LA Skid Row Hotel Reborn as Affordable Housing

The nonprofit SRO Housing Corp. has completed the renovation of the former Ford Hotel, which has been renamed the Ford Apartments.

Los Angeles—The nonprofit SRO Housing Corp. has completed the renovation of the former Ford Hotel, which has been renamed the Ford Apartments. The first 90 residents of the property moved in back in December, with the remainder of the total 151 residents occupying the rest of the units in the last few weeks.

The six-story structure dates from the 1920s. By the time of its renovation, the Ford Hotel had been a notorious Skid Row flophouse for some years and, according to the LAPD, a magnet for drug-trafficking and other criminal activity.

Built as a hotel with 295 units, the badly deteriorated structure had to be totally gutted and even required replacement of its rotted columns, according to architect Wade Killefer, whose firm, Killefer Flammang Architects, did the Ford redevelopment. The rebuilt structure is LEED equivalent, with the reinforced concrete building refurbished with new concrete shear walls; steel stud interior framing; and aluminum frame windows with energy-efficient glass. The original light court was extended from the second floor to ground level, thus enabling sunlight to reach a landscaped courtyard surrounded by the units and common areas.

The reborn Ford now provides housing for formerly homeless people suffering from mental illness and low-income residents earning up to 50 percent of the area median income. The property’s units measure 220 square feet to 250 square feet and each include a full bathroom. The Ford includes a library, community room and computer room, and residents have on-site case management services available to them.

The Los Angles County Department of Mental Health kicked in about $18 million of the $28 million cost of the redevelopment, while $4.5 million was funded by grants from the Community Redevelopment Agency. Tax credit funding paid for the rest.

According to Killefer, there’s no question that projects such as the Ford are going to find tough sledding in California in the future. “Redevelopment funds were always the first layer of financing for affordable housing; thus the demise of redevelopment is going to stop the construction of most affordable housing,” he tells MHN.

“This is well known by the Sacramento legislators, and various vehicles are being discussed as replacement agencies,” Killefer adds. “Timing will become critical as deadlines for federal tax credits come and go.”