October 2003

Chris Davis

Workforce Housing Benefitting Local Employers

22 Families Building Affordable Homes Represent Surprising Range of Local Business

Los Alamos, Santa Barbara County, October 1, 2003—The Peoples' Self-Help Housing home ownership development in Los Alamos, which is bringing affordable home ownership to 22 local families, is shining a meaningful light on the importance of workforce housing on the Central Coast.

Peoples' Self-Help Housing drew numbers in a lottery to determine the order in which over 200 hundred applications were reviewed for 22 affordable Self-Help homes in Los Alamos. All applications were drawn, numbered and qualified in numerical order-those selected to build their homes were the first 22 families who qualified. The professional backgrounds of those selected uncovered a striking portrait of those who are the backbone of our county's workforce. The employers of the future Los Alamos families include some of the area's leading wineries, ranches and farms, agricultural related businesses, County of Santa Barbara Education office and public and private schools, construction companies, and local retail businesses including restaurants and hotels. Two examples of employers include Rona Barrett's Ranch and the Alisal Ranch.

"Employers understand that the lack of affordable home ownership possibilities (and high rents) in our area are a huge challenge for their employees," said Jeanette Duncan, Executive Director, Peoples' Self-Help Housing. "Employers are anxious not to lose good staff because they can no longer afford to live in the community."

The program was designed for lower-income families to purchase a home at an "affordable price" and assists families in the construction of their new house while reducing the cost at the same time. Groups of ten families work together, under the supervision of Peoples' Self-Help Housing, to construct one another's houses and, through this process, build community. This process is also referred to as "sweat equity."

Participating families are taught the financial and construction skills necessary to build their first home. The families lower their home building costs between 20-25 percent by contributing a minimum of 1,200 hours of construction labor per family. This "sweat equity" is used in lieu of a cash down payment. This collective effort creates neighborhood ties and an overall sense of pride through the direct construction involvement of the future residents. Residents must meet minimum eligibility requirements including good credit and rental history.

Bridlepath Estates homes will be completed in two phases in the summer and fall of 2004.