California’s one-time block grant called the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) aims to address homelessness in the state.
San Luis Obispo County got about $4 million of the $500 billion in funds and now local agencies are looking to put those dollars to use.
The 5 Cities Homeless Coalition and People’s Self-Help Housing are thinking of submitting a joint application for SLO County HEAP funds to address homelessness and affordability in the Five Cities area.
The Hillside Church property at 1935 Newport Ave. in Grover Beach is a site they are considering to use for youth transitional housing and permanent affordable housing.
The property currently sits on a 3.1-acre piece of land, but local nonprofits are looking to turn it into a two-part housing project.
The Grover Beach city manager says it would be beneficial, especially to at-risk youth.
“We have inadequate housing space, we have inadequate services and this would be a unique opportunity if this goes forward to bring in services, to bring in transitional housing for youth, to provide a roof and get them off of the streets,” said Matthew Bronson, Grover Beach City Manager.
The first phase would be managed by the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition.
It would include:
- Winter warming center
- 11 youth dorm-style rooms (up to 44 beds)
- On-site live-in manager
- Administration office
- Case management office
- Resources like homeless youth services
People’s Self-Help Housing would take on the second phase.
The second phase would include:
- Construction of 20 new permanent homes (for people earning at or below 30 percent of the median income)
- On-site manager’s unit
“One thing to stress is what’s being contemplated is not a homeless shelter,” Bronson said. “This is about case management and providing services people need to get them off the streets.”
The HEAP funds would be used to purchase the property which is currently in open-escrow, according to People’s Self-Help Housing.
However, if HEAP funds were allocated, it would not cover the cost of remodel or construction.
“We will have to put together some kind of preliminary estimate of the costs that we could anticipate the whole project would take and how much of that $4 million we would need,” said Ken Trigueiro, People’s Self-Help Housing Executive Vice President.
Bronson says the City of Grover Beach will send a letter of support if and when an application is submitted.
“This concept really is all connected from services to transitional immediate housing to permanent supportive housing all on one property that would be very well designed, well maintained with the highest standards for security and neighborhood outreach,” Bronson said.
There are a number of details that still need to be worked out like the zoning of the property.
According to the city, the Hillside Church site is in a residential zoning area typically meant for single-family housing. However, if the project moves forward, the city would propose to change it to a neighborhood mixed-use zoning.
The site currently serves as the city’s temporary warming center.
One woman who has family across the street from Hillside Church says she is concerned for her grandkids’ safety when the warming center is open.
“I am concerned because the people who use the center hang out over the balcony and they run around,” said neighbor Julie Gay.
Gay says she is in favor of creating housing for the homeless, she just doesn’t think this potential site suits her neighborhood.
“Not here in a long-established neighborhood because we’ve got an influx of kids going to school down there,” Gay said.
Right now, the applicants say they are working to get input from the community.
“We want to know what are the questions from the public are so we can start to hear those, understand them and formulate responses and they could advise whatever we may end up proposing,” said Trigueiro.
However, neighbors like Gay say they are disappointed in the lack of notification about the development concept.
“From what I understand, we weren’t given notice that they were considering this,” said Gay. “So I was a little caught off guard.”
Those behind the idea stress that is just that, an idea. It’s all dependent on whether or not the applicants get the HEAP funds.
If an application is submitted and the county approves the funds, the plan would have to go through a number of processes before any construction can be done.
The deadline to submit an application is March 15.
“If we are not successful in the application then we wouldn’t necessarily be able to pursue this particular property,” said Trigueiro.
People’s Self-Help Housing will be holding an open house March 6 at the Courtland Street Apartments in Arroyo Grande from 6-7:30 p.m.
They encourage members of the Five Cities area to come and ask questions about their work and potential housing projects.
“Our thought is to make sure there is support from the community to do something,” said Trigueiro. “This open house will give a sense of just some things that we’ve done that have worked out well, that are operating well.”
If their application is approved through all the stages, it would be People’s Self-Help Housing’s first housing site in Grover Beach.