Housing in Santa Cruz County’s limelight – Santa Cruz Sentinel

LIVE OAK – Standing before a small gathering on a bulldozed dirt lot off East Cliff Drive, MidPen Housing President and CEO Matt Franklin observed that, like many simple good ideas, housing developments can be “remarkably hard.”

Franklin told his audience Wednesday it was seated on what will become the future parking area for the 57-unit 1500 Capitola Road family housing project within the coming two years. The Capitola Road site was a former Santa Cruz County Redevelopment Agency property that was sold by Santa Cruz County to MidPen, a nonprofit developer which specializes in building affordable housing. On the same property, the project’s “phase one” construction for both a Dientes Community Dental clinic and Santa Cruz Community Health center is well underway, with a goal of an October ribbon cutting for the health center. The overall project has been in the works since 2017.

“During the community outreach meetings that we did for this property, it’s a redevelopment property, we heard over and over again from the community that they really wanted this to be a center, a town center, a community center,” Santa Cruz County 1st District Supervisor Manu Koenig said. “And you can not have a community without housing. That’s why it’s so fantastic to be breaking ground on this project today. ”

“If we have learned anything at all from the pandemic, I think that we’ve learned that the link between housing and health care is indisputable,” said Jenny Panetta, executive director of the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz. “That both are absolutely necessary for any individual, for any community to prosper.”

Spotlight shifts

The housing project’s groundbreaking comes in a month when affordable housing is taking center stage, both in a practical sense and because housing advocates have dubbed May as Affordable Housing Month.

Real estate investment analyst Stessa calculated Santa Cruz County’s median rent at $ 3,212, compared to $ 2,628 in 2019 – a 22% increase in three years. The median rent is the midpoint of rents. That information is according to the company’s recently released report, drawing from the real estate search engine Zillow, US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Census Bureau. Stessa calculated that the greater Santa Cruz metro had experienced the 15th largest rent increase out of all small US metros. Meanwhile, nationwide, rents increased 12.5% ​​or about $ 161 from 2019 to 2022, according to Stessa’s research.

Online residential rental listing marketplace site Dwellsy went one step further, calculating that Santa Cruz’s one-month median rent increase by $ 200 from March to April of this year caused the city to become the most expensive rental market in the country. The Los Altos-based company, which relies on landlord listings to compile its data, put Santa Cruz’s median rent price in April at $ 3,200.

Market challenges affordability options

In Capitola Road’s future three-story apartment complex, 26 units will be one bedroom, 15 will be two bedrooms and 16 will be three bedrooms. On-site services will include case management, community resource connection, employment preparation, exercise and nutrition support, independent living skills, financial literacy classes and adult education services. Renters will be those whose income is between 30% and 80% of the area’s median income, assisted by 40 rental subsidy vouchers from the Housing Authority. Also, 15 units will be set aside for people who were formerly homeless.

All units in the housing project will have energy-efficient electric ranges, electric heat pump water heaters and electric space heating and cooling, facilitated by a $ 142,500 grant from Central Coast Community Energy’s New Construction Electrification Program.

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