Affordable Housing: Santa Barbara Housing Authority Builds Development for Downtown Workers, Limits Number of Vehicles
and Development Reporter Newsletter, Current Developments http://west.thomson.com/product/14990188/product.asp
Hoping to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, CA (HASB) built a 42-unit development, Casa de Las Fuentes, where tenants must sign a lease that requires them to work downtown and allows them to own no more than one vehicle per rental unit.
The development, which has no federal assistance, also has an admission preference for renters who do not own a vehicle and who agree not to own one during their tenancy.
The city redevelopment agency and city
council worked closely with HASB on this project, which was seen as a
demonstration of what can be done to reduce the number of motor vehicles on the
road each day. The
The market rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $1,500, and a two-bedroom unit rents for about $2,500. Casa tenants generally pay no more than 30 percent of their income for rent, which generally ranges from $481 to $651 for a studio apartment. Rents for one-bedroom units are about $815, depending on income. The development has 18 studio and 24 one-bedroom apartments.
Many downtown jobs are in the service and retail sectors and include bank tellers, store clerks, waiters, and receptionists. HASB’s marketing objective was to provide housing to young singles and older workers who tend to have these jobs.
The lease requires tenants to work with a downtown area designed by HASB. A tenant who becomes unemployed has 90 days to find a new job within the downtown district or to move out of the building. The property was opened in 2003, and HASB has not been forced to evict anyone for this reason.
“We haven’t run up against that yet,
and I am not sure that is going to be an issue,” said
HASB consulted with legal counsel to
ensure that the admission preferences and occupancy requirements do not conflict
with fair housing laws. According to
The lease requirements operate on the
same basis as student housing, said
Casa has 42 parking spaces, one per
housing unit, compared to the one and one-half parking spaces usually required
by the city.
The land for the development sat vacant for years but is along a main transportation corridor that HASB viewed as a perfect location to build affordable housing for downtown workers who would not have to drive to work. The project’s density of 57 units per acre helped reduce per-unit costs.
The building was constructed according to standards set by the architectural board for the city’s Pueblo Viejo District. Design details include stucco finish, repeating arches, and landscaped courtyards with fountains, all inspired by Santa Barbara’s historic buildings. The apartments feature balconies and patios.
“The architectural board really holds
our feet to the fire when it comes to the design,” said
“La Casa is located near shopping and
restaurants, and the area is pretty vibrant all day long and into the night,”
Low-cost financing helped keep rents affordable at the development, which cost $5.5 million, or $130,780 per unit.
Financing included a $3 million tax-exempt note issued by HASB and purchased by a local bank at 5.125 percent interest, which was recently refinanced for 4.375 percent. The city redevelopment agency provided a $1.8 million deferred low-interest loan to be paid by residual receipts, and the HASB provided $700,000 in cash equity to the project.
In addition, the HASB received a $600,000 pre-development loan at 3 percent through the California Housing Finance Agency’s HELP program. This loan was paid after the project was completed.