County Supes Scrap Senior-First Preference for Santa Maria Homeless Apartments

Santa Barbara County Executive Officer Says, ‘Senior Homeless Individuals Still Part of Project’

County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato | Credit: Paul Wellman

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In the coming months, construction on 30 one-bedroom apartments for the formerly homeless and those with serious mental illness will begin at 1141 West Cox Lane in Santa Maria.

The project was already approved by the Board of Supervisors in December but came back to the board Tuesday for a few tweaks — most notably removing the senior-first preference. The funding for the affordable and supportive housing project comes from a Homeless Emergency Aid Funding grant.

Peter Adam, 4th District supervisor, was the only supervisor to take issue with removing the preference for seniors. He questioned why the change was necessary and also the precedent that might be set if projects are presented with “one sense of pretenses and then are modified to something else.”

“Initially the project was senior-based, but when the Housing Authority took it over, funding for building the project was for the homeless, so the senior preference was removed only because it [the grant] only allows for senior preference if the whole project is for seniors,” explained George Chapjian, community services director.

County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato further explained that because of the restrictions on housing and funding requirements, the senior preference had to be removed, but that “senior homeless individuals are still a part of the project. It could just be that we can’t put it in the documents, evidently.”

Ultimately the board voted 4-1, with Adam abstaining, to approve the change and allow the project to begin later this year. The project will consist of 29 affordable units for those who qualify and one unit for the complex manager. The development will also include a community building for resident supportive services that holds a community meeting room, computer lab, and clinic.

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