For Those who Served: Housing Authority Breaks Ground on Veteran Housing

Elected officials and development partners joined the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara Oct. 8 to break ground on Johnson Court, a 16-unit apartment development on Carrillo Street for very-low and low-income veterans.

When completed in 2019, Johnson Court will serve the homeless veteran population in Santa Barbara with 16 studio units, services and activities on-site. HACSB set out to develop housing specifically for veterans after finding how many are underserved and vulnerable in the 2011 and 2013 Point-in-Time count.

“We found it unacceptable that so many veterans, who have given so much, have no place to go in our community,” Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara Executive Director/CEO Rob Fredericks said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “We’re so proud to have found such amazing partners and community members who share the same goals and have pulled together to make this a reality.”

In addition to 16 studio units for veterans, Johnson Court will feature a one-bedroom manager unit, common area and office space to accommodate the provision of services and activities on-site.

Dignitaries and elected officials on-hand for the special ceremony included Russell Atterberry, Undersecretary for California Department of Veteran Affairs; Cathy Murillo, City of Santa Barbara Mayor; Helene Schneider, Regional Coordinator for U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness; Das Williams, Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor; and Salud Carbajal, U.S. Congressman.

Having grown up himself in public housing, Congressman Carbajal noted how the resources made available to him helped him pursue an education and other opportunities he and his family would not have had otherwise. Safe housing is often the first step for many in accessing new programs.

“After returning home from their service, many veterans face a greater risk of mental illness and substance abuse that makes them more prone to homelessness,” said Rep. Carbajal. “They often lack the support they need and deserve, including access to housing. I’m grateful for the work being done by HACSB and will continue fighting for more federal funding for affordable housing resources that serve our nation’s veterans.”

The veteran target population is in keeping with the wishes of the former property owners, the Johnson family, whose father had served in the military – his children were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony. The Housing Authority purchased the property in October 2013. All studio units will be subsidized with Project Based Vouchers, making rent affordable at 30 percent of a resident’s income.

The need for affordable veteran housing is growing significantly nationwide. Santa Barbara County’s homeless Vulnerability Index database shows that there are 210 homeless veterans on our streets; they have an average age of 52.9 years, with the oldest veteran reported being 84. The proposed housing will meet the needs of veterans with special needs, disabilities, who are seniors, and any combination of these realities veterans experience.

Johnson Court Development Partners include general partners 2nd Story Associates and Hearthstone Housing Foundation, equity investor/limited partner Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., construction lender MUFG Union Bank, permanent lenders California Community Reinvestment Corporation City of Santa Barbara and California Lutheran Homes, architect RRM Design Group and general contractor McCarthy Companies.

Johnson Court is one of two developments now under construction due to HACSB’s successful application for $21.3 million in highly competitive Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC).

Earlier this year, HACSB also broke ground on The Gardens on Hope, a 90-unit development for frail, low-income seniors. The 90-unit development for frail, low-income seniors at 251 S. Hope Ave. is expected to be completed in 2019.

About the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara

The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara is a local public agency created for the purpose of providing safe, decent, and quality affordable housing and supportive services to eligible persons with limited incomes, through a variety of federal, state, local and private resources. Since 1969, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara has developed and/or secured over 3,600 units (about 1,200 owned or managed and 2,400 of Section 8 subsidy) of affordable rental housing for Santa Barbara through a variety of federal, state, local and private funding sources. Please visit the website at www.hacsb.org.

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