Plans call for the community center at 601 E. Montecito St. to be transformed into an affordable housing and neighborhood services project.

By Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @JECMolina | December 25, 2018 | 8:02 p.m.

The Santa Barbara Housing Authority is looking to partner with La Casa de la Raza to redevelop the building at 601 E. Montecito St. on the city’s Eastside into an affordable housing and neighborhood services project.

La Casa de la Raza has long served as a community recreation center and community gathering place for Latino families. The center serves thousands annually.

The building was in its heyday in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. From weekend birthday parties and quinceaneras to concerts and special events, La Casa was a destination for Santa Barbara’s Latino families.

Created in 1941, the nonprofit organization has faced financial challenges for several years. It filed for bankruptcy in 2016 to restructure its debt and block foreclosure of the building.

“Through this partnership with the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara, La Casa de la Raza will now expand its role in meeting the housing needs of our community, while ensuring that the social, cultural, educational and economic services we provide will continue,” said Michel Gonzalez, President of the Board of Directors, La Casa de la Raza.

The housing Authority and La Casa plan to build affordable housing for low-income families and individuals. The two groups are considering a project that would move services into a smaller footprint, with the bulk of the building being housing.

“We view this redevelopment plan as a net positive for La Casa, the Housing Authority, and the entire Santa Barbara community, as it is an important public benefit development that will continue La Casa’s services and a collaboration that will also create and preserve affordable housing in perpetuity,” said Rob Fredericks, executive director and CEO of the Housing Authority.

La Casa and the Housing Authority are planning a community meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17. Community members are invited to attend to hear more about the plans.