A scenic photo of Santa Barbara

In Scenic Santa Barbara, a Helping Hand

HACSB helps residents cope with lofty housing costs

Santa Barbara, California is known for its sweeping oceanfront vistas and charming downtown. But the significant cost of housing in this idyllic setting are out of reach for many in the picturesque city of 90,000. For these residents, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB) is a lifeline.

Since 1969, HACSB has developed or secured over 3,000 units of affordable rental housing for residents of Santa Barbara, where the median home price recently hit $979,500 and fair–market rent for a two– bedroom apartment is $1,700. HACSB also administers Santa Barbara's public housing and Section 8 programs.

Alongside its affluence, "Santa Barbara is a city with a large service industry, with many jobs in the restaurant and tourism industries that don't pay very high wages," said Rob Fredericks, HACSB's Deputy Executive Director and Chief Administrative Officer. "We serve a very important purpose in this community."

HACSB serves a broad range of low-income residents and those with special needs, including senior citizens, the homeless and the disabled. Resident support services such as parenting classes, tutoring and income tax assistance are also critical, Fredericks said – "We look at this as a holistic mission. We recognized a long time ago that we can't just put people in homes and expect them to thrive."

Recently, Union Bank's Community Development Finance (CDF) group completed its first transaction with HACSB, providing a $9.8 million Low Income Housing Tax Credit investment in the rehabilitation of Villa Santa Fe Apartments, a 167–unit scattered site transaction involving two properties housing low– income seniors.

Appropriately for postcard–worthy Santa Barbara, Villa Santa Fe's two locations are both strikingly scenic. One site ndash; the SHIFCO development, which HACSB acquired from the Senior Housing Interfaith Corporation ndash; is perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The second site – Villa La Cumbre ndash; consists of Italian-style villas on beautifully landscaped grounds.

CDF Vice President Jessica Mackenzie says HACSB is a strong fit for Union Bank. "The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara has a very experienced and competent team that CDF has been eager to work with," she said. "They are savvy developers who understand how to get things done, while staying strongly committed to their mission." HACSB was also a customer of the former Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, which Union Bank acquired last year.

One of HACSB's innovative practices is recapitalizing its high-value properties in order to unlock equity that can then be used to make additional housing investments. "It's a creative strategy that will provide funds to develop more affordable housing for years to come," Mackenzie said, adding, "We're very excited about our new partnership together."