SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - It's expensive to live in Santa Barbara.
More than half of the city consists of renters. Many of them depend on government assistance to find affordable housing. Due to constant budget cuts, the wait list to receive help grows more and more each year.
Local housing advocates from Santa Barbara City and Santa Barbara County hosted a "Day of Action" on Monday, July 24 at Presidio Springs Senior Housing Center at 721 Laguna Street. Their goal is to prevent federal funding reductions for affordable housing. The community was invited to participate in the event sponsored by the Santa Barbara Cities/County Joint Affordable Housing Task Group.
According to the city, three out of four families in need of affordable housing are turned away due to underfunding.
"The reality is when affordable homes don't exist for extremely low-income people, homelessness increases," said Joey Lindstrom, National Low Income Coalition.
Elected officials will have to vote on a federal budget which proposes to cut Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding by 15%. The Section 8 funding decrease would translate to a loss of 162 housing vouchers for families in the City of Santa Barbara, on top of the 100 vouchers that were cut this year.
Activists who attended Monday's meeting were asked to write postcards which will be sent to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Kamala D. Harris and Congressman Salud Carbajal. Children created artwork to explain their meaning for "home."
“I’m hoping they’ll add it to a tally of those who support the provision of affordable housing in all it’s forms and certainly in Congress, our representatives, there to make their voices heard as best they can when the budget comes up," said Dave Gustafson, Housing Authority of Santa Barbara board member.