First published in the Santa Barbara Independent on April 22, 2022.
Funding to create the City of Goleta’s first permanent housing for homeless people reached more than $22.5 million, part of which the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County used to purchase the Super 8 motel at Fairview and Hollister avenues.
“We have purchased the Super 8. Escrow has closed,” said John Polanskey, who directs Housing Development for the nonprofit housing group. It’s been a long road, as Polanskey’s agency tried to acquire the motel in 2020, only to have the owners sell to the Wyndham hotel chain, which had promised to maintain the Super 8 brand. “We purchased the Super 8 from the group that purchased the Super 8 from the original owners back in 2020,” said Polanskey last Friday, adding that they’d be holding a community meeting in May for a conversation about what they hoped to achieve at the new facility.
“We are thrilled and grateful to hear the great news!” said Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte, who had lamented the lack of homeless housing in her city during the 2020 negotiations. “This is the culmination of what has been a massive effort on the part of the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara to secure this much-needed state funding with assistance from the County and the City of Goleta.”
California’s Homekey Program gave $18,958,701 toward the project, Goleta contributed $600,000, and the County of Santa Barbara gave another $3 million for the services residents will receive. The hotel had 65 rooms when it was built in 1961, and it sold for $6.9 million to the Wyndham group. The rooms will become 59 units to permanently house homeless people or people in danger of losing their home, and one unit for a resident manager. The ground floor of the three-story building will become community space to be used as offices for services and other resident needs.
Though the number of homeless people living in Goleta has fluctuated — 119 in 2019, 166 in 2020, and 91 in the preliminary 2022 Point-in-Time survey results — the tents and shacks visible along the highway and railroad tracks are clear indications that dozens of people continue to live in the rough. More people live less visibly in their car or van, amounting to 18 percent of those surveyed in Goleta during the 2020 homeless count.
In related news, the community is invited to a forum on Monday, April 25, at 9 a.m. to discuss the impacts of homelessness and find a response as part of the city’s “Regional Action Plan.” Members of Goleta government, the Santa Barbara Alliance for Community Transformation (SB ACT), and CityNet will be among the participants. The meeting will be held virtually at this Zoom link with the meeting ID 874 1337 7706.