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Santa Barbara May Loan $1 Million to Low-Income Senior Housing Project

Housing Authority's $16-million Grace Village project on the 3800 block of State Street will replace the Grace Lutheran Church at the site

A rendering of Grace Village, a planned housing project for low-income seniors at 3869 State St. in Santa Barbara.
A rendering of Grace Village, a planned housing project for low-income seniors at 3869 State St. in Santa Barbara.  (Rendering courtesy of Grace Lutheran Church)

Santa Barbara's Housing Authority wants to move ahead with a plan to build 57 one-bedroom affordable apartments for seniors.

The Housing Authority will bring its Grace Village Apartments project to the City Council Tuesday in search of a $1 million loan to help fund the $16.3 million project

The $1 million will help the Housing Authority qualify for $8.6 million in tax credits to fund the project. 

"We have a large aging population here," said Rob Fredericks, Housing Authority deputy director. "These seniors need affordable housing."

The apartments will be rented on a sliding scale, from $450 a month to $900 a month, "far below market rent," said Fredericks, noting that one-bedroom apartments in Santa Barbara could go for as much as $1,600. 

Santa Barbara mirrors the rest of the nation with a dramatic rise in its aging baby boomer population. The number of people 50 years old and older increased by 35 million from 1990 to 2010, Fredericks said. By 2030, the number of people 65 and older will reach 71.5 million, Fredericks said. 

In Santa Barbara County, volunteers counted seniors who were homeless last year.

"They just can't afford the rent," Fredericks said. 

More than 2,000 seniors are currently on the waitlist for subsidized senior housing in Santa Barbara.

The project is located at 3869 State St., near Panera Cafe. Grace Lutheran Church donated the land to the Housing Authority, at an estimated worth of $3 million, and the building will be demolished to build the senior housing. The church held its final service in February of this year. 

If the Housing Authority can secure the tax credits, it hopes to begin construction later this year, followed by an estimated 18-month construction schedule. The loan would be paid back over 30 years, at three percent interest.

"Rather than closing their doors it was their desire to see the property go to affordable housing for seniors," Fredericks said. 

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider supports the plan.

"The 'Silver Tsunami' is coming and we must be prepared to find new creative ways to provide safe and affordable housing for a growing senior population," Mayor Schneider said. "We are fortunate to have this new public/private partnership between the City of Santa Barbara, City Housing Authority and Grace Lutheran Church to meet this need."

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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