Twelve Santa Barbara families will help build and purchase their own affordable homes on East Canon Perdido Street, thanks for the largest local Habitat for Humanity project to date.
Local rental vacancy rates are at the lowest level in years, at 1 percent, and many families are doubling up or living in “unspeakable conditions” in order to afford a home, said Janet Garufis, a Habitat board member and president and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust.
This 12-home development of affordable homes is the third Habitat for Humanity project in Santa Barbara and will house 43 people, including 20 children.
The 19,000-square-foot lot at 822 and 824 E. Canon Perdido St. was purchased with $1.4 million of Santa Barbara federal housing and Redevelopment Agency funding in December 2010. Community donations and volunteers will help build the homes, and construction is likely to start in March.
Habitat for Humanity depends on community support, volunteers and funding to fulfill its mission of providing affordable housing, Executive Director Joyce McCullough said, adding that the design is beautiful, livable and sustainable.
Families will pay a small sum to cover closing costs, a monthly mortgage that will go toward future housing projects, and all adults will put in at least 250 hours of “sweat equity” to help build the homes. Qualified families earn $30,000 to $60,000 for a family of four, and will pay a mortgage that doesn’t exceed 35 percent of their annual income.
The homes will qualify as affordable houses for 90 years.
“It means a lot,” said Arturo Pacheco and his family of five, who were selected for the Canon Perdido homes. “It will be a better place to live, especially with the kids going to school; they will have more space to do their homework.”
Pacheco is a landscape contractor and has been helping save and move some of the plants and trees on the property before construction begins next year.
He learned about Habitat for Humanity’s project in a local laundry facility, when he picked up a newspaper that had a story about it. His family went to orientations, applied and had a home visit before being chosen for this project.
The Pachecos — Arturo, Marisol and their children, Gabriela, Daniel and Isabel — will be getting a three-bedroom home on the property and end their lifelong quest for rentals. They currently live in a small apartment where Arturo and Marisol sleep in the living room and the two girls share a bed because of the lack of space. Gabriela and Daniel already attend Santa Barbara High School, which is right across the street.
The Lintons will also be getting a home in this project. Lars, a pastor at Calvary Chapel, Emily and their daughters Lindy, 5 months, and Lydia, 2½ , didn’t expect to be selected, with so many other needy families.
“At the orientation on the Eastside, we couldn’t even get in the doors — there were thousands of people,” Emily said.
“It was really by the grace of God that we were selected,” Lars said.
Lindy has a congenital heart defect, and the news that they had been selected for a home was welcome good news after spending two months at a hospital.
“We were just both weeping; it had been a month of mountain highs and valley lows,” Lars said.
They’re looking forward to being part of a community, instead of having to move around more often and never make strong connections with neighbors. Emily has lived in an unconverted garage and they currently live in an apartment plagued with mold and sewer problems.
At the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning, Mayor Helene Schneider said she hopes the project will add to the Eastside and Milpas Street area’s community pride.
In true Santa Barbara style, the existing cottages on the property are being used for Fire Department trainings, she added.
Chief Andy DiMizio, who retires after Friday, thanked Habitat for letting his crews use the buildings, since real residences offer the most practical training experience.
“As long as Habitat is here to provide affordable housing, City Fire will be here to protect that housing,” he said.