Barrett’s senior housing in Santa Ynez inspires state legislation

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Rona Barrett’s effort to build the Golden Inn & Village housing project for low-income seniors in Santa Ynez inspired Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to introduced a bill that would encourage the construction of similar affordable senior housing projects statewide.

The Golden Inn & Village opened its doors last year.

“When I saw the inspiring work done by Rona Barrett through the building of the Golden Inn & Village, the first thought I had was, why not replicate this important work statewide?” Jackson said.

 Senate Bill 62, the Affordable Senior Housing Act of 2017, would create an Affordable Senior Housing Program within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, said a Jackson spokeswoman.

The program would be a “one-stop shop” to guide housing projects from conception to completion, providing assistance in obtaining permits, finding private and public funding sources and suitable locations, the spokeswoman said.

It also would work cooperatively with local, state and federal agencies to move projects forward.

SB 62 would also require an annual report to the Legislature on the number and location of senior housing units developed through the program, as well as the challenges and successes encountered in the process.

A hearing for the bill has not yet been scheduled.

“California must prepare itself for a tsunami of aging residents as baby boomers turn 65 and our senior population grows,” Jackson said.

California’s baby boomers are turning 65 at the highest rate in the nation, and more than 20 percent of the state’s population will be 65 or older by 2030, and people who are 85 and older make up the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.

“We need to ensure that we have adequate and innovative senior housing that meets the social, emotional and economic needs of residents,” Jackson said.

Spearheaded by Barrett, an entrepreneur and former gossip columnist, the Golden Inn & Village was funded through a mix of public and private funds and provides housing units for low-income seniors along with services that meet their needs as they age.

Jackson noted it is particularly aimed at a population of “orphaned seniors,” those who have no family members available to care for them.

It also includes affordable staff housing, a community center and gardens and will eventually include assisted living, memory care, adult day care and hospice care so that residents can “age in place,” she said.

“Projects like these won’t just serve the needs of our seniors, they will also provide jobs for caregivers and staff and serve as an economic boon to their area,” said Jackson, who represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.