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Senior affordable housing growing in demand

The need for affordable housing on the Central Coast is growing exponentially with each passing month with one of the largest demands coming from a growing senior population.

Waiting lists are growing every month as the demanding for affordable senior housing far exceeds supply.

84 year old Elise Gastelo is one of the lucky ones in Santa Maria.

“There’s a whole lot of people that need some kind of housing”, Gastelo says, “the rent is so high, I don’t know what I would do without this, I live on social security.”

Gastelo is among those who live in the subsidized affordable senior housing complex known as Valentine Court in Santa Maria where tenants pay no more than 30 percent of their annual income on rent and the waiting list is long and growing longer.

“I wouldn’t be able to find it again, I don’t think”, Gastelo says, “the waiting list is growing, so the need keeps growing, I don’t want to be on a five year, six year list, I’m 84, I’m not going to be around for a waiting list.”

Regional non-profit group Peoples Self Help Housing is renovating dozens of units at Valentine Court, all the way down to the studs, and is actively pursuing new locations for affordable housing projects both for all ages and seniors in both San Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.

Elise Gastelo says she’ feels lucky to have her own place she can call home and remain living independent from her children.

But she acknowledges the growing number of people in her age group and living situation is part of the demand that exceeds current supply.

“We’re living longer, that’s the other thing, you know”, Gastelo says, “my grandparents lived to be in their 60’s and 70’s, they didn’t live to be 80 or 90 like we do now, we live too long.”

Efforts are underway by both the public and private sectors to find locations for new, affordable housing and senior housing projects in the Santa Maria area and on the Central Coast.

But costs for Central Coast real estate, construction labor and building materials continue to rise every year presenting more of a challenge.

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