Quick Take:

State Senator John Laird and Assemblymember Mark Stone helped land funding for the Santa Cruz area as part of California’s $262.6 billion budget.

Homelessness is always a hotly contested topic in Santa Cruz.

And this week, Santa Cruz city and county look set to capture some much-needed funding to help combat the growing rates of unhoused individuals — rates that are among the highest in California.

The state budget will allocate $14.5 million to be divided between the City of Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County to help improve and expand services for unsheltered residents. The funds will be distributed under the Housing for a Healthy Santa Cruz action plan, officials wrote in a release Tuesday.

“It’s no secret that we are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis in the City of Santa Cruz. This investment will allow us to stand up much-needed services for unhoused residents, such as safe sleeping and storage,” Santa Cruz Mayor Donna Meyers said in a statement.

In the Housing for a Healthy Santa Cruz plan, the county aims to reduce the number of homeless people by 50% by 2024 and the overall number of homeless within the county by 30% within that same time span. The proposed framework calls for:

  • 160 year-round low barrier emergency shelter beds
  • 350 rapid re-housing slots
  • 100 permanent supportive housing slots within the city and county

The estimated total operating costs for these 610 spots is between $9.8 million and $14.2 million.

“These funds will not only provide emergency funding to the City and County of Santa Cruz for much-needed infrastructure and support to resolve current unsanctioned encampments on Caltrans and city public land while improving State, County and City coordination,” State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) said in a statement.

The funds are part of a $22 million Central Coast recovery plan championed by Laird and Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Santa Cruz) that secured an additional $3 million for infrastructure improvements in downtown Atascadero and $4.5 million for renovations at Point Sur State Historic Park in Monterey County.

The $262.6 billion state budget, which includes $12 billion over the next two years for homelessness initiatives, has been approved by the standing budget committee and the State General Assembly. It will move on to Governor Gavin Newsom for final approval and details regarding disbursement.

Follow Neil Strebig on: Twitter. A chef-turned-journalist, Neil has a track record for covering the hospitality industry and local businesses. Neil joins Lookout as a Report for America Corps member. Previously...