Housing Matters Bank of America
After presenting a $50,000 check to Housing Matters in Santa Cruz as the 2023 Neighborhood Champion, Bank of America staff volunteered to help prepare 300 meals for distribution in the neighborhood. The organization earned this grant thanks to its service to the unhoused in Santa Cruz County, providing support with housing, food insecurity, education and more. (Contributed)

Bank of America announced Housing Matters as the 2023 Neighborhood Champion awardee for their work advancing economic mobility and building up underserved neighborhoods in Santa Cruz County. 

Through a multi-year $50,000 grant and leadership training for its executive director and an emerging leader within its organization, Housing Matters’ programs and services will help more people experiencing homelessness gain stability. 

The program is part of the bank’s Neighborhood Builders program, one of the largest philanthropic investments into nonprofit leadership development in the nation, with leadership training delivered by experts in the nonprofit sector on topics like human capital management, increasing financial sustainability and storytelling. 

The invitation-only program is highly competitive, and honorees are selected by a committee composed of community leaders and past awardees.

Although Santa Cruz County has seen a 21.5% drop in the homeless population—the lowest in more than a decade—Santa Cruz continues to have the most homeless people in California per capita.

Housing Matters Bank of America
Bank of America staff and community volunteers gather to issue a $50,000 check to this year’s Neighborhood Champion, Housing Matters in Santa Cruz. (Contributed)

Helping to address this ongoing issue, Housing Matters began 37 years ago and today is the largest provider of services to those experiencing homelessness in Santa Cruz County, hosting 175 individuals on any given night in one of three emergency shelters, and another 350 individuals county-wide. It provides comprehensive case management at its shelters as well as to 350 individuals around Santa Cruz County, offering emergency shelter, day services such as showers and dental care, and personal coaching.

They will use the Neighborhood Champion grant to expand community engagement efforts. 

“Housing Matters is grateful to be recognized by Bank of America as a Neighborhood Champion,” said Mer Stafford, chief impact officer for Housing Matters. “This generous gift will help move our community engagement efforts forward in Santa Cruz County to dispel myths and educate the public about solutions to homelessness—education is the key to growing a whole new generation of Neighborhood Champions.”

“Nonprofits are vital to solving social challenges, improving communities and promoting economic advancement,” added Jennifer Dacquisto, president, Bank of America Monterey Bay.  “Providing Housing Matters with flexible funding and leadership training not only positions them for sustainable, long-term success but demonstrates our commitment to creating real change in the places where we live and work.”

Since the Neighborhood Champions program was first offered in the Monterey Bay region in 2019, five high-impact local nonprofits have been selected, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey County, Digital NEST, First Tee Monterey County, Rancho Cielo and Housing Matters, with the bank investing $250,000 into these community builders.

Housing Matters Bank of America
While volunteering at Housing Matters, Bank of America staff write personalized notes to be included inside each meal bag before their distribution in the neighborhood. (Contributed)
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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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