Tell us about your organization’s mission and/or focus area
We build affordable homes with site-based services that offer opportunities to change lives and strengthen communities. People’s Self-Help Housing is the longest-serving nonprofit housing organization on California’s Central Coast.
Describe a current challenge in your community and how your organization is addressing this
People experiencing homelessness in our service area are on the rise, and COVID-19 has meant this group has been extra vulnerable, prompting a rapid response. Within one of our jurisdictions, there has never been a shelter, and the proportion of the population finding themselves homeless has been growing every year. With no place to go, they congregated into makeshift camps within a seasonally dry riverbed. This led to harsh living conditions, degrading environmental impacts and eventually to a destructive and dangerous fire that spread to nearby homes this past summer. We researched and identified a possible funding source (Project Room Key, and then Project Homekey) to address this challenge in a substantive way. This led to a successful acquisition of a 122 room motel that had been underutilized. The purchase was welcomed by the owner/operator (Motel 6), leading to a combination service-enriched shelter and long-term living solution for this very vulnerable population.
How have you collaborated, or would you like to collaborate with other organizations to successfully achieve a goal?
As part of Project Homekey, we collaborated with our local nonprofit homeless services provider and with the local housing authority. This newly-formed relationship meant a first-ever, three-way collaboration to serve the community with a wider impact than each of us could accomplish on our own individually. That meant not only providing much needed shelter beds, but also additional permanent supportive units converted from half the rooms, which will be associated with critically needed project based vouchers, to ensure long-term financial feasibility. Together, we are providing coordinated and complimentary supportive services to address the variety of clients’ and residents’ needs on the site. And in future collaborations, we hope to substantially rehabilitate and make further improvements to the property utilizing an allocation for federal low-income housing tax credits in exchange for equity investment by our banking partners seeking investment to comply with their Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) obligations. This is just one example. We have formed many other partnerships from development of new affordable housing to resident services. We will continue to seek new partnerships whenever possible.
Please share a success story or memorable moment from your work
Project Homekey saw over 100 people immediately sheltered and avoiding the harsh impacts of the onset of cold winter temperatures (in past years, a number of people experiencing homelessness have died from the exposure to the elements). It also preemptively avoided potential devastating effects from an impending annual flooding of the riverbed. Additionally, the threat of more fires to the local community have been mitigated.
What prompted you to join NCRC?
CRA has been a critically effective law in supporting the work we do by keeping banks engaged with us to invest in our organization and projects in order to ultimately meet our residents’ needs. We have found NCRC is the most effective means by which we can communicate what we see and experience daily around policies and programs and about that which is working and not working from our practitioner level back to the policy makers and influencers. We believe this the best approach, and NCRC the best tool in that regard, toward accomplishing positive actions or changes to make CRA the most effective it can be in meeting the law’s intentions and mandate.
Ken Trigueiro is President & CEO of People’s Self-Help Housing.
Photo of Project Homekey provided by People’s Self-Help Housing.