GOLETA, Calif. – Construction on the Buena Tierra project to convert a former Goleta Super 8 Motel into permanent supportive housing for the homeless is expected to be completed in the fall of 2023.
"This will be housing with wrap around support services for as long as the individual needs," said John Polanskey, Director of Housing Development.
Buena Tierra is located at 6021 Hollister Avenue and will provide 59 units to veterans and those experiencing homelessness. Thirty-six units are reserved for persons experiencing chronic homelessness, which is defined as an individual with a permanent disability who has been homeless for at least 12 months and fifteen units are reserved for those between the ages of 18 to 24.
"These are individuals that once the stabilization occurs, and being in a safe, affordable, comfortable place to live, [are] able to move forward with whatever the needs are," said Polanskey.
Buena Tierra will be run by the Housing Authority of County of Santa Barbara, which received almost $19 million in California Homekey funding for the project. The County's Housing Authority has begun accepting applications through the county's coordinated entry system.
"Because it's funded by Homekey from the state of California, all referrals will come through the coordinated entry system and coordinated entry is a part of the homeless response system where persons experiencing homelessness gets matched to housing and services that they need based on their needs," said Kimberlee Albers, Homelessness Assistance Program Manager.
Potential applicants can start the housing assessment process in person at the Showers of Blessings center at St. Athanasius Church (300 S. Sumida Gardens) on Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
There are more than 1,800 homeless people in Santa Barbara county according to the last point-in-time count conducted in January 2023. In Goleta, 136 people were recorded experiencing homelessness.
Albers says considering Goleta's 136 point-in-time count and Buena Tierra's 59 units this project is "really going to help provide those housing resources to really make a dent in homelessness right here in this area." Albers adds that in Santa Barbara County, 300 permanent supportive housing units are either in development or in pre-development.
On August 2, Governor Newsom's Senior Advisor on Homelessness, Hafsa Kafka, visited Santa Barbara County to gain an understanding of how the local community is applying state and local funds to address area homelessness.
The itinerary included visits to Hedges House of Hope interim housing in Isla Vista, Buena Tierra, the future site of La Posada interim housing in unincorporated Santa Barbara County, and Dignity Moves Santa Barbara Street Village in Santa Barbara.
Each of those programs has received State funding for development or operations.
“It was such a pleasure to be in Santa Barbara County to learn more about their continuing efforts to address housing and homelessness,” said Hafsa Kaka. “It was a pleasure to see State-funded programs making a difference for the unhoused. The properties I visited were truly home-like and beautifully managed. I was able to speak to several residents who shared how the safe shelter environment allowed them to take steps forward, including their plans to move to permanent housing.”
Santa Barbara County is one of ten communities in California to receive an Encampment Resolution Fund grant that financially supports efforts to clear encampments near dangerous transit corridors and waterways.
The grants fund expanded outreach to people that live in encampments, interim housing, and permanent housing options.
“I want to thank Ms. Kaka for touring four of our sites to transition people out of homelessness,” said Board Chair and Supervisor Das Williams. “It was encouraging to see her enthusiasm on the progress we have made housing people and changing lives for the better.”
Construction on the Buena Tierra project is expected to be completed by the end of October with people moving into units by the beginning of November.