City Awarded $12.3 Million to Build Dignity Village

City of Alameda--The City of Alameda will use a state grant to build a 47-unit interim housing development.

City Awarded $12.3 Million to Build Dignity Village

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday, March 10, the state is awarding the City of Alameda $12.3 million in Project Homekey Round 2 grant funding.

The city will use the funds to build Dignity Village, a 47-unit interim supportive housing development that, along with providing shelter, will provide mental and educational support services to its residents. “I’m thrilled that the State of California has recognized the significance of this project,” said Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft in a statement on the city’s website. “As the city works to end homelessness in Alameda, Dignity Village will provide life-changing, and lifesaving, opportunities for its residents.”

The plan calls for 38 units to be allocated for chronically unhoused people, four units for general or recently unhoused people and five units for transitional age youth who are unhoused or at risk of being unhoused (“City Submits Grant Application to Build Development for Unhoused Residents,” Feb. 15). Eight units will be adapted for individuals with mobility, hearing or vision disabilities.

Each unit will include a private bathroom, desk and individually controlled climate control. The development will include common areas and other amenities including a community garden and pet area.

According to the city, construction will begin this spring and is expected to take approximately eight months to complete. The development will be located at the “bottle parcel” at 2350 Fifth St., next to the College of Alameda. Currently, the property is owned by the Alameda’s Successor Agency to the Community Improvement Commission.

The city also announced it has secured $2.35 million from Alameda County to cover five years of operating expenses. Per Homekey rules, applicants must guarantee that operational costs for prospective projects are secured for at least five years. City Manager Eric Levitt told the City Council in November 2021 that Project Homekey funding will not pay all operational costs through the first five years. In response, the council approved a plan to use $4.64 million from the American Rescue Plan Act 2021 and $1.2 million from the city’s General Fund, for a total of $5.84 million, on operational costs through fiscal year 2027-28. The city did not disclose whether the county funds will add to the $5.84 million allocated for operational costs or the city will use less from the General Fund and the American Rescue Plan Act 2021 fund.

The city is partnering with two other agencies to complete and operate Dignity Village. DignityMoves will be the project developer. They specialize in interim supportive housing developments. They have built similar projects in San Francisco and Santa Barbara.

The other partner is the non-profit Five Keys. Five Keys will handle operational services. Five Keys “provides traditionally underserved communities the opportunity to improve their lives through a focus on the Five Keys: Education, Employment, Recovery, Family, Community.” They offer free adult education to California residents wishing to obtain their GED, HiSET, or High School Diploma. Five Keys will also provide residents case management and support in obtaining permanent housing; addiction, mental health and medical care; public benefits; and referrals to employment services.

Project Homekey’s goal is to provide funding to local public agencies to develop a range of housing types for permanent or interim housing for unhoused residents.

“We’re treating homelessness with the sense of urgency that the moment demands, because every Californian deserves a place to call home,” said Newsom in a press release. “Nearly every week, we’re approving additional Homekey projects up and down our state — continuing our progress to house Californians at an unprecedented rate.”

Along with the City of Alameda, Newsom announced the cities of Woodland and Petaluma would receive Project Homekey Round 2 grants. The City of Woodland will receive $15.8 million to build 60 units of permanent modular housing on a city-owned lot. The City of Petaluma will receive more than $15.7 million to convert non-residential structures into 60 units of permanent housing for the chronically homeless. So far, the state has distributed $514 million in Round 2 grants, according to California’s Department of Housing & Community Development.

The Homekey program was created as a continuation to Project Roomkey, which was established in March 2020 as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the project wound down, Newsom announced the state would allocate more than $800 million for Project Homekey. On Sept. 16, 2021, Newsom announced an extension of the program.

City of Alameda    Dignity Village will be located at the "bottle parcel" next to the College of Alameda tennis courts.