Since 1970, the organization has helped link people to housing and programs in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties
More than 200 people attended the People’s Self-Help Housing 45th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Auction on Friday at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo )
By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer
The year People’s Self-Help Housing began, the world looked much different.
That year was 1970, when the average cost of a home in the United States was just over $23,000, John Fowler, PSHH President and CEO, told the crowd gathered to celebrate the organization’s work on Friday night.
In the 45 years that have passed, the expense and demand for housing has increased exponentially and the organization has sought to help local families get into housing that can help be a stabilizing force for the rest of their lives.
On Friday night, People’s Self-Help Housing celebrated this mission and their work that’s taken place for almost five decades by hosting a 45th anniversary gala dinner and auction.
Over 200 people attended the event, which was held in the courtyard of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.
Guests mingled and enjoyed their drinks while placing bids during a silent auction with items like wine, artwork and vacations up for grabs with all the proceeds going back to People’s Self-Help Housing.
That funding will go to help fund the housing the organization now provides in three counties.
Emcee Andrew Firestone welcomed the crowd before comments from Board Chair David Gustafson and Event Chair Vicki Young spoke.
The group also presented several awards, honoring Sharon Turner as volunteer of the year, Yardi Systems as corporate sponsor of the year, Goleta Valley Housing Committee as donor of the year and Mike and Jennifer Payne as donors of the year.
Since the group’s inception, it has helped 1,200 first-time homebuyers obtain housing, and have seen much success in its efforts to combine housing with other programming, especially for children.
People’s Self-Help Housing’s David Gustafson, Rochelle Rose, Chuck Stacy and John Fowler celebrate the organization’s mission at the gala. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
Housing acts as a stabilizing force for residents, and allows them to think about succeeding in other areas of their lives, PSHH officials said.
The group’s most recent success can be seen at Casas de Las Flores, a 43-unit complex at 4096 Via Real, which broke ground in 2014 and was recently completed.
The property was formerly a trailer park in disrepair, with people living in storage sheds and where prostitution and drugs sales were rampant, Fowler said.
A video was shown to attendees Friday, featuring pictures of the units and interviews with residents, who stated emphatically that housing at the site has changed their lives.
“Bringing up my family here is going to be a fantastic journey,” one resident said.
Several residents of PSHH properties were part of the festivities on Friday night and showed up to speak about how housing has changed their lives.
Arturo Gallegos, who lives at the Victoria Hotel, was born in Santa Barbara and recalled working a series of jobs throughout his adult life, eventually ending up homeless after a protracted search to find employment.
After staying in several local shelters, a friend recommended he apply for housing at the Victoria Hotel, a place he cherishes and calls home.
“I owe them so much gratitude,” Gallegos said of PSHH.
Maddy Jacobson, Arnie Brier, Jill Feldman, Geoff Green and Robyn Freedman attend the Peoples’ Self-Help Housing gala. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
Another speaker was Juana Delgado, 18, who lives with her family at Villa la Esperanza in Old Town Goleta.
Delgado is from a family of six, and recalled that most of her childhood was spent in Santa Barbara living in one-bedroom rental units and the cramped quarters presented difficulties for the family.
However, in 2012 all of that changed when her family received the call that they had been approved for housing at the development.
“I’ll never forget that,” she said. “It’s one of the best things that has ever happened to us.”
“We’re so grateful,” she told the audience.
“You all have the power to change the world.”