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Dec 14, 2011 10:09 PM by Ariel Wesler

Affordable rentals open doors to low income and homeless

New affordable rental housing in Santa Maria is helping the homeless get back on their feet. The Santa Barbara County Housing Authority held a ribbon cutting today to unveil the Rancho Hermosa development, located on the 100 block of Inger Drive.

They say you can build a house. It takes people to make it a home.

"It's amazing. It's a dream come true," said Nicole Taecker, who moved in last month.

Rancho Hermosa is now home for some families who have struggled the most in Santa Maria.

"You're not so worried if you're gonna be able to make rent, feed the kids, and clothe them," Taecker said.

"We've never seen a project that has been designed and built to provide permanent housing, specifically for low income housing population, especially families," said Sylvia Barnard, Executive Director of the Good Samaritan Shelter.

"We're excited. We're grateful. It's like the ultimate Christmas present," said Dale Serrano of Santa Maria.

He recently moved to Rancho Hermosa with his wife and three kids.

More space to play means the world to his children.

"My daughter, she still can't believe she has her own room," Serrano said.

His 4-year-old son, Adrian, was anxious to show off his room he shares with his brother. It wasn't filled with decorations or toys, just the bare necessities. The bed was donated and their clothes are kept in boxes, not dressers.

"Easter baskets that we saved came in pretty handy because we used them for socks and underwear," Serrano said.

Many who live in the development have a long road ahead.

"Housing is a basic beginning of when they can move forward and get jobs and heal," said Frank Ricceri, Associate Director of Transitions Mental Health Association.

But this year, they finally have halls to deck.

"This is the greatest gift. Couldn't ask for anything better," Seranno said.

The Rancho Hermosa complex has two on-site managers available 24 hours-a-day. There are also on-site support services from the Good Samaritan shelter and the Transitional Mental Health Association. They say all the tenants have been carefully screened.

Another affordable housing project focused on agricultural workers is underway in Los Alamos.


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