Business Leaders Discuss Workforce Housing Crisis at Santa Barbara Housing Conference


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NOOZHAWK: True North Research President Dr. Timothy McLarney presents the key findings of the Coastal Housing Coalition's workforce housing study during Friday's Santa Barbara Housing Conference. (Coastal Housing Coalition photo)

Hosted by the nonprofit Coastal Housing Coalition, this year’s Santa Barbara Housing Conference “Housing Needs and Opportunities Revealed” on Friday addressed its recent study exploring the lack of affordable workforce housing in south Santa Barbara County.

Conducted by True North Research, the research presented at the conference addressed the state of the jobs/housing imbalance, profiled its impacts on various aspects of our job market, community and quality of life, as well as identified marketable housing solutions.

True North President Dr. Timothy McLarney addressed the key findings of the two-part study, which collected detailed data from 124 local employers and more than 2,500 employees on the South Coast earlier this year. The study provides a more detailed picture of the jobs/housing imbalance from the perspective of South County employers and employees, while also addressing viable housing solutions.

The study found that the vast majority of employers in south Santa Barbara County believe that the lack of affordable housing negatively impacts their businesses in a variety of ways and was even the most frequently cited response for difficulties experienced in doing business in the South Coast. More than two-thirds of South Coast employers indicated they have substantial difficulty retaining employees who want to rent or purchase a home, and more than half find it difficult to attract employees from outside the South Coast area to work for their organization due to the high cost of housing.

Impulse Advanced Communications, a communications services provider based in Santa Barbara, is just one of the many businesses struggling with the lack of affordable housing locally.

“One of the biggest challenges to our growth at Impulse is the high cost of housing locally as we look to attract and retain employees” said Dave Clark, president of Impulse Advanced Communications. “Many of our employees are forced to commute long distances which draws time away from the employee and their family, the community where the employee works, and the community where the employee lives."

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, Santa Barbara County is the fifth least affordable small housing market in the nation. While the South Coast was once affordable prior to the housing boom 15 years ago, employees who entered the job market less than 15 years ago have been most negatively impacted by the escalation of housing prices. Because of this, the entire South Coast economy will become increasingly dependent on talent and skills of employees who entered the job market post 2000. Yet, just one-in-five can afford to own a home in the South Coast.

The Santa Barbara Housing Conference took place Friday at the historic and newly-renovated Carrillo Recreation Center in downtown Santa Barbara.

Sponsors of the event included:

Santa Barbara Association of Realtors Garden Court Hillside House Housing Authority County of Santa Barbara Housing Authority City of Santa Barbara Mesa Lane Partners Pacific Coast Business Times RRM Design Group Santa Barbara Foundation UCSB Yardi Systems Berkshire Hathaway Homes Services California Properties Brownstein Farber Hyatt Schreck Deckers Brands Montecito Bank & Trust Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce The Towbes Group American Institute of Architects Bank of Santa Barbara City of Goleta City of Santa Barbara Courtney Jane Miller Landscape Architecture Coastal Housing Partnership Community Environmental Council Cottage Health System First American Title Heritage Oaks Bank Impulse Advanced Communications Jay Higgins Mission Linen Peoples Self Help SBCC Foundation Sansum Clinic Santa Barbara Housing Trust Fund Seed Mackall Stantec Suzanne Elledge Planning & Permits Terrain Consulting Union Bank Westmont College Pacific Coast Business Times CASA Magazine Goleta Chamber Independent Noozhawk SBCAN

— Lauren Gunther is a publicist representing the Coastal Housing Coalition.