Proposed Homekey Project - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Project Homekey?

Project Homekey (“Homekey”) is a State of California program designed to help local communities acquire hotels, motels, commercial buildings, and other creative housing types to rapidly house people experiencing homelessness. Homekey provides funding for capital costs and operational costs for up to 3 years to operate either transitional or permanent supportive housing. More information can be found here: https://homekey.hcd.ca.gov/

What is the City of Healdsburg applying for under this program?

The City of Healdsburg is proposing to purchase the L&M Motel (70 Healdsburg Avenue) in order to provide 22 units of interim housing for those experiencing homelessness in our community. The City is the primary applicant and will own the site if funding is approved, with Reach for Home (www.reachforhome.org/) serving as the on-site service provider and Burbank Housing (www.burbankhousing.org/) providing developer and construction management services. 

Why do we need a shelter?

Every year the Sonoma County Continuum of Care, an organization charged with coordinating housing and services for homeless families and individuals, conducts a Point-in-Time (PIT) count that enumerates those experiencing homelessness.  The 2020 PIT count found that 69 unsheltered individuals live in Healdsburg.

Unlike other parts of the County, there is no shelter or interim housing to assist those experiencing homelessness in our community, leaving the unsheltered to reside in public spaces, along the river, and in areas not designed for human habitation. The proposed project at the L&M Motel would address this immediate need and help those experiencing homelessness to be stabilized in a safe environment with services and programs to assist them in accessing more permanent housing solutions.  

How was it determined that the proposed project is the right solution?

The City of Healdsburg and Reach for Home have been working in partnership to address the needs of those experiencing homelessness in our community and to respond to the concerns of our residents and businesses on the issue. In order to develop potential solutions that could provide the best results, Reach for Home conducted a survey of those experiencing homelessness in our community. The results of this survey demonstrated that of the 51 individuals surveyed in Healdsburg, nearly 92% of respondents stated that they would accept housing if it were made available. Furthermore, many of those respondents indicated that they were ready for services and or employment opportunities. Interim housing provides an immediate solution to allow individuals to stabilize and move to more permanent solutions. 

Why this location? 

The proposed site is the correct size and has all the amenities needed to serve as interim housing. The current use of the site as a motel provides the City and its partners the ability to easily convert its existing use into the proposed use as interim housing. In addition, the site became available just as the Homekey program was open for applications, and it provides a strong opportunity to access State funding. 

How many people will be there, and how long will they stay?

The proposed site will provide interim housing for 22 individuals. Stays will be up to 30 days with the option for renewals based upon need. However, the goal is for individuals to work with on-site case managers to move to more permanent housing or appropriate care as soon as possible. 

Won’t this just encourage more people experiencing homelessness to come to our City?

Based upon Reach for Home’s survey results and patterns of behavior in the City of Healdsburg, we do not see a lot of individuals coming to Healdsburg from other areas. Over 90% of those experiencing homelessness in our community have been here for over a year and most have resided in the City for over 5 years. Additionally, other cities in the County currently operate high-capacity shelters and contract with service providers to make units available for their residents. Therefore, we do not see many people that are experiencing homelessness moving from one geographic region to another. The goal of this program is to provide services for those who are already here.

Why can’t we just send people that need housing or services to where those services currently exist in other parts of the County?

We do offer services in other parts of the County to those experiencing homelessness in Healdsburg. We are part of a Continuum of Care that is a countywide housing and services program and often times services are located in larger cities such as Santa Rosa. Many times, housing services in another City are refused as many of our homeless neighbors consider Healdsburg their home and do not want to leave. 

One challenge our City faces is that recent court rulings require us to offer those experiencing homelessness an available bed or housing unit in our area in order to clear an encampment. We currently do not have a shelter or interim housing available in Northern Sonoma County. The application the City submitted to the Homekey program, if funded, would give us that resource, and allow us to be more effective in housing people.  

What about people that will not accept help?

Reach for Home is working with the City of Healdsburg, Healdsburg Police Department, County entities, Alexander Valley Medical Clinic and Alliance Medical Clinic to find solutions for those who need a more intensive type of assistance.  For those who ultimately choose to not accept help, Reach for Home’s Street Outreach Case Managers will continue to build relationships with those individuals and work on moving them to acceptance. 

What services will be provided to those that are housed?

One of the key components of the Homekey program is that it provides operational funding to ensure that projects will have robust services. Reach for Home will provide services at the project site to include, but not limited to:

  • Case Management;
  • Mental Health services;
  • Job placement and employment services;
  • Housing navigation and access to housing vouchers;
  • On-site Community Health Worker;
  • Access to drug and alcohol treatment;
  • Gardening, art, and recreational therapy; and
  • Transportation for residents.  

It is anticipated that if the project is approved, these services will be funded through the Homekey program and with funding from the County of Sonoma and the Sonoma County Continuum of Care. 

How will you ensure that the site is safe?

Safety is our first priority for those residing at the property, the neighbors of the project site, and the community at-large. We are not obligated to house someone that is a threat to themselves or others. With that being said, a part of safety is ensuring that the site is properly staffed and expectations are set on conduct and activities. There will be on-site case managers during daytime hours and security will be on the property during the overnight hours. 

We understand that concerns around safety require an ongoing conversation. If the City and its partners are successful in obtaining funding for this project, we will facilitate that conversation to ensure we are good neighbors and make any changes needed to address safety issues. 

How will you ensure that the property does not become blighted?

As a part of the City’s Homekey application, we have requested additional funding to enhance and make improvements to the property. In addition, as a part of the operational plan for the site, there will be a full-time facilities technician that will ensure the property is maintained and in good condition. 

Project Homekey offers funding for 3 years? What happens when that funding runs out?

Project Homekey would fund the majority of the one-time acquisition and improvement costs as well as three years of operations. We have also received assurances that Sonoma County and the Continuum of Care can provide funding assistance. The City and its partners are confident that funding is available for 6-8 years of operations if the Project Homekey application is successful. That will provide adequate time to serve dozens of individuals and refine the model as needed to meet future needs and secure additional funding as needed.

When will a final decision be made on if the City and its partners are awarded Homekey funding? Is this a done deal?

There is no guarantee that the City and its partners will receive Homekey funding as the program is extremely competitive. While we feel we have a very strong application, funds are limited. We expected to hear back from the State of California on our application by the week of December 13th. We also plan to have a community meeting and informational session during that week to provide more information and to answer questions and address concerns. 

Can I volunteer or help if the project is funded?

Homelessness is a community issue and volunteers are always needed. If you are interested, you can send an email to info@reachforhome.org

I still have a lot of questions, is there a point of contact for someone to talk to?

Please reach out to Stephen Sotomayor, Housing Administrator for the City of Healdsburg, at ssotomayor@healdsburg.gov.