The distant dream of homeownership became a reality for 12 low-income Santa Barbara families on Tuesday, November 18, when Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County (SSBC) unveiled the new Canon Perdido Affordable Homes, an affordable housing development on the 800 block of East Canon Perdido. The 44 new residents of the property, including 22 children, joined Mayor Helene Schneider and a crowd of sponsors and donors in a ceremonial ribbon cutting, signaling the newly opened doors of a property nearly two years in the making.
Habitat for Humanity SSBC’s board president, Jon Martin, called the homes “a symbol of God’s love through hundreds of volunteers.” Over 1,500 volunteers dedicated time to construction, including each adult living in the new properties, who committed 250 hours of sweat equity as part of the ownership deal. “May this be a beacon of hope to members in the community,” Martin said.
The Canon Perdido Affordable Homes are the newest local low-income development built by the nonprofit organization, which completed construction on the Via Lucero Affordable Homes in 2007 and the San Pascual Affordable Homes in 2010. Designed by local firm DMHA Architecture, the Canon Perdido homes were constructed along eco-conscious principles — the property is the first affordable housing development in Southern California certified as a “Passive House.” Featuring a combination of environmentally friendly solar thermal and photovoltaic systems with strategically placed windows, insulation, and building wrap, the housing development boasts a “net zero” energy usage.
Mayor Schneider deemed the ceremony “a day of transition, of new beginnings,” describing the new property as emblematic of the slowly morphing Eastside, “a transitioning neighborhood seeing a renaissance, a very old community moving into a more consolidated one.”
Sit ‘n Sleep CEO Larry Miller announced his company’s intention to donate free Tempur-Pedic mattresses to each household. Former Habitat for Humanity SSBC executive director Joyce McCullough presented the families with gift baskets of traditional housewarming gifts: bread, salt, a bottle of wine, and a Bible.
The new homeowners all had to demonstrate eligibility to live in the properties, which were built for low-income Santa Barbara families with total annual incomes between 40-80 percent of the Area Median Income as determined by the HUD. Each family was provided a mentor, who aided the families with advice on homeownership.
“We don’t have the words to say how excited we are,” said Luis Rodriguez, a new Habitat homeowner who has worked in outpatient surgery at Cottage Hospital for the last 16 years. He and his family of four had previously been sharing a house with his father.
“It’s like winning the lottery, but it’s God’s gift from Habitat for Humanity,” said Emily Linton, who will be moving in along with husband Lars and daughters Lydia, Lindy, and Isla after residing in a divided two-story Eastside property with mold problems and a defunct heater.
“We just can’t afford high rent in Santa Barbara, and we are so thankful,” said Lars, who has worked as a pastor at the Calvary Chapel for eight years. The Lintons expressed their gratitude toward the volunteers.
Habitat for Humanity SSBC next intends to build a low-income housing property in Carpinteria.