The Santa Cruz County Housing for Health Division (H4H) works to ensure that all residents have a safe and stable place to call home by:
Our team has a number of roles and serves as the lead agency for the Housing for Health Partnership (H4HP): a collaboration of Santa Cruz County, each city within the County, service and housing providers, and others committed to ending homelessness. The H4HP acts as the federally-designated Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care (CoC), helping to allocate state and federal funds, coordinate and evaluate programs and services, track outcomes over time, and to mobilize community efforts to end homelessness.
We also manage the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), a shared database which service and housing providers use to enter and review information about individual clients, including assessments, service utilization, and housing status. Information is recorded only with client consent, and a variety of procedures are in place to ensure that personal information is not accessed except when necessary. The HMIS is required by state and federal funders.
In addition, H4H oversees a HUD-mandated coordinated entry system (CES) that standardizes policies, procedures, assessment, prioritization, and matching of households experiencing homelessness to resources that participate in the system.The H4H Division and Housing for Health Partnership are currently working to update and improve the County’s current CES policies and procedures, known as Smart Path to Housing. Many of the programs and services outlined below are accessed according to CES policies and procedures.
Our team also applies for and manages federal and state grants that contribute to addressing homelessness. This includes monitoring grant opportunities, applying for grants, entering contracts with community-based organizations to deliver services, monitoring, and providing technical support to those agencies, and ensuring compliance with funder programmatic and reporting requirements.
We develop policy to address the root causes of homelessness and engage in communications with leadership in the public and private sectors and with the public. Through this policy and communications work, we raise awareness about the scope and causes of homelessness, feasible solutions, and how individuals and organizations can join in the effort to reduce homelessness in the County.
Homelessness can often be prevented by relatively small sums of money to meet basic needs and to give people a chance to shore up their existing support systems. We work with funders and our contracted agencies to provide flexible funding to address such basic needs, including short-term rental assistance, security and pet deposits, move-in assistance, furnishings, damage repair, utility assistance and relocation.
We also work with contracted agencies to provide support for housing navigation and problem solving for people at risk of losing their housing. The work entails collaborating with clients to understand and address the root causes of their housing instability, to identify and connect with supports that could enable them to stay in their current housing or obtain new housing, and to create a plan to maintain housing.
The path to housing starts by addressing basic needs and creating supportive connections for people experiencing homelessness. We help coordinate funding and resources to support outreach services for people currently experiencing homelessness in Santa Cruz County. This includes the distribution of essential tangible resources such as water, food, clothing, flexible funds and hygiene supplies. Services include information and referral, Smart Path assessments, time-limited case management, service navigation, transportation, benefits counseling and assistance with enrollments, assistance obtaining documents, legal services, employment, medical, and mental health services, health education, showers, laundry service and peer support.
H4H contracts with and supports community organizations that provide temporary shelter to adults and families, with specialized facilities for survivors of domestic violence, transitional age youth, persons with severe mental illness, persons in hospice, veterans, and persons recuperating from hospital stays.
We also contract and support community organizations that provide care management and housing navigation services for people experiencing homelessness. These services help households to identify and pursue personal goals and to move toward securing permanent homes. These additional supports are tailored to support the goals and diverse needs of people experiencing homelessness in the County.
Our team works to close the housing affordability gap for households in Santa Cruz County through one-time flexible funding, medium and long-term rental assistance, permanent supportive housing, promoting expanded affordable housing resources, shared housing models, relocation assistance, partnerships with property owners and managers, and work to help increase household incomes.