Historic Hotel Converted to 17-Unit Community for Homeless, Recovering Mental Patients

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorLong Beach, Calif.–The city of Long Beach, along with Clifford Beers and Enterprise Investment Community, recently opened Elm Avenue Apartments at 530 Elm Ave.Elm Avenue Apartments, a former historic hotel, is now a 17-unit affordable housing project, with a portion of the units being set aside for individuals who have been homeless and are ready for permanent housing, as well as for people who are recovering from mental illness. The Long Beach Housing Development Co. (LBHDC) provided rehabilitation loans totaling $1.8 million to the project and Clifford Beers Housing, non-profit organization, developed it. This support leveraged an additional $3.5 million in funds from other public and private sources.The other funding sources include the California Department of Housing and Community Development, Governor’s Homeless Initiative; Low Income Housing Tax Credits through Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rental subsidies, Citi Community Capital, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing.Ten units are set aside for homeless with disabilities under HUD Shelter + Care program, and one unit is for an on-site manager. The remaining are for low- and very low-income residents.Affiliated with the nonprofit Mental Health America of Los Angeles (MHA), Clifford Beers Housing seeks to bring low-income people, especially those who are living with mental illness, into greater participation in community life through the development of quality affordable housing. “We believe it is very important to get housing for people trying to stabilize their lives,” Jim Bonar, executive director of Clifford Beers, tells MHN. “We want to develop housing for people recovering from mental illnesses but not exclusively for them. In the case of this project, you can’t tell that people with mental illnesses are living here. They have to obey the rules of the community.” With permanent housing and accessible support services, “individuals who are striving to live independently as a successful part of their community are able to leave behind homelessness and dependent living environments,” he adds.Support services will be offered by Mental Health America, a nonprofit that has served Long Beach for more than 40 years.