December 2004

Press Contact:
Chris Davis

Peoples' Self Help Housing Takes on Some of Santa Barbara and Carpinteria's Tough Housing Problems

Santa Barbara, CA—Peoples' Self-Help Housing offers much more than affordable housing; it also delivers a viable and successful solution to some of the most difficult and challenging housing problems in our communities. A strategy of investing in the lives of lower income residents is paying off in a variety of positive ways for the community at large.

"We've figured out long ago that if we are going to have any meaningful success at any of the affordable communities we own and manage, that we had to do more that just build or renovate physical structures; we had to make a long-term commitment to the resident families and give them the tools to become valued members of the community," said Jeanette Duncan, Executive Director of Peoples' Self-Help Housing.

In the late 1990s, the 54 unit Ladera Street Apartments was arguably among the worst problems for the city of Santa Barbara-It was a rundown apartment complex noted for drugs, violence and crime that degraded the already troubled block on the lower west side. Santa Barbara police and city officials were at a loss about how to combat the daily complaints and crime reports from the area. City officials contacted Peoples' Self-Help Housing, a nonprofit with a reputation for not only creating quality affordable housing but also for creating safe and much improved communities.

In 1998, Peoples' Self-Help Housing took on the challenge and responsibility of purchasing Ladera Street Apartments and went to work completely renovating the existing structures, working with tenants, creating a community center, playground for kids, and beautiful landscaping. The organization also invested (and continues to invest) in resident services-along with community partners-through adult and child education, parent workshops, and health education programs.

Carpinteria had a similar problem with the Dahlia Court Apartments, which was also a source of frequent police calls and constant complaints from neighboring property owners. The apartment complex was an unsafe environment and health risk with leaking roofs, faulty plumbing, and electrical hazards.

Once again, Peoples' Self-Help Housing was asked to come in and take on the challenge of Dahlia Court Apartments. The project became a huge collaborative effort with support from city, state, and national partners.

"Dahlia Court Apartments was a labor of love which has now become the pride of the community" said Duncan. "Community organizations saw what we were trying to do and jumped in to help. Now we have sparkling apartments, beautiful grounds, a new laundry room, a health and screening center and community space, education and health classes, and special programs for kids."

Dahlia Court has received numerous recognition and awards and was the basis for Peoples' Self-Help Housing receiving the 2003 national and highly prized Fannie Mae Maxwell Award.

Now, Peoples' Self-Help Housing is taking on another difficult challenge that has been a concern in the Carpinteria community for some time. The Carpinteria Camper Park is burdened with run down infrastructure and many residents living in substandard and old travel trailers. Again, Peoples' Self-Help Housing decided to help to improve the lives of people who deserve a better quality of life.

Applying its long-term commitment strategy, Peoples Self-Help Housing has already begun the transformation of the Park. Since the purchase last month, a major clean up has begun with newly installed plumping in common facilities and renovated grounds has begun. Peoples' Self Help Housing is working with each resident on a case by case basis to ensure that their needs are met. Soon health and other education programs will be in place for children and their parents to provide more opportunities for people who deserve a chance to succeed.

Over its 33 year history, Peoples' Self-Help Housing has improved many existing properties all along the Central Coast, as well as building new affordable rental and home ownership opportunities.

Peoples' Self-Help Housing is an award winning non-profit organization with over 30 years of experience developing affordable housing and community facilities for low-income and special needs households. PSHH also provides technical assistance in the design and implementation of community development programs for numerous cities, counties, and community groups.