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Affordable Housing Tour

Tour of Affordable Housing Developments

Artisan Court | Credit: Sarah Sinclair

I took a red-eye to Boston last week to visit my son and daughter-in-law. In addition to the flight, I enjoyed trains, buses, and a few cars while I was there. I love navigating mass transit in other cities, and using my Charlie Card to ride Boston’s “T” was no exception.

Back home this weekend, I got to experience one of Santa Barbara’s appealing modes of transport when I took the Affordable Housing Trolley Tour as part of Housing Santa Barbara Day 2019 on Saturday. 

This second annual event, held in De la Guerra Plaza, is a resource fair sponsored by the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB) that featured more than 40 participating nonprofit agencies that provide local services related to affordable housing. Workshops on topics such as tenant rights were offered, with elected officials on hand to address the crowd and speak one-on-one with attendees. Crafts for kids, food trucks, and live music kept the atmosphere lively. 

One of the most popular attractions of the day was the Affordable Housing Tour. Trolleys left the plaza every 20 minutes to take visitors on a guided tour of eight of HACSB’s housing developments. While HACSB owns and manages more than 70 properties that are spread throughout Santa Barbara, the tour concentrated on the area between Laguna and APS, on the city’s Eastside. 

The weather was gorgeous as we set out along East De la Guerra Street. My trolley was full with an array of multigenerational families as well as a few solo younger folks. Here are a few of the developments that we visited:

• Artisan Court, at 422 East Cota Street, is made up of 55 studio apartments in an attractive Spanish-style building on a site that used to be home to Haagen Printing. Opened in 2011, Artisan Court is part of HACSB’s workforce housing program, designed to provide housing for low- to moderate-income workers in the community. 

• Hoit Gardens is a grouping of 10 three- and four-bedroom apartments located at the corner of North Voluntario and East Mason streets, right next to Sunflower Park. The 10 families who live here enjoy residences that were renovated and remodeled in 2002. 

• 801-835 Olive Street is another example of the workforce housing program, with 18 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The rents in this program are based on income and household size, with units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, providing housing for both individuals and families. 

• Presidio Springs is a collection of 122 one-bedroom apartments for seniors, located at 721 Laguna Street. In addition to providing affordable housing for residents who are on a low fixed income, Presidio Springs also provides services such as a laundry room, community activities, and support services. HACSB has more than 500 senior apartments throughout the city. 

There are waiting lists for all of HACSB’s housing units, but everyone I spoke with at the event stressed that there is turnover, and the best thing to do is to find out more so you can sign up now if you’re eligible. This year marks the 50th anniversary of HACSB. Since the need for affordable housing is greater than ever, their work continues to be critical to our community. 

A light breeze stirred the palm trees as the trolley returned us to De la Guerra Plaza. The beautiful October day was a reminder of why Santa Barbara will always be a desirable ​— ​but expensive ​— ​place to call home.

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