Hundreds of individuals and families in Mendocino County are homeless or at-risk-of homelessness. The majority of these households are Mendocino County natives – they have grown up in our communities; attended our high schools; and many of them still have friends and family in our communities.

Project Homekey will be an opportunity for individuals and families to live in a safe environment while they re-collect the pieces of their lives.

Although criteria for entry into Project Homekey is homelessness or at-risk-of-homelessness, people who move into Project Homekey are no longer homeless – they are housed and working to stabilize the factors that caused their experience of homelessness.

Project Homekey is not a shelter; it is a home.

Project Homekey is consistent with Goal 1.1. of the Strategic Plan to Address Homelessness in Mendocino County.  This plan has been adopted by the Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care, as well as the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and every incorporated city in Mendocino County.

Here’s a glimpse of who Project Homekey will serve.

These individuals are real people in Mendocino County, although their names and certain details have been altered to protect their identity.

A Home for Seniors

Paula is 78 years old. She is a single mother who raised a son who struggles with addiction and lives out of state. She has rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, but excellent cognitive function. Paula earns $908 per month in Social Security Retirement Income. She is completely sober – and has never used drugs or alcohol in her life. Paula is currently camping under a bridge in her vehicle. She tries to keep hidden because she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself. She is described by her caseworker as “the sweetest person you could ever meet.” Paula has a HUD Permanent Supportive Housing voucher in hand that would subsidize her housing, but she has not been able to find a place willing to rent to her. She is on the waiting list for several senior housing projects, but that wait list is quite long.

A Home for the Disabled

Mike is 63 years old. He has only one lung, and suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He worked at Masonite his whole working life until it closed. Shortly after that, his wife died and he sunk into a deep depression that lasted for years. He had been homeless on the streets for five years, but is now staying in a tent on a friend’s property just north of Ukiah. He has no criminal history and is sober. He earns $994 per month in retirement income. He is in possession of a HUD Housing Choice voucher, and has a caseworker assigned to him.

A Home for Mary and her Daughter

Mary is 24 years old. She has a two-year-old daughter currently in foster care. She was born and raised in Ukiah, but is currently in month four of a six-month residential substance use treatment program in Humboldt County. If she has nowhere to live upon release from residential treatment, she will not be able to parent her child. If living on the streets, she will be at much higher risk of relapsing into addiction. If she is able to reunite with her child in stable housing, she will be eligible for the CalWorks Housing Support Program. Once enrolled in CalWorks Housing Support, she will have a caseworker assigned to her and will have expectations for seeking employment. She will also have a social worker, assigned to her through Child Welfare Services, who is responsible for monitoring her well-being and that of her child. Mary has no criminal history.

A Home for a Combat Veteran

Jim is a combat veteran. He lives in a basement of a friend in Ukiah. He is 72 years old, but in great health. His retirement benefit totals roughly $1,000 per month. His daughter suffers from mental health and substance use issues and her child is currently in foster care. Jim would like to obtain custody of his 5-year-old granddaughter, but cannot do so in his current living environment. Jim is eligible for the HUD-VASH housing subsidy program, but has not yet found a place willing to accept the voucher. Jim has a social worker assigned to him through the HUD-VASH program.

A Home for Recovery

Ben is a recovered alcoholic who is on dialysis, and must travel to the dialysis center two times per week. His retirement income is $994 per month. He has found a friend willing to let him park a trailer on his property, but the trailer is falling apart and the cost to repair the electrical system in the trailer would be higher than the value of the trailer itself. In its current condition, the trailer does not meet the definition of “a place meant for habitation.” The property is also quite far out of town, and Ben struggles to get to his dialysis treatments. If Ben were to live at Live Oak Apartments, he would be able to easily travel to his Orchard Street dialysis center. Ben has an assigned caseworker who has been seeking for months to find a solution for his housing situation.

A Home for Lisa and her Son

Lisa is a single mother of a 3-year-old son. She is currently living in a local motel with the partial cost of her room paid for by the CalWorks Housing Support Program. She works part-time at Starbucks during the hours that her child is in daycare, but her income is quite low. Her primary barrier to finding an apartment is that she has terrible credit from poor financial decisions made in her early 20’s. Living at Live Oak Apartments would give her time to improve her credit and become more attractive to the mainstream housing market. Once her child is able to enter school full-time, she will be able to increase her employment hours. Until she is able to fully pay for her housing costs on her own, the CalWorks Housing Support program will be able to partially subsidize the cost of her unit. She has a caseworker assigned to her already through the CalWorks program.

A Home for a Hometown Veteran

Charles is a 63-year-old Army veteran who has lived in Mendocino County all of his life, with the exception of his years in service. He lives in his mother’s home. His mother recently had to leave the home due to dementia and he can no longer stay there because the home has gone through foreclosure and is now owned by a company in the Midwest. This veteran has developmental disability and receives $900 a month from Social Security income. He is eligible for a HUD- VASH housing voucher.