.One-Time Homelessness Funding Ending

In June 2021, Senator John Laird secured $14 million in homeless funding for the City of Santa Cruz. $4.6 million in pandemic relief supplemented the city’s efforts to curb homelessness.

As of June 2023, $12.6 million of that one-time funding has been spent to stand up shelters and provide services to the city’s 1,028 unhoused residents. Current funding will run out by June 30th, 2024.

Deputy City Manager Lisa Murphy said the city is “exploring the opportunity” of putting a sales tax measure in front of voters to bring in more funding for homeless services. An initiative to raise the city’s sales tax by 0.5% for general city needs failed narrowly in 2022.

Combatting homelessness is historically the county’s domain, but the one-time funding marked a paradigm shift in the city’s response to the homeless. The city created a three-year homeless response plan, which the city credits with its 30% drop in homelessness. A total of 74 people who participated in city programs moved to permanent housing in the city, county, and elsewhere—although it’s unclear how many of those people maintained their housing, as the city does not have long term data on people who rehouse.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the programs that we have stood up are working. Our momentum is very strong right now,” said Murphy.

The crown-jewel of the city’s homeless response is the Armory shelter at the National Guard Armory at DeLaveaga Park, which provides 135 beds, three meals a day, healthcare and transportation. According to the city, 32 people moved to permanent housing from the Armory. The city has spent $5.4 million on the Armory after taking over responsibility from the county, which discontinued services in June of last year.

California Governor Gavin Newsom did not provide “long-term sustainable homeless funding” in the state budget this year according to Murphy. Instead, funding comes in the form of one-time grant money that counties and the 13 largest cities fight over. The county isn’t much better off: HUD gives the county’s Continuum of Care around $5 million yearly.

“You got to give people someplace to go, while they are waiting for this housing to drop out of the sky,” said Murphy. “The city can’t operate this alone. We need help from our partners. Our partners include the state. It includes the county. It includes the other cities. Us having this shelter benefits the whole county.”


  1. Governor Newsom signed into law a bill that provides the funding for student dorms on our community college campus in Aptos. why? our college surveyed students last semester and the survey found 22% of all students experienced some period of homelessness last year. that is between 1 out of every 5 and 1 out of every 4. we need student dorms on our campus. they will be built on the lower campus near the physical education fields. we hope this will happen within 2 years.

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  2. “Combatting homelessness is historically the county’s domain, but the one-time funding marked a paradigm shift in the city’s response to the homeless.”

    There it is. The gist of this whole issue. It is the county that is responsible for homeless services and “brick & mortar” for same, NOT the city. Just because the city received a one-time state grant doesn’t mean it should go into the “homeless” service industry in a wholesale way.

    One, again, it is not the city’s mandate, it is the county’s. See, the county closed the Armory. Why?
    Two, the city will never be able maintain and sustain the response needed: facilities and services, even with a paltry sales tax increase.
    Three, the city has a perennial budget shortfall due to pension obligations and keeps declaring a “fiscal emergency”, “losing city services”, “closing parks”, etc. to wrestle voters into voting in more taxes.
    Four, other local municipalities have not nearly stepped up their game for their “homeless” responsibilities.
    Five, Santa Cruz Local discovered that “homeless” services are not transparent nor accountable for the funding already spent. We have no assurance of their efficacy.


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  3. Will the current editor-in-chief continue past Good Times policy of not posting/publishing comments they disagree with? My last four comments have not seen the light of day. Why? Are they being prodded by the local political machine to squelch any dissent? One has to wonder….

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  4. I am an unhoused, disabled (in a wheelchair) elderly woman (67). I have written and called every government official for help. The shelters, when not full which they usually sre, are not handicap accessible. I have been subjected to things no human should have to endure (not to mention law enforcement’s constant harassment). I have been on the list for Housing Matters for three years. I cannot even get them to return my calls. Section Eight is chronically closed. No government official can/wants to help. The Armory is impossible for me to navigate in a wheelchair as I an very week. Dish out nental health, mandate it, force-feed it but at the end of if the day we don’t have a roof over our heads. All the platitudes in the world are justthat – useless.

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