The Norwalk Patriot - March 4, 2016

The Norwalk Patriot

Affordable Housing Complex in Norwalk Holds Open House

NORWALK – Home Ownership for Personal Empowerment (HOPE), a Los Angeles County based nonprofit, hosted an open house on Wednesday for its newest site that is located on Flatbush Avenue. This facility will be home to three tenants with developmental disabilities. Ongoing services will be provided by Life Steps Foundation and the Harbor Regional Center. The event brought together neighbors, community partners, and local officials to celebrate the latest addition of affordable, rental stock in the city.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition states in their publication, Out of Reach 2015, that affordability is measured by rent being no more than 30% of income. They further report, “In no State can a person working full-time at minimum wage afford a one – bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent.” At this moment, California has the 3rd highest wage requirement in the country- at $26.65 per hour to afford a median priced 2 bedroom apartment.1

Many people simply spend an outsized portion of their income on shelter. This leaves little savings available to purchase nutritious foods, cover healthcare expenses, pay for transportation, pursue higher education, and ultimately break the cycle of poverty. HOPE’s program is exclusively for individuals with developmental disabilities, and they charge no more than 30% of a tenant’s income on rent.

At the event, tours were provided by the present residents, proud to show off their new bedrooms to visitors. Later, attendees listened to Norwalk Mayor, Leonard Shryock; HOPE Board President, Bob Irlen; and Executive Director, Kristin Martin, as they gave speeches highlighting the housing crisis in the state and lauding the efforts of the community collaboration that made this affordable home a reality. A special thank you was given to Kristin Maithonis and Jesus Sanchez in the city's housing department, whose inspired work on this project was critical to its success. The mayor made it a point to warmly welcome the new renters to the neighborhood.

Kristin Martin spoke in particular of the impact this location would have on its tenants. “This is our fifth affordable home in Norwalk, and I’m excited to be a part of the celebration. I am even more excited though for the opportunities the privacy, independence and safety of this house will afford our residents.”

Turnout for the event was higher than expected, with dozens of family members present to meet the community partners that made possible their loved ones’ new home and to help create a welcoming environment for the guests. The evening ended with the ribbon cutting ceremony. Mayor Leonard had the honors but invited the current tenants to join him as he officially opened the restored house for occupancy.