Santa Cruz is in a housing crisis

Learn how Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay is working to create new, green and affordable rental opportunities

Video sponsored by Allterra Solar

Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay David Foster, at the job site for the first My House My Home pilot.

Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay David Foster at the job site for the first My House My Home pilot.

Last fall, Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay rolled out a new housing program in Santa Cruz that aims to support senior homeowners as well as create new, affordable rental units on existing properties.

The program is called “My House My Home,” which will develop Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on senior homeowners’ properties. The new units will allow local senior citizens to rent out either their main house or the new ADU—also known as a granny unit—and generate sufficient income to cover their mortgage as well as afford their monthly expenses as a retiree.

The My House My Home program is a partnership between Habitat for Humanity, the City of Santa Cruz, and Senior Network Services. An additional partnership brings Allterra Solar to the table, in which the local environmental firm provides at-cost solar panel materials to new home construction as well as hands-on install training for Habitat’s volunteer teams.

Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay, David Foster, explains that Santa Cruz has found itself in a housing crisis, where rental prices and homeownership have become exorbitant for middle-income families and singles.

With My House My Home, “we’re not just providing a way for seniors to age in place, but we’re also creating some new rental opportunities that are affordable for folks that live and work here in Santa Cruz.”

The first unit to be developed is on the Westside of Santa Cruz at the property of Sterling and Carrie Whitley, a longtime local family. With the new unit, their daughter Brenda Whitley, an administrative assistant for the City of Santa Cruz’s Public Works Department, will be able to care for them as they grow older and help support their mortgage payments with her rent.

Through their partnership, the City of Santa Cruz will provide matching funds up to $80,000 per unit for the first four “pilot” ADUs, according to the My House My Home web site. A similar partnership is in development through Santa Cruz County to support ADUs to be built in the unincorporated area of the county. Senior Network Services provides case management services for any of the senior homeowners that Habitat works with.

“It’s great because there’s a lot of families that have longtime home ownership here and maybe never thought about (this concept),” says Brenda Whitley. “It’s a smart way to go, if you have grandchildren that can help grandparents out—I just think it’s a good idea for families to come together and take care of families, regardless of the age.”

Homeowners Sterling and Carrie Whitley in front of their westside home in Santa Cruz

Homeowners Sterling and Carrie Whitley in front of their westside home in Santa Cruz

What problem in the housing market does it address? 

Some 300 Santa Cruz seniors are believed to spend more than 50 percent of their monthly income on housing-related costs and are at risk of losing their home, according to a Habitat for Humanity review of the latest U.S. Census data.

David Stearns, Marketing Director for Allterra Solar 

“The Central Coast and Bay Area have been reeling from a lack of affordable housing units for years,” says David Stearns. “While there are many factors that contribute to the housing issue, few solutions have been offered let alone implemented. Only recently has the state passed legislation to address affordability but the new laws focus on new development. In cities such as Santa Cruz—where there is little room to build—developing new, consolidated units that are environmentally friendly is an absolute necessity. My House My Home expands housing stock where it’s needed most, and Allterra Solar is proud to support the new program.”

The goal with My House My Home is threefold:

1) Help low-income senior homeowners keep their property and age in place

2) Build small, energy-efficient homes to meet changing community needs

3) Bring existing homes onto the rental housing market for low-income families

visit to learn more about My House My Home

Visit Allterra Solar at to learn about ways save money on your home energy bill with a solar power array, or call 831 425 2608

Joel Hersch

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