SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Veada Pinkney was without hope after living in a park for more than a year.
“I said I wasn’t just going to lay on my back and keep wasting my life and wasting time,” she said tearfully.
The 49-year-old shared her story at a recent tour of La Mancha Apartments in South Sacramento. The former hotel near Mack Road and Highway 99 was converted last year into 100 units of permanent supportive housing for people like Pinkney.
"I got my drivers license, I got a job, I have a car,” she said. “I haven’t been this happy in my life in a long time.”
She credits the staff and supportive services at La Mancha Apartments – plus her own hard work – with turning her life around.
The City of Sacramento funded this permanent supportive housing project through the state’s Homekey project and funds from the state’s Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) program. A $2 million HHAP grant is helping La Mancha operate for the next decade by funding the difference between what tenants pay in rent and the cost of supportive services that help residents like Pinkney.
However, that HHAP grant program is set to expire after the 2022-23 fiscal year, which is why – on Monday – nine mayors from California’s largest cities held a news conference to ask Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature to commit to extending it by $1 billion per year for three more fiscal years.
La Shelle Dozier, executive director of the Sacramento Housing & Redevelopment Agency, said HHAP money is vital to not only funding existing housing projects but also launching new ones.
“We have exhausted all of the resources that were allocated to Sacramento for Homekey, and so in the next round when we apply, we need this HHAP money to do those future projects. We can't without it,” Dozier said.
The HHAP grant program currently helps fund other housing programs within the City of Sacramento, including:
“I would like to think that the money that's being requested will flow to these kinds of programs and not just tents in a parking lot,” Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, said.
He wants to see the state extend the HHAP funding, but he notes that voters in the city of Sacramento will face a ballot initiative in November that – if passed – would require the city to add potentially several thousand more emergency shelter beds.
He hopes that wouldn't take from the programs currently receiving HAPP program money.
"In and of itself, the HHAP funding is great,” Erlenbusch said. “The point would be not to divert that money if the ballot initiative passes."