Escalante Meadows to bring more affordable housing to Guadalupe

Photo courtesy of U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal’s Office
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (right) broke ground alongside Guadalupe Mayor Ariston Julian (center) on the Escalante Meadows affordable housing project site during an Aug. 24 ceremony.

After five to six years of work and gathering funding, the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara will start construction on an 80-unit affordable housing project in Guadalupe. 

The project will also include a community services hub and a child development center, Executive Director John Polanskey told the Sun. 

“Escalante Meadows was a site of former public housing that was built in the 1950s. We had what was then called Guadalupe Ranch Acres, a traditional public housing site,” Polanskey said. “It was coming to the end of its useful life so we were able to use a [Housing and Urban Development] program called the Rental Assistance Demonstration to transition out of public housing and build new housing with these funds.” 

On Aug. 24, the housing authority hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for Escalante Meadows with Guadalupe Mayor Ariston Julian, U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), State Sen. Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), and others to acknowledge the state and federal funding contributions making this project possible. 

“It probably took three years to get all of the funding in place. In addition to it being a former public housing site, we owned the site already so we didn’t have to pay for the land; it was ours,” Polanskey said. 

The Housing Authority worked through the Rental Assistance Demonstration program’s approval process, demolished the previous 52 cinder-block units, and framing is already underway on new construction, he said. Previous tenants were temporarily relocated and will get first right of refusal for a home at Escalante Meadows when it’s finished. 

“Even if everybody chose to come back, we would still have 28 additional units. There have been a number of folks living here who really enjoy living in the city of Guadalupe,” Polanskey said. “When the cinder block was reducing, we wanted to retain and increase the number of affordable housing units.” 

The 20,000-square-foot community resource hub will provide additional support services to residents and the community. There will be early childhood education and development services, medical screenings, counseling, computer labs, and English as a Second Language courses. Residents will be given preference to these services and then it will open up other locals, he said. 

“The housing authority oversees the resource center and everything is done through partnership,” Polanskey said. “Because we are opening the community resource center to the public, not just the residents, we couldn’t use tax credits so we had a little more difficulty funding the community center than we did the housing.”

Carbajal secured $2.5 million in federal funding to help build the community center as one of his nine Central Coast community projects, and Limón snagged $3 million in state funding for the community center, Polanskey said. 

Carbajal said in a statement that he was proud to contribute to this project and that this funding helped secure the resource center. 

“Thanks to a combination of local, state, and federal funds, we are showing that we are walking the walk when it comes to heeding our community’s need for affordable housing, affordable child care, and vibrant communities,” Carbajal said in the statement. “I was proud to help secure direct support for this project in the 2022 federal budget, and I’m happy to see this project get underway to bring more affordable housing, child care, and community development resources to Guadalupe and its residents.”

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