Santa Barbara County Housing Trust Fund Promoting Local Homeownership | Good for Santa Barbara

Posted on April 9, 2022
| 10:11 a.m.

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First-time home buyers Alec Missel and Stacey Walker in their new home, purchased with the help of a down payment loan from the Santa Barbara County Housing Trust Fund. (Santa Barbara County Housing Trust Fund)

Finding affordable housing is a recurring problem for many Santa Barbara County residents. As home prices soar into the millions of dollars, many low-to-middle income families are struggling to buy a home and put down roots in the community.

The Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County (HTFSBC) is a resource to help develop solutions to the widespread community crisis, and has been the go-between organization helping residents buy their first home, while advocating for affordable housing for our most vulnerable populations.

Since its inception in 2005, HTFSBC has raised $13 million in private and public funds to support its affordable housing and homebuyer assistance programs. HTFSBC works with local private financial sectors and government agencies to finance the production of affordable housing and provide low-interest loan programs for residents to become homeowners.

In 2012, HTFSBC established the Workforce Homebuyer Program to help first-time home buyers purchase property in Santa Barbara County. The program initially provided 30-year deferred installment loans to 28 low-income households in North County.

“More than half of the residents have been able to repay their original loan,” said Jennifer McGovern, president and CEO of HTFSBC. “It made it possible to recycle the loans to make additional loans; that was the whole point of the program.

In 2018, the HTFSB expanded the program to southern Santa Barbara County, making interest-only loans available to low- to upper-middle-income homebuyers.

McGovern predicted rising home prices in the Tri-County area early in his career.

“Early on, I became interested in affordable housing,” she said. “I’m kind of a planner by propensity, and I saw in the long run that housing was going to be an issue because Santa Barbara is such a desirable community, and the demographics over time are going to make it difficult for ordinary workers to live here.

She began her career in affordable housing with the Community Action Commission, now called CommUnify. While there, she worked to provide affordable housing for seniors in the community. His proud project from his time at CommUnify is Pilgrim Terrace, which serves seniors on the Westside of Santa Barbara.

McGovern then took the road to becoming a consultant and worked with a group of local community leaders who would go on to create the HTFSBC. HTFSBC has since helped 67 families settle into their first home in the county and solidified its organization as a reliable financial institution, which has encouraged other funders to invest their money in affordable housing projects. .

“When I first did Pilgrim Terrace back then, we had about two sources of funding. Now most of these projects have five to six sources of funding,” McGovern said. be that missing funding gap or be the first to get things done so other funders feel comfortable.”

The Santa Barbara Foundation awarded HTFSBC a $25,000 grant to support its efforts to provide housing for county residents. The grant helped support their loan programs, North County home loan workshops and increased the organization’s visibility and access to resources.

With financial assistance from the grant, HTFSBC is launching the second round of its workforce homeownership program. HTFSBC will provide a down payment loan of up to $100,000 on a 30-year deferred loan for low-income first-time home buyers, with an emphasis on North County residents.

Looking ahead, HTFSBC is working with Florida’s Apis Cor, a 3D printing company, to provide alternatives in building homes through the Housing Innovation project.

“You can reduce the construction time of the house from 12 months to three or four months. It’s huge. It cuts down on funding costs and time,” McGovern said. She hopes the project will help bridge the gap between environmentalism and housing, taking a step towards a sustainable future for home building.

“We are a very small fund of about $7 million for our housing production component, but we can do so much more if the community can support us and raise more dollars,” she said. “If we can combine the resources of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, it creates a positive synergy and we can do so much more.

“If we can build the fund, we can all work together to create more housing solutions.”

To learn more about the Santa Barbara Housing Trust Fund, visit

Senior unit of the Sierra Madre project sponsored by People's Self-Help Housing Corporation with an acquisition loan from HTFSBC.
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Senior unit of the Sierra Madre project sponsored by People’s Self-Help Housing Corporation with an acquisition loan from HTFSBC. (People’s self-help housing)

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