Vera Cruz Village Groundbreaking Celebration

By Bonnie Carroll

It was a beautiful morning for the Housing Authority City of Santa Barbara Groundbreaking Ceremony, which brought together the village of dedicated people who are making Vera Cruz Village housing complex located at 116 East Cota Street a reality. This low-income housing tax credit project represents the latest development of affordable housing for the special needs and homeless population

The ceremony to launch construction of new special needs and homeless affordable housing took place at 10:00 am at the site of the Vera Cruz Village, 116 East Cota Street. It was hosted by the Housing Authority, and members of the City of Santa Barbara, where Mayor Cathy Murillo, Alejandra Gutierrez, Santa Barbara 1st District City Council Member, Oscar Gutierrez, Santa Barbara 3rd District City Council Member, and a representative for Congressman Salud Carbajal who was scheduled to speak but his assistant attended as well as Rob Fredericks, Executive Director/CEO of Housing Authority City of Santa Barbara who were onsite with shovels in hand to participate in the official ceremonial launch of the project. 

Vera Cruz Village represents the HACSB’s latest affordable housing project designated for special needs and homeless individuals in the community. People experiencing homelessness have high rates of chronic mental and physical health conditions, co- occurring disorders, and barriers to receiving health care. Santa Barbara continues to grapple with adequately addressing this issue. The most recent Point-in-Time count completed in January 2020 found 1,897 homeless residents countywide, with 914 (48%) living in the City of Santa Barbara. The chronically homeless in the county rose from 423 to 614, a 45% increase (Santa Barbara County Point in Time Count 2020).

The property consists of two parcels with a combined total of approximately 11,000 square feet and sits across the street from the current Cota Street commuter parking lot. The proposed project provides 28 studio units for very low and low-income renters, a one-bedroom manager unit, and common area and office space to accommodate the provision of services and activities on-site. Construction is anticipated to start in December 2021 and be completed within 18 months. All studio units will be subsidized with Project Based Vouchers, making rent affordable at 30% of a resident’s income. Vera Cruz Village will include non-profits Garden Court, Inc and 2nd Story Associates (the Housing Authority’s affiliate non-profit) as ownership partners in the new development.

The ground breaking event culminates a multi-year effort by HACSB to create additional low-income housing for Santa Barbara’s most vulnerable residents to offset the rising and extreme homelessness rate taking place in the city which has been compounded by the on-going pandemic. “HACSB, our agency partners, the Santa Barbara City Council and many other supporters, are thrilled to see Vera Cruz Village move into the construction phase to make this much needed housing a reality,” said Rob Fredericks, CEO and Executive Director. “It is situated in an excellent downtown location, in a walkable neighborhood. It’s close to food shopping, public transportation and work opportunities. The housing complex will be a beautiful addition to East Cota Street, making good use of an unused parcel of land. The project perfectly represents the HACSB mission – to provide new, affordable, turnkey housing as well as wraparound support services vital for breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness in Santa Barbara.”

The LIHTC funding stimulates private investment in affordable housing by awarding tax credits to developers, who agree to reserve a portion or all their housing units for low-income households for a minimum of 55 years. Developers sell their tax credits to investors to obtain equity financing for their developments. This federal resource continues to be one of the state’s most successful public-private partnerships and accounts for approximately 90 percent of all affordable rental housing created in the United States today. 

About the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara

The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara is a local public agency created for the purpose of providing safe, decent, and quality affordable housing and supportive services to eligible persons with limited incomes, through a variety of federal, state, local and private resources. Since 1969, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara has developed and/or secured over 4,000 units of affordable rental housing for Santa Barbara through a variety of federal, state, local and private funding sources. Please visit the website at

Bonnie Carroll

Written by Bonnie Carroll

Writer, publisher, editor over 30 years, Bonnie Carroll is the present Publisher, Editor-in-Chief of Bonnie Carroll's Life Bites News founded 2005. She is also a contributor to a bevy of magazine and newspapers California and international since 1983.

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  1. We’re driving the price up of our rents by giving full rent Section 8 vouchers with landlord bonuses to everyone we just spent millions putting in hotels. Downvote if you want…but The housing authority is doling out staggering sums of money that’s only adding to the housing crunch…

  2. This quote stuck out. “Since 1969, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara has developed and/or secured over 4,000 units of affordable rental housing for Santa Barbara”
    We are a city of 95k people. 4000 units are off market and subsidized by tax payers? With and avg of 4 people per unit that’s 16k people who are getting free money to live in the most expensive city on the coast.
    That’s 20%!!!!! TWENTY PERCENT of the housing – more likely +/- 50% of rentals, in the city of Santa Barbara are government subsidized, not available on the market and do not pay property taxes!
    This is why rents are so high. This is why the workers cannot find apartments. The city has taken them off the market and gifted them to the least productive people in society. This is why our city is failing and why they continue to need more tourist dollars. You cannot have a community filled with grifters and takers and expect growth, productivity or even a healthy economy. These facts and figures are appalling. I am all for helping people, but this small city has truly lost its mind.
    P.S. Add up the salaries of all those people in this photo, it will shock you. Here in SB, we love tripping over a dollar to pick up a dime…

  3. It’s Liberal policy run amok. Right now the house my authority is offering a 5k bonus to any landlord that takes a section 8 tenant, as well as a willingness to pay a premium on rent, double security deposit and a multi year guarantee help/assistance if there is a problem with the tenant. We are taking housing from the people who live and work in SB, and giving it to people who don’t work but just love SB.

  4. Establish an upper limit for numbers of vagrant housing accommodations and enforce it. It should never exceed 1% of all available housing units. That is charitable; beyond that is foolhardy. Notice the slow creep of this vagrant housing mission over the past few decades, with no end in sight. Can’t operate that way. We have well-exceeded any reasonable accommodation to hand out more and more housing for vagrants.

  5. Ever growing and extremely burdensome red-tape and regulations by the city and state make it harder and harder to start and maintain a small business, the true backbone of the middle class. As a result these businesses are cannibalized by large, out of town corporations that take the profits with them. As this continues government/public sector will continue growing as the largest middle class employer in town, perhaps by design. This isn’t a sustainable path IMO.

  6. This is great! Subsidizing the Ritz Carlton Barcara— They must have 300 “back house” employees that get paid min wage that are in need of housing on the backs of the taxpayers… The Ritz Carlton, where rooms start at $850 a night appreciates the Santa Barbara Housing Authority!

  7. 15 city officials – average city compensation package – $150K per employee. Over $2 million dollars standing in that row — on average standing in that row of “affordable housing” cheerleaders. Though some are commission members; not city employees. Good quote, SBO – “we love tripping over dollars, to pick up a dime.”

  8. SBO – Providing some housing for the less fortunate is hardly “filling our city ranks with unskilled, uneducated menial workers who subsidize corporate tourist business interests with cheap labor.” Are you really concerned that building low income housing is going to drag Santa Barbara, the “Jewel of the Pacific coast” (according to Forbes), the “American Riviera,” down to into the proverbial mud? How frightening this must be. Rest assured, we’ll be fine.

  9. I don’t doubt that those people’s combined salaries and benefits are outrageous. I agree. I think SBO’s point when mentioning “least productive people” is referring to the grifters, random leeches, and ‘never want a job’ players whose population in SB has skyrocketed in the past 5 years. It all depends who is getting the cheap housing on taxpayers’ dimes. You can’t keep throwing money around, and I don’t believe there are any effective watchdogs keeping an eye on those (see pic above) who are dealing out the money.

  10. BASIC – Not sure, I think SBO was really talking about low wage earners. Grifters and voluntarily unemployed will not be getting these. These 28 units are for” very low and low-income renters,” not the unemployed. They still need to pay rent. You’d be surprised how many employed people there are here with no home, living in cars. This is for them. This is not for the gutter punks. I do hope they vet the recipients well, though.

  11. Pitmix, the cost of housing is not a nationwide problem. Here is an article from SFGate about Nashville being a hot destination for people leaving the sf Bay Area, one of the least affordable places to live in all of the United States. A restauranteur who left San Francisco for Nashville explained “I met musicians, artists, creatives, teachers and they owned houses.” Interestingly, housing used to be affordable in cities like San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Why has that changed so dramatically?

  12. Pit – That is true for a lot of people…but a lot of the vouchers are for a lot more than that…and a LOT of the new vouchers are for the full new market rent amount and include massive bonuses to the property owner (current amount is 5k). The amount of money being spent on fully subsidized housing here in SB is staggering.

  13. Homelessness needs a state-wide level approach, with master plan and funding. Without that, well-meaning efforts simply invite more and more. Does anyone think that 45% increase is anything but more and more folks “stopping” here? “House” someone (and at oh what a price, with folks feeding at the public trough at every step) and another nice camping spot on the water-front opens up! Welcome to SB with a free tent and a welcome mat.
    Demand a solution at the level where it makes sense. Chasing the policies of SF, San Jose, Venice Beach et al. is a proven disaster… Amen to adding up the salaries of the folks holding the shovels… the disconnect with reality is palpable…

  14. There’s nothing hateful about pointing out that we are a world of ~8 billion people, and if given the choice most of them would want to live in Santa Barbara. It’s hard to solve issues if you call anyone who understands economic fundamentals a right wing nut job.

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