Manchester Urban Homes Breaks Ground on Formerly Restricted Site
122 affordable homes addresses economic and racial injustices by offering equitable housing opportunities to working families
LOS ANGELES, CA— Co-developers Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County (NHSLA) and Abode Communities broke ground today on a site that was once governed by a restrictive covenant that forbade the sale or rental to “any person of the African or the Mongolian race.”
The planned development, Manchester Urban Homes, will feature 122 affordable family homes in a mix of multifamily residential and townhome-style buildings. The project, located at 8721 S. Broadway, is anticipated to complete in early 2025.
“The Manchester Urban Homes groundbreaking is an example of how far we’ve come and how far we still must go to make sure every Angeleno has a place to call home,” said Mayor Karen Bass. “It is another important step forward on our longstanding commitment to delivering more affordable housing. I want to thank Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County and Abode Communities for their work to serve South Los Angeles on this project and beyond.”
“It’s not every day that you get to set right the wrongs of history with a shovel and a patch of land, but watching Abode and NHS put up affordable homes for the people of South LA on the site of a racist restrictive covenant is what justice in practice looks like,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “Where exclusion was once law, inclusion will soon be real.”
The history of this site shines a light on the racist and exclusionary policies that carry partial responsibility for today’s housing crisis. Restrictive covenants, like the one in the original title of this property, were outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1948 but still widely and illegally used until the Fair Housing Act of 1968. A detail from the restrictive covenant is linked here.
“This site is an incredible opportunity for restorative justice,” said Lori Gay, President & CEO of NHSLA. “It is an honor to reclaim this land, where Black and Asian people were once excluded by force of law, to the community as housing available and accessible to everyone. That is the joy of living in Los Angeles—we all get to share in each other’s experiences, our rich diversity, and work together to transform our communities.”
For nearly seven decades, the property operated as a community church run by Bishop Dr. Will T. Washington. In service to the community at large, Bishop Washington and his son, Pastor Thom Washington developed the surrounding area with a barber shop, beauty salon, and beauty supply stores. Their goal was to have an entire city block filled with spaces that offered economic development opportunities to the community. Years later, after economic downturns resulted in foreclosures, NHSLA bought the land with the hope to continue that legacy through the provision of affordable rental housing to families in South LA.
NHSLA enlisted nonprofit affordable housing provider and co-developer Abode Communities to assist in securing the remaining required construction and permanent financing, as well as provide ongoing property management and resident services after the project is placed-in-service.
“We are excited to partner with NHSLA on this transformative residential community” said Holly Benson, President & CEO of Abode Communities. “As a long-term owner and operator of affordable housing, we know that affordable housing investment in this neighborhood will serve as a catalyst for growth, economic mobility, and generational prosperity for decades to come.”
Residents will benefit from onsite services that include financial counseling that aim to support them in achieving their personal goals, building generational wealth, and retaining their housing. Building amenities include a green alley, community garden, central courtyard and playground, a lounge area with rooftop deck, community room, bike safety and transit ridership programs.
Local investment for this $83.6MM development included a $7.0MM permanent loan, and a $2.3MM grant from the City of Los Angeles and Council District 8, respectively. Major permanent financing also included funding from the California State Department of Housing & Community Development Affordable Housing & Sustainable Communities and Infill Infrastructure Grant program, a permanent loan from Citi Community Capital, Low Income Housing Tax Credit Equity investment by U.S. Bank, and a seller carryback loan from NHSLA. Construction financing included tax-exempt bonds awarded to the project by the State of California Debt Limit Allocation Committee and issued by the City of Los Angeles. U.S. Bank utilized the bonds to provide a $40.6MM construction loan to the project.