Published in the Daily Nexus, October 1, 2013
Amidst an influx of luxury developments, construction is set to begin next month on a much more affordable apartment complex designed to accommodate Isla Vista’s homeless population.
The 33-unit Pescadero Lofts Affordable Housing Project, slated to be built at 761 Camino Pescadero, will prioritize homeless applicants and offer services such as mental health counseling, basic health screenings and job skills workshops, according to Santa Barbara County Housing Authority Housing Development Director John Polanskey. The Board of Supervisors unanimously green-lighted the approximately $9.8-million construction project last month with financial backing of $1.5 million from Union Bank and $3.7 million in construction tax credits.
Polanskey said the organization plans to open up the application process to prospective tenants starting next summer and should have all of the units filled by the end of 2014 or early 2015. The project will seek out as many homeless community members as possible before moving on to other low-income demographics, he said.
Polanskey also hopes to reach out to neighboring sororities, fraternities and university organizations to launch mutually beneficial programs and tap into existing campus resources.
“Most of the folks are folks that lived in homes and had jobs and families, but something happened, and it changed their lives and they ended up on the street,” Polanskey said. “It’s really a learning experience for everyone involved.”
The Housing Authority operates two other housing projects in I.V. — one on Sueno designated for adults with disabilities and the other on Picasso for low-income families — but this will be its first project specifically addressing I.V.’s homeless community.
This article appeared in the October 1 print edition under the title “Isla Vista’s Homeless To Receive Lodgings due to New Santa Barbara County Housing Project.”