Source: Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara

As COVID-19 continues to re-shape life in the U.S., one thing for certain is that the record-high increase in unemployment goes hand in hand with a shortage of affordable housing. This is especially hard for senior residents facing homelessness in Santa Barbara, and who live on a reduced income and may rely on part-time work to make ends meet but are in danger of losing their jobs due to lay-offs or closures.

Finding affordable housing that suits their specific needs put them in competition with low income families and individuals who’ve lost jobs and need help with their rent. In a city that is well aware of the urgent need to solve this growing problem, the Housing  Authority  of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB), in collaboration with Parsons Group, Inc. has opened the “The Gardens on Hope.” This service-enhanced, independent-living senior housing facility, offers 89 critically needed affordable housing units for eligible seniors 62 years and older. The new community opened in April; at this time, a limited number of apartments are still available.

The Gardens on Hope is situated on a 1.75-acre lot located at 251 S. Hope Avenue and modeled after the highly successful Garden Court, a 98-unit development by HACSB, located on De La Vina St. All units will be subsidized with Project-Based Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, making rent affordable at 30% of residents’ income.

Gardens on Hope will enable a financially vulnerable population to avoid homelessness with amenities and services that include three delicious and nutritious meals a day, 24-hour reception, housekeeping, transportation, and a creative curriculum of stimulating resident activities. The additional services give residents the opportunity to access resources including free cellphones, transportation and other programs. The facilitydécor is appointed with original artwork donated by area artists as it strives to reflect the Santa Barbara community. On-site service providers will include The Center for Successful Aging providing resident advocacy and adult educational, health and wellness classes, and Montecito Bank and Trust, offering educational classes focusing on financial literacy & avoiding senior scams.

Each spacious studio apartment has an efficiency kitchen, a large bathroom, patios or balconies opening onto beautiful gardens and mountain views.   Residents enjoy gracious community dining with home cooked meals and living spaces, a library and a convenient location near shopping and the YMCA.

According to Rob Fredericks, CEO of HACSB, “Demand for affordable housing for Santa Barbara’s senior population is growing exponentially. The Gardens on Hope will ease the strain on an already taxed rental housing market. This new development is based on our work establishing Garden Court, a senior property which is a proven model—one that provides significant economic and social benefits beyond just affordable housing. “

According to local housing data, within the city proper alone:

  • 1 in every 14 seniors in Santa Barbara live in poverty.
  • Over 1,000 seniors are on our community’s affordable housing waiting lists; 70% of whom have annual incomes below $15,900.
  • The percentage of seniors on these wait lists has grown more quickly over the past 5 years than any other segment of the community’s wait list population.
  • Service-enriched housing for low income, frail seniors benefits our entire community; it reduces demand on emergency service responders, the hospital and related social service agencies.
  • Providing low income, frail seniors with on-site meals, transportation and socialization is morally and fiscally responsible as it avoids early placement in institutions such as skilled nursing paid by Medicare.

To learn more about The Gardens on Hope, watch a video produced by Elsie London, VideoVenturaMedia.com, or contact Charlene Fletcher, Executive Director of The Gardens on Hope at (805) 618-4999. Online applications now being accepted at hacsbwaitlist.org.