City Celebrates Opening of Affordable Apartment Complex in South L.A.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Residents and Los Angeles city leaders today celebrated the grand opening of Rolland Curtis Gardens, a 140-unit affordable housing and mixed-use complex in South Los Angeles.

The complex is 100 feet from the Expo Line Vermont Station at the University of Southern California and includes an on-site community health clinic and a forthcoming local market.

``If we want to build a city where everyone can afford the rent, access public transit and connect to jobs and opportunity, we have to invest in developments like Rolland Curtis Gardens,'' Mayor Eric Garcetti said. ``An affordable home can unlock possibility and prosperity for every Angeleno, and today's opening is a sign of progress in our work to build a more livable, prosperous city.''

Nonprofit developer Abode Communities and land steward T.R.U.S.T. South LA transformed the site that originally held 48 apartments that were in disrepair, which prevented a mass eviction of low-income residents who faced gentrification pressures of student housing and new transit construction, according to a statement from Abode.

``Too many residents in the Eighth District are burdened by rental costs. I am committed to providing affordable housing for residents across South Los Angeles, and these homes are an example of the types of developments families in South Los Angeles need,'' Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents the district where Rolland Curtis Gardens is located.

Current statistics from the city show that 721,000 households in Los Angeles are rent-burdened, and the county estimates it needs more than 516,000 units to meet the demand.

Abode Communities received 3,000 rental applications for the 140 units, and a number of residents had struggled with homelessness.

``More than half of the people who became homeless for the first time this year in Los Angeles experienced economic hardship,'' said Robin Hughes, the president and CEO of Abode Communities.

Nearly half of the residents of the original Rolland Curtis Gardens have returned, Abode officials said, and many were deeply involved in the community organizing process that led to the preservation of the site.

``One day our lives changed,'' said Johanna Blocker, a mother of four who lived in a park and then homeless shelters before arriving at Rolland Curtis Gardens. ``It's home. I get to wake up in the morning and focus on getting my kids to school, and I don't have to worry about where we will sleep each night.''

According to T.R.U.S.T. South LA, the cost to purchase the building was $8.3 million in 2012 and development cost $77.7 million for the 140 affordable rental units, including two unrestricted manager units, the 6,500 square-foot community health clinic and a 1,500-square-foot neighborhood market to serve low-income families earning between 30% to 60% area median family income.

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