The 821 State Street Workforce studio apartments are nearing completion

At a Santa Barbara Housing Day event in October, the public, including interested employees who worked downtown, toured 821 State Street, a new approach to affordable rents in former retail spaces. Construction is expected to be completed in November, and tenants may move in by December 1.

The mixed-use commercial/residential project will contain 14 studio apartments, managed by the City of Santa Barbara Housing Authority. Depending on income requirements, tenants will pay monthly rents of $965, $1,610, or $1,850. Owner pays all utilities.

  • Three of the apartments will be designated for low-income families (those whose annual income is no more than 80 percent of the area median income, which translates to $82,950 for a single person or $94,800 for a family of two). Rent will be $965.
  • One of the apartments will be for a middle-income family (with an annual income of no more than 120 percent of the area median income, which translates to $90,132 for a single person or $103,008 for a family of two). Rent will be $1,610.
  • Ten units will be designated for middle- and moderate-income families (those whose annual income is no more than 160 percent of the area median income, which translates to $165,760 for a single person or $189,440 for a family of two). Rent will be $1,850.

Based on these income requirement ranges, the property is described as “workforce housing.”

No more than two people can live in each studio apartment, which averages 356 net square feet. One pet is considered with an additional pet deposit. No family renting apartments at 821 State Street can have an income higher than 160 percent of the area median income.

Studio apartment door (Photo: Amy Reinholds)

In December 2022, 821 State LLC, which included local businessman Jason Yardi, transferred ownership of the property to 2Second abbreviation Story Associates, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the City of Santa Barbara Housing Authority. Then 2Second abbreviation Story Associates obtained a construction loan/permanent loan to cover the costs of redeveloping the building.

Commercial zoning would have allowed a total of nine apartments, but California’s density bonus allowed for an additional five apartments due to income restrictions and reasonable rents for those income levels. The Average Unit Density (AUD) ordinance allowed the City of Santa Barbara to have compact residential units and 3,000 square meters of commercial space on the ground floor. The second floor will have 600 square feet of community space overlooking State Street.

There are no changes to the building’s exterior, but the design, by architects Cearnal Collective, places the apartment’s windows facing the atrium and getting natural light from skylights.

Rigo Gutierrez of the Santa Barbara Housing Authority describes how the skylight at 821 State Street provides natural light to the studio apartments. (Photo: Amy Reinholds)
The window of the studio apartment at 821 State Street faces the entryway to get natural light from the skylight. (Photo: Amy Reinholds)

For more information about all properties managed by the City of Santa Barbara Housing Authority, see

Affordable housing resources

These studio apartments designated for workforce housing were just one of a wide range of housing solutions discussed at Santa Barbara Housing Day.

More than 30 local affordable housing agencies and service providers had information tables. The latest resources are available in the 2023-2024 Santa Barbara Affordable Housing Resource Guide, with some highlights in the sections below.

Santa Barbara Housing Day Resource Table (Photo: Amy Reinholds)

Are you a renter?

If you are a renter with low, middle, or even above-average income levels and are looking for an affordable place to rent, there are many providers you can register with and get on waiting lists.

Are you worried about losing your accommodation?

  • If you or someone you know is at risk of losing housing, Good Samaritan Shelter has a hotline: 805-519-1302 in English and 805-518-2679 in Spanish. Also, if you receive an eviction notice from your landlord, you may be able to get moving assistance that pays security deposits and the following month’s rent for your next rental.
  • If you are having difficulty paying your utility bills, contact CommUnify:
  • The Santa Barbara Tenants Union has online resources and a weekly help desk on Thursdays for problems tenants are facing:
  • The City of Santa Barbara has a rental housing and mediation program. Check out our rental housing mediation resources for everything from legal help to mobile home parks.

Do you need emergency shelter and help paying rent?

  • Transition House provides families with emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing:
  • PATH Santa Barbara provides services including housing search and navigation to find sustainable housing opportunities, transitional housing, and the Rapid Rehousing Program (housing identification assistance, security deposit and short-term rental assistance, and intensive case management):

Do you live in your car?

  • New Beginnings has a safe parking program for families and individuals living in their cars, while working to return to stable housing: Participants receive comprehensive case management and goal planning for income, housing, health, and wellness services.

Are you between 12-24 years old and need shelter?

Are you 60 or older?

Do you have a disability?

  • The Independent Living Resource Center offers assistance in locating, applying for, and obtaining appropriate, affordable, and accessible housing for people with disabilities:
  • The Tri-Counties Regional Center works with people with developmental disabilities regarding housing issues
  • The Coalition for Housing Accessibility, Needs, Choices, and Equity (CHANCE) helps people with intellectual, cognitive, and developmental disabilities find and maintain affordable and accessible community housing:

Do you want to buy a house?

  • Ventura County Community Development Corporation serves low- to moderate-income people in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern counties with homebuyer education and lending products to make homeownership possible. Home buyer workshops are at
  • The City of Santa Barbara has a Home Ownership Affordable Housing Program Low-, moderate-, middle-, and above-average-income households that meet the requirements described in Eligibility requirements. Look List of interests Form.
  • The grassroots self-help housing organization has a homeownership program
  • Habitat for Humanity of South Santa Barbara County plans to create six homes on Cota Street, across from Santa Barbara Junior High School:

Are you the owner?

Many organizations are looking for landlords who want to partner in voucher programs or other incentives:

Are you a concerned citizen who wants to help people who do not have homes?

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