CRA Approves $27M Housing Project for Homeless

By Anuradha Kher, Online News Editor                                Los Angeles–The Community Redevelopment Agency recently approved plans for an affordable housing development for formerly homeless persons, providing comprehensive support services in a campus setting in Hollywood.Pending City Council approval, the $27 million, 70-unit project will be built on CRA/LA land at 1726 N. Gower St.“The agency is leading the way in delivering on the Mayor’s commitment to build permanent supportive housing for the homeless,” says Cecilia V. Estolano, CRA’s CEO.Jointly developed by A Community of Friends (ACOF) and PATH Ventures, The Villas at Gower will be closely observed by both the city and county because of its trend-setting nature, notes Dora Leong Gallo, ACOF CEO.The project will serve adults and families who are homeless and have special needs.On-site services will include counseling, employment and training services, parenting classes, independent living skills, after-school tutoring and nutrition and cooking workshops. Off-site medical and mental health services also will be provided to residents. Comprised of 15 studios, 20 two-bedroom and 35 one-bedroom units, the four-level building will include a community room and administrative facilities. “Open space surrounding the building will provide ample opportunities for outdoor recreational activities,” says architect Wade Killefer, principal of Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA).Conceived as a “campus of hope for the homeless,” the architectural concept calls for an ambience that conveys optimism and building anew for the future,” explains Killefer, whose expertise in homeless housing includes serving as the former chair of Lamp Community, an organization which develops housing specifically for the mentally ill homeless.    “The zinc-clad building, which is being designed to Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standards, will provide residents with lots of light and project a contemporary profile rather than an institutional setting,” adds Will Longyear, KFA designer and  project manager.ACOF’s Gallo says the city and county consider The Villas a “pilot project” and, perhaps, a model for housing developments for homeless people with special needs.“Besides its unusual campus setting and attractive design, it will create permanent rather than the usual interim housing provided to the homeless,” Gallo says.Construction on the project, which will be mainly financed by tax credits, supplemented by a variety of public and private funding, is expected to start in November 2009.