About Project Homekey
Homelessness in Our Community
Hundreds of individuals and families in Mendocino County are homeless or at-risk-of homelessness. Many of these individuals are not particularly visible on our streets – they are living in their cars, or hidden under bridges, or staying at our emergency winter shelters, or living in garages and sheds and camping in tents outside of town.
These homeless individuals include seniors, veterans, families with children, those suffering from mental health challenges, those experiencing physical disability, and those who have slowly lost connection to their loved ones and their natural sources of support.
Some of these individuals and parents are employed in local businesses. Some of them are living on Social Security income of less than $1,000 per month. And some of them have no income right now, but are willing and able to seek employment, once they have the stability to do so.
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.
The excessive cost of housing, traumatic experiences in childhood, a descent into addiction, mental health issues, simple bad luck, and a whole host of systemic problems have put these community members at risk of financial and social collapse. They need the support of our community to recover the pieces of their lives and become productive, hopeful, and thriving members of our community.
If our community provides these households with a safe and secure place to live, they will finally have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and become self-sufficient. If we forego opportunities to house and support these people, the community problems caused by homelessness and the resulting personal human tragedies will only increase over time.
Investing in Affordable Housing
In November 2020, the County of Mendocino purchased the Best Western hotel located at 555 South Orchard Street in Ukiah. In April 2021, this building re-opened as Live Oak Apartments – a 56 unit apartment building consisting of studio units of about 300 square feet each. Each unit is furnished with one or two beds, a dresser, table, kitchenette, and a bathroom. Four of the units have adjoining rooms which provide two-room units for families with children. Four of the units are fully-ADA accessible and are suitable for residents in a wheelchair.
Support for Individuals and Families
Over the next decade or so, Project Homekey will give hundreds of people in our community the opportunity to permanently recover from homelessness. This project is an opportunity for individuals and families to live in a safe environment while they work to achieve greater levels of self-sufficiency. They will have the stability they need to get a job, to stay sober after years of addiction, to escape from an abusive partner, to care for their own physical and emotional health, to join a church, to reconnect with their family and friends, to provide a place for their kids to sleep in peace, and to contribute productively to the community they were raised in.
The people served by Project Homekey include:
- Seniors over the age of 60, including those involved with Adult Protective Services.
- Veterans receiving support and case management from Veterans Affairs.
- Individuals enrolled in the Whole Person Care program.
- Persons at high risk of Covid-19.
- Families enrolled in CalWorks or receiving support through Child Welfare Services.
- Individuals with complex medical conditions.
Support to Rebuild
Project Homekey is designed to engage homeless individuals who want to permanently recover from homelessness. Everyone who moves into the building begins with a Bridge Housing Phase that is centered around accomplishing goals related to Life Essentials. During this phase, residents are provided with the support they need to rebuild the pieces of their lives – financial, economic, physical health, emotional health, education, job training, job seeking.
This Bridge Housing pathway is also an opportunity for the new residents and project staff to determine whether or not this housing opportunity is the right fit for them and for the community. Every resident signs a Code of Conduct that is built directly into the tenancy lease and program occupancy agreement. If a resident is unable to abide by the Code of Conduct, this is an indication that they are not the right fit for this project.