Santa Barbara County won the dubious distinction of being the nation’s eighth least affordable county for potential homebuyers. San Luis Obispo came in 10th, and the Los Angeles/Long Beach area took top “honors.” The National Association of Homebuilders, in its quarterly survey of housing affordability, concluded that countywide only 5.3 percent of the homes on the market were affordable to people earning the median income; nationwide, that percentage is 40.6. If the South Coast – where million-dollar fixer-uppers have become routine – had been considered alone, the affordability rate would have been far lower.

Beginning in mid-September, 61 of Santa Barbara’s homeless or near-homeless will have a permanent room of their own in El Carrillo Studios, which officially opens August 31. The 235-square-foot studios are provided by the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, while Work Training Programs, Inc. will provide on-site supportive services – including vocational counseling – to residents. The studios, located on a half acre at 315 West Carrillo Street, are expected to fill within a month with people referred by social workers and homeless shelters.

Developer Mark Lee (pictured) received a pat on the back from the City of Santa Barbara’s Planning Commission, whose members expressed enthusiasm for a bigger and denser project along Arroyo Burro Creek than was previously approved by the City Council. The commissioners also broke with the council over where to build the entrance to the controversial Veronica Springs project, preferring a new bridge over the creek rather than an extension of Alan Road, which Alan Road residents vehemently opposed. A local nonprofit organization plans to provide housing for Carpinteria’s agricultural workers on farmlands north of Highway 101. People’s Self-Help Housing intends to finance 80 below-market apartments by selling 30 market-rate condominiums. The apartments will replace 82 campsites on about 2.5 acres at the Carpinteria Camper Park.

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