Fast-Tracking Housing and Services for the Homeless

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas led the ceremonial groundbreaking for Safe Landing-West Athens, a first-of-its-kind service-enriched interim housing site for people transitioning out of homelessness. Using prefab construction materials, it will be built in less than a year on a site where, according to the most recent Homeless Count, more than 700 unsheltered individuals live within a two-mile radius.

Community members and law enforcement at the Safe Landing Groundbreaking. Photo by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

Safe Landing will rise from what is currently a 3.1-acre dirt lot next to the West Athens Sheriff’s station and Probation office. Once completed in Fall 2020, Safe Landing will be open and accessible 24/7, providing about 180 clients on any given day with food and a place to sleep. They will also receive comprehensive health, mental health, and substance abuse treatments and intensive case management services to put them on a path to stable and supportive housing. The service delivery model will prioritize clients from the surrounding community and remove some of the barriers traditionally imposed by temporary homeless shelters. This means clients at Safe Landing will be allowed to bring their pets, continue living with their partners, and have access to a secure location in which to store their belongings.

“When an individual living on the streets is ready to come indoors, it is critical that we have the ability to take them in right away – whether it’s 3:00 in the afternoon or 3:00 in the morning,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who spearheaded the project. “Safe Landing will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and individuals can come as they are. We will not only welcome them with open arms, but make sure Safe Landing is equipped with both the physical and professional know-how to best address their individualized needs.”

Project rendering courtesy of KFA Architecture.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ Housing for Health Division will oversee Safe Landing in partnership with Exodus Recovery, a highly qualified and experienced clinical service provider.

“This type of 24/7 on-site comprehensive health, mental health, and supportive services is essential in helping us serve our clients well,” Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said. “New approaches are needed beyond the traditional models to effectively transition individuals from homelessness to permanent housing. Safe Landing aims to encourage refuge for all individuals by removing barriers that exist in other settings. The Department of Health Services is proud to partner on this project.”

Exodus Recovery President and CEO Luana Murphy added, “Exodus is honored to assist our neighbors in need at this first of its kind campus.”

Designed by KFA Architecture, Safe Landing will be comprised of an intake clinic, an administration building, a kitchen/dining facility, a men’s dormitory, a women’s dormitory, and a couples dormitory. All of the structures are prefabricated Butler buildings, allowing for over 25% time and 25% cost savings in construction.

Rendering of Safe Landing courtesy of KFA Architecture.

“Given the need to expedite homeless housing projects, we hope that Safe Landing can be amodel for future supportive housing projects,” said architect Wade Killefer. “By using prefabricated structures, the County of Los Angeles will be able to bring this project online faster and at less expense.”

“Safe Landing will offer a supportive, service-rich environment including mental health and substance abuse support services,” he added. “As a firm, we are dedicated to creating supportive and enriching environments and Safe Landing is one of several transitional housing projects that KFA is undertaking throughout LA.”

Safe Landing has been embraced by the surrounding community, including the leaders and members of the West Athens Task Force and St. Francis Cabrini Church, the latter located across the street.

Breaking ground at Safe Landing. (left to right) St. Francis Cabrini Church Father Juan Bosco, West Athens Taskforce Founder Bruce McCall, DHS Director Christina Ghaly, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, LA County CEO Sachi Hamai, Exodus Recovery President Luana Murphy, Careers for a Cause Graduate Algenia Harding, and KFA Architect Wade Killefer. Photo by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors