I’m Sure This’ll Work: Luxury High Rise Apts. for the Homeless

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LA Times author Doug Smith writes that a 278-unit tower, due to open this month, is a self-contained environment that will insulate its formerly homeless residents from the squalor and hopelessness around them and elevate the neighborhood at the same time.

Kevin Murray, president and chief executive of Weingart Center Assn. came up with the project.

He’s building three of these.

Murray, a former state senator who has led Weingart since 2011, departed from conventional homeless housing practice when he launched the project in 2017 in collaboration with Carlsbad-based affordable housing developer Chelsea Investment Corp. They had been looking elsewhere, but Mr. Murray chose Skid Row.

The Skid Row LA luxury tower will be the largest permanent supportive housing project in the city, with more than four times more units than the average in the city’s $1.2-billion Proposition HHH program.

Weingart said, “We aren’t in it for the developer fee, so we said let’s just build the biggest thing we can,” he said. “You just can’t fix the problem at 50 units a pop.”

The scale offered space for amenities that don’t usually come with housing for homeless people. It has gyms, an art room, a soundproofed music room, a computer room/library, a TV lounge, six common balconies, four of them with dog runs, and a ground-floor cafe with a two-story glass wall facing a courtyard.

The balconies are to keep people from hanging outside. [But that’s where they get their fixes. I hope they have rehab facilities.]

The $165-million project will receive permanent financing from Proposition HHH, state housing funds, and $56 million in state tax credits. At just under $600,000 per unit, its cost puts it at the high end of Proposition HHH projects but well below the most expensive.

Let’s hope it works.


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