Heath House to Open to Formerly Homeless Women

Community Effort Helps Peoples’ Self-Help Housing Restore Property

People's Self-Help Housing's Heath House, seen here during the renovation, is ready to house seven women who have been living on the streets. | Credit: Courtesy

This December, Peoples’ Self-Help Housing — the longest-serving nonprofit housing organization on California’s Central Coast — will open a new property in Santa Barbara to provide housing and support services to formerly homeless women in the area.

Located on Sola Street, the historic Heath House — formerly part of Sarah House, a community AIDS hospice — was purchased by Peoples’ Self-Help Housing earlier this year. After extensive rehabilitation, renovations, and furniture donations by community members, the two-story, 2,500 square-foot building is preparing to open its doors to residents. With a capacity of seven beds, Heath House will provide permanent, affordable housing to formerly homeless women and their children, if necessary. Onsite supportive services, including job training, case management, counseling, and education programs will be offered to residents free of charge.

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“We’re addressing the elements that made them homeless in the first place,” said Ken Trigueiro, CEO and president of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing. “We have several licensed clinical social workers on our staff who will take a case-management approach with an initial assessment to see what led the women to that point. We aim to understand that, help create a plan to address those things, and create some level of motivation, accountability, and counseling along the way.”

Residents chosen by application will be funded by the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, which has committed to providing rent assistance. The support of community organizations has been critical in furthering the mission of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing to provide homeless people with permanent accommodation — state funding, compounded with additional financing from individual donors and the City of Santa Barbara, has allowed Heath House to become a reality. As noted by Trigueiro, this has been an inherently collaborative effort regarded by local residents as a positive addition to the community.

“This kind of housing is such a critical need in Santa Barbara. It’s a pretty novel situation — unoccupied properties aren’t just sitting around,” said Trigueiro. “That’s why this one is super special, and it’s a real achievement of our mission.”

To support the women of Heath House, donations are accepted at pshhc.org/hhgiving.

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