2023: Year in Review

2023: Year In Review

H.O.U.S.E. Party

On Thursday, January 26, over 400 community members and Housing Matters staff came together at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History to enjoy a market-style event while also learning about solutions to homelessness.

PIT Count

Santa Cruz County counted its smallest estimated unhoused population to date during the annual point-in-time count, bucking the national trend which reflected a 12% increase in homelessness.

MARCH 2023
Hygiene Bay Renovations Completed
Renovations to the on-campus Hygiene Bay were completed in March 2023. The Hygiene Bay provides clean restrooms and hot showers to anyone experiencing homelessness.

APRIL 2023
March to End Homelessness (first annual)
Around 500 community members and activists rallied in downtown Santa Cruz on a sunny Saturday morning for the first ever March to End Homelessness. Join us on Saturday, May 18th for the SECOND annual March to End Homelessness!

APRIL 2023
1.1M from HUD for Harvey West Studios
On April 19, Santa Cruz County learned that homeless services projects countywide received $6.63 million in funding from the US Department of Housing & Urban Development, representing the largest competitive federal Continuum of Care allocation in County history.

APRIL 2023
MonteVista Christian School Fundraiser
In April, we connected with eighth graders from Monte Vista Christian school about solutions to homelessness. The students then went on to fundraise for our organization, raising $400 through a lemonade stand school project.

APRIL 2023
Non-profit of the year award from California Association of non-profits
Housing Matters received a 2023 Nonprofit of the Year award, courtesy of the California Association of Nonprofits and selected by State Senator John Laird (SD-17). 

Housing Matters is one of the 100+ nonprofit organizations to be honored this year, and is recognized for its outstanding contributions in the Santa Cruz County community.

JUNE 2023
Good Neighbor Social
On June 1, over 120 Housing Matters supporters danced the night away at
our second annual Good Neighbor Social, held at our neighborhood watering hole, Woodhouse Blending & Brewing.

JUNE 2023
RCC Moves to Salt Air Lodge
In June, Housing Matters Recuperative Care Center moved to the Salt Air Lodge to make room for construction of our new permanent supportive housing project, Harvey West Studios.

JULY 2023
2nd Speakers Bureau cohort completes training
The second cohort of the Community Conversations Speakers Bureau completes their training.

Grocery Outlet Fundraiser
Grocery Outlet Santa Cruz ran the Independence from Hunger campaign to support our mission of resolving homelessness in Santa Cruz County. With our community’s generous support, this local store raised $25,309 to help people in our community on their pathway to permanent, stable housing!

Donor Circles Launch Party
Housing Matters hosted 50 attendees at a lively launch party for our Donor  Circles. The Donor  Circles recognizes the people in our community who make significant financial contributions to support our work. 

Donors heard from Pauline, a lived experience speaker from the first cohort of the Community Conversations’ Speakers Bureau program. Pauline shared her story of losing her home of 20 years and her journey back to housing.

Ice Cream Social
The Housing Matters Community Engagement team partnered with Vrinda Quintero, local entrepreneur and activist to host an Ice Cream Social Storytelling event for our program participants and staff. Using a “Share a Treat, Share a Story” approach, the Ice Cream Social cultivated a collective space for community building on campus. Program participants and staff enjoyed delicious ice cream sundaes and kindly held space for each other’s stories. Even some pups enjoyed a lick of vanilla ice cream!

Built for Zero Conference
Oscar Corcoles, Director of Services/Housing and Dani Meidan, SSVF Program Manager were in Washington D.C. in September to attend the Built for Zero Fall Learning Session. They were joined by Calista McCracken Garcia from the VA Palo Alto Coordinated Entry Program, and represented our Santa Cruz Veterans Action Collaborative.

Abi Mustapha joins Housing Matters as Artist-In-Residence
Housing Matters welcomes Abi Mustapha as our new Artist-In-Residence, thanks to a $140,000 grant from the Central Coast Creative Corps.

First move-ins to Casa Azul
Housing Matters opened the doors to its new 7-unit supportive housing residence for people who were previously experiencing chronic homelessness.

Uplift Grant
Housing Matters won a $30k Community Engagement grant from Uplift Central Coast.

Neighbors for Neighbors
Neighbors for Neighbors turns one year old! 

A partnership with Santa Cruz Public Library and hosted at the Capitola branch library to provide a platform for community members to learn about and discuss solutions to homelessness.

Altar created on campus for Día de los Muertos.

Community Connections: Key to Resolving Homelessness
Community Connections: Key to Resolving Homelessness, was a dinner benefit and panel discussion on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at the nonprofit 1440 Multiversity campus in Scotts Valley.

Our own Tom Stagg participated on the panel with Kevin Adler, author of When We Walk By and founder of Miracle Messages, Paz Padilla, Director of Programs and Impact at Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc., and Dr. Robert Ratner, Director of the Housing for Health Division of the County of Santa Cruz.

Davita makes stop at HM on their Health Tour
Davita came to Housing Matters and offered health screenings for our participants.

Giving Tuesday Service Project (BoA & Mynt)
On Thursday, December 7th, we hosted over 30 volunteers for our Giving Tuesday Service Project! In community, we created 300 bag lunches and passed them out to our unhoused neighbors in the Harvey West neighborhood. 

Attendees from our Neighbors for Neighbors program joined local business groups and campus volunteers to channel the power of radical generosity and meet the needs of our unhoused neighbors. For Neighbors for Neighbors attendees, this project was the next step for our library meetup group to build community and have an impact together! 

We are grateful for MYNT, our project sponsor, for Bank of America, for all of your help, and for all of our wonderful volunteers for making this event possible.

Remembering Rowland Rebele
Rowland “Reb” Rebele’s impact on Housing Matters and all of us who worked alongside him cannot be understated. Reb and his wife Pat cared deeply for our unhoused neighbors in Santa Cruz County. As founding members of Housing Matters, they built and opened the doors of the Rebele Family Shelter, which is named after them.

Miracle Messages Partnership
Miracle Messages partners with Housing Matters and has a presence on our campus weekly. Miracle Messages is an organization that helps the unhoused with rebuilding their social networks, including reunifying with family or friends and matching with a volunteer phone “buddy”. 

Miracle Messages is on a mission to end relational poverty on the streets and, in the process, inspire people everywhere to embrace their unhoused neighbors not as problems to be solved, but as people to be loved.

Housing Matters receives Bank of America’s 2023 Neighborhood Champion award
The Neighborhood Champion program is a signature part of Bank of America that aims to provide funding to nonprofits that are advancing economic mobility and building up underserved neighborhoods. This year, we were one of roughly 100 organizations from across the United States that were identified as leading the charge to address tough issues related to economic mobility.

Homeless Memorial
On or about the longest night of the year – the Winter Solstice – communities across the country gathered to remember neighbors who died unhoused in the past year. This year marked the 25th year for the remembrance gathering in Santa Cruz County. All were welcome.

Santa Cruz Surgery Center Shoutout
Shout out to Santa Cruz Surgery Center for providing gifts and gift cards to all program participants. We couldn’t give the adults in our shelters a better gift than a warm and wearable blanket. Thank you to all the volunteers who wrapped all the gifts!