A Place to Call Home in Koreatown

16211177808_16be5ce4e9_zPainted a vivid red, orange and yellow, the newly opened Casa Yondé affordable housing community in Koreatown is doing more than brightening up the neighborhood – it is a refuge for some of the county’s most vulnerable young people.

Among the tenants is a 21-year-old working student who recently aged out of the foster care system and is learning how to live independently. Gregory declined to reveal his last name but expressed relief over having a place to call home.

“It makes my life better,” he said. “It’s very convenient because it’s close to my school and my job. Since I don’t have the stress I had before, I’m able to focus on my goals.”

With funding from Los Angeles County and public and private sector donors, Casa Yondé opened in January with 52 units for homeless adults; low-income families and individuals; and youths who have aged out of foster care and are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The Casa Yonde apartments replaced an obsolete building with only 26 affordable housing units, some of which were 90 years old. In addition, young people living in the complex have access to services to help them integrate into the community, as well as counseling rooms, community spaces, and a landscaped courtyard.

“I believe that every individual has the right to live in safe, affordable and quality housing,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who noted more than 1,600 units of affordable and permanent supportive housing units have been created in the 2nd District since 2008.  “Through affordable housing and community services, we can change people’s lives and the communities they live in.”

Another 67-unit affordable housing community, LDK Senior Apartments, is under construction in Koreatown, off Crenshaw Boulevard, for seniors at different stages in the aging process. The apartments will come with amenities such as wheelchair ramps, grab bars, no-slip surfaces, emergency call systems and recreation areas. It will also house service providers to help residents sign up for affordable healthcare, job skills training, and others.

 “Come spring next year, this development will provide the wrap-around services to help residents thrive,” Ridley-Thomas said.

Little Tokyo Service Center Community Development Corporation built both Casa Yondé and LDK Senior Apartments, with financial and operational assistance from both the private and public sectors, including Los Angeles County.

The Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance is the service provider at Casa Yondé. “These apartments allow tenants to take care of their family and participate actively in the community,” said tenant services coordinator Maya Anderson of KIWA. “Now they can live in an affordable and safe home.”