The Goleta City Council held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon and voted unanimously to authorize the city manager to submit a letter of acknowledgement and support for the housing authority of the county of Santa Barbara’s application for the State of California’s Homekey Program.
California’s Homekey program is an effort to rapidly sustain and expand housing for people experiencing homelessness and impacted by COVID-19.
There is approximately $600 million of grant funding available through the program, $550 million of which comes from the State’s direct allocation of the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund while $50 million is from the State General Fund.
Currently, Santa Barbara County, in partnership with the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara, is working to secure Homekey funds to convert a hotel or motel in the area into transitional and permanent supportive housing with on-site wrap-around services.
They are attempting to apply and submit their application before August 13.
“If an agency applies for a viable project by that priority deadline, then they are only competing with the counties within that region,” Dominique Samario, Goleta management analyst, said.
“They would be looking at dividing that money by Monterey County, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara County and Santa Cruz County … $22 million dollars would be allocated for projects between these five counties.”
The leading prospect in the endeavor is the Super 8 Motel located in Goleta at the corner of Fairview and Hollister Avenues, however, recently the owner of the property rejected an offer from the county.
“As of yesterday, we found out the Super 8 owner and their broker, at this point, did not select the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County’s offer,” Ms. Samario said.
John Polanski, the housing development director for the Santa Barbara County Housing Authority, also provided more context for the offer given.
“We made a really strong offer, but we told them that we needed to have a decision and we needed to have the property in escrow as soon as possible early this week, so that we could do the studies and the surveys and the things that needed to be done in time to submit that priority application by August 13,” Mr. Polanski said.
Ultimately, the team found out Monday that the owner would be taking another offer, but offered the county to stay on as a “backup option.”
Given the timeline, however, Mr. Polanski told them they cannot be a backup option.
“As of this moment, we are still in second place. We’re still in communication with our radius group brokers but as of this moment the position has not changed and they were still negotiating with that other buyer,” Mr. Polanski said.
Even if they do not meet the August 13th deadline, the county will still submit a rolling application, however, funds could run out before they receive anything.
Still, Mr. Polanski said the housing authority is committed to providing housing for the homeless population in Goleta.
“We are still very interested. The housing authority is committed to doing something. It’s just good that this just happened to come, this one-time funding, and it just moved up our efforts but yes, we’re very interested,” Mr. Polanski said.
Some of the concerns local community members and even local business owners had was that it would make the city more dangerous and would kill business in Goleta.
Others also said that they are in support of the council sending its support to the county as they want to provide help to those who experience homelessness.
“I don’t agree that this is a dumping site. I think providing housing is absolutely critical, more critical with COVID,” councilmember Roger Aceves said.