Seven Homes Open for Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities at Renovated Eight-Unit Building in Bixby Knolls
LONG BEACH – On Wednesday, community members gathered to celebrate the grand opening of a newly renovated eight-unit building off of Banner Drive in Bixby Knolls. This housing now provide permanent, affordable homes for seven young adults with developmental disabilities. These new residents will live on their own for the first time, in a community integrated environment, with the onsite supports they need to thrive.
According to the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS), a developmental disability is a condition that begins before the age of 18 and includes intellectual disability (formerly known as mental retardation), autism, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy. Furthermore, there are approximately 5,000 people with developmental disabilities living in Long Beach, and over 250,000 throughout the State of California. Over 13,000 people with a developmental disability and their families are served by the Harbor Regional Center (HRC) in the Long Beach and South Bay areas. Regional Centers are non-profit corporations contracted by DDS to provide case management and monitoring services to this population. Services focus on helping to promote independence, developmental growth and achievement, self-sufficiency and integration, and encompass nearly anything required to help individuals lead healthy and successful lives in their communities.
These homes on Banner Drive are owned by HOPE. Inc, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity, that acquired the property in February 2016 and whose mission it is to create stable, affordable housing for people with a developmental disability. The project was made possible through the collaborative efforts and funding of three parties: the Long Beach Community Investment Company that contributed over $500K toward acquisition, Harbor Regional Center (HRC) which created and promoted the concept and that is coordinating and funding the ongoing housing program, and SL Start that is contracted to deliver onsite services to the residents.
Additional grant funding for the acquisition and renovation of this housing, which is the first of two projects in Long Beach, was provided by Del Harbor Foundation, S. Mark Taper Foundation, Union Bank of California Foundation, Ahmanson Foundation, and Bess J. Hodges Foundation. Additional financing was secured through Clearinghouse CDFI and First Republic Bank.
More than 120 guests attended Wednesday afternoon to hear Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, City Council Member Roberto Uranga, and other community leaders speak about the pressing need for this type of affordable housing. Also on hand were representatives from the offices of Congressman Alan Lowenthal, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, County Supervisor Janice Hahn, State Senator Ricardo Lara, State Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnel, and Long Beach City Councilmember Al Austin who presented certificates that recognized this important project’s completion. Later in the celebration, attendees met HOPE residents and their families who provided tours of their new apartments.
This housing program serves extremely low-income residents that make below 30% of the area median income (below $15,883 annually). Harbor Regional Center is ensuring that necessary supports are provided for the residents through one of their supported living service providers, SL Start. SL Start staff is available on site, seven days per week, to provide assistance with activities of daily living, such as budgeting, shopping, cooking, medical appointments and other activities to help maintain residents’ independence. This model not only offers greater independence for residents but also helps to provide peace of mind for their families.
HOPE Executive Director Kristin Martin spoke about how this type of specialized housing is meant to be more than shelter. “We believe a home should not just be a roof over our residents’ heads,” he said. “It should also empower them to make the most out of their lives.”
“Different people need different levels of support to reach their full potential and take advantage of all that life has to offer. Because of the hard work and contributions made by our community partners and donors, most especially the Harbor Regional Center, today seven very deserving people are now in a position to tackle life’s many challenges without the fear of housing instability.”
Harbor Regional Center Executive Director Patricia Del Monico commented, “Harbor Regional Center clients and their families are so very grateful to HOPE and the city of Long Beach for creating safe, affordable housing opportunities and welcoming people with developmental disabilities as valued neighbors.”
The building maintains much of its original historic charm. However, it is upgraded to improve safety, privacy, and comfort, and a community garden was planted to provide outdoor activity and nutritious food for the tenants.
There is a critical need for this type of housing in Long Beach. Today, an individual earning minimum wage would need to work 89 hours a week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, and per the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there are currently 1,483 people with developmental disabilities homeless in LA County.
Housing, and especially affordable housing, has been a long-time mission of the Harbor Regional Center. That is why, in 1995, Harbor Regional Center formed HOPE to help address the housing needs of adults with a developmental disability. Since then, HOPE has made it its primary mission to support this underserved population. A total of 59 HOPE homes are located in the City of Long Beach, more than half of its portfolio, while HOPE owns an additional 55 homes throughout Southern California and in total provides housing for nearly 300 people. Clearly, much more housing is needed to meet this growing need.
With the many challenges the affordable housing industry faces—rising property values, funding source instability, and rapidly growing need—it has become increasingly essential for local leadership to step up their support for this issue. That is why in early May, Long Beach City Council voted to adopt the Mayor’s Affordable and Workforce Housing Policy Recommendations, that when implemented would rapidly accelerate the ability of nonprofit organizations to create additional affordable housing. This policy document included the following recommendations: explore a local bond measure as a one-time funding source to capitalize the Housing Trust Fund, begin the development of an inclusionary housing policy to encourage mixed-income development, and investigate the possibility of establishing a local document recording fee to finance new affordable homes.
Implementing these recommendations would surely be a step in the right direction toward ensuring that additional homes like HOPE’s on Banner Drive have the support they need to be created.
If you are interested in supporting the creation of housing such as HOPE's new home's in Long Beach, please 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