The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara celebrated the grand opening of Artisan Court — the area’s newest low-income housing development — yesterday.
Located at 422 E. Cota Street in downtown Santa Barbara, the 55-unit Artisan Court is geared toward providing stable homes for youth aging out of foster care, special needs individuals including those who are chronically homeless and low-income downtown workers. The units include a full kitchen, bathroom, closet and living/sleeping area.
Veronica Loza, director of Housing Management for HACSB, said each apartment has been specifically decorated to fit the tastes of the tenant.
“Through Adopt-A-Room, we bought bedding, silverware, plates, shower curtains, dish soap, pots and pans, even a mop and a broom — basically everything you would need to get started,” Loza said. “We interviewed the clients about what their interests are, what colors they liked and so we decorated with that in mind.”
The property also includes services provided by organizations like Youth & Family Services — a branch of the YMCA — and the nonprofit Path Point, geared toward keeping these individuals in their homes and off the streets.
“We partner with Youth & Family Services to provide on-site support which includes counseling, job services and making sure that they are in school,” Loza said. “Path Point services provide them with a full-time case manager to make sure they are stable, that they have jobs.”
Rob Fredericks, deputy executive director of HACSB, said developments like Artisan Court are a cost-effective way of addressing the chronic homelessness in Santa Barbara.
“With all the budget cuts going on, one of the only things they aren’t cutting is funds for homeless and low-income housing,” Fredericks said. “It is cheaper than expanding the justice system or taking these people into our emergency rooms. This project created 124 much-needed construction jobs and it was the largest project of 2010, bringing a boost to the local economy.”
Bill Pavão, executive director of the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, said federal tax credits and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act help make projects like Artisan Court possible.
“We make federal tax credits available to projects like this,” Pavão said. “This one is unique in that it made use of low-income tax credits but also federal ARRA funds. Those dollars make this beautiful project happen.”
According to Fredericks, the Redevelopment Agency plays a large role in the completion of the project. Although RDAs have come under scrutiny in California’s budget debate, Fredericks said projects like Artisan Court simply do not happen without those funds.
“We have been very good stewards of RDA funds in terms of putting them to the right uses,” Fredericks said. “If we didn’t have RDA funds we would not have Artisan Court.”
Daniel Meri, one of the youth residents, said he is eager to move into his new residence.
“I appreciate the whole place, a place that I can call home, a place that is mine,” Meri said. “It is walking distance from my job and it is close to downtown. I am very excited to be moving in.”