Leading with Heart
Housing Matters Board President Cecilia Espinola shares her perspective on the past fiscal year in our 2021 Annual Report:
It has been a year of coming together and finding common ground. At Housing Matters we’ve been heartened by our community’s willingness to respond in meaningful, actionable ways to help those who are living unhoused.
Our work continues with state and local government agencies and highlights our leadership in advancing solutions to address homelessness in Santa Cruz County. California state senator John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, and Assemblymember Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, each (separately) toured the Housing Matters campus last June. Their visits came on the heels of state lawmakers’ approval of a budget that included $14.5 million earmarked specifically for the City of Santa Cruz. In his comments to the Santa Cruz Sentinel about the budget approval, Mark Stone validated Housing Matters’ programs and approach:
“Look no further than the Homeless Services Center (Housing Matters) and the work that they’re doing and the potential expansions that they have,” Stone said of potential investment areas. “They’re doing a lot of the work, the on-the-ground, day-to-day that shows what can happen. By investing appropriately with the right programs and facilities with a longer-term view in mind, this money could be very well spent.”*
*Source: “Budget includes $14.5M for Santa Cruz homelessness” by Jessica A. York, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 6/30/21
As the stories in this annual report show, collaboration and teamwork have been the common threads linking all of our successes over this past fiscal year. Other common threads of sensitivity and awareness have helped us drive positive changes internally. In July of 2020, we created a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committee to re-examine our policies in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. This staff-led committee developed in-depth DEI training for all employees and board members that continues to guide us.
In that same spirit, Housing Matters opened its first ADA-accessible public shower (and one of the only ADA-accessible public showers in Santa Cruz) for the people we serve. And, we continue to partner with the County-run Homeless Persons Health Project, which operates an on-site vaccination clinic here on campus for protecting our community against the spread of COVID-19 variants.
With all that we’ve accomplished, there is still much work to be done. I’m convinced that together, we can do incredible things.