HCD Partners to Help Santa Cruz Adopt Housing Element

March 12, 2024
Housing development in Santa Cruz.

Homekey project at 801 River Street in Santa Cruz. Photo courtesy of Housing Matters.

Santa Cruz, CA —  

The City of Santa Cruz recently celebrated the adoption of a compliant 6th cycle housing element and reached out to thank the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for its efforts to help the City meet its planning goals, highlighting the proactive role HCD plays in providing technical assistance to jurisdictions working to effectively advance state housing law.

According to a letter from the City of Santa Cruz, HCD was instrumental in helping the City not only achieve an on-time certification, but create a stronger housing element that will benefit residents for years to come.

“Through its recently certified Housing Element, the City is delighted to continue its strong partnership with the state Department of Housing and Community Development in supporting the City's ongoing efforts to create thriving, accessible, and inclusive neighborhoods for its residents,” said Santa Cruz Mayor Fred Keeley, adding, “The City of Santa Cruz stands as a beacon of excellence in housing policy and community development.”

Since 1969, California has required that all cities and counties adequately plan to meet the housing needs of community members at all income levels. They submit these plans, known as housing elements, to HCD roughly every eight years to maintain compliance with state law. HCD provides technical assistance including guidance, workshops, and training to help jurisdictions submit compliant housing elements and implement prohousing policies.

In addition to achieving housing element compliance, Santa Cruz earned the Prohousing Designation in August 2023 for their efforts to reduce barriers to housing development and meet State housing goals. The designation – reserved for communities that are willing to cut through red tape, reduce construction and development costs, and create housing policies with a growth mindset – comes with funding incentives and additional resources to help speed housing production. Most recently, the City earned a $3.6 million Homekey Award from HCD for Freedom House, an 11-unit project that will provide interim housing for transition-aged youth (18-24) experiencing homelessness.

“2023 was a banner year for housing in the City of Santa Cruz,” said Lee Butler, City of Santa Cruz Director of Planning and Community Development. “We met our 5th Cycle RHNA targets in every income category, received HCD’s prestigious Prohousing Designation, and certified our 6th Cycle Housing Element on time. Our new Housing Element represents a renewed commitment in our ongoing efforts to foster affordable housing, address diverse housing needs, and affirmatively further fair housing, and we look forward to working with our Council, community, development partners, and HCD over the next eight years to achieve the Housing Element goals.”