Award Winning Programs
Providing high-quality, secure and supportive public housing in any major metropolitan area, as any housing provider can imagine, is a real challenge. Add on the desire to create a sense of community, offer sustainable building design, and truly change residents’ lives, and it might sounds like a task of insurmountable proportions. But the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) has earned national recognition for accomplishing all of the above. Along the way, they’ve become a model for public housing programming as they achieve real results through their efforts.
HACLA, a Yardi client, manages 75,400 units, has a budget of $1 billion annually, and aims to increase its capacity by 30,000 units over the next decade. Conventional public housing, Section 8, special programs and a small portfolio of asset management units are included within its oversight.
Truth be told, each of the programs that HACLA has been recognized for could be worthy of an article on their own. To provide a comprehensive overview of some of the amazing things the agency is doing, HACLA staff helped us assemble the following summaries.
1. Community Safety Partnership (CSP)
Safety and policing is a vital part of any public housing program. In an effort to improve the relationship between Los Angeles public housing residents and the LAPD, an agreement was struck to assign 45 permanent officers to four public housing communities that needed a law enforcement presence. Imperial Courts, Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens and Ramona Gardens were each assigned 10 officers to work on crime reduction, programming, quality of life and communication with residents. This ongoing relationship allows residents to get to know the officers, bring them concerns, and work together to create solutions.
2. Dana Strand Senior Housing
A major need within the affordable housing sector nationwide is for more senior units. A new 100-unitproject within HACLA, the Dana Strand Senior Housing Project, was recently constructed in the Wilmington neighborhood. A focus on sustainability and green features earned this project special attention. Dana Strange, which was developed through a partnership between HACLA and ROEM Development Corporation, achieved USGBC’s LEED-H Gold certification, one of the toughest in industry guidelines for sustainable building and maintenance. Dana Strand offers high-quality, affordable housing that encourages a healthy, active living environment and reduces impact on our air, water and landfills.
3. UCLA Students Contribute
Building bridges between public housing and other community resources can be beneficial to both sides. HACLA partnered with UCLA to bring in energetic student volunteers for two significant community improvement projects. First, HACLA and 50 Bruins created a library in Ramona Gardens, with students painting shelves and sorting donated books. Next, 300 students helped beautify the grounds of the Nickerson Gardens community. Socially, benefits came on both sides. The students learned more about the needs and condition of public housing in LA, and residents were exposed to young university volunteers, encouraging education and community service.
4. Homeless Assistance Initiative
Homelessness is a major social issue in Los Angeles County, and HACLA has been a vital participant in the Home for Good initiative, a 5-year plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness. The agency supports 8600 households within four programs: Shelter Plus Care, Project-Based Voucher, Tenant Based Supportive Housing and HUD-VASH. They’ve also reduced procedural barriers to get eligible homeless persons into available homes, and attempted to ease the transitions between the Shelter Plus Care program into standard, voucher-enabled public housing. Shelter Plus Care entails rental assistance and treatment support for persons diagnosed with a mental illness, substance abuse problem, HIV/AIDS or a dual diagnosis. The Authority’s dedication to decreasing chronic homelessness was recognized in 2012 by the United Way of the Greater Los Angeles.
5. HUD – VASH Streamlined Procedures
Helping homeless veterans stabilize their housing situation and receive medical treatment and job training support are among the aims of the HUD-VASH Program, a joint national initiative of HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The program combines rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services in an attempt to return the veteran to mainstream society. Each agency refers eligible families to the other, and housing support continues as long as the veteran is receiving assistance from the Veterans Administration Medical Center.
6. Jordan Downs: “Yes, in my backyard”
Jordan Downs was the nation’s first Veterans Housing Project and was converted to public housing in the early 1950’s, giving it a long history in LA. Currently slated for complete redevelopment, Jordan Downs has at times struggled with violence and gang activity. To ensure a peaceful place to live, HACLA created an outreach program that met weekly in supportive residents’ backyards to discuss questions and concerns. HACLA also invited resident volunteer Block Captains and LAPD to participate. These meetings improved communication; improved residents’ perception of and interaction with neighbors, HACLA and LAPD; and helped build a stronger sense of community.
7. Motivated Mothers of Jordan Downs
Mothers are often the heads of households within the Jordan Downs community, and the Motivated Mothers program aims to bring them together to support and learn from one another. The intent is to empower and engage grandmothers, new mothers, neighbors and bridge the gap between families and school, promote health and wellness, provide alternative parenting strategies, and raise successful children. Activities include a financial literacy seminar, healthy cooking class, holiday gatherings, and weekly fitness group.
8. Project Fatherhood
Getting absent or uninvolved dads back in their children’s lives is the focus of Project Fatherhood, which provides group therapy for fathers. The goal is to optimize child development by minimizing physical and emotional father absence. Outreach is made to ex-offenders who have children living in public housing to assist them in becoming better fathers and emotionally and financially supportive parents through group therapy. Other support includes job training and placement with understanding employers. Project Fatherhood is a partnership of Children’s Institute International, We Care Outreach Ministries and HACLA, and was recently featured in the Los Angeles Times.
9. Resident Paint Collaboration – My Beautiful New Community!
Getting residents involved in management and maintenance decisions like exterior paint choices for buildings can build a strong sense of ownership and community involvement. At Nickerson Gardens and Mar Vista Gardens, authority staff presented five color palettes developed by staff, and painted five unit exteriors so residents could assess the effect. HACLA and resident leaders held meetings over several weeks, and residents voted for their preferred palettes. Resident hires, required of the painting contractors selected, furthered community engagement. The result has been increased community pride and little graffiti.