HOUSING THE HOMELESS-Bringing supportive housing stability to the homeless with special needs in times of COVID-19 is remarkable.
The Aria Apartments, a five-story 57-unit, Proposition HHH (Prop HHH) Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project was ready to occupy on October 9, 2020, having broken ground less than two years ago. The Aria project is located at 1532-38 Cambria Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Surprisingly, according to its listing on Apartments.com, there are no available units as of two weeks ago.
Prop HHH PSH Loan Program awarded $12.0 million to the Aria Apartments (in fiscal year 2018-19) of which the project-cost totaled $28.04 million and received Tax Credit Equity for $11.24 million, according to the staff report sent to the CA Tax Credit Allocation Committee.
In addition, the link cites that the Aria project has a covenant for 55 years of affordable use and will serve 100% special need tenants. The rents shall be affordable to households whose earnings fall in one of the following two categories: At or below 30% of the area median income (AMI), where 22 units are reserved; or households earning At or Below 60% of the area medium income (AMI), where 35 units are reserved.
The Aria provides mix unit-type housing: 47 Single-Room-Occupancy/studio units, 9 one-bedroom-units, and one two-bedroom unit for the manager. The proposed rents include utilities. Studios rent for $473 and one-bedroom units for $507.
The principal owners of the Aria Apartments are Nexus MGP LLC and Affirmed Housing Group, Inc. (developer). The project will be receiving rental assistance from the City of Los Angeles Department of Health Services Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool (FHSP).
The site is located in the Westlake neighborhood within walking distance from the MacArthur Park Metro subway station on Alvarado Street. The vicinity of the site has a high density mixed-housing topology: 1930 single-family bungalows and modern buildings, with plenty of commercial corridors filled with small businesses, popular fast-food eateries, and sidewalk vending.
In mid-December, I interviewed two tenants outside of the Aria Apartments and learned that their tenancy had started on October 31, 2020. One person in his thirties stated he had been homeless when he went to jail for a few months due to drugs and having violated a restraining order. After six months in a court ordered housing program, Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR), the restraining order was modified, and he became a tenant at the Aria Apartments. The program provides a case manager and is paying for most of tenant’s rent, as he continues to work the program.
The second resident I interviewed was in his mid-fifties and he had been homeless for a short time. In his youth he spent a few years in juvenile hall, had been in jail a couple of times since then, and presently has some physical disabilities. As an outpatient program participant, he has access to a caseworker he can meet with on a daily basis, if needed. Also, when I asked him how he became a tenant at the Aria, his response was, he filed an application at the Social Security Office for assistance.
The attitude towards life of these two gentlemen as a result of their housing program was apparent by their last comments. The first said in closing, “I cook my own food. I have good thoughts about myself now and live peacefully.” The second man said, “Living here makes me think I could do better. I love it.”
The Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) is a Housing Court program, a collaborative effort with the Superior Courts of LA County, Housing for Health, and Community Based mental health and housing providers. According to their website:
“The program seeks to provide permanent supportive housing to individuals who are homeless, have a mental health and/or substance use disorder and are incarcerated in LA County. Clients in the ODR Housing program are assigned an Intensive Case Management Services provider who works with the client as they transition from custody to community.”
(Connie Acosta is a writer who researches and reports on Proposition HHH Projects and participates in the City of Los Angeles Neighborhood Council System.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.