Despite growing financial strain locally and globally, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara has managed to take steps toward more affordable housing.
Rob Fredericks, HACSB Executive Director/CEO, said in a press release: “As we get to the other side of challenges, we are experiencing because of COVID-19, we can recognize some positive aspects.
“The destructive impact of income inequality and disparities in health care and housing are now plainly visible. We have an opportunity to focus on the common good and build a more humane society.
“We’ve learned to do with less, communicate in new and more efficient ways, become nimbler and more flexible in business and daily life. It has offered us a new perspective and sense of gratitude on things we may have taken for granted – our family, friends, home, community, work, leisure, health, and even how we live. The post-COVID world offers many possibilities, and the Housing Authority will continue to advocate for affordable housing, which is a basic human need.”
HACSB’s Housing Choice Voucher Program was adapted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to support residents. Not one of its program participants lost housing during the pandemic’s hardships, and it protected landlords’ anticipated rent.
HACSB currently represents 2,784 households on the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program and 1,370 households in their own properties.
HACSB dedicated two new housing developments during the first quarter of 2020. The Gardens in Hope and Johnson Court. Combined, they add 106 housing units to the community.
The units are subsidized with Project Based Housing Choice Vouchers and are intended for seniors and veterans.
In August, the Housing Authority purchased land at 116 E Cota St. to be the future site of 28 studio units for those coming out of homelessness. It hopes to have all discretionary approvals in time to apply for low-income housing tax credits in 2021.
Union Bank donated enough for the HACSB to provide gift bags to 450 low-income children. The bags had a $50 gift card, school supplies and donations from community agencies.
HACSB’s affiliate nonprofit 2nd Story Associates was awarded a $10,000 grant from United Way. It provided rent and utilities to families with undocumented members who normally don’t receive assistance.
The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara awarded 2nd Story Associates with a $100,000 grant to administer a senior supportive services program partnered with Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.
The Housing Authority also served food to over 1,500 families through its partnership with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
It provided scholarships to first-generation college students pursuing undergraduate studies at UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz and a graduate degree at California Lutheran University.
It received a $30,379 reimbursement grant from the Census Bureau to promote Census 2020 participation. It promoted participation online, through phone banking, on local Spanish radio stations and in a Census caravan in June.
It held a virtual “Housing Santa Barbara Day” to help local agencies better serve the community. The event earned an award of excellence from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment.
HACSB provided housing to 50 previously homeless individuals with rental assistance by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
It promoted voter registration through its “Bring the Vote Home” campaign.
In 2021, it hopes to obtain funding for an affordable housing development at the commuter lot at 400 W Carrillo St.
— Annelise Hanshaw