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Local News

Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara Opens New Handicap-Accessible Apartments

The agency says the West Ortega Street development exemplifies 'smart infill growth,' utilizing land it already owned

You ascend a number of steps and walk through a doorway into the spacious living room of a freshly painted apartment. The pristine white of the walls is not unlike other newly constructed units. So what’s different?

Glancing about, you notice a wider bathroom, a modified shower and a ramp leading outside to the parking area behind the building. This is not just any apartment, but one of the new handicap-accessible units from the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara.

The Housing Authority celebrated the completion of its newest ADA-compliant units on West Ortega Street with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house Thursday afternoon. The development features two fully handicap accessible apartments.

Attendees included Housing Authority Deputy Executive Director/Chief Administrative Officer Rob Fredericks, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, as well as a mixture of other community members and participants in the project.

“What’s great about the project is that it’s smart infill growth — utilizing land already here owned by the Housing Authority that wasn’t being used by anyone,” Fredericks said. “During our planning processes for new projects we’re looking internally at where we can use land we already own.”

The West Ortega Street apartments feature two one-bedroom units with 780 square feet per unit. Each apartment has a private patio, a roll-in shower, washer/dryer hook-ups and an on-demand water heater.

Schneider said the Housing Authority has developed a number of other underutilized locations like the newest addition on West Ortega Street, including the Paseo Voluntario apartments and Artisan Court (East Cota Street).

“The infill project is something that really fits the niches in the Santa Barbara area,” she said. “It’s a smart use of the land, because we now have two beautifully styled units on land that the Housing Authority already owned.”

New resident Mark MacLaren was on hand for the open house to check out his newly completed home.

“I’m quite pleased with my new place,” he said. “It’s 101 times better than where I’m living now, and only two blocks from where I work.”

Construction on the West Ortega site began in November 2010 under the direction of architect Tom Moore. The project cost $666,494, with funding from the Santa Barbara Redevelopment Agency, the Housing and Urban Development Capital Fund Program and local housing program reserves.

Fredericks said the Housing Authority has about 5,000 people on a waiting list for affordable housing.

“There are a lot of people on the waiting list that have mobility impairments, and they really need options (like the Ortega units),” he said. “People come into our door for help. Our mission is to provide affordable housing for low-income workers and families.”

Noozhawk intern Kristin Crosier can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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