New House 3, located at 2434 Bath Street | Credit: Courtesy

As I walked into Santa Barbara New House last week, I felt like I was checking into a tropical resort. I was greeted by a smiling manager at the front desk, a big glass-fronted cooler showing off icy-cold drinks, and a friendly welcome from everyone in sight. The foyer opened toward a raised living area backlit by sunlight streaming in through glass doors and windows. Just beyond, I could see a huge outdoor patio surrounded by greenery, adding to the vacation vibe.

The house at the corner of Bath and Quinto streets is known as New House 3. The white two-story building was built in 1947 in traditional Santa Barbara Spanish style, complete with a red-tiled roof. A corner staircase flanked by vintage street lamps leads up to double-wide front doors topped by a decorative awning and curlicue wrought-iron trim. 

Santa Barbara New House was founded in 1955 with a straightforward mission that remains essentially the same today: sober men helping other men achieve sobriety in a safe and supportive environment. New House Executive Director Adam Burridge describes New House as “a highly structured, 12-step-based sober living environment.” New residents are required only to have a desire for sobriety and a willingness to participate in this daily living environment with other recovering men. 

New House 2 | Credit: Courtesy

As we walked through the house, Burridge explained that “highly structured” entails drug testing, daily chores, room checks, and curfews. Every resident needs to be employed or looking for employment, as well as actively working a 12-step recovery program.

Self-sufficiency is a cornerstone of New House’s success and is reflected in how the house is run. All hiring is done from within. There are no maids or caterers at New House. All the cooking, maintenance, and operations are handled by the residents and management staff. 

Personal success stories abound as residents recover from alcoholism “one day at a time” and can therefore contribute to the community instead of using community resources. In 2022, 84 percent of New House residents were from the tri-county area, and more than half of new residents were referred by word of mouth, so the program’s benefits are truly felt locally. Additionally, New House residents give back by volunteering for other nonprofit programs and helping people in need. 

Santa Barbara New House was founded in 1955 by Elmo Little, a pioneer in the fledgling 12-step community in Santa Barbara. In the early ’50s, Little and his sister Peggy Scudelari would shuttle alcoholics from Santa Barbara to a rehab facility in San Bernardino. It was the closest option, and a six-hour drive each way. After years of making this trek several times a week, Little laid plans to open a similar home in Santa Barbara. 

Elmo Little and the original New House 1, located at 509 Chapala Street, circa 1955 | Credit: Courtesy

The first New House — now referred to as New House 1 — was an 1887 Victorian at 509 Chapala Street with four bedrooms. By 1957, New House 1 had annexed the house next door and expanded to accommodate 33 beds.

Even so, there was an ongoing waiting list. In the late 1970s, through an agreement with the county, Santa Barbara New House took over management of the county’s former detox facility at 250 San Antonio Road. That arrangement was successful but short-lived, and in 1984, New House 2 opened its doors at 227 West Haley Street, providing space for an additional 42 men. 

The El Jardin Guest House at 2434 Bath Street was built as a residential hotel with a commercial kitchen, 20 bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a general meeting area, all built around a large central patio. New House purchased the building in October 1990, and after several months of upgrades, New House 3 opened in February 1991. 

The 110-year-old New House 1 was sold in 1996. Today, Santa Barbara New House operates New House 2 and New House 3, plus one grad house that offers men a six-month transition with increased independence before they reenter the community.

The theme of self-sufficiency instilled in the residents of New House is also exemplified in the philosophy of the organization itself. Elmo Little envisioned New House as an independent entity, free from government influence. This vision carries through today. Santa Barbara New House is not insurance-based and receives no government funding, relying instead upon grants and donations to supplement clients’ payments, provide scholarships to men who are getting on their feet, and cover other operational costs.

The organization’s only fundraiser is the annual Heart of New House luncheon. This year, the luncheon will be held Saturday, September 16, at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, and will honor Steve Olsen for his many years of service to Santa Barbara New House. Olsen is the general manager of McCormix Corporation, currently serves on the New House board of directors as treasurer, and dedicates many hours of volunteer time to New House and affiliated groups. 

More information about Santa Barbara New House and tickets to the Heart of New House luncheon can be found at

Men of New House volunteering with “Families Feeding Families” | Credit: Courtesy


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