We go into their home and we teach them how to cook, budget and shop. We teach them how to launder their clothes. We teach them how to take the bus, and how to get back and forth to different things in the community.
I think personally it would give me a great feeling to know that Beth had a place she could call her home long after we were gone -- and I know that is true of other parents that we know.
The neatest thing about living in my own place is cause I love it here... I can do things on my own.
My dream was always living in a house and I got that dream, and I made that dream come true.
I really like it. This is the best place I ever lived, and my Dad was so happy when we found out about this program and found this place.
Long Beach—On a beautiful Monday morning, Home Ownership for Personal Empowerment, Inc. (HOPE) hosted its 10th Annual Charity Golf Classic at Virginia Country Club in Long Beach. With over 30 sponsors, including a $15k sponsor California MENTOR and five $10k sponsors that include City National Bank, Patricia Del Monico, Ambitions CA, Integrated Life, and Social Vocation Services, this event raised more than $170K to provide stable, affordable homes for adults with developmental disabilities.
The theme of this year’s event was Creating Independence. Funds raised will go toward providing homes that empower those who are most vulnerable in our society to become valuable, contributing members of their communities. HOPE believes that housing is foundational in everyone’s life and when our residents are no longer forced to worry about where they will live and sleep, their energies–and savings–can be freed to focus on work, school, volunteer service, and to foster social relationships.
This sold-out saw 144 golfers from the local business and philanthropic communities came together in competition to support this vital cause. Tournament Committee Member Forrest Riopelle of City National Bank spoke on why this event is so meaningful, “I personally, and City National Bank, have supported HOPE for years because we believe that the work they’re doing is essential to creating opportunities for people with developmental disabilities." He continued, "Their mission is also just great for the community, as their homes end up being the most beautiful and well-maintained properties on a block.”
This event culminated in a tournament dinner, emceed by ABC7 Sports Anchor Rob Fukuzaki, with guest speaker Christina Sanz of the award-winning A&E docuseries, “Born This Way.” Christina discussed how housing was instrumental in her personal growth. “My biggest dream is to be independent,” Cristina said. “And thanks to HOPE I am living my dream. When I was young, I dreamed of my own apartment. That dream became real nine months ago when I moved into my HOPE home.”
Since establishing the tournament ten years ago, HOPE has raised more than $1.2M to support affordable housing projects. This funding has a very real impact on their mission. During the evening dinner program, HOPE Executive Director Kristin Martin announced the progress made over the last several years to close in on an important organization goal. “I am happy to update you all today that because of your support in recent years, HOPE has reached 88% of our 2014 goal to house 80 additional residents by the end of 2018. To date, we have created homes for 71 residents since 2014.” Once completed, this achievement will have nearly doubles HOPE’s housing capacity over a four year period.
This day would not have been possible without the golfers, dinner attendees, sponsors, donors, and community volunteers who came together to make this event one of the premier charitable golf tournaments in the region. More than Fifty volunteers from all across Los Angeles County serve at the event in various roles such as in registration, as cashiers, on the course, and in raffle ticket sales. “Day of” donations at this year’s tournament surpassed $15K due to their passionate efforts.
Community members interested in supporting the mission of HOPE can find out more information on how to volunteer, attend future events, or donate to our End-of-Year Giving Campaign at www.hope-homes.org.
Each year HOPE is amazed by the support we receive during our End-of-Year Giving campaign. Community donors truly are champions for our cause. Funds donated during the holiday giving season are critical to our mission, so we would like to take this opportunity to thank you ahead of time for your generosity. In 2016, HOPE raised nearly $6,000 through end-of-year giving activities. Help us reach this year’s increased goal of $9,000!
Funds received at the end of 2016 were put to immediate work renovating our newest homes on Banner Avenue in Long Beach, Clark Avenue in Long Beach, and Rosecrans Avenue in Norwalk.
Our 2017 campaign will include several opportunities for you to contribute to our cause. Beginning in late September, a letter written by former HOPE resident and current Board Member Mead Duley will be mailed informing about the launch of the campaign and requesting an annual gift. This will be followed by an email request for support that will allow for easy online giving. Next, a series of social media posts centered around #GivingTuesday will offer ways for donors to contribute through Facebook. Lastly, a volunteer led phone bank will reach out to prospective donors with calls for support.
As mentioned, we will once again participate in #GivingTuesday, a day of philanthropic celebration taking place on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. The event kicks off the charitable season when many people focus on their holiday giving and are searching for different ways to be generous. Remember to consider HOPE!
During this year’s campaign, our HOPE Helps Gift Catalog will allow donors to choose a home gift item or renovation project to benefit our residents, while simultaneously honoring a loved one with a free personalized card. Items can be selected that improve mobility for our residents, such as ADA sinks, ramps, and widened doorways. Other options will go to support increased self-reliance, like washers & dryers, stoves, or dishware. Lastly, some gifts help with building a sense of community and assisting with socialization, like patio furniture, sofas, or dining room furniture. Consider this new way to support HOPE in place of traditional gifts to friends and family members for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
Donate today and become a hero in the lives of our residents! Your contribution will directly empower HOPE to create more housing stability for those most vulnerable in our communities. This generosity truly makes dreams come true. HOPE looks forward to continuing our collective mission together in the coming year!
Donate through the HOPE Helps Gift Catalog in lieu of a traditional gift to a loved one this holiday season. Make your gift here today, and a personal card will be mailed to your honoree notifying them of the donation made in their name.
Norwalk—On Monday, HOPE, Inc. welcomed community members and local leaders to the grand opening of their recently renovated homes on Rosecrans Avenue, which were created to be permanent, supportive housing for adults with developmental disabilities.
Guests gathered to hear Norwalk Mayor Luigi Vernola speak directly about the need for affordable housing in the community. State Senator Tony Mendoza and State Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon were also in attendance and made statements on the importance of affordable housing for those most vulnerable in the community. Calderon and Mendoza have recently worked together to make affordable housing a priority at the state level. “We’re so grateful that HOPE has created this opportunity,” said Calderon, “It’s great to know that this organization is here and that we can team up and tackle housing issues together. I’m all in.”
This project was completed in partnership with the City of Norwalk, Harbor Regional Center (HRC), Rose Hills Foundation, Bank of the West Foundation, and numerous other donors. The triplex, located on Rosecrans Avenue in Norwalk, was purchased in March of 2016 and is owned by HOPE Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity.
HRC Executive Director Patricia Del Monico also spoke and expressed her delight at the completion of another HOPE home, “The work that [Executive Director] Kristin Martin and his team do is so important, small communities of independent individuals are what we aim for, and the finished homes are just incredible. I’ve been to HOPE ribbon cutting after ribbon cutting, and it’s such a joy every time.”
The inspiring residents of these new homes are individuals who have each in recent years experienced enormous growth in their abilities. One of the resident’s sister recounted the uncertainty they faced when considering housing, “In the last 4 or 5 years David had expressed his desire to live independently, and we didn’t know if it could happen. In the last 18 months, HOPE has helped this become a reality for him, and he couldn’t be happier.” This new housing will allow these residents to continue their path toward greater self-sufficiency.
This type of affordable housing reserved for special needs populations is vital. In the current market, an individual earning minimum wage would need to work up to 90 hours per week to afford an average priced one-bedroom apartment in the greater Los Angeles area. However, properties like HOPE’s triplex in Norwalk require their residents to allocate only 30% of their income – about $260 – towards housing, which gives them independence within a safe, stable environment.
Senator Mendoza and his office have been working closely with the Department of Developmental Services to provide data on employment and housing for adults with developmental disabilities. “To see what HOPE is doing is encouraging,” he said, “It’s concrete proof that we can make affordable housing and independent living a possibility for those most vulnerable in our community.”
Los Angeles County is in the midst of a severe affordable housing shortage. This acutely affects adults with developmental disabilities.
This crisis was brought about by market forces, community opposition to changes in land use, the lack of undeveloped land, and cuts to funding for affordable housing. The absence of renter protections creates an environment that is ripe for exploitation by investors looking to commoditize housing at the expense of low to moderate income households.
When a person is forced to pay extreme percentages of their income on rent, they are often forced to forgo food, transportation, education, health care and savings. Because of this, many people fall into homelessness, as living pay-check to pay-check leaves little money left to manage unforeseen emergencies.
There is a strong likelihood that the situation will get worse if current political trends continue that have seen cuts to local, state, and federal funding for the development of affordable housing. Recent efforts by local elected officials and voters to increase funding for our industry has been welcome, yet none of these newly allocated resources are specifically earmarked to serve people with developmental disabilities.
Public support is needed to address this critical issue. Consider donating to HOPE during the end of year giving season or contacting your elected officials to ask them to take bold action to meet the housing needs of those most vulnerable in their districts.
FOR ADULTS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES, the inability to identify and secure affordable, independent living options presents challenges in day-to-day living. In addition to these challenges, the state of California is in the midst of a housing crisis. Estimates put Los Angeles county at more than 550,000 units short of needed rental homes for those with low to moderate income.1
This shortage is most severe for people with extremely low incomes, meaning those with incomes at or below 30% of the area’s median income or poverty line. Nationally, research shows a shortage of 3.9 million rental home for these individuals.2
We recognize that this is the income category in which many of our clients find themselves. Entry-level employment and SSI does not provide enough money for people with developmental disabilities to cover the cost of housing and general living expenses. According to National Low Income Housing Coalition’s report, Out of Reach, a person working full-time every week of the year needs to earn an hourly wage of $24.24--more than double many of the region’s minimum wages--in order to afford a median priced one-bedroom apartment.
Also, many Regional Center clients with mobility impairments need accessible housing with features like zero-step entrances, wider hallways, and door frames to accommodate wheelchairs, single-floor living, leveled door handles and faucets, and lowered electrical switches. Only 1% of homes already built have all of these elements, and the growing population of seniors with disabilities will exacerbate the shortage of accessible housing.
Unfortunately, the market left alone cannot, and will not, adequately meet the housing needs of our residents.
Housing in Los Angeles has for decades been more expensive than most of the country. A long coastline, beautiful landscape, mild weather, and urban centers with robust economic opportunities and infrastructure has made California a destination for many people. Starting in the 1970s, however, the gap between our home prices and the rest of the country began to widen rapidly. Between 1970 and 1980, our region’s home prices went from 30 percent above U.S. levels to more than 80 percent. This trend has continued. Today, an average home costs $580,000, more than two–and–a–half times the national average. Conversely, California’s median monthly rent is $1,730, still 50 percent higher than the rest of the country.3
Simply put, we are not building enough housing to meet the demand of the growing population in our coastal communities. There are several reasons for this reality. Community resistance to new housing--especially affordable housing in the form of NIMBYism-- is a constant road block to development. Strong environmental policies in our state limit where and how we can build. Finally, there is a lack of financial incentives for local governments to approve new housing or change land use policy.
These challenges create major barriers to the home building industry and have led to a net shortage in regional housing stock. This dynamic creates vigorous competition for the limited homes available, which drives up values, increases rents, and decreases vacancies.
Compounding the issue of overpopulation relative to available units is that while median rent in Los Angeles County has increased 32%, since 2000, median renter household income has decreased 3% when adjusted for inflation.1
A recent example of how this housing climate can affect adults with developmental disabilities is the story of the HOPE resident Vernon. Vernon is an HRC client who had lived on his own for decades. He maintained a market-rate rental apartment with the financial assistance of his mother, his fixed income, and his part-time employment. Over the last several years though, his rent had risen exponentially to the point where he and his mother could no longer afford for Vernon to remain independent.
In many local municipalities, there is an alarming lack of renter protection, including in Long Beach, which is the biggest city in our service area. Other large populations of renters, from San Diego to Seattle, all have basic tenant protections like just-cause eviction and rent control. That is not the case in most of our local communities where land lords can raise rents indiscriminately, or evict tenants and charge higher rents to more affluent potential residents.
Josh Butler, Executive Director at Housing Long Beach, recently wrote in a Press-Telegram expose on the subject, “Turning housing into a commodity is another major problem. In recent years, city-owned property has been snapped up by real estate speculators and corporate developers who have contributed to driving up rents,” he continues. “The multi-family apartment market is not the only market in peril. The biggest owners of single-family home rentals in California are also no longer mom-and-pop landlords, but mega Wall Street corporations like Blackstone and Colony Starwood.”4
Butler believes that this time, instead of predatory mortgages, we see predatory rentals. State laws that were initially passed to protect owners who may haveone or two rental units now serve to line the pockets of big business landlords.4
This type of housing competition acutely impacts adults with special needs who are on fixed incomes or are earning minimum wage in entry level jobs.
According to the annual homeless count coordinated by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there were 1,483 people with developmental disabilities living in the streets of LA County.5 This does not take into consideration those living in overcrowded, unhealthy, or unstable conditions. It is no surprise that this unaffordable housing climate ultimately leads to such dire outcomes.
One of our current residents, Alex, has had first-hand experience with not having access to an affordable home. He bounced between an abusive family environment, an overcrowded apartment which he shared with 11 other people, and a homeless shelter. Fortunately, Alex now lives in a HOPE home, but this is not the case for the hundreds of people on our waiting lists.
Housing is commonly considered to be “affordable” when a household spends less than 30 percent of its income on rent or mortgage, yet Los Angeles County’s lowest-income renters spend upwards of 70% of their income on rent, not leaving enough for food, transportation, health expenses, and other needs.6 Today, an individual earning minimum wage would need to work 92 hours a week to afford a modest one bedroom apartment at fair market rent.7
It is important to note that a person who has 30% of a $200,000 a year income remaining after paying rent is presented with a very different set of challenges than a person who has 30% of a $19,000 annual minimum wage income remaining.
We hear this story from our residents all the time. One HRC client and past HOPE resident named Mead--who now happily sits on our Board of Directors--recently told us the story of how he could not afford rent before he moved into a HOPE home. He recalled getting home at 11:30 each evening after pulling double shifts in retail and as a busboy in a restaurant. Keeping this schedule was the only way for him to afford sharing a one bedroom apartment with a friend.
The unaffordability of housing locks people with developmental disabilities into an endless cycle of poverty and housing instability.
Poverty and housing instability also creates a negative impact on the physical and mental health of people with low-incomes--particularly due to increased stress and fewer adequate options for food and health care.8 The CDC has determined that 23% of all homes in the US are found to have unhealthy characteristics that negatively affect the health of occupants.10 Negative housing factors are exacerbated for people with developmental disabilities who often are medically fragile.
The shortage of safe, affordable homes also limits choices about where our clients can afford to live, often relegating them to substandard housing in unsafe, overcrowded neighborhoods with fewer options for health promotion like parks, bike paths, and recreation centers.8
State programs that fund housing are not guaranteed or permanent, and they are often subject to drastic cuts based on the politics or economics of the day. The Great Recession of 2007-08 saw California’s Redevelopment Agencies dissolved to assist in balancing the state budget.
Redevelopment agencies were originally established to give local governments the ability to capture a greater share of property taxes. This pool of funding was in part used to allow cities to invest in housing for people with low-incomes. By ending redevelopment agencies, the state effectively seized control of billions of dollars previously allocated for affordable housing development.
According to a joint publication of California Housing Partnership and SCANPH,“Since 2008, cuts in federal and state funding, including the elimination of state redevelopment agencies, have reduced investment in affordable housing production and preservation in Los Angeles County by nearly $457 million annually, a 64% reduction.”1
Public support is critical in making changes to meet housing needs. The nonprofit sector relies on this support and encourages the public to view housing as a human right and not as a speculative commodity.
Nationally, the future of affordable housing is grim. The Trump Administration has announced legislative and budget priorities that greatly put federal affordable housing dollars at risk.
One of the primary funding sources for the building of affordable, multi-family housing apartments is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). This program was launched in 1986 to provide private owners with an incentive to create and maintain affordable housing. The LIHTC program works through a subsidy mechanism. The IRS allocates funds on a per capita basis to each state. The process by which credits are allocated is competitive.11
Investors are then given the opportunity to buy tax credits in qualified affordable housing properties that have received a state allocation, thus creating cash equity for owners that reduce a project’s debt burden. In exchange, the owner agrees to rent a specific number of units to qualified tenants at below-market rents.11
This program is now in jeopardy with the Trump Administration’s tax reform proposals to lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to a targeted 15%. If this were to be fully realized, the value of tax credits would dramatically diminish, pulling the proverbial rug out from under the nonprofit affordable housing industry.
Beyond the potential risk to the invaluable LIHTC program, the Trump Administration's has proposed a budget that includes deep cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD programs at risk include tenant & project based rental assistance, public housing, HOME Investment Partnership funds, and Community Development Block Grants. These are all foundational to housing affordability in the U.S. A cut to HUD would be another serious blow to an industry already struggling to meet demand.
The good news in California is that the state legislature and the voting public are both aware of the damaging impacts the affordable housing crisis is having on our communities. With the recent passing of “No Place Like Home” legislation in Sacramento, and the voter approved Measure H and Measure HHH, additional funding to help develop new affordable housing is on its way. However, it is important to take note, that these measures directly fund housing and services for the chronically homeless and those who need mental health services. None of this funding is directly assigned to support standard affordable housing for low-income people with developmental disabilities.
Creating HOPE more than 20 years ago demonstrated Harbor Regional Center’s innovation, support, and drive to develop housing solutions for its clients, enabling HRC to create safe, stable, and affordable housing for hundreds of residents.
These homes empower adults with developmental disabilities to live with increased self-reliance without the threat of displacement or negative health impacts. Our residents pay 30% of their income toward rent and receive varying levels of in-house services.
However, we must not stop here. Together, HRC and HOPE are developing innovative ways to address this crisis. We are creating new non-development based housing service that will assist clients in navigating the complex rental application process at apartments throughout the region, creating relationships with landlords to obtain master leases, and providing rental subsidies to make up the difference in market rate rents. We are also looking to partner with larger affordable housing agencies to set-aside units for our population within their larger affordable apartment communities.
The affordable housing crisis is not a new challenge for HRC and HOPE, and we will continue to be innovative in ways to adapt to new challenges.
Public support is needed to address this critical issue. Please consider donating to HOPE during this end of year giving season or contacting your elected officials to challenge them to take bald action to meet the affordable housing needs of their districts.
If you are interested in advocating for affordable housing to serve people with developmental disabilities, you are encouraged to call or email your local elected officials. Let them know that housing affordability for those most vulnerable in your community is important to you as a voter. More than ever, the affordable housing industry needs strong advocates at the local level. Visit Housing California for further instructions: https://www.housingca.org/action-center.
There are several ways to donate to HOPE. Make a contribution through the HOPE Helps Gift Catalog, in lieu of a traditional gift, for a loved one this holiday season. A personal card will be mailed to your honoree notifying them of the donation made in their name. Make your gift today
To assist HOPE in the ongoing purchase and acquisition of additional housing units consider joining our Mission Makers program by signing up to make a recurring donation of $10 or more each month. Join today
Consider contributing to our Pave it Forward brick-naming fundraiser. For $250, donors have the opportunity to "own" a piece of HOPE's mission. Each purchase comes with a personally inscribed brick that will then be placed in a prominent location at one of our properties. Purchase today
1. California Housing Partnership (2017/May). Los Angeles County Renters in Crisis: A Call for
Action. Retrieve fromhttp://1p08d91kd0c03rlxhmhtydpr.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-
2. National Low Income Housing Coalition (2017). Advocates Guide 2017. Retrieve from
3. Legislative Analysts Office (2015/Mar). California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and
Consequences.Retrieve at http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2015/finance/housing-
4. Butler, J. (2017, July 27). Long Beach Renters’ Problems Need Urgent Attention. The Long
Beach Press Telegram.
5. Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (2016) Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.
6. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2011). Housing and Health: Exploring the Social
Determinants of Health.
7. National Low Income Housing Coalition (2014). OUT OF REACH 2014.
8. National Center for Healthy Housing (2012). Housing and Health: New Opportunities for
Dialogue and Action.
9. Richie, D. Our Zip Code May Be More Important Than our Genetic Code: Social Determinants
of Health, Law and Policy.
10. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Inadequate and Unhealthy Housing.
11. Overview Of The Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program ... (n.d.). Retrieved from
HOPE is doing our part to alleviate the growing affordable housing shortage for adults with developmental disabilities. With our 80 by ‘18 goal: an objective launched in 2014 to challenge staff to create homes for 80 additional residents by the year 2018, we are moving quickly to ensure that those most vulnerable in our communities do not have to live with the fear of housing instability.
At this time, we are happy to announce that with the purchase of our most recent home on Brink Avenue in Norwalk, HOPE has accomplished 88% of this goal. That translates into creating homes for 71 additional people.
HOPE’s newest home on Brink Avenue was purchased for $465K on May 4, 2017. It was funded in part through a partnership with the City of Norwalk and the Community Development Commission of the County of Los Angeles. This 1,325 sq. ft. single family home has three bedrooms and two baths, sits on a lot of more than 6,500 sq. ft., and is now home to three people with developmental disabilities. Each resident has their own bedroom, while they share common spaces like the living room, kitchen, and yards.
After the property was acquired in the spring, Dilworth Construction immediately began renovations that included new paint, flooring, laundry room, and a kitchenette.
On June 21st, residents Emily and Asha were eager to get the keys to their new house. Both are moving from their parents’ homes. Emily, a graduate of Harbor Regional Center’s College to Career program, is now prepared to take this next step toward independence.
Emily and Asha are confident that with a lot of hard work, the encouragement of their families, and the supported living services through Harbor Regional Center they are on the path to success and greater self-reliance.
“We are nervous,” Emily’s mother Tammy said, “Excited but nervous.”
This home on Brink Avenue is HOPE’s sixth housing project in collaboration with the City of Norwalk. Since 2014 they have contributed $1.5 million in HOME Investment Partnership Program funding to assist HOPE in housing adults with developmental disabilities in their neighborhoods.
Public/private partnerships have enabled HOPE to get closer to accomplishing our 80 by ‘18 goal. Kristin Martin, Executive Director at HOPE, knows how vital these collaborations are to our cause. “As the affordable housing industry continues to face rising property values, funding source instability, and growing need, it’s become increasingly essential to bring together the right partners.”
“This new housing on Brink Avenue is a testament to that spirit of cooperation and is a reality because of the vision and investment of the Harbor Regional Center, Norwalk, and the Los Angeles County CDC. Thank you for continuing to believe in our mission.”
Having access to a safe, affordable home through HOPE can be life changing for a person with a developmental disability, who otherwise would be forced to compete for scarce affordable housing in what is a highly competitive rental market. Our aim is to ensure that housing instability is never a concern for HOPE residents. Instead, we want them to have the opportunity to focus their energies on personal goals, like increasing independence, becoming contributing members of their communities, fostering personal relations, or finding and maintaining gainful employment. With stable housing as a foundation, we know our residents are empowered to chase their dreams.
To assist HOPE in reaching our 80 by 18 goal, consider joining our Mission Makers program by signing up to make a recurring donation of $10 or more each month. Your sustaining gifts will go directly toward the purchase and renovation of homes for adults with developmental disabilities.