Reginald Drummer was homeless, HIV positive and living on Skid Row for four years. But finally, he found the break he needed: Mercy Housing. The nonprofit had just opened the Jefferson Park Terrace apartments on Western Avenue and so he applied for a one-bedroom unit. Four months later, Drummer is working full time as a hairstylist in Beverly Hills, his HIV-related health issues are under control and his life is no longer on a downward spiral.
“I just needed a safe, clean place to stay and rest my head,” said Drummer. “Taking a shower, cooking a meal, feeling safe…all that stuff matters. I am so grateful every day,” Drummer said to a crowd of residents and participants in a recent ribbon cutting ceremony.
The 60 permanent affordable housing units are yet another example of public, private and non-profit entities coming together to build decent homes for Los Angeles residents.
“Every individual has the right to live in safe, affordable and quality housing,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who secured a $3.1-million investment by the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission in the project. “It is through this combination of affordable and sustainable housing, outdoor space and community services – that we really create effective and quality community development.”
Jefferson Park Terrace offers one- to four-bedroom apartments for low income families on the corner of South Western Ave and West Jefferson Boulevard. Six units are allocated for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Residents can share outdoor community picnic, barbeque and playground areas, a computer center and meeting room. In addition, there is an on-site resident services coordinator who helps with case management, civic engagement, health and educational services as well as employment training. In a twist tying the past to the present, the building was built with today’s highest environmental standards (certified LEED Gold) but is also designed in the Art Deco “Streamline Moderne” style to work seamlessly into the Craftsman-style neighborhood.
The project includes the rehabilitation of the original Fatburger which was established in 1947 by Ms. Lovie Yancey, known for mentoring musicians and entertainers such as Redd Foxx and Ray Charles, located adjacent to the site. The stand has been relocated to Western Avenue and 31st Street, and restored to its 1952 appearance.
Larita Thomas, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment, said she feels secure knowing that someone in the building is looking out for her. She lost her home last year and so now she regularly visits with the resident services coordinator to make sure she is on track.
“The services are great here because they work with you,” she said. “I know that what happened to me before won’t happen to me again here. I love it here.”
Here is a link to another new affordable housing development: http://ridley-thomas.lacounty.gov/index.php/terracina-apartments/