Board of Supervisors guarantees millions for affordable housing for veterans and other special populations

The dissolution of redevelopment agencies throughout the state has resulted in an alarming retreat from funding commitments for low- and moderate-income housing. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, however, continues to ensure the development of affordable housing—in particular for veterans, homeless people and other special needs populations.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Board took an unchartered pathway to move forward six housing developments for mentally ill and homeless people, and homeless and mentally ill veterans, developmentally disabled people, and seniors living with HIV/AIDS.

On a motion brought by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina, the Board unanimously voted to release $13.5 million of tax increment monies the County received from the City of Industry. The money will go to developments that were in limbo after redevelopment agencies were forced by the state to shut their doors. The Board guaranteed that same amount from the general fund, should state and local oversight entities decide to block transmittal of the City of Industry monies for the projects. The move sets 267 housing units on the road to completion.

The County does not expect to have to use its general fund monies, but the guarantee was essential. It enables developers of the projects to meet a March 22 deadline to apply for state tax credits that will fill funding gaps in their projects.

Dozens of veterans turned out to support the motion and cheered its passage.

Juventino “J.” Gomez, mayor pro tem of El Monte told the Board that as a disabled veteran and father of veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is grateful they had a home to return to. Thousands of men and women, however, return from deployments with psychological problems and no where to go, he said. “I just encourage this board to continue to support these men and women—our American soldiers,” Gomez said. One project that will benefit from the Supervisors’ action is an affordable housing development in South Los Angeles operated by the non-profit organization A Community of Friends. The agency will receive $1.5 million to rehabilitate 48 units for people with mental illnesses.

“All members of our community – especially those with mental illnesses – are entitled to high quality and environmentally efficient housing,” said Dora Leong Gallo, chief executive officer of A Community of Friends. “It is the basic right to housing that is most critical in allowing the most sensitive members of our communities to not only rehabilitate, but to thrive”.

“We have an obligation to see these projects through,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “We have funds from the City of Industry that were designated for this specific purpose, and today we have put them to their highest and best use.”

In a related matter, the Board also allocated $5.8 million for a new 72-unit housing development; Terracina Apartments on West Imperial Highway in the unincorporated area of Athens.

The loan, which is administered by the Community Development Commission to fund construction of the project, permits AMCAL, the developer of the Terracina Apartments, to go to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC) to apply for a $8.68 million tax credit to bridge its remaining funding gap for the $24.2 million development.

“Our strong partnership with L.A. County was essential in moving this development forward during these difficult economic times,” said AMCAL President Arjun Nagarkatti. “Our goal is to build attractive, new housing to spark more investment in the neighborhood, and the families will be empowered to improve their lives and create a stronger community.”

Once fully funded, AMCAL can begin construction. The complex will include multi-family dwellings, a social service office, a community room and a recreation area for children to play. AMCAL will collaborate with nonprofit groups LifeSteps and United Friends of the Children, to provide health, mental health, substance abuse, and case management services on-site for residents.

“Despite the dissolution of redevelopment agencies throughout the state, the Board remains steadfast in bringing affordable housing complexes to the County of Los Angeles,” the Supervisor said. “This project is one example of our commitment.”

As part of the loan agreement for construction of the Terracina Apartments, each unit will be affordable to low-income households earning no more than 50% of the median income for the Los Angeles Metropolitan area. In addition, 15 units will be reserved for young adults who have recently transitioned out of the foster care system.

Mount Saint Mary’s College celebrates inauguration

Mt. Saint Mary’s College inaugurated Dr. Ann McElaney-Johnson as its 12th President before a sea of onlookers from the Mount St. Mary’s College community, Friday morning, March 16 on its Doheny campus in Los Angeles.

Watch live streaming video from msmctv at livestream.com

McElaney-Johnson, who brings 23 years of experience at small, residential liberal arts colleges, previously served as Vice President for academic and student affairs at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where during her tenure she also held positions as a faculty member, associated dean and chief academic and student affairs officer.

“Dr. McElaney-Johnson’s extensive experience and leadership abilities will be a tremendous asset both to the college and the greater Los Angeles community,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “I would also like to note that as we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s fitting that such an accomplished educator and someone with a passion for the empowerment of women, takes the reins at Mt. Saint Mary’s. Her drive to assist women in reaching their full potential,” the Supervisor continued, “is not only reflected in her career in education but in her involvement with numerous educational and civic organizations.

McElaney-Johnson served on the Crosby Scholars Program Executive Board, the Sara Lee Center for Women’s Health Advisory Board, the Brethren Colleges Aboard Academic Council, the United Way Academic Advisory Committee, the Women’s Council of the Forsyth Medical Center Foundation Executive Committee, and the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association for Colleges and Universities Commission on Colleges. McElaney-Johnson received her Ph.D in French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her Master’s Degree from Middlebury College, and her Bachelor of Arts from the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.

Mount St. Mary’s College was founded in 1925, by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet with a mission to help women become all they are capable of being.
Mount St. Mary’s College is the only Catholic college primary for women in the Western United States and has two campuses in Los Angeles: Chalon Campus and Doheny Campus.

Healthcare enrollment for former Ujima Village residents

The Department of Health Services (DHS) recently held an outreach and healthcare enrollment event for former residents of the Ujima Village housing complex in Willowbrook. The evening event was a follow-up to the well-attended community meeting with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas last November. During that meeting, held at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Public Health, some residents asserted that they suffered from ailments and conditions that began during their residency at Ujima Village, but that they lacked the means to obtain medical examinations.

In response to their concerns, the Supervisor arranged to have 450 of the complex’s former residents invited to the public health center, where DHS representatives screened them for eligibility in Los Angeles County’s program for low-income residents, Healthy Way LA.

Healthy Way LA provides access to primary and specialty care, mental health services, prescription medications, and urgent care to residents who meet income guidelines; the chart below outlines eligibility requirements for the program.

About 20 people accepted the invitation and earlier this month received free one-on-one consultations and assistance in applying for health care coverage. Also, clients were screened for other public assistance programs such as CalFresh, the federally-funded nutrition assistance program, and Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program. With each Healthy Way LA enrollment, residents receive the health care they need and deserve and the Second District becomes a healthier community. For questions about the program or to enroll, please visit www.ladhs.org/hwla or call 1-877-333-4952.

West Adams Third Annual Art Tour

The West Adams Heritage Association presented its third annual self-guided “Art in Historic Places Tour” entitled: The Arts of West Adams: Pattern, Decoration & Diversity, on Saturday, March 24, at the Majestic Pharmacy. Tour participants walked or cycled to some of West Adams’ notable sites and visited the in-home galleries of 12 local contemporary and classic artists residing in the West Adams district. In addition to standard stops, this year’s tour also featured a visit to the historic William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, home to thousands of rare books and manuscripts, as well as a live concert at the California African American Museum (CAAM) where visitors also viewed the popular Pacific-Standard Time exhibit called “Places of Validation.”

For more information on the West Adams Heritage Association visit: www.westadamsheritage.org