For the past 24 years, John Polanskey — a high-ranking official with the Santa Barbara County Housing Authority — has been working with wary, angry neighbors over affordable-housing projects they don’t want near their backyards. “I actually like engaging with the community,” Polanskey said. “I really do.”
This not long after he spent two hours at the Living Faith Church on Hollister Avenue explaining a proposal to build 33 units of “permanent supportive housing” for mentally ill and homeless people on a small chunk of vacant land next to a fire station and across from the Page Youth Center. Before a crowd of over 100 residents who braved last Monday night’s biting winds, Polanskey tried to answer their questions: Who will be housed, how will they be vetted, and what kind of services will be provided?