SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Another Santa Barbara business is in the City's scope for new housing, prompting a two hour online, community discussion Thursday night.
Residents in neighborhoods off upper State Street received notices last week from the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara announcing its intent to buy and renovate the Quality Inn Santa Barbara.
If approved, the property at 3055 De La Vina Street would be dedicated to people experiencing homelessness.
"The footprint will not change of what's there. And that's where I think a lot of community members will be pleased to hear," said Rob Fredericks, Executive Director/CEO at Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara. "We're not going to be building some four or five story development there. We're taking the existing footprint, the existing 34 motel rooms, and we're converting them into 32 studio units and a one bedroom manager's apartment."
The tiered, two story motel sits next to the dog run at MacKenzie Park. The half acre parcel encompasses 24,393 square feet at the northeast entrance to the Samarkand neighborhood and across from the community of San Roque.
Fredericks said the Housing Authority tried to purchase the property on two different occasions in recent years in its bid to tackle the city's housing crisis.
"The numbers are just crushing," said Fredericks. "One of the funding sources that we're going after is a federal Housing Trust Fund, dollars that require serving extremely low income households. That's 30% of area median income. And below that translates for a single person to about earning no more than $30,000 per year. And typically in that income range, it's those who are homeless."
Fredericks told your NewsChannel team the Housing Authority will work with its partners and vet residents selected for the units. He encouraged people who are skeptical to visit the Housing Authority's other properties, including Gardens on Hope for low-income seniors and, El Carrillo, home to roughly 60 formerly homeless individuals.
He also addressed a comparison to what some saw as unruly homeless people living at the Rose Garden Inn during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many residents in the area described that housing scenario at the time as "a disaster."
"The Housing Authority had nothing to do with that project. We are a very strong manager," Fredericks said. "Just because people are homeless doesn't necessarily mean they're criminals or they're going to harm someone else. It means they've suffered life circumstances that have put them into that situation."
Fredericks said the $9 million property was initially purchased by the City and is now in escrow.
"We still need to get final approval from our commission and, we have to secure the the final funding sources before we close escrow."