Artist rendering of the 30-unit Housing Authority building planned for
116 Cota Street in downtown Santa Barbara.
Mark D. Kirkhart, AIA
A May 14, 2020 article in the Los Angeles Times reports that “With the coronavirus-induced shock to the economy crippling businesses of all sizes and leaving millions of Americans out of work, homelessness in the United States could grow as much as 45% in a year.” The data trend, which comes from research conducted by Dr. Brendan O’Flaherty, a professor of economics at Columbia University, is mirrored in our community. According to the most recent Point-in-Time count completed in January 2020, the study found 1,897 homeless residents countywide, with 914 (48%) living in the City of Santa Barbara. The chronically homeless in the county rose from 423 to 614, a 45% increase. While the nation continues to grapple with adequately addressing this issue, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB) is moving forward with plans to build new housing specifically to address the needs of homeless individuals. The project exemplifies the agency’s mission to create safe, affordable, and quality housing opportunities for families and individuals while promoting self-sufficiency and neighborhood revitalization.
While the site, located at 116 Cota Street, is currently approved as an AUD project for 15 market rate rental units, HACSB plans to convert the development to provide 30 affordable housing units. The property consists of two parcels with a combined total of approximately 11,000 square feet. It is a mostly flat parcel and sits just to the east of the shopping center on the corner of Cota and Anacapa Streets that houses Dune Coffee Roasters (formerly The French Press). The property sites across the street from the current Cota Street commuter parking lot. The HACSB plan for the lot will not change the mass or exterior design of the building. The Housing Authority recently received approval from the Santa Barbara City Council for the City to provide funding of $2.0 million for the $2.6 million for acquisition of this property. The funding source from the City can only be used to support affordable housing efforts. In addition, the Housing Authority intends to apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits to provide the bulk of the funding needed for the development.
The Cota Street property will feature:
- A walkable downtown location that is close to essential services and other amenities.
- A strong “good neighbor” policy, and a proven track record with permanent supportive housing developments.
- Project-based rental assistance to provide affordable rent to every resident.
- On-site supportive services to provide ongoing case management and independent living skills.
- A full-time on-site manager to oversee the apartment complex.
- A community room for resident programs, group activities, and support groups.
- Controlled access points for entering and exiting the property.
- No parking demand for residents, reducing the traffic impact of the area.
- Homes next to Veracruz Park which will provide community oversight of the recreational area.
Rob Fredericks, HACSB Executive Director/CEO shares that, “Despite our efforts, our nation, state and city continue to grapple with adequately addressing this issue affordable housing to those most in need and living without a home. We believe access to housing save lives. For over 25 years, the Housing Authority has worked to eliminate homelessness in Santa Barbara, one home at a time. However, we cannot do it alone. The Housing Authority has collaborated with several local agencies to provide supportive living situations at housing developments such as El Carrillo, Artisan Court, Bradley Studios, and Johnson Court. The services are designed to build independent living and tenancy skills, and, connect people with community- based health care and treatment. We are excited to add the Cota Street project to our affordable housing portfolio.”
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 3,400 units 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.