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Affordable farm worker housing opens in Santa Maria

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jul 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-31 20:36:43-04

Construction on affordable apartments for farm workers and their families in Santa Maria is nearly finished. 

Los Adobes de Maria on South Russell has two other buildings that support farm workers and are completely full.

At the third new complex, residents haven’t moved in just yet. Applications are still being reviewed. However, they received more than 200 applications for the 34 units available.

“It’s really spacious, it’s the first thing I see,” said Antonio Lerena and his wife Corayma, soon to be tenants. 

This is soon to be the Lerena’s first home together.

“I currently work in the production line, cauliflower to be more precise,” Lerena said. 

Both born and raised in Santa Maria the 22-year-old’s will finally have a quiet and affordable place to raise their baby girl.

“We’re currently living with my parents; we are excited that we will have our own place with our own family,” Lerena said. “It’s really exciting compared to the other places we tried applying, but the cost is too high.”

But there are strict income requirements for prospective tenants.

People who want to live here can’t earn more than 60% of the area’s median income.              

For example, a family of three in Santa Barbara County could not make more than $49,565 a year.

Rent is then based on 30% of households combined income.

“So the rent is going to be somewhere between $677-$1,352 a month,” said John Fowler, People’s Self-Help Housing. 

“Instead of one house fitting 5-6 families, those families can have their own place,” Lerena said. “Be more comfortable and not have to live with other people that they might or might not know.”

Peoples Self-Help Housing hopes to help fill the need for housing and give them more breathing room in the new 2 and 3 bedroom apartments.

“There will be somewhere between 3-7 people per unit,” Fowler said. 

For the new tenants, the group provides supportive services like food programs, social assistance, education, and tutoring centers.

This housing is different than the H-2A temporary farm workers housing. It’s specifically for locals. There are more than 100 people on the wait list. Each application is reviewed in the order that it was received.