Project partners and community leaders cut the ribbon Monday at the all-new Grace Village Apartments, bringing 58 affordable housing units to Santa Barbara.
(left to right: Jason Dominguez, Santa Barbara City Council Member; Congressman Salud Carbajal; Rob Fredericks, Executive Director/CEO, HACSB; Pat Wheatley, Vice-Chair, HACSB Commission and Board President, Grace Housing, Inc.; Cathy Murillo, City of Santa Barbara Mayor; Eric Friedman, Santa Barbara City Council Member; Larry Larsson, HACSB Commission; Vianey Lopez, representing Assemblymember Monique Limón ; David K. Hughes, HACSB Commission; Skip Szymanski, Deputy Executive Director/COO, HACSB)
The former site of the iconic Grace Lutheran Church re-opened on March 12 as the completed Grace Village Apartments, bringing 58 critically-needed affordable housing units for low-income seniors.
Local officials and stakeholders gathered to celebrate the completion of Grace Village, built on the former site of the Grace Lutheran A-frame church at 3869 State St. After facing decades of declining membership, the Grace Lutheran members and California Lutheran Homes began to explore new, innovative ways it could continue serving the Santa Barbara community, even without a church building. They gifted the property to the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB) for co-development of Grace Village with Front Porch Development Company, specializing in senior affordable housing.
“When we were of a size that was too small to be functional, we never lost the hope or dream that it would always be a service to this community,” said Pat Wheatley, HACSB Commission Vice-Chair and Grace Housing, Inc. President. “From the beginning it was no discussion; it was housing for low-income seniors. That was always the vision.”
Rob Fredericks, HACSB Executive Director/CEO, described senior households on fixed incomes as being particularly vulnerable to the state’s lack of housing, which is resulting in high rents. Locally, there are more than 3,000 low-income seniors on the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara’s waiting list.
“Our community’s vulnerable seniors are currently paying the majority of their income for rent, having to make the choice of foregoing food, healthcare and other necessities just to have a place to call home,” said Fredericks. “Far too many have fallen into homelessness. This is why affordable housing like Grace Village is so important. Without housing, everything else falls apart. It is a foundation for a healthy, stable life.”
Special guests at the event included Congressman Salud Carbajal; Cathy Murillo, Santa Barbara City Mayor; members of the Santa Barbara City Council; Lois Capps, former Congresswoman and Grace Lutheran Church member; Representatives from Assemblymember Monique Limón and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s offices.
The celebration also marked a breakthrough in housing for low-income seniors in Santa Barbara. Grace Village is the first 100 percent affordable development to be completed under the City of Santa Barbara’s Average Unit Size Density Incentive Program Ordinance, created in part to encourage smaller more affordable rental housing near transit and services.
The Grace Village community, designed by RRM Design Group, features 58 one-bedroom units, a community room, community garden, leasing office, maintenance area, and laundry room facilities on each floor. There are two elevators serving all floors and all entries are ADA-accessible. An on-site resident manager will assist tenants’ needs.
Financing for Grace Village was made possible through federal tax credits from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee program. MUFG Union Bank, N.A., served as construction lender and equity investor for this project, while California Community Reinvestment Corp. served as the permanent lender. Residual receipt loans from the City of Santa Barbara and Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara also helped fund this housing effort.
Residents will be moving into the facility by mid-April.
The Grace Lutheran Church and Grace Housing Inc.
Founded in 1903, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church of Santa Barbara, California has served as a worshiping community for over a century. Throughout the years Grace has had a long history of serving people in need throughout our community. To ensure the continuance of serving people in need, Grace Housing, Inc. (GHI) was established by the membership of the former Grace Lutheran Church of Santa Barbara. This 501(c)(3) non-profit was created to serve the greater Santa Barbara community in support of critical basic human needs such as food, shelter and housing for families and individuals.
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.