Quick Take:

After five years of development, a local nonprofit developer broke ground Wednesday on 57 units of affordable housing in Live Oak. Said MidPen CEO Matt Franklin: “This was remarkably hard to bring all of this together.”

Affordable Housing Month is underway, and the first official groundbreaking demonstrates just how long the development process can take in Santa Cruz County.

affordable housing sig

On Wednesday morning, local affordable housing developer MidPen Housing broke ground at 1500 Capitola Rd., beginning to build 57 units of 100% affordable housing within a mixed-use development. The property will also be the home for new clinics for both Santa Cruz Community Health and Dientes Community Dental, which aim to serve a total of 10,000 clients annually. The Live Oak development — located off Capitola Road and 17th Avenue — has been in development for five years.

MidPen president and CEO Matt Franklin shared the journey to this point of the project with nearly 100 attendees, mostly including housing advocates, local politicians and other developer employees.

“Like a lot of things that are simple, good ideas, this was remarkably hard to bring all of this together,” he said.

What’s being developed

MidPen will develop 57 units of 100% affordable housing on the site, scheduled to be move-in ready come fall 2023. The organization will open applications for the units — with one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units available — via an advance online interest list.

The units will largely be for the area’s low-wage workers, with nearly 40% of the development charging 30-40% of the area’s median income (starting at $29,200 for an individual). These units would then help fill the need for what the county calls extremely low income housing, as accounted for in the county’s current regional housing needs allocation numbers. Additionally, 15 of the 57 units will be dedicated to formerly homeless individuals.

MidPen President & CEO Matt Franklin
“Like a lot of things that are simple, good ideas, this was remarkably hard to bring all of this together,” MidPen President and CEO Matt Franklin said of the five-year process. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

“We feel strongly that the one million or so folks in that income level in our region are so critical to the health and future of our community,” Franklin said.

Laura Marcus and Leslie Conner, respective CEOs for Dientes and Santa Cruz Community Health, said both organizations are excited to see the final addition to the 3.7-acre development come to fruition. The clinics will open to the public in October, and the pair believe the addition of affordable housing to the site is imperative for the community’s needs.

“We need to give the people what they need: a home to live in, and healthcare to stay well,” Marcus said.

What’s next

While the groundbreaking was a momentous occasion, former Santa Cruz mayor and chair of Housing Santa Cruz County Don Lane said that this is just one step in the process of developing more affordable housing throughout the county.

Don Lane, chair for Housing Santa Cruz County
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

“There is so much more work to be done and so many more of these projects that need to be nurtured and supported,” he said. “We need to talk about these [developments] as not just buildings, but places where our neighbors will live.”

Other Affordable Housing Month groundbreaking projects include:

  • Wednesday, May 19, 11 a.m.: Pacific Station South
  • Wednesday, May 19, 11 a.m.: 525 Cedar St.
  • Wednesday, May 25, 11 a.m.: 1482 Freedom Blvd.

Event registration is available on the Affordable Housing Month site.

Grace comes to Lookout from just over the hill, originally from Sunnyvale but with a variety of journalism experience from across the country.After doing her undergrad at Seattle University, Grace earned...