Why the 4% LIHTC Matters: Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara

Sycamore Gardens before (bottom) and after (top) renovation. Photo courtesy of HACSB.

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is one of the most effective tools for creating new and critically needed affordable housing, and accounts for the vast majority of all affordable rental housing created in the United States. This is one in a series of articles that show how public housing authorities (PHAs) and community development agencies have successfully used federal tax credits and tax-exempt bonds to build and/or preserve public housing and affordable housing, and to increase the sustainability of their communities.

Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara: Sycamore Gardens

The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara’s (HACSB’s) Sycamore Gardens is a former HUD-assisted public housing development that has been transitioned into the Section 8 Program via the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program. Sycamore Gardens was developed in 1972. Although safety standards were maintained, the overall appearance of the building was dated and many components of the complex were approaching the end of their useful life.  Because of prior lack of funds, Sycamore Gardens was in serious need of rehabilitation.

“By combining the RAD conversion program with the 4% LIHTC and Private Activity Bonds, we were able to fully rehabilitate the property and extend the useful life of this affordable housing resource to our lowest-income community members for another 50 years.” HACSB Executive Director/CEO Rob Fredericks explained. “ This would not have been possible if we had not had the ability to access equity through the combination of 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and Private Activity Bonds. If we care about affordable housing, then we must preserve these tools!”

The rehabilitation of Sycamore Gardens included the following:

  • New parking and driveways
  • New exterior walls
  • All existing windows and doors replaced with dual-pane, energy–efficient windows and rear sliding door and entry doors
  • Replacement of all roofs
  • New tankless water heaters
  • All new kitchen cabinets, countertops, sinks and appliances
  • All new bath vanities/sinks
  • New flooring
  • New interior paint
  • Two apartments converted to fully handicap accessible units
  • Two handicap parking spaces with fully accessible and compliant ramps
  • Photovoltaic panels installed to offset tenant electric loads
  • Site improvements designed to meet the standards for Tier 3 Best Management Practices of stormwater treatment.

For more information about this project or to share your 4% LIHTC success stories, please contact us at nahro@nahro.org.

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