At a time when budget overruns and construction delays have waylaid numerous Measure HHH projects, a $48-million bridge housing facility now under construction in Chinatown has been billed as a rare success in Los Angeles County's response to homelessness. The campus, which will house up to 232 people when it opens next month at 1060 N. Vignes Street, could soon serve as the centerpiece of a larger plan focused on bringing unhoused residents indoors.
The proposed master plan, initiated by a motion introduced by Supervisor Hilda Solis, would consolidate multiple projects from government and private-sector entities seeking to bring new interim and permanent supportive housing to a largely industrial district to the east of Union Station.
Across the street, Homeboy Industries is planning up to 148 units of interim housing on a property near its headquarters at 901 N. Main Street, while the California Endowment is considered complementary uses for its land on the opposite side of Vignes Street.
Two blocks west on Spring Street, the City of Los Angeles is set to partner with the County on a request for proposals to redevelop a public parking lot with affordable or permanent supportive housing.
The Los Angeles Times also reports that plans are already in place for an expansion of the Vignes Street facility onto a property to the north. The California Drop Forge, which has long occupied the site, is expected to relocate by 2022.
"Each of these efforts is taking place in a community that is experiencing rapid gentrification and displacement," reads the motion from Solis. "Deeply affordable housing, access to healthy foods, cultural preservation, workforce opportunities, and economic development initiatives focused on small business growth are sorely needed in order to support the Chinatown community. A Master Planning initiative can help weave together the needs of Chinatown residents and businesses, as well as the needs of the chronically homeless, the formerly incarcerated, and other marginalized populations."
The proposed master plan borrows elements from two other initiatives undertaken by Los Angeles County - the planned closure of Men's Central Jail and the new Restorative Care Village now under construction at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center.
A longtime plan to demolish and replace Men's Central Jail with a new facility focused on mental health treatment was formally abandoned by the County last year, although a timeline for the closure and the intended future use of the property is currently unclear, although the Times reports that it could be incorporated into the master plan.
The Vignes Street property was originally acquired by the County in anticipation of the jail replacement. Officials had hoped to develop the previously vacant site with a parking garage.
The Restorative Care Village, now taking shape at the intersection of Zonal Avenue and State Street, will include treatment facilities focused on unhoused residents, and could eventually add permanent supportive housing as part of a future phase of the project.
The motion adopted by the Board of Supervisors directs County staff to work with NAC Architecture to expand the Vignes Project as part of a new Restorative Justice Village Master Plan capable of providing new affordable housing and economic development opportunities for the Chinatown area. A report back in 180 days is expected to include recommendations on the type of housing and programs that should be included in the program, an outreach framework for surrounding residences, businesses, and property owners, a cost estimate with potential funding sources, and an implementation timeline.
The proposed master plan would be flanked by numerous large commercial developments containing an abundance of market rate housing, including the Llewelyn apartments now under construction at 1101 N. Main Street. Other developments planned in the surrounding neighborhood - centered on Metro's Chinatown Station - include housing projects from Lincoln Property Company, Atlas Capital Group, and Universal Standard Housing.
- Chinatown (Urbanize LA)