HOPE, Inc. Celebrates Grand Opening of Newest College-to-Career Housing for Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities Attending Long Beach City College
by IAN NEVAREZ
On the morning of Wednesday, September 5th, HOPE’s newest College-to-Career (C2C) housing on Clark Avenue was a buzz with community leaders, residents, volunteers, neighbors, and staff members of partnering agencies. Everyone was in attendance to celebrate the grand opening and official ribbon cutting of the new affordable housing project created to serve 14 students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DDs) attending community college.
WATCH ABC7 COVERAGE OF EVENT: Affordable housing units built for Long Beach college students with disabilities
During the event program, guests heard statements of support from Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, as well as from representatives of Congressman Alan Lowenthal and Supervisor Janice Hahn. Executives from the C2C program partners, including HOPE, Harbor Regional Center, Long Beach City College, California MENTOR, and Social Vocational Services, each spoke to the importance of community collaboration to ensure that stable, affordable housing continues to be created for people with I/DD.
For this vulnerable population, the inability to identify and secure affordable, inclusive housing in Los Angeles County presents a severe challenge to day-to-day living, not to mention the additional barriers it creates to achieving academic success. 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, while there is no county in the State of California where a person with a developmental disability living solely on SSI can afford a median-priced apartment. This extreme cost burden acutely affects this vulnerable population and serves to lock them into a cycle of poverty and housing instability.
Located just blocks from the campus of Long Beach City College (LBCC), this site is HOPE’s third property dedicated to providing young adults with I/DD a dorm-like residential experience while they complete college courses to obtain a certificate or associates degree, all with the ultimate goal of gainful employment. This new C2C location, in the Lakewood Village neighborhood of Long Beach, sits on a 17,000+ square foot lot. A charming courtyard adjoins the two neighboring buildings that include 7 residential units for students and one office unit for program staff. Students accepted into the program pay $350-$500 per month for their housing.
Each C2C partner plays a pivotal role in ensuring the program’s success. Harbor Regional Center provides funding and case management, LBCC provides academic counseling, Social Vocation Services provides career guidance, and California MENTOR delivers onsite supportive living services. HOPE’s contribution to this partnership is in the purchase, rehabilitation, and ongoing management of the housing. Additional project partners include Dilworth Construction, First Republic Bank, Appleby Property Management, and Main Street Realtors.
“At HOPE we believe a home should not just be a roof over our residents’ heads,” said Executive Director Kristin Martin. “It should also empower them to follow their dreams and make the most out of their lives. This housing does just that by offering dorm-like homes for young adults with developmental disabilities who are attending community college but may need additional on campus and residential supports to achieve their goals.”
Funding for this new housing included HOPE capital and foundation grants from Union Bank, Bank of the West, US Bank, Del Harbor Foundation, and Bess J. Hodges Foundation.
The event program and ribbon-cutting ceremony were directly followed by tours led by current C2C students.
HOPE’s other C2C properties in Long Beach include a five-unit apartment building and a four-bedroom single family home. HOPE and its partners currently serve 28 students at these three locations.
Community members interested in supporting the mission of HOPE can find out more information on how to volunteer, attend future events, or donate at www.hope-homes.org.