Mission and History

Housing Matters partners with individuals and families to create pathways out of their homelessness and into permanent housing.

We hold firmly to a vision that homelessness in Santa Cruz County should be rare, brief, and non-recurring.

Home is the foundation
for rebuilding lives …

Housing Matters Entrance

Our History and Timeline

What started as a loose affiliation of faith-based groups and community organizations more than three decades ago has evolved into the largest organization addressing homelessness in Santa Cruz County today.

Over the years, thousands of people have found permanent housing through the many programs and services we offer. These are adults, children, veterans, and seniors who might otherwise still be living without a home.



Housing Matters (then known as Citizen’s Committee for the Homeless) is founded to provide campers with safety, security, and basic amenities such as heat and running water. Unhoused families and individuals experiencing homelessness receive meals and transportation to various churches offering services throughout the community.



Housing Matters (then known as Homeless Services Center) is officially registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.


Housing Matters (then known as Homeless Services Center) began offering a free meal program and free access to basic hygiene services, including toilets and showers.



A vigorous campaign is launched to raise funds for providing safe, temporary shelter to unhoused families. In May of 2005, the Rebele Family Shelter opened its doors. Those staying at the shelter also receive meals and case management to help them regain jobs and stable housing.


After years of community discussion and careful cost analysis, the Paul Lee Loft is built with help from Habitat for Humanity. The Loft opens its doors to adult men and women, providing temporary shelter and transitional services to up to 40 people at a time.



Housing Matters (then known as Homeless Services Center) officially shifts its focus from managing homelessness with shelter to ending homelessness with permanent housing. It is one of the first agencies in the county to realign its programs with the best practices of the Housing First model.


The Recuperative Care Center (RCC) opens on campus to provide temporary shelter to adults recuperating from hospital stays. The RCC is operated through a partnership between Housing Matters (then known as Homeless Services Center) and the Homeless Persons’ Health Project (HPHP) and is supported by local hospitals, healthcare providers, and health agencies.


After 33 years of service, Homeless Services Center changes its name to Housing Matters. The new name reflects a shift in focus from primarily providing shelter and campus-based services to supporting people through a wide variety of community-based services and housing programs.



Housing Matters installs 10 sleeping cabins in its parking lot to provide temporary shelter for individuals of all genders sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 64-square foot shelters — operated as part of the Loft program — prove hugely popular with shelter guests. Today, there are 40 sleeping cabins on campus.


Housing Matters opens its first permanent supportive housing project, Casa Azul, located at 801 River St, adjacent to the Housing Matters campus.