LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino Joins Abode Communities to Celebrate New $71MM Affordable Development

September 14, 2016 (Los Angeles, CA) – Affordable housing developers Abode Communities and Mercy Housing California proudly celebrated the groundbreaking of Vista del Mar & Camino del Mar, 176 new, service-enhanced affordable family homes in the Port-based neighborhood of Wilmington in Los Angeles. City of Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino and Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) President and CEO Doug Guthrie were present, and lauded the developers’ work.

“Today we make good on a promise to the Wilmington community — breaking ground on the final stretch of the Dana Strand Village redevelopment,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This project will breathe new life into a development that has been part of this community for generations, and allow us to add more safe, affordable housing that L.A. so desperately needs.”

“The completion of this fourth and final phase serves as a testament to the amazing things that can happen when you have collaboration between public and private sectors,” said Councilman Buscaino. “This once-blighted property, which was the epicenter of many crime issues, is now a modern urban village and peaceful home to nearly 600 Wilmington residents. I hope that Vista del Mar and Camino del Mar serve as a successful proof of concept for other public housing in Los Angeles that deserves redevelopment.”

Vista del Mar & Camino del Mar comprise the fourth and final phase of the New Dana Strand Revitalization, which fulfills HACLA’s 15-year vision for the redevelopment of this 20.7-acre once post-war public housing site. Eight parcels of vacant land will be transformed into service-enhanced, affordable family housing serving some 750 people with low incomes.

“The continued need for affordable housing in Wilmington is dire. With median income around $41,500 for a family of four, 75% of families living within the area cannot afford market rents and are forced to live in overcrowded conditions, or worse, face homelessness,” said Robin Hughes, President & CEO of Abode Communities. “Vista del Mar & Camino del Mar will address this community’s need by increasing Wilmington’s new affordable stock by 52%.

Vice President, Real Estate Development Ed Holder of Mercy Housing continued, “Mercy Housing, in strong partnership with Abode Communities, is honored to be starting the final phase of New Dana Strand.  Over the last 14 years, we have witnessed a profound transformation of this community as crime has fallen, new youth and senior programs have flourished, and families have thrived. At a time of intense housing pressures in Los Angeles, the addition of these 176 homes reflects the deep commitment of the Housing Authority and City to providing new affordable housing opportunities.”

HACLA’s long-term redevelopment vision for this Wilmington enclave began in 2000 when the agency embarked on an ambitious goal to transform the crime- and gang-ridden area. The residential community was formerly used as temporary military housing, consisting of 68 dilapidated buildings with 384 severely distressed apartments. Through a comprehensive master planning and community engagement process that involved former residents, neighbors, community stakeholders, and the Los Angeles Unified School District, phases one through three were developed.

This process created a robust mixed-income, mixed-use community consisting of 120 garden-style affordable family homes (Harbor View Place); 116 affordable family townhomes (Wilmington Townhomes); 100 senior apartments and a 10,000 square foot community center operated in partnership with Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers.

“HACLA is pleased to fulfill the 15-year vision for the redevelopment of a 20.7-acre post-war distressed public housing site,” said HACLA President and CEO Douglas Guthrie. “The last phase of 176 new units is the largest production of affordable units in the City this year.  This accomplishment during a time when building new affordable units is such a challenge is a great win for all those involved.”

The announcement comes as many Angelenos struggle to find housing they can afford. A renter household needs to earn four times the state minimum wage in order to afford average asking rents in Los Angeles County, according to a report released by the California Housing Partnership Corporation. The same report found that, when housing costs are considered, Los Angeles County has one of the highest poverty rates in the country at 26%, or one in four households.

The $71 million residential development is made possible by permanent financing through a variety of private and public funding sources, including private equity provided by U.S. Bank through the syndication of Low Income Housing Tax Credits; construction and permanent loans  from Citi Community Capital; and tax exempt bonds issued by the City of Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department. HACLA is a major underwriter of the developments, and provided 174 Project-Based Section 8 Choice Vouchers and a 67-year capitalized ground lease loan.

With expected completion in early 2018, this amenity-rich, LEED® for Homes Silver development will offer housing, nearly 35,000 square foot of open and recreational space, direct connections to Wilmington Waterfront Park and numerous transit opportunities, as well as an abundance of onsite amenities such as a computer lab, playgrounds, and secure bicycle parking. Abode Communities will also offer its signature resident services program, Beyond Homes, which aims to promote housing retention and self-sufficiency through the provision of on-site services such as after-school programming, community engagement activities, healthy and green living workshops, and more.