Santa Barbara residents enjoy a beautiful environment bordered by mountains and seashore, with clean air, a temperate climate, and charming ambiance. But this beautiful City exacts a high price from those who live here. Housing costs are among the highest in the nation, and vacancy rates are among the lowest.
The high housing costs result in problems for many residents. The gap between incomes and housing costs is great. Many people commute long distances from less expensive housing in outlying areas. Much of the housing is seriously overcrowded, as families double and triple up in order to stay in the City. Young adults who grew up here are often forced to leave the area in search of housing they can afford. The low vacancy rate contributes to substandard housing, as unscrupulous landlords get nearly the same rent for units they allow to deteriorate as for well-maintained units.
Responsible property owners face stiff challenges. Many local homeowners are elderly, living on fixed incomes and residing in homes that need extensive repairs. Landlords renting to low- and moderate-income people at affordable rents do not have operating budgets or reserves that can cover rehabilitation expenses.
The City has done well in creating a level of affordable housing that constitutes 12% of the City's housing stock. The City is in the process of analyzing several strategies to provide even more affordable housing opportunities.