By the time Artisan Court—55-units of strategically targeted affordable housing—opened its doors for business this Wednesday, the new three-story structure at 422 East Cota Street already had a waiting list of prospective new tenants. Although the new digs are decidedly small—450 square feet—rent is cheap, ranging from $408 to $817 a month. The Santa Barbara Housing Authority—which developed the $17 million project with $5.2 million in loans from the City of Santa Barbara and $1.2 million in federal stimulus funds—is reserving about one-third of the rooms for “emancipated” foster kids, many of whom find themselves homeless within the year they turn 18. Another third of the units will be set aside for people making their way off the streets. The rest will be designated for downtown workers earning less than $30,000 a year.
By building smaller units than building codes normally allow at higher densities—and with less parking provided—the Housing Authority can build projects that are affordable to people who otherwise would not be able to secure a spot in Santa Barbara’s forbidding housing market. By keeping people off the streets—and out of the revolving door between county jail, the courts, and the emergency room—City Hall is hoping to reduce the indirect costs associated with homelessness while providing a leg up to those who might benefit.