LA2050 Blog

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DignityMoves Creates Affordable Housing in LA County


DignityMoves is honored to be among the 10th LA2050 Grants Challenge awardees as part of the housing and homelessness issue area. Beginning in October of 2023, with the support of LA2050 and the Goldhirsh Foundation, we embarked on a mission to address the urgent housing and homelessness crisis in Los Angeles County. Initially, as part of our LA2050 grant, we partnered with the City of Norwalk to develop a strategic homelessness plan to address their unsheltered population. The Norwalk City Council adopted our Homelessness Strategic Plan, but they have not moved forward with implementing interim supportive housing. We then shifted focus to other small cities in LA County and our work quickly evolved to encompass a broader scope of innovative solutions and partnerships within LA County.

The LA Metro Pop-Up Housing Initiative

In an ambitious effort to address homelessness within the Metro transit system, DignityMoves, alongside partners Lehrer Architects, EC Ford Construction, and Hope the Mission, submitted an unsolicited proposal in January for "Metro Pop-Up Housing - A New Approach to Developing Emergency Temporary Shelter on LA Metro Land." This initiative aims to swiftly develop relocatable interim supportive housing communities on Metro's surplus land. By leveraging successful models and drawing on the expertise of a collaborative team, the proposal outlines a plan to rapidly increase the availability of interim housing. With a projected timeline of 8-10 months for development and aiming to serve up to 2,900 individuals over five years across identified sites, this initiative represents a significant stride towards leveraging underutilized spaces to address the unsheltered homelessness crisis facing LA County.

The ELAC Rooftop Student Housing Initiative

The Los Angeles Community County District faces a profound challenge: 55% of its students experience housing insecurity, and 19% face homelessness at some point during the year. DignityMoves has partnered with students at East Los Angeles College (ELAC), Gensler, and Jovenes to reimagine student housing. The proposed project utilizes parking garage rooftops for affordable housing, leveraging existing urban infrastructure to provide immediate relief at a 1/3 of the cost and in half the time. In March, ELAC President Alberto J. Román fully endorsed the student-led project, and all partners are now qualified LACCD vendors. The team has presented to several foundations to secure pre-development costs to catalyze total project funding. Gensler and DignityMoves have also committed to providing student internships for ELAC students.

Together with our partners, we aim to deliver:

  • Immediate and Affordable Housing Solutions: Aiming to provide at least 120 beds to address the dire housing needs of LACCD students, transforming underused spaces into impactful solutions.
  • Scalability: Showcasing a cost-effective, replicable model that could be leveraged county-wide, offering potentially thousands of beds across Los Angeles.
  • Sustainability: Including renewable energy sources and urban agriculture makes this project a leader in sustainable living and offers rich educational opportunities.

Driving Systemic Change: Co-Sponsoring SB 1395

At DignityMoves, our commitment is not only to provide immediate support to those experiencing homelessness but to drive systemic change through impactful policy and advocacy. In collaboration with lawmakers and community leaders, we have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to co-sponsor groundbreaking legislation that has the potential to transform the way our community addresses unsheltered homelessness. SB 1395, also known as The Interim Housing Act, empowers cities to streamline the construction of interim supportive housing communities, California’s best near-term solution for bringing stability and security to its 123,000 unsheltered residents and restoring access to public spaces. Spearheaded by Senator Josh Becker, the bill is co-sponsored by San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, DignityMoves, the Bay Area Council, and SPUR. In March, SB 1395 successfully passed the Senate Housing committee with a unanimous vote of 9-0. Looking ahead, SB 1395 faces two more critical committee hearings this spring. We invite you to stand with us by lending your voice with a letter of support to help advance this transformative legislation!

Navigating Challenges and Looking Ahead

As DignityMoves reflects on the progress made and challenges faced with the support of the LA2050 grant, we remain optimistic about our ability to help address the housing and homelessness crisis in LA County. We continue to push for progress and share our Open Source Playbook with other small LA County cities. Over the next six months, we aim to finalize the ELAC project design and secure pre-development funding, continue advocating for SB 1395, and explore additional partnership opportunities. The initiatives launched over the last six months, made possible by LA2050 and the Goldhirsh Foundation, continue to inspire a future where safe, affordable, and dignified housing is accessible for all. We hope this mid-year report reflects our gratitude for the opportunity to make an impact in LA County.