The Beacon, Long Beach’s latest affordable housing complex, begins to take shape

It is one of the more progressive affordable housing projects in Long Beach: beautiful in design, centrally located near transit and Downtown while also neighboring the Senior Arts Colony, and catering to veterans and senior citizens.

The $80.4 million two-building Beacon project—a seven-story for Beacon Place and a five-story building for Beacon Pointe, both designed by the Architects Collective—is set to bring 160 units online, taking over the empty lot just east of the other affordable housing project, the Senior Arts Colony, at Anaheim and Long Beach Boulevard.

It includes 121 affordable senior units and 39 units for supportive housing.

A rendering of The Beacon shows how it will look upon completion. Rendering courtesy of the City of Long Beach.

A rendering of The Beacon shows how it will look upon completion. Rendering courtesy of the City of Long Beach.

Breaking all those units down entirely, 26 units are dedicated to Extremely Low-Income houses (households earning 30 percent or less of the average median income); 72 units are dedicated to Very Low-Income (households earning 30-50 percent of the average median income); and 60 units are dedicated to low-income families (households earning 50 to 80 percent of the average median income).

Two units will be reserved for a manager of each building.

Given the Colony was smart in design, engages residents from around the area, and looks at how to mix affluence with the less affluent, it is—at least from my perspective—the standard by which other affordable housing projects should compare themselves.

As I once wrote in a piece discussing why a project like The Beacon is so important for Long Beach, its placement—near transit, in DTLB, amongst an area filled with middle- to upper-class working professionals—allows us to address one very uncomfortable truth: wealthy folk and even middle-class folk frown on the poor, have a distaste for affordable housing being near them, and exacerbate unhealthy perceptions of the poor by falsely aligning them with negative attributes—attributes, mind you, that span the economic spectrum but fall disproportionately onto the poor.

This isn’t necessarily due to some innate spite for the poor but, rather, the disconnection between the haves and the have-nots; when you don’t talk to or deal with or face those who aren’t like you, you depend on what is fed to you about those people through other sources: social media, news, side comments from friends at brunch…

The only real way to alter this perspective is by forcing folks to hear each other’s stories, to know one another—that is why it is so important to examine what type of housing is being put where.

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