May 23, 2022

Responding to Health Care Needs for Unhoused People in California

Primary care is the cornerstone of healthy, thriving communities, but in Santa Cruz, California, approximately 11,000 adults lack a reliable source of care. Santa Cruz Community Health Centers (SCCHC) is taking important steps forward in responding to these growing health care needs among the unhoused people in their community. Recently, the Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) had an opportunity to support their facility expansion by providing $10 million New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) and bridge financing transaction.

SCCHC is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-designated Healthcare for the Homeless provider. Per the Live Oak School District, the elementary school closest to the new facility has experienced student homelessness at a rate of 26%. Additionally, based on a recent needs assessment, SCCHC determined the number of unhoused patients SCCHC serves has doubled in the last seven years to approximately 2,000 today.

SCCHC’s new facility will be part of a larger initiative that will bring medical, dental, and affordable housing to the Live Oak neighborhood of Santa Cruz County, as part of Santa Cruz County’s efforts develop the area. The cost to develop SCCHC’s site was budgeted at $20 million, making NMTCs a beneficial method of reducing the overall cost of capital for the project. However, due to a change in census tract data in 2020, the project was no longer eligible for NMTC financing using traditional address-specific qualifying methods. After working with SCCHC and its partners, PCDC utilized “Targeted Populations” methodology to qualify SCCHC’s project for $10 million of NMTC allocation, as well as a $2 million term loan.

SCCHC’s new center will be located in a new 20,000 square foot, two-story facility, and will provide medical, behavioral health and specialty care, with a focus on pediatrics and those experiencing homelessness. Through this new facility, SCCHC will double its clinic space and accommodate an additional 3,000 patients through 20,000 visits annually. The new site will also allow SCCHC to integrate primary care, dental care, and behavioral health care and include medical exam rooms, administrative offices, and community space.

Leslie Connor, MPH, CEO of SCCHC

“SCCHC is grateful for PCDC’s support in helping respond to the health care needs of the children and homeless in our community,” said Leslie Connor, MPH, CEO of SCCHC.

“PCDC is proud to work with SCCHC on financing their new facility, which will positively impact the children and homeless in Santa Cruz,” noted William O’Brien, Managing Director of Capital Investment at PCDC.