Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
City officials gathered for a grand opening last Thursday of a multi-unit supportive housing development designed for seniors who have experienced homelessness in Long Beach’s Sixth District.
The Long Beach and 21st Apartments development includes 43 units, with 21 units set aside for seniors with a mental health disability.
The apartment complex features one- and two-bedroom units as well as a community room, kitchen, computer room, library, on-site laundry facility and an outdoor path to walk dogs.
The development is also LEED-certified.
The project was developed in collaboration with PATH Ventures and Meta Housing Corp. and financed by Long Beach’s Housing Authority, Bank of America, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and more.
In addition, PATH Ventures provides an on-site case manager and on-site property management services.
“This development is a tremendous example of the collaborative spirit of Long Beach,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “Meta Housing has worked closely with the city and other partners to ensure that seniors have access to high-quality, affordable housing along with supportive services that will help them live healthy, productive lives.”
One of those seniors benefiting from the development—which opened at the beginning of the summer—is Toni Lee Swenson, a 56-year-old disabled Army veteran who was homeless in Long Beach for four years.
Swenson lived under a bridge, at a park and couch-surfed before a worker at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System helped her apply for a spot.
“I only asked for four walls, a ceiling and a door to lock,” Swenson said. “To me that would’ve been a blessing and a miracle. Instead, I get a dishwasher, I get an air conditioner, I get a room... I love the building.”
Swenson was especially happy about the amount of space in building that allows her to go from room to room in her wheelchair, as well as the quality of the work.
“It wasn’t a shack. That’s what meant the most to me,” Swenson said.
The development is one of the many pieces put together to seriously address homelessness, said PATH CEO Joel John Roberts—a Long Beach native and current resident.
“It’s a statement to our community that we are serious about helping those people in need,” Roberts said. “It’s about dignity. Dignity for people and dignity for our community. And that’s what we’re all about here.”