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Full house(s): Peoples' Self-Help Housing welcomes farmworkers to third low-income development

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The following article was posted on August 1st, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun – Volume 19, Issue 22 [ Submit a Story ]

The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] – Volume 19, Issue 22

Full house(s): Peoples’ Self-Help Housing welcomes farmworkers to third low-income development

By Kasey Bubnash

Only 34 of roughly 230 applicants were accepted to live at Los Adobes de Maria III, Peoples’ Self-Help Housing’s most recently opened affordable housing development in Santa Maria. 

The complex, which features 22 two-bedroom and 11 three-bedroom apartments, is the third low-income housing development open to farmworkers and their families in the neighborhood. And while there are more than 150 units altogether in Los Adobes de Maria I, II, and III, the neighboring complexes have amassed a waitlist nearly 250 applicants strong, according to Peoples’ Self-Help Housing President and CEO John Fowler. 

"It was first come, first serve," Fowler told the Sun outside Los Adobes de Maria III on July 27, where dozens of residents and community members celebrated the development’s grand opening with presentations, apartment tours, and lunch. 

Los Adobes de Maria III features 34 two- and three-bedroom apartments on three levels, on-site laundry and support services, a playground, and barbecue pit.

Applications for the recently completed units began pouring in sometime during the fall of last year, Fowler said, and Peoples’ Self-Help Housing staff immediately started qualification checks. Accepted applicants are all farmworkers–or the families of farmworkers–earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income. 

Lisandro Rojas, a Santa Maria resident who works on his parents’ strawberry farm, said he found out that he had been accepted to a three-bedroom apartment in Los Adobes de Maria III about two months ago, after years of searching for affordable housing. 

"We were relieved," Rojas told the Sun, adding that finding adequate housing for his family in California has become increasingly difficult in recent years. "It’s really hard. There aren’t many affordable places with enough room." 

Rojas and Elisabeth Dimas live with their two young children, and the couple said most houses in the area are either small and run down or totally unaffordable. 

These apartments, Dimas said, are both affordable and spacious. Both her kids will get separate rooms. And while they waited for nearly a year to find out whether or not they’d been accepted to Los Adobes de Maria III, Dimas said that’s actually the shortest wait they’ve ever had. 

"We’ve applied for other low-income apartments before," Dimas said, "and the waitlists were at least two years long."

Incoming residents Elisabeth Dimas (left), Lisandro Rojas, and their two children thank Peoples’ Self-Help Housing staffers and partners at the Los Adobes de Maria III grand opening celebration on July 27.

Rojas and Dimas signed their new lease right after the ceremony on July 27. 

"We’re just thankful for the opportunity," Rojas said. 

Although Los Adobes de Maria III is Peoples’ Self-Help Housing’s 53rd location on the Central Coast, it’s the organization’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certified project. LEED certification, which is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world, and it provides a standard for developers hoping to build truly environmentally friendly facilities. 

Los Adobes III’s compact design allows for efficient energy performance, according to a Peoples’ Self-Help Housing press release, and the complex features landscaping that uses limited conventional turf and drought-tolerant plants. 

Each resident pays an adjustable rent based on monthly income, and laundry facilities, a barbecue and playground area, and support and educational services are available on-site. 

"This is a great project," Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) said at the grand opening, adding that he lived in public housing as a child, and that his father was a farmworker. "It’s 34 units, and it’s going to help 34 families." 

Staff Writer Kasey Bubnash can be reached at 

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