The Santa Barbara County Supervisors approved a $3 million loan for an affordable housing complex in Santa Maria this week. The Depot Street project will create 80 rental units at low cost.
The complex will provide permanent housing for homeless families and people with disabilities. One Santa Maria farm worker says she has often times been on the verge of homelessness.
“The cost of the rent is really high, often times I don’t have enough,” explained Alma Sanchez. “People like me who work in the fields don’t always have enough for the rent, bills…everything adds up at the end of the month.”
More than 80% of Alma’s paycheck goes towards her Railroad Avenue two-bedroom apartment. Often times, she says she has to choose between rent and basic wants — like getting a cold beverage after a long day in the field.
“You gotta choose cheaply because otherwise you won’t have enough for rent. I can’t buy the things that I like because there’s never enough,” she shared.
The single mother of two said she left her last place a year ago due to rising costs. Now as she gets ready to renew her lease for another year, she says she might need to do the same.
“They want to increase the rent again and I just don’t know how I could afford it. I wouldn’t care about ending up in the streets…but I have two kids and they need a roof.”
The total cost of the project is $37 million. It’s unclear at this time when the project is expected to be completed.