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Housing in Santa Cruz County’s limelight

Standing before a small gathering on a bulldozed dirt lot off East Cliff Drive, MidPen Housing President and CEO Matt Franklin observed that, like many simple good ideas, housing developments can be “remarkably hard.”

Franklin told his audience Wednesday it was seated on what will become the future parking area for the 57-unit 1500 Capitola Road family housing project within the coming two years. The Capitola Road site was a former Santa Cruz County Redevelopment Agency property that was sold by Santa Cruz County to MidPen, a nonprofit developer which specializes in building affordable housing. On the same property, the project’s “phase one” construction for both a Dientes Community Dental clinic and Santa Cruz Community Health center is well underway, with a goal of an October ribbon cutting for the health center. The overall project has been in the works since 2017.

“During the community outreach meetings that we did for this property, it’s a redevelopment property, we heard over and over again from the community that they really wanted this to be a center, a town center, a community center,” Santa Cruz County 1st District Supervisor Manu Koenig said. “And you can’t have a community without housing. That’s why it’s so fantastic to be breaking ground on this project today.”

…According to a report released last week by the California Housing Partnership, Santa Cruz County renters need to earn $48.08 per hour — 3.2 times the state minimum wage — to afford the average monthly asking rent of $2,500. The “California Affordable Housing Needs Report 2022” estimated that state and federal funding for housing production and preservation in Santa Cruz County was $19 million in 2021, a $48% decrease from the year prior.