Santa Cruz County has recently implemented an innovative initiative to address the persistent housing crisis. The county, in collaboration with the nonprofit, Hello Housing, has launched a program to assist homeowners in unincorporated areas to construct Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on their properties. This unique strategy aims to simplify the often daunting process of planning and building an ADU.
“Spearheading an ADU project can be challenging, and we’ve seen many potential participants unable to initiate or complete a project due to frustration. Our goal with this program is to streamline the process and provide crucial support,” explains Suzanne Ise, the Santa Cruz County principal planner.
To be eligible for the program, homeowners must meet one of the following criteria:
- The homeowner qualifies as a low or moderate income individual
- The homeowner commits to rent the ADU to a low- or moderate-income tenant for a minimum of three years
- The homeowner constructs the ADU for a family member with special needs or disabilities
Qualified participants will be paired with a project manager from Hello Housing, who will guide them through every step of the ADU design and construction process.
While some homeowners remain skeptical due to past challenges in ADU development, Santa Cruz County has reported a steady increase in ADU permit applications, largely due to more relaxed state laws.
Housing advocates are optimistic about the potential impact of the program. “This initiative is a win-win. It’s an opportunity to create safe, stable homes for those in need,” says Elaine Johnson J.D., the Housing Santa Cruz County executive director.
Santa Cruz County’s goal is to have 20 ADUs built by the end of the three-year program. The application period will close on July 31. If the county receives more applications than expected, they will conduct a lottery to determine who will receive assistance.