, and the state plans to spend $2.75 billion on the program — This is heavily backed by the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund – more on this this year and the next.

The city is considering converting the Townplace Suites hotel at 39802 Cedar Blvd., which has 125 suites ranging from studios to two-bedroom units, all of which already include kitchenettes. The city report said two of the hotel’s suites would be converted into apartments for a manager’s unit and a community service office, and 123 suites for residents.

The city will also consider kicking in $6 million of its own money — about $4.5 million from its affordable housing fund, and $1.5 million from its share of American Rescue Planning Act funds.

According to Steven Turner, the city’s director of community development, the city is requesting about $4 million from Alameda County in matching funds for the project.

The HomeKey grant fund provides up to $1,400 per unit for three years for operating costs and resident services, the city report said.

Turner said in an interview that because the hotel was only built in 2000, and renovated in 2015, it is in great shape, and would require minimal work to convert the suites with kitchens into permanent apartment units.

Turner said, “So where it can take two or three years for a new affordable housing development through entitlement and construction, before they actually start leasing units, the HomeKey program … is just a few. Will be in months.”

“Being able to get affordable housing units online in months instead of years is an incredible opportunity,” he said.

Roughly half of the apartments will be reserved for people who are homeless, and the other half for those at risk of homelessness, earning very little income of 30% or less of the area’s median income. . For an individual, 30% of the average is about $29,000 a year, and for a family of four it’s about $41,000.

Abode Services will oversee the purchase, conversion and management of the property over the long term.

“Newark does not have a project dedicated to affordable housing for this income level. This will be the first in its history,” said Abode Services’ Chicoin.

Chicoin said people living in the converted apartment will have the same lease and responsibilities as any other apartment tenant.

“They have to be good neighbors, they have to pay a portion of the rent and follow house rules, and they get services while they are there,” he said.

“It is the gold standard for ensuring that people are successful and out of danger of becoming homeless or homeless,” Chicoin said.

The Newark City Council meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday. Click to watch the meeting on YouTube Contact, To participate via Zoom, click on Contact,