Source: Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara
At 43, James Coronado is on the road to advancing his career in education, having recently earned his master’s degree from Antioch University. And surrounded by his wife and children, Coronado celebrated yet another graduation Oct. 19 as community leaders recognized him and 12 others for their completion of Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara’s (HACSB) Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS).
The program is designed to help move HACSB residents receiving housing assistance and related government subsidies to a more independent lifestyle, free of governmental assistance. To date, nearly 300 families have completed the FSS Program. “FSS led me to increase my value and my salary so I could save money,” said Coronado. “At the same time, it was propelling me to be self-sufficient.”
When he entered FSS, Coronado was on the verge of earning his teaching credential and he said the program helped him stay focused on that goal, as well as another recent accomplishment, earning his master’s at Antioch University. Held at HACSB’s Presidio Springs apartments on Laguna Street, the special FSS ceremony recognized the hardworking families who worked through the program as part of their path to achieving personal goals and greater socio-economic advancement, such as college degrees, professional careers and first-time home ownership.
“Affordable housing allows families to stabilize their lives rather than working multiple jobs just to make it through the month,” said Rob Fredericks, HACSB Executive Director/CEO. “Our residents work hard to provide for their families and the community. What they are able to accomplish through our Family Self-Sufficiency program is extraordinary.”
From this group of 13, three are already off housing assistance. To date, 292 individuals have graduated from FSS and 46 are now homeowners. From the time the families enroll in FSS to the time they graduate, families literally triple their income, saving government funding and recycling tax dollars. The FSS Program Coordinating Committee comprises representatives of the Family Service Agency, Workforce Resource Center, Montecito Bank & Trust, Women’s Economic Ventures, Department of Rehabilitation, SBCC School of Extended Learning, Union Bank, Transamerica Financial Advisors, Teen Connect, New Beginnings Counseling Center, SBCC Promise, Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.
This network of service providers offers program vision and coordination, life-skills, entrepreneurial training, financial literacy workshops, academic counseling, vocational rehabilitation, family counseling and job placement. “Thanks to our dedicated team of community partners, our families gain the knowledge needed to be successful as home owners, valuable members of the workforce, and even business owners, allowing them to move on from assistance and become truly independent,” said Fredericks.
In addition to the celebration from Housing Authority staff and Board of Commissioners, friends and family, the 13 new FSS “grads” were presented with official certificates of recognition from the offices of Senator Hannah Beth Jackson, U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal, California State Assemblymember Monique Limon and First District County Supervisor Das Williams.