New Homes for the New Year: Former Super 8 Turned Supportive Housing Plans Spring Move-in Date

The former Super 8 motel in Goleta is currently under construction to become supportive housing named Buena Tierra. (Photo by Amy Reinholds on November 28, 2023)

If all goes as planned, this March individuals and two-person families who are part of programs such as Cottage Hospital Recuperative Care, veterans programs, foster care transition programs for youth, and New Beginnings Safe Parking will be settling into 59 studio apartments in Buena Tierra supportive housing at 6021 Hollister Avenue.

The former Super 8 in Goleta was acquired and renovated with funds from the State of California’s Homekey program, and the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara owns and manages it.

“It’s looking like construction will be completed in mid-February with move-ins by the beginning of March,” said John Polanskey, Director of Housing Development for the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara.

Back in April 2022, the California Department of Housing and Community Development awarded more than $15 million in Homekey funds to the housing authority to use for acquisition and rehabilitation of the motel and also to cover some rental subsidy and operating costs. Additional funds for the $19.48 million project came from federal, county, and City of Goleta dollars – more than $2 million from the HOME-American Rescue Plan Program, $1.5 million from the County of Santa Barbara’s American Rescue Plan State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, and $592,905 from the City of Goleta’s American Rescue Plan State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

John Polanskey, Director of Housing Development for the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara at the construction site of Buena Tierra (Photo: Amy Reinholds)

Buena Tierra is supportive housing for people who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness, referred to the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara through the agencies they were already working with to find stable housing. Each resident already has a primary case manager.

“Referrals must come from a supportive services agency, an organization we’re familiar with,” Polanskey said. Where people were living before moving in to Buena Tierra varies according to their situation and referring agency.

Fifteen studio apartments were set aside for youth who are aging out of foster care, also called transition-aged youth (referred from nonprofits Noah’s Anchorage and New Beginnings). Polanskey said providing housing to address the needs of these young people is “important to the city, the county, and the state.”

Eight studio apartments were reserved for graduates of the Cottage Hospital Recuperative Care program, who are recovering from health issues. And five studio apartments were reserved for veterans, part of the HUD-VASH voucher program. The remaining 31 were filled with residents referred from other organizations and agencies such as Good Samaritan, Transition House, PATH, New Beginnings and its Safe Parking program, and the Santa Barbara County Behavior Wellness program.

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara already runs permanent supportive housing and has seen what is successful, Polanskey said. Pescadero Lofts in Isla Vista has been around for nine years, located between the Pi Beta Phi sorority house, the Santa Barbara Student Housing Co-Op, and Friendship Manor senior housing. Supportive housing means combining affordable housing with on-site services such as nutrition, job skills, health and safety skills so residents can build stability. At Pescadero Lofts, supportive services include presentations from the Public Health Department of Santa Barbara County, from UCSB, and from Pi Beta Phi volunteers who walk over from next door. Student volunteers from UCSB computer classes have volunteered in the onsite computer lab.

Buena Tierra construction (Photo: Amy Reinholds)

If anyone is concerned and wants to understand what supportive housing is, Polanskey said, “all you would need to do is take a tour of Pescadero Lofts, which has been operating in Isla Vista for nine years. Its neighbors are a sorority, senior housing, and a co-op.”

At Buena Tierra, one apartment will house an onsite property manager/resident manager employed by the housing authority, bringing the total residential units to 60.

The renovations include converting five existing motel rooms to a community room for meetings and a space for other services provided. Some of the rooms will be used for similar uses as the Super 8: an existing office will be used for the property manager office, and there’s a laundry room.

Polanskey said after living in supportive housing, many people are able to build financial and social stability and skills through the programs, which allows them to find other housing in the future. They might qualify to move to other housing authority rentals, for example, freeing up a studio apartment for another person who needs it.

Apartments are 280 square feet up to 400 square feet, allowing one person occupancy up to two people to include couples or a single parent with one child. There are elevators for people with mobility issues to get to and from the second story.

Buena Tierra construction (Photo: Amy Reinholds)

Since the Buena Tierra project was first announced, a main misconception has been that “We’re moving in people directly off the streets, and they can come in and do what they want,” Polanskey said. He said that misconceptions and fears about crime are based on an incorrect assumption that people living in supportive housing like Buena Tierra can’t even be evicted for health and safety reasons. That’s not true, he said, pointing to other supportive housing like Pescadero Lofts, and all housing that the Housing Authority owns and manages. “In all our housing, we have to look at the health or safety of our staff and other residents.”

An advantage of the Project Homekey approach to rehabilitate motel buildings, Polanskey said, is that it costs less money and takes less time than new construction. The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara has had one other property developed with money awarded from the Homekey program: a 15-unit building of supportive apartments in Lompoc that opened in 2020.

Polanskey highlighted some of the partners that came together to make Buena Tierra a reality: the HOME Investment Partnership, Community Development Block Grants, state funding for homelessness, and Fair Housing and Legal  departments, overseen by HUD. Supportive housing projects funded through the Homekey program are allowed by right as a permitted use based on recent state laws AB 140 and AB 2162, considered as conforming to local General Plan and zoning requirements.

Interested in helping clients of Good Samaritan this holiday season as they are moving into apartments and various housing programs throughout the county? The Welcome Home Holiday Campaign is accepting donations for items including pots and pans, plates, bowls, utensils, can openers, dish towels, brooms/dustpans, swiffers/mops, paper towels, cleaning wipes, and laundry supplies. Donations of hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, hairbrushes, lotion, toothbrushes, floss, razors, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products are also needed. Good Samaritan Shelter at 14 E. Carillo Street Suite B in Santa Barbara is open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, and closed weekends and holidays Dec. 25-26 and Jan. 1. For more information, call 805-803-6231.

Amy Reinholds

Written by Amy Reinholds

Amy Reinholds is a content designer and journalist who lives in Goleta.

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    • Ever heard of “lumpers and splitters”? The concept is that some people lump everyone they think they don’t agree with, for whatever reason – maybe even an imagined one – into one group. Conversely, the splitters analyze and make precise assessments and definitions based upon specifics.

      It’s a thing.

        • You two (just you two) reinforced my point, as expected. You are convinced I’m a “con”. Yep, I’ve seen that for a while, as have numerous Edhat posters who’ve been called the same by you and others here. Name calling. Yay. That’s what you call me and others here who have a different view from you, all the time. I’ll assume, correct me if I’m wrong, that by saying that you think I’m a Republican Trump supporter. Yes? Yes. And to that I’ll tell you straight up that you’re 100%wrong. And apparently you are both lumpers, which is fine, but unfortunate, because so many folks these days just knee jerk react to make someone else who has a different view their online enemy. Is that what you guys do all day?

            • It absolutely is what you said LOL

              “. You are convinced I’m a “con”. Yep, I’ve seen that for a while, as have numerous Edhat posters who’ve been called the same by you and others here. Name calling. Yay. That’s what you call me and others here who have a different view from you, all the time. I’ll assume, correct me if I’m wrong, that by saying that you think I’m a Republican Trump supporter. Yes? Yes. And to that I’ll tell you straight up that you’re 100%wrong.”

              Your words, Copernicus.

    • ANON – of course they didn’t read it. They see the word “homeless” and then instantly demand an explanation of their precious tax pennies.

      God forbid, on Christmas Eve, these folks shut down the blind hatred of those in need.

      I really hope none of you are planning to go to church tonight.

        • Basic – you’re a big boy/girl – do your own research. What do you think it costs a day to house these folks in the ER? I hope you’ve been successful enough in your llfe that you’re not so rattled about people getting free stuff. Now again, I could see if you haven’t done so well, are single, and driving around in a 23 year old mini van with Trump stickers I’d understand your anger.

          • Thomas, oh I know already, and I’m glad you brought the ER/hospitalization point up. That’s valid. Hospital and health care costs are out of control. One bum, or college kid for that matter, found down on the street will often get a giant work up that will eventually cost taxpayers a ridiculous amount of money. And it’s NOT about saving lives. It’s come down to just HAVING to do ‘the work up’. I’ll save you all the details of what that means, but essentially it becomes a giant waste of money. This will be hard for some to hear, but that’s modern medicine.

            “Free stuff” you say? Nothing is free. There’s always a cost, and there should be. Freebies = zero incentive to do better.

  1. Unless there’s accountability for all, including the folks who were all paying to run this joint and those who get this free (taxpayer funded) housing, I give it a downvote. I assume there won’t be any accountability. Convince me I’m wrong if you want to try.

  2. These housing units, and the many more like them being built in the State of California and are needed… These new “residents” are the future of California-Low Income/subsidized families are flourishing. People who are not paying for large ticket items such as those have well paying JOBS, middle class (in CA that is a family that makes about $100k a year) or those with higher incomes… That “higher income” tax base classification of California residents is shrinking every year… The low income or “taxpayer subsidized” population is growing at staggering rates… This is why California has a huge deficit and it’s only getting worse. Those that are leaving the State are those that can AFFORD to leave, those staying are sucking the bloodlife out of the once “Golden State”.

    • Agree, and with the status quo political philosophy of the majority voter and their elect3d official here in CA things are going downhill steadily from a quality of life/social perspective: heavy taxes, big pensions, handouts without an end goal, unsustainable building, and no accountability for any of it. Goodbye middle class, they’re going, going gone. Lots of rich and tons of poor.

  3. I am surprised that a story with so much detail left out basics like the ongoing costs that tax payers are on the hook for, and what the criteria is for the unhoused to become a resident. Where can we get this information?

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