The Santa Barbara City Council voted Tuesday to loan $1 million to the Housing Authority for an affordable senior housing project on the site of the Grace Lutheran Church, which donated the property to the project. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Barbara City Council agreed to loan the Grace Village senior affordable housing project $1 million on Tuesday to help the Housing Authority achieve more than $8 million in tax equity credits.

Santa Barbara’s Housing Authority wants to build 57 one-bedroom affordable apartments for seniors, with rents ranging from $400 to $900 per month.

The $1 million will help the Housing Authority qualify for $8.6 million in tax credits to fund the project. The vote was unanimous, 6-0, with Councilman Randy Rowse absent.

The entire project is expected to cost $16.3 million.

“The individuals we intend to serve is a market in high demand,” said Skip Szymanski, deputy executive director of the Housing Authority. “Seniors in this income range are just growing. It is a large population of our homeless as well.”

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, Housing Authority Deputy Executive Director Rob Fredericks said. By 2030, the number of people 65 and older will reach 71.5 million, 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 14-month construction schedule. The loan would be paid back over 30 years, at three percent interest.

In other city news, the Ordinance Committee voted Tuesday to delay action on regulating news racks. Santa Barbara wants to charge annual fees and require rack owners to maintain or upgrade their racks.

Representatives from the Santa Barbara News-Press and the Santa Barbara Independent raised concerns about the public works director holding the power to review racks and decide whether to remove them from the streets, among other concerns. 

“It seems obvious that this needs to go back for some review and coordination with the stakeholders,” Ordinance Committee chair Cathy Murillo said. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at