Nonprofit plans to build 160-unit affordable housing project by 2025

A new 160-unit affordable housing project in the Washington Neighborhood could be completed by early 2025 that would provide housing for some of the lowest income households in the city as well as homeless veterans.

The project was proposed by the Skid Row Housing Trust, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that has existed for over 30 years and has 20 similar projects in the pipeline, but this is the only one of its kind in Long Beach. The project site is located at 1401 Long Beach Blvd. and has been titled “Union” by the housing trust.

The Union could add 160 units of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with 20 units set aside for veterans experiencing homelessness and the rest being workforce housing for some of the lowest income households.

Sierra Atilano, Skid Row Housing Trust’s chief real estate officer, said that the project could break ground as soon as the first quarter of 2023 and is expected to take about two years to complete.

The $80 million project is an important addition to the city which has seen increasing rents for years, Atilano said. She also worked on the market-rate Urban Village project that opened in 2015 a few blocks south of where the Union could be built and said that projected rents increased by 25% before the project was completed.

“What we thought we were going to lease it for and what we did lease it for increased that much,” Atilano said.

In addition to providing homes for homeless veterans, Atilano said the project is targeting the “missing middle” of the housing market to provide affordable options for extremely-low and low-income households.

For Los Angeles County, that covers a family of four with household incomes between $33,800 to $90,100, according to the most recent data from the Department of Housing and Community Development.

“There were a lot of people who were priced out of Long Beach and we’re hoping that this project brings them back or allows them to stay in Long Beach,” Atilano said.

In addition to the 20 projects it has in the pipeline, the Skid Row Housing Trust manages 26 affordable and supportive housing sites throughout Los Angeles County.

It’s likely that this project will require a lottery to determine which applicants will end up getting to live there if the project is completed. Atilano said that previous projects the trust has completed have had to use a lottery system with one project having over 6,000 applicants for just 36 units.

The Long Beach City Council on Tuesday is expected to agree to sign onto the application for $30 million in state housing development money in partnership with the Skid Row Housing Trust to increase the chances of the housing trust landing the funding.

The majority of the funding, $20 million, would go toward financing the project while $10 million would go toward improving the surrounding public infrastructure.

Pacific Coast Highway could be connected to Ocean Boulevard with a bike route as well as improvements to the Metro Blue Line station and other landscaping and pedestrian improvements would be made with the funds. It could also bring three new electric buses to Long Beach Transit’s fleet.

A city memo said that an indemnification agreement will remove any liability for the city to repay the grant funding if the project is not completed.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.