The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will hear an update on workforce housing needs during its regular meeting this Tuesday.
According to a board agenda letter, “workforce housing” refers to accommodations for the “missing middle,” or a segment of the population that cannot afford market-rate housing and are not eligible for government subsidies. In Santa Barbara County, these are often workers who are critical to the community’s infrastructure — police officers, firefighters, school teachers, electricians and restaurant staff.
In a recent report from Realtor.com, Santa Barbara County ranked as the number one county in the entire country “where home prices have outpaced salaries since fourth quarter 2019.” In addition, assessor data from the last decade found that the median single-family home price in each of the county’s housing markets (South Coast, Santa Ynez, Lompoc, Santa Maria, Cuyama) varies from $930,000 on the South Coast to $30,000 in Cuyama.
“This precludes households earning less than above moderate-income from accessing housing near South Coast job centers, forcing longer commutes to work,” the board agenda letter states. The letter also explains that housing development needs have fallen short of goals established in the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, which has led to residents paying in excess of 30% of their income toward housing.
During Tuesday’s meeting, staff from the county’s Community Services Department will overview strategies to address the shortage in affordable workforce housing. According to a board letter, staff is recommending that up to $245,000 be allocated for a workforce housing development study and strategic plan that would address the need for additional housing.
In addition to this presentation, the board will also receive a COVID-19 update from the county’s Public Health Department and hear a presentation on how American Rescue Plan Act funding could contribute to child care relief and recovery.
Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 9 a.m. at the County Administration Building in Santa Barbara. Members of the public can either attend the meeting in person or watch the meeting livestream at countyofsb.org/ceo/csbtv/livestream.sbc or youtube.com/user/CSBTV20.
To make a public comment on Zoom during the meeting, register in advance at countyofsb.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_cAJl4FoATlGHnaZGbR9psA. You can also email comments to the board clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org.