Isla Vista’s homeless community can be hopeful, after the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this Tuesday to build the Pescadero Lofts Affordable Housing Project at 761 Camino Pescadero. In addition to offering a place for some of the mostly student community’s homeless and low-income residents to live, explained John Polanskey of the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara, the 33-unit complex will offer an array of on-site services, from mental-health support, health screenings, and drug testing to workshops on computer skills, résumé writing, and financial literacy. Polanskey added that he hopes to get neighboring fraternities and sororities to volunteer their help.
In March, the county agreed to sell the property — designated for affordable housing by the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency, which purchased it in 2010 — to the Housing Authority, which will keep it affordable for 55 years. So that the project could qualify for construction tax credits, the Housing Authority partnered with Union Bank and the nonprofit Surf Development Company. Construction is expected to cost just shy of $9.8 million. Two loans from the county — one for $2.9 million and the other for $1.6 million — will supplement a $1.5 million loan from Union Bank and $3.7 million in tax credits to pay for construction, which Polanskey said will start in November and take about a year.
Prospective tenants — homeless individuals are the first priority, then low-income — will be notified next summer when the application process opens, and they can turn to Legal Aid and the libraries to access the online applications. “We do have a large and chronic homeless population there,” said Supervisor Doreen Farr, whose district includes Isla Vista. “It will be really nice to have a location where we can assist them.” The board also approved two affordable one-bedroom units for the St. George Del Playa Apartments on the corner of Del Playa Drive and El Embarcadero Road in Isla Vista. Occupancy for those units is projected for January.