A screenshot of the initial renderings of the Holos Communities "Denali" project on Fourth Street between Atlantic Avenue and Linden Avenue. Photo courtesy of Holos Communities

The former site of the Long Beach Housing Authority on Fourth Street could be transformed into a 14-story affordable housing development that would provide three-quarters of its units and permanent supportive programs to chronically unhoused people, with the rest of the units reserved for low-income households.

Plans submitted to the city last week outline the first high-rise project from Holos Communities, which is seeking approval to build the 103-unit project near the intersection of Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue. The North Hollywood-based Holos Communities formerly operated as Clifford Beers Housing.

The project is named “Denali,” after the Alaskan mountain, which is the tallest in North America. It could add badly needed affordable units and space to allow unhoused people to get off the streets. Holos received a $4 million loan from the city in January to pursue this project.

Long Beach’s homeless count in 2022 showed an increase of 62% of homelessness in the city from 2020, with nearly 3,300 people living in some state of homelessness. In terms of housing production, Long Beach’s short-term goal of building 26,502 units by 2029 includes a need for roughly 11,200 units for low-income households.

A community meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 20, at the Covenant Presbyterian Church on Third Street near the project site where residents can ask questions about the project.

Audrey Peterson, the director of housing for Holos Communities, said that the affordable units would be allocated through a lottery process and noted that the nonprofit typically has a large waiting list for its units.

The units would be reserved for households making between 50% and 80% of the area median income, or about $42,000-$67,000 for a single person, and Peterson said it would use a priority system to help ensure people living close to the development would have the first opportunity to secure a unit.

Who lives in the units for chronically unhoused people would be determined by working with the city, which means the units will serve people who are experiencing homelessness in Long Beach, Peterson said.

“Once you get someone something permanent, it’s so much more stabilizing to that person and that household,” Peterson said, adding that Holos believes in a housing-first approach.

Denali won’t simply include new housing units.

A screenshot of the initial rendering of the Denali project from Holos Communities. The 14-story building would dedicate 75% of its units to chronically unhoused people. Photo courtesy of Holos Communities

The private units would come with onsite services like classes to teach cooking, how to do laundry and other life skills. There will also be community rooms and on-site therapy. Transportation to offsite services like medical appointments, as well as onsite mobile clinics for dental visits, are things Holos could provide once the project is built.

Peterson said the ratio of residents to providers will be about 15 to 1, with Holos working in a “three-pronged approach” with its property management and its service provider, which is expected to be Mental Health America of Los Angeles.

“Holos doesn’t leave properties after they’re built,” Peterson said. “We hold onto those properties and manage the assets.”

She added that there are not a lot of people who choose to live on the streets, and they expect this project to be fully leased if its completed because of the private rooms—something city officials say has proven to be more popular in getting people to accept shelter compared to congregate living situations.

Paul Duncan, the city’s homeless services bureau manager, said that having around 75 units of permanent supportive housing would be life-changing for those that get to move in.

“If we can begin to address those that have experienced longer-term homelessness it reduces the amount of trauma and time on the street which tends to impact lots of the service systems,” Duncan said in an email.

Because the proposed project is fully affordable, it can be taller than the current limit for building heights in the area, which is 80 feet.

The 14-story building would be replacing a two-story structure and would be the tallest in the immediate area, with an 11-story building at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Fourth Street being the next tallest.

Rick De La Torre, a spokesperson for the city’s Development Services department, said that there are multiple avenues the developer could use to exceed the area’s building height limit. Specifically, De La Torre said it could use the state’s density bonus law, which generally doesn’t set an upper height limitation on all-affordable projects.

The project is in the pre-development process with the city, but the current estimate for when it could break ground is 2025, with the project being completed in 2027, according to Holos’ website.

Holos has several projects already in operation in Long Beach, including the Vistas del Puerto, a 47-unit affordable housing project in Central Long Beach that opened in 2022.

The Denali would also have a sustainability element to it. It would have extensive solar power included in the building, with all electric appliances and a goal of having its operations emit zero emissions, according to Aaron Perry-Zucker, a spokesperson for Holos.

The April 20 meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. inside Covenant Presbyterian Church located at 607 E. Third Street. Translation in Spanish, Khmer and Tagalog is expected to be provided. 

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.