Innovative Second District Construction will House and Support Homeless Families, Mentally Ill, and Foster Youths


An innovative housing complex in the Second District will soon take on the challenge of providing a supportive home to some of society’s most vulnerable, including youths aging out of foster care, the mentally ill and formerly homeless.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined the Koreatown Youth and Community Center and the Little Tokyo Service Center on June 29 to break ground for the Menlo Family Housing project on Menlo Avenue, near the intersection of Pico Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.

The 60-unit apartment complex will serve low-income residents, those with mental illnesses, transition aged foster youths and homeless families. On-site services will include case management, counseling, after-school programs and family literacy classes.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas noted the project is special for its combination of social services and affordable housing in a single location, which he identified early in his term as a top priority. The project, located in one of the hotspots of the 1992 civil unrest, also represents an inspired collaboration among organizations and elected officials with diverse constituencies.

“This project shows what happens when inspiration, cooperation and determination come together,” Ridley-Thomas said.

“Shortly after I was elected in 2008, I convened a transition team of knowledgeable community leaders. Among their key recommendations to me was to pursue novel approaches to combine the overlapping challenges of mental health care, transition-age youths and homelessness. This project makes that vision a reality,” Ridley-Thomas said.

Along with Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Congressman Xavier Becerra and Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes were present to celebrate the start of construction.

Also present were Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Director Marvin Southard and Sean Rogan, executive director of the County Community Development Commission/Housing Authority.

Homelessness

Ending homelessness once and for all in Los Angeles County is one of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ top priorities.  While recent inroads have been made to combat homelessness in the Second District and beyond, much work remains to be done on this daunting but ultimately solvable problem.  Los Angeles County has a homeless population of nearly 45,000 individuals, 39% of whom live in the Second District.  The total homeless population includes 12,000 chronically homeless individuals and homeless veterans.  The Second District has a number of resources for homeless families and individuals, including emergency shelters, winter shelters and transitional and permanent housing units.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has committed to enacting United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ “Home for Good,” which has set an aggressive goal of eradicating chronic and veteran homelessness by 2016.  Read more about Home for Good here.  The Supervisor joined the Empowerment Congress in raising over $6,000 for the United Way’s 2010 HomeWalk to End Homelessness. You can still donate to HomeWalk until December 31, 2010, by visiting here.

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