Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV) intended to help prevent and end homelessness are available for Santa Barbara County residents in desperate need.

Funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law in March by President Biden, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated $5 billion in funding for emergency housing vouchers to be distributed nationwide for housing the homeless.

“Homelessness in the United States was increasing even before COVID-19, and we know the pandemic has only made the crisis worse. HUD’s swift allocation of this $5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding reflects our commitment to addressing homelessness as a priority,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge.

“With this strong funding, communities across the country will have the resources needed to give homes to the people who have had to endure the COVID-19 pandemic without one,” she said.

The local HUD award totals more than $3 million, and will be used for vouchers that will be distributed countywide between the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB) and the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara (County Housing Authority).

The EHVs will assist individuals and families who are homeless; at risk of homelessness; fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking; or are recently homeless or have a high risk of housing instability.

“Santa Barbara is no stranger to the serious impacts of the pandemic, the high cost of living and the lack of clean, safe affordable housing for our most vulnerable populations who find themselves in dire circumstances with no permanent roof over their heads,” said Rob Fredericks, HACSB executive director/CEO.

“We are keenly aware that the key to circumventing homelessness and poverty, as well as maintaining mental, physical and emotional health, begins with having a stable, secure place to call home,” he said. “With this year’s accelerated rise in people being displaced in our community, the American Rescue Act funding will go a long way towards improving the lives of those who need it most.”

“The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara is proud to be a partner with the City Housing Authority and the county’s Continuum of Care in our ongoing struggle to end homelessness,” said Bob Havlicek, HACSB executive director.

“The newly designed Emergency Housing Voucher Program through the American Rescue Plan Act provides additional funds for rental assistance as well as supportive services to ensure the success of homeless families/individuals,” he said. “Our agency remains committed to servicing and making a positive contribution for our county community as a whole.”

The EHVs will work similarly to other federal rental assistance programs. Housing vouchers are subsidies, paid directly to the landlord on behalf of participating households. Households then pay the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.

Because the affected families are in such great need, the program will also provide administrative fees to support housing authorities to address barriers to house people experiencing homelessness in partnership with providers. The program will fund landlord engagement, security deposits, and housing navigation to help prospective tenants find housing that suits their needs.

EHV program landlord incentives include:

$1,500 signing bonus for each voucher leased up.
Up to $2,000 in protection insurance for each lease up.
One month’s security deposit provided for each lease up.
County of Santa Barbara to provide three years of supportive services for each client leased up.

Fredericks and Havlicek encourage landlords in Santa Barbara County to consider partnering with HACSB and the County Housing Authority to provide more affordable housing options for families looking for Section 8 housing.

“For over 25 years, the Housing Authority has worked to eliminate homelessness in Santa Barbara, one home at a time,” Fredericks said. “We cannot do it alone. The new HUD funding will help to further our relationships with other public agencies, private landlords and new voucher holders.

“HACSB provides infrastructure for landlords to successfully secure great renters. They receive financial incentives and their rental income is guaranteed. Formerly homeless individuals and families who are newly housed can focus on improving their quality of life. It is an ideal partnership, a win-win for all.”

For more about EHVs or for landlords interested in partnering with the EHV program, email leasing@hacsb.org for the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara or questions@hasbarco.org for the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara.