Designing Places and Spaces
Venice Community Housing (VCH) is a non-profit affordable housing developer working on the Westside of LA and beyond. VCH’s team uses a community-led design approach and partners with local leaders, neighbors, and stakeholders to ensure its developments are respectful, responsive, and community-driven.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Housing and Homelessness
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
Venice Community Housing (VCH) has been working on the preservation and production of affordable housing in Los Angeles since 1988. In 2017, the organization created a formal Housing Development team to oversee its property acquisition efforts. Since then, VCH has opened the first 100% affordable housing project built in Venice in 25 years, added approximately 500 units to its predevelopment pipeline, and began expanding beyond the Westside. VCH operates a Housing First, low-barrier approach and has provided comprehensive social services to its supportive housing units for over twenty years. The organization offers regular trainings to its Resident Services and Property Management teams to ensure that they can successfully provide trauma-informed services that are aligned with the Corporation for Supportive Housing and LA County’s Housing for Health program. Through this work, VCH’s entire staff has developed a high-level understanding of housing and homelessness in Los Angeles.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
Grant funding from LA2050 would support VCH’s housing development efforts with a focus on its community-led design work. VCH has recently started moving into new neighborhoods within the county of Los Angeles. To support these efforts, staff have developed a thorough community engagement process that begins with local relationship building. Currently, VCH is partnering with Santa Monica Community Corporation, Liberty Community Land Trust, and Downtown Crenshaw on three of its new projects. These organizations have been active in their respective neighborhoods for years, and their teams have provided valuable background information and introductions to community stakeholders. In addition to developing formal partnerships, VCH’s staff performs extensive neighborhood outreach, hosts community events, and solicits local design feedback during each step of the development process. This ensures that neighbors and impacted community members are involved in decision-making and see their needs reflected throughout the building’s creation. When complete, each development should honor the neighborhood’s existing identity and culture. VCH’s Community Design Manager and Community Engagement Coordinator oversee this work, but all staff contribute in unique ways, from assisting with local networking to knocking on doors and facilitating community listening sessions.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
For years, affordable and for-profit housing developers have failed to amplify the voices of low-income and unhoused community members. This directly contributes to the erasure of LA County’s vibrant history and perpetuates gentrification in impacted neighborhoods. Venice Community Housing seeks to fundamentally change this approach and collaborate with neighbors, leaders, and organizations throughout the housing development process to ensure that each project reflects the community’s vision and prevents displacement. By following grassroots leadership, organizations like VCH can build strong and inclusive neighborhoods while preventing homelessness through the creation of permanently affordable housing. Through its responsible community-led design, VCH is preserving the strength and diversity that makes Los Angeles unique while paving the way for positive change throughout the housing field.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
VCH has been successfully building and rehabilitating affordable housing for several years. In April 2022, the organization opened the Rose Apartments, which is a 35-unit building for transition aged youth and adults who have experienced homelessness. VCH also recently broke ground on Journey Apartments (40 units) and is in various stages of pre-development for additional projects in Venice, Santa Monica, Crenshaw, South LA, and unincorporated LA County. To move these projects forward, VCH has activated its base of tenants, unhoused and housed neighbors, and community organizers. VCH facilitated over 100 large and small-scale meetings in a three-year period where Venice residents familiarized themselves with key policies and became educated supporters. As a result, approximately 2,227 individuals have mobilized in support of four of VCH’s projects over the last two years. In July 2021, VCH was named a 2021 American Institute of Architects Los Angeles Presidential Honoree.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 260
Indirect Impact: 959