Vacant Lot in Glassell Park Targeted for Affordable Housing Development

A 56-unit development will provide permanent residences for seniors, disabled and veterans.

By Paul Aranda Jr., EGP Staff Writer

A nonprofit organization is set to turn a vacant lot in Glassell Park into an affordable housing complex for seniors, the developmentally disabled and veterans.

The planned multi-story development is located at the former Los Angeles Scaffolding site, where stacks of scaffolds litter the vacant property on the 4200 block of Eagle Rock Boulevard.

At a recent committee meeting of the Glassell Park Improvement Association, the few residents in attendance voiced support of the project but expressed strong concerns over what appears to them as insufficient parking for the size of the development. The current design plans for the 56-unit development includes 28 designated parking spaces. The development’s management is W.O.R.K.S., (Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services), a nonprofit that specializes in building affordable housing. The organization currently manages two affordable housing complexes in Highland Park.

In her opening remarks to the GPIA Land Use Committee on July 10, Channa Grace, CEO of W.O.R.K.S offered her apologies to any residents concerned by her organization’s outreach efforts with the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council. Grace said there was confusion on the location of the project. The project is in the designated zone of the ERNC and that is where they concentrated their initial outreach. Grace said once she learned that the address is in Glassell Park she contacted the GPNC and is on the agenda for its next meeting.

Grace said the development is intended to provide low-income individuals with permanent housing. The development is not restricted to seniors. At least 19 units would be set-aside for veterans who risk homelessness. Grace said her organization is partnered with a veteran’s service organization to identify veterans in need of affordable permanent housing. The rents for single-room units range from $281 to $604. The rates for two-bedroom units will range from $312 to $684.

In addition to permanent housing, W.O.R.K.S. coordinates with surrounding community organizations to extend services to its residents. The development will feature an onsite organic garden project to increase resident’s access to fruits and vegetables. The ground level of the structure features space designated for community use where local groups, such as the GPIA, would be able to hold meetings. Grace said that the regulatory agreement prohibits the leasing of the space for commercial use.

Several in the audience questioned whether 28 parking spaces would be sufficient for the size of the development. Grace said that since most of the residents would be disabled or recently homeless, they do not think many tenants would even own vehicles. When some audience members appeared to use the project’s community space as a means to press the parking issue further, Grace sought to reframe the development as a future home for people in need.

Grace called the free community space “an extension of goodwill” to allow residents and neighbors an opportunity to engage in community affairs in a small group setting on the property. To the repeated concerns over onsite parking, Grace countered, “I feel you guys. I don’t know what the solutions are.”

She added that the 28 spaces are more than the required amount for a development that is largely targeted for the disabled. Grace said she expects a 100 percent occupancy rate for the complex due to the high demand for permanent housing for targeted groups.

The organization’s first entrance into the northeast area was the Highland Village located on 245 S. Ave 50 in Highland Park. After a major rehabilitation, the 1950’s era building with over 148 units was reconfigured into 91 units from singles to three bedrooms.

In 2006, W.O.R.K.S. opened a senior affordable housing complex on 6026 Echo Street in Highland Park. The complex includes several rehabilitated historic bungalow duplexes alongside newly constructed craftsman-style apartments.

Grace said W.O.R.K.S. is scheduled to relocate from its current location in the Westlake/McAuthor Park area to Highland Park. The new headquarters will occupy a site located on the corner of Avenue 50 and El Paso Drive.

The next GPNC meeting is July 20 at 7 pm at the Glassell Park Community Senior Center. For more information on this meeting visit www.glassellparknc.com. For more information on the GPIA visit its Web site at www.gpia.org. To learn more about W.O.R.K.S. visit www.worksusa.org.

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July 15, 2010  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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