Moving solutions to homelessness forward
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our collective health depends on each other. The same is true when it comes to addressing homelessness in our community. It takes all of us, working together, to help those experiencing homelessness find pathways to permanent housing.
Resolving homelessness is essential to the health and wellbeing of our entire community. Housing Matters is on the frontline of this issue — providing emergency shelter, supportive services, permanent housing, and advocacy.
Last year, the community doubled shelter capacity to house our most vulnerable neighbors as the pandemic continued to spread. The key to making this happen? Working collaboratively with local agencies and partner organizations. Housing Matters was honored to bring 35-plus years of experience in addressing homelessness to these important efforts.
“It has been a year of coming together and finding common ground. At Housing Matters we’ve been heartened by our community’s willingness to respond in meaningful, actionable ways to help those who are living unhoused.”
— Cecilia Espinola, Housing Matters Board President
Housing Matters’ emergency shelters provide a safe place to sleep at night and a home base during the day from which program participants can access the other important services they need to move beyond homelessness and into stable, long-term housing.
Housing Matters’ programs impacted thousands of locals experiencing homelessness. Here is a snapshot of people served from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021:
- 262 adults and children permanently were housed
- 2,478 total people were connected with services
- 52,106 bed nights (one person for one night in one bed)
- 10,174 showers provided
- 10,293 restroom visits
- 1,345 mailroom users
“I was determined to find a place to call home and I felt deeply supported by the people I worked with at Housing Matters. Because of the stability housing gave me, I can finally start to dream again.”
— Jenny, former guest at Rebele Family Shelter
Sometimes, A Natural Disaster Triggers an Experience of Homelessness
The CZU Lightning Complex fires were a critical moment for the community that put Housing Matters to the test. The fires destroyed over 900 homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains and hundreds of families were displaced. When the fires began in August 2020, the phones at Housing Matters front desk began to ring with questions from locals wanting to know how to help newly unhoused friends, family, and neighbors.
With community members looking for ways to help fire victims, the Housing Matters team was inspired to organize a workshop along with creating a toolkit to support volunteer efforts. The Pathways Home Toolkit provides ongoing support for volunteers inspired to continue helping those who find themselves in the crisis of homelessness, for any reason, now or in the future. This free resource remains on the Housing Matters website for anyone wanting to learn how to lend a hand.
Partnerships are Key, Especially to Address Impacts of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic was well underway when the CZU fires happened, and it’s clearly going to be with us for some time to come. Partnering with local government is essential to provide critical support and resources for those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.
Housing Matters also continues to partner with the County-run Homeless Persons’ Health Project, which operates an on-site vaccination clinic on the Housing Matters campus to help protect the community against the spread of COVID-19 variants.
“What we’ve learned has become invaluable in helping us shape our programs and services. It’s helping our community as a whole better understand and engage in creating solutions to homelessness.”
— Phil Kramer, CEO of Housing Matters
Join the ConversationThere are over 2,100 local residents without a home. Homelessness affects us all in one way or another, and talking about it is an important step in moving forward with solutions. In a community experiencing homelessness, housing matters. And YOU matter to housing. Together, we can resolve homelessness in Santa Cruz County.