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Santa Barbara County Homeowners

Santa Barbara County is the 5th least affordable small metropolitan housing market in the nation (NAHB/Wells Fargo HOI 2022). The affordability gap between local wages and housing costs affects households across a broad range of socio-economic status. Our low-income Target Population is most vulnerable to high housing costs and faces severe cost burden, overcrowding or substandard living conditions.

The Santa Barbara County Affordability Gap

Our 2021 Area Median Income of $90,100 is significantly lower than other California high cost coastal housing areas such as San Francisco ($149,600) and Ventura County ($98,800) (State HCD). Since we have comparable housing costs, we experience a greater affordability gap.

Things have changed from the last generation; owning a home has become more difficult for working families. For example, in 1983 the median priced home in South Santa Barbara County was 4 times the median family income, but in 2021 the median home price is 22 times the median income, creating a large “affordability gap”—the differential between current median home sale prices and the price that families can reasonably afford.”

In Q1 of 2022, only 10% of County households could afford the median priced single-family home of $1,162,500. This figure is significantly low as contrasted with 31% of County households being able to afford the median home price in July 2020 (CA Association of Realtors). Additionally, the South County median home price is even higher. Year to date from September 2022, the South County median home price was $2,186,000, with the average sale price being even higher at $3,375,107. (Knight Real Estate Group). 


A major identified obstacle to homeownership is the lack of adequate down payment resources. A 2015 Coastal Housing Coalition (CHC) survey found that many local employees wish to put down roots in the community but are unable to afford to purchase a home. The CHC survey also found that lack of affordable housing was a primary concern of both employees and employers and negatively impacts the ability of local firms to retain high quality staff and expand operations. A significant number of firms indicated they might expand elsewhere or relocate outside our region entirely. These trends indicate severe community need and high demand for our Workforce Homebuyer assistance program.

As the affordability gap increases, more and more individuals and families pay more than 30% towards housing or can no longer afford to live in the community where they work, leading to excessive personal debt, anxiety, long commutes, more hours at work, and fewer hours with family and friends. In short, our workforce has been priced out of the communities they serve.


Did you know that the Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County offers workforce home buyer financial assistance? Please click here, or contact us, for more information.



Jennifer McGovern
President and CEO
(805) 770-5261


Yvette Lounsbury
Homebuyer Loan Administrator
(805) 845-3585

© 2024 Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County


Housing Trust Fund
of Santa Barbara County
P. O. Box 60909
Santa Barbara, CA 93160-0909

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