What Exactly Has Been Approved by the City?
In December 2016, the City approved the Venice-Dell-Pacific site to be included in its Affordable Housing Opportunity Sites Program, and has approved Venice Community Housing (VCH) and Hollywood Community Housing Corp. (HCHC) to pursue an affordable and permanent supportive housing development on the site. The City’s program also requires that any development proposal include all existing public parking spaces. In January 2017, the City, VCH and HCHC entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) for the site.
What Has Not Been Approved by the City?
The City has not approved any final project proposal. Once a final project proposal is prepared by the development team, it will have to be approved through all of the regular public approval processes with the City, including the Planning Commission and City Council, as well as the State’s Coastal Commission.
Who Is Housed in Affordable and Permanent Supportive Housing?
Permanent supportive housing tenants must be homeless at the time of lease up, and can include families or individuals, people with a variety of disabilities, people with chronic health conditions, people who are chronically homeless (for more than one year and a disability), or other target groups. Affordable housing generally serves people earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income, and can target individuals or families, seniors, lower wage workers, artists, and others. All residents in affordable and permanent supportive housing are tenants, with legal tenant rights and responsibilities.
Will the Site be Developed as a Homeless Shelter?
No. The City’s program requires the development of affordable housing. Also, the development team’s missions are to develop permanent, affordable housing. This means that the people who live in the housing planned for this site will be long-term tenants and pay rent.
How Does the County’s Coordinated Entry System (CES) Work?
The CES system created centralized wait lists for permanent supportive housing throughout LA County. Although the CES system is Countywide, the wait lists are regional. This site is in Service Planning Area 5 (SPA 5), and therefore would receive referrals for permanent supportive housing tenants from the SPA 5 wait list, which includes people who are currently without housing and living in Westside communities. CES is not one Countywide wait/referral list.
Why Should We Build Affordable and Permanent Supportive Housing in Venice and Not Other Communities?
Affordable and permanent supportive housing are primarily being built in other communities. There are more than 8,000 permanent supportive housing units (PSH) operating Countywide, and only 42 of them are in Venice. In other Westside communities, Santa Monica has more than 350 PSH units and Del Rey has at least 85 PSH units. The large majority of PSH units have been produced in communities in Downtown Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, and the Valley. There hasn’t been significant affordable housing production in Venice since the 1990s.
What social services that you know of will have to be on site for the chronically homeless? Please be specific.
For developments that serve chronically homeless people, there are generally on-site case managers and a 24-hour crisis response system. The case managers work with the tenant to identify actions and services that can improve their health, mental health, and address other needs and goals as well as ensure their housing stability. Depending on the size of a project, or the specific group(s) of people served, there may be other on-site services in order to provide an integrated and accessible service approach for tenants. Also, the case managers connect people to off-site services they may need such as health care, food assistance, and others. For the proposed project at Venice-Dell-Pacific, we will create a detailed service plan once the size of the project is determined and the specific groups of people to be housed are identified. We will share that as part of the project proposal.
Will these services be available to any homeless person in the area regardless of whether they have permanent housing at the site?
Neither HCHC nor VCH offers services to homeless residents at our permanent supportive housing sites – our services onsite are for formerly homeless tenants and other low-income tenants that live in the property. VCH offers our homeless services at our main site on Rose Avenue and our storage site on the Boardwalk – neither of which are housing sites. We imagine this property would operate the same way and only offer social services to tenants, not currently homeless residents, though we aren’t yet at the stage of development where all of the uses have been determined.
Of the existing parking spaces that will remain, what percentage will be used by staff and tenants?
The parking requirement in the City program is that all of the current public parking spots remain open and available to the public. The development will generate additional parking requirements for residential tenants, staffing, potential commercial uses, or other uses – all of that parking has to be provided in addition to the current public parking.
Will the development generate a profit and/or are there private investors in the project expecting a return on their investment?
No. The development team consists of two non-profit affordable housing developers, and this team will develop, own and operate the project under the non-profit model. There is an initial private investment into most affordable housing developments through a tax credit program. The tax credit is the immediate return on the investment; there are no additional financial benefits to those investors.
Will the rents be subsidized at the current market rate in Venice?
No. In affordable and permanent supportive housing, there is a rent cap on each unit and an income cap for each tenant of each unit. The maximum rents that can be collected are set Citywide and Countywide by the government funding programs. For example, the maximum rent that can be collected on a 2-bedroom unit intended to house a family making 50% of the area median income is about $900 – no matter if the unit is built in Venice or in Lancaster. As another example, the City’s Housing Authority only subsidizes an individual household’s rent for a 1 bedroom unit up to a maximum of $1,300, no matter the neighborhood. No government funds would be allowed to subsidize rents at anywhere near the current market rent for vacant units in Venice.
Can you provide information for those of us who support the project to be better able to answer questions asked by friend and neighbors?
Yes. We are trying to do that through our ongoing Q&A responses, and we will be updating written materials people can use on an ongoing basis. Please feel free to reach out for specific information needed.
Is the development team planning to build 200+ units at this site?
No. Our March 9th draft proposal includes 136 affordable units and 4 for resident property management staff. This is not the final proposal, and the number of units could change. However, given the land size and elements of the Venice Specific Plan, we believe this is the maximum number of units that could be included.
Where will beach-goers park?
All existing public parking must be included in any development proposal for this site, so beach-goers will have access to the same number of parking spaces.
What are the specific groups of people that housing units can be legally dedicated for, both in affordable housing and permanent supportive housing?
Permanent supportive housing (PSH) provides affordable housing with wrap around social services to formerly homeless individuals and families. Under current regulations, PSH units can be specifically dedicated for the following groups: chronically homeless people, people with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, people with or families including a person with mental illness, people with chronic health conditions who are high utilizers of the County health system, seniors, Veterans and families.
*Note: Chronically homeless refers to individuals or heads of household that have a disabling condition and have been homeless continuously for at least 12 months or on at least four occasions in the last three years, where the combined time of occasions is at least 12 months.
Affordable housing generally serves individuals and families with incomes at or below 60% of the area median income (AMI) for Los Angeles. Under current regulations, affordable housing units can be specifically dedicated for the following groups: extremely low-income households (making up to 30-35% of AMI), very low-income households (making up to 50% of AMI), low-income households (making up to 60% of AMI), seniors, families, and artists.
Will the rents be subsidized at the current market rate in Venice? What are the specific rent and income limits for affordable and permanent supportive housing units?
No, the rents will not be subsidized at the current market rate in Venice. In affordable and permanent supportive housing, there is a rent cap on each unit and an income cap for each tenant of each unit. The maximum rents that can be collected are set Citywide and Countywide by the government funding programs. For example, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is a key source of financing for affordable rental housing. Each year a state agency, the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC), publishes maximum incomes for the residents (income limits) and maximum rents the landlord may charge (rent limits).
Most recent maximum income limits are here: http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/ctcac/rentincome/16/income/post20160328.pdf
Most recent maximum rent limits are here: http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/ctcac/rentincome/16/rent/post20160328.pdf
Will there be on-site property management and/or other staff at the new development?
Yes. California Code of Regulations, Title 25, Section 42 states that if an apartment building has 16 or more units, then a responsible person is required to live on site (usually a highly trained resident-manager). As the number of units increase so do the staffing/residence requirements. Additionally, social service staff work on-site in affordable and permanent supportive housing, as well as maintenance staff and possibly other support staff. Our March 9th draft includes 4 on-site property management staff and 4 social service staff, as well as staffing by partners through an integrated services collaborative.
Who funds the supportive services provided in permanent supportive housing?
A large variety of public and private funding sources, including the LA County Departments of Health and Mental Health and private foundations. There is a ballot measure on the March 7th ballot for LA County, Measure H, which would increase the sales tax by ¼ cent to fund services in permanent supportive housing, in order to make the increased development from November’s Measure HHH more successful.
How many units will be rented and how many will be free?
Affordable and permanent supportive housing is planned for this site. All affordable and permanent supportive housing units are rented, none are free.
How many affordable and permanent supportive housing units does Venice Community Housing have in Venice now?
Venice Community Housing owns and operates 93 affordable and permanent supportive housing units in Venice. Of those, 43 are general affordable housing, 42 are permanent supportive housing, and 8 are crisis housing units for homeless families. Venice Community Housing owns and operates an additional 123 affordable and permanent supportive housing units in the Mar Vista and Del Rey communities.
Is there a possibility that there won’t be services provided at this site because Proposition HHH can only fund construction of units, not social services?
No. Proposition HHH creates a dedicated, local source of funds for the capital costs of constructing permanent supportive housing (PSH). PSH is funded by multiple sources, and are blended together to ensure funding for both construction and ongoing staffing needs and services for tenants in the building. Current sources of funding for services in PSH include Los Angeles County, the Home for Good funders collaborative which is led by the United Way, and other public and private sources. Measure H, on LA County’s ballot on March 7th, would increase the resources that LA County has to fund services for homeless and formerly homeless residents.
Why should we spend so much money on constructing new permanent supportive housing?
Multiple studies have shown that the funds spent to create and operate new permanent supportive housing actually save governments money, as it costs more in emergency health care, arrests or jail stays, emergency shelters and other public costs of people remaining homeless. Additionally, there is a severe housing shortage at most all income levels in the City of Los Angeles, especially at the lowest income levels. We can and do provide public funds and social service support for homeless people to move into existing housing, but the housing stock is too limited to be able to house everyone by this method. Even people with Section 8 vouchers have a hard time finding available housing, often facing the expiration of their voucher and remaining homeless. We need to build more homes and use the existing housing stock to address homelessness, and this approach saves Los Angeles money in the long run.
Why not just buy existing run-down apartments or motels and house homeless people there?
Both VCH and HCHC, as well as many other non-profit organizations, can and do renovate apartments and motels to create PSH when the circumstances warrant such an approach, however, there are some practical obstacles to consider. For example, we cannot pay more than fair market value for a property and many owners of multifamily properties and motels are not interested in selling because they either want above market prices today or they want to sell in the future when property values have reached new heights. Secondly, vacancy rates are very low in multifamily properties and it is problematic to displace existing households so that their unit can be renovated and re-rented to a formerly homeless household. Existing buildings will continue to be purchased and renovated by affordable housing developers, but, as stated above, this must happen in conjunction with the development of brand new units in order to address LA’s severe housing shortage.
Can we expect a “Safe Parking” program at the site?
No. Neither HCHC nor VCH offers services to homeless residents at our permanent supportive housing sites – our services onsite are for formerly homeless tenants and other low-income tenants that live in the property. Additionally, the new safe parking program is targeting parking lots that are not in use overnight. This will not be the case at the Venice-Dell-Pacific site if a residential development is achieved.
What was the process for selecting VCH and HCHC to develop this property?
The City Administrative Officer (CAO) released a Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFP/Q) and VCH and HCHC responded with proposals. From the CAO’s public report, “The five-member Selection Panel for the RFQ/P consisted of four City staff and one non-City staff engaged in housing work. City staff consisted of representatives from the CAO, CLA, HCID, and the Department of City Planning (DCP). The non-City panelist was from the County of Los Angeles Chief Executive Office (County CEO) Homeiess Initiative.” The public documents and meetings related to the RFP/Q are available here: https://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=16-0600-S145
Will the City’s planned storage program serving homeless residents be included at the Venice-Dell-Pacific site?
No. That program is being pursued separately, and will not be operated by Venice Community Housing or Hollywood Community Housing Corp.
Where can we find information about the impacts and success rates of permanent supportive housing?
The Corporation for Supportive Housing has published studies, research results and other information available online at www.csh.org.
Is it too late to submit input on the development?
No, there will a substantial amount of ongoing community engagement and input. The presentation on March 9th will be of a draft concept for the site, based on community input to date. The development team will then engage in further community outreach to gather input on the draft concept before finalizing a concept. Then we will begin the design phase for the project, which will include additional community input and engagement. Further, the project will have to be considered and/or approved in multiple public meetings held by the Neighborhood Council, the City and the Coastal Commission where public comment is included.
What is the timeline of the next steps for developing this site?
Please reference the final pages of the powerpoint to review unanswered questions and next steps, available at https://www.vchcorp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Venice-Dell-Pacific-Presentation-3-9-17.pdf. We will continue to gather feedback on the preliminary program through early April, and determine a final set of elements that we’d like to include. Design will start in April, and will include feedback from the interactive, on-site design workshop on April 15th. It is our goal to present an overview of our proposal, including design and financing strategies, to the community in June. We will then begin the formal approval process, including a development agreement with the City, seeking entitlements, and public hearings and approvals. We don’t yet have an estimated timeline for the public approval process.
I recently read an article that had diagrams and a great deal if info, but they did not mention the number of stories these structures would be. Can you please provide me this information?
We are starting the design process in April, and should have preliminary information in May about height, size and other design elements. Design workshop(s) and other design-related community engagement opportunities will be announced in the weekly emails.
What has changed from your original concept submitted to the City?
To date, several changes or additions have been made, including: a slight reduction in the total number of units; permanent supportive housing serving families in addition to individuals; a change in unit mix from all 1 bedrooms to a mix of studios and 1 and 2 bedroom units; the inclusion of low-income artist housing and community arts space; ground floor usage east of the canal to incorporate live-work space for artists and contribute to the emerging Venice Arts District; the inclusion of social enterprise/job training as a part of the community-serving retail; isolating public parking primarily on the west side of the canal instead of mixing parking uses on both sides; site layout and design elements that respond to heavy traffic (more detail to be developed); a focus on innovative tools to prioritize people currently homeless in Venice while adhering to fair housing regulation; and incorporating and prioritizing shared space and shared uses between tenants and the larger community(ies).
What are the sizes of the units? (The units are too big, and should be smaller)
The Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC), the primary source of funding for affordable housing, sets minimum standards for the size of units, and we plan to create units at or near those minimums at Venice-Dell-Pacific. In the 2017 program regulations, the minimum unit sizes are:
Studios (including private bath and kitchen): 200 square feet; 1-bedroom: 450 square feet; and 2-bedroom: 700 square feet.
Is food/nutrition included in social services for permanent supportive housing or other tenants?
Yes, food and nutrition resources can be and often are included in a social services collaborative. Examples are food pantries, community gardens and kitchens, nutrition workshops, weekly transportation to grocery stores, and others. Those will all be considered for Venice-Dell-Pacific, and we are also looking into how the social enterprise/retail on site could meet food and nutrition needs at all income levels.
Has the specific zone change and/or floor area ratio (FAR) been decided?
No, not yet.
Based upon initial research and feedback during the community engagement process, it is likely that the uses and design of this property will prevent the development team from using retired storage containers as housing. However, it is our understanding that the City’s housing team is researching effective implementation of this option for Los Angeles.
What are the boundaries for SPA 5 (the County’s Service Planning Area served by the Coordinated Entry System)? Service Planning Area 5, or SPA 5, serves the communities of Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Culver City, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Santa Monica, and Venice. The website is here: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/CHS/SPA5/index.htm. In a previous Q&A, we described the Coordinated Entry System, or CES:
How Does the County’s Coordinated Entry System (CES) Work? The CES system created centralized wait lists for permanent supportive housing throughout LA County. Although the CES system is Countywide, the wait lists are regional. This site is in Service Planning Area 5 (SPA 5), and therefore would receive referrals for permanent supportive housing tenants from the SPA 5 wait list, which includes people who are currently without housing and living in Westside communities. CES is not one Countywide wait/referral list.
What percentage or number of units could be set-aside for a master lease with Venice-specific outreach teams, as a method to target Venice street dwellers for this housing? We don’t have a percentage or number for the master lease idea yet, as we are researching that piece of the project and that decision would be made much later in the development process. We are committed to pursuing this option.
The model/template for large scale buildings with concentrated populations is questionable to ineffective, such as Cabrini Green in Chicago being torn down and replaced with small building density. Cabrini Green had 3,600 units and was home to 15,000 people. We are proposing 140 units, or 4% of the size of Cabrini Green. Our proposal is well within Housing Authorities’ new outlook on appropriately sized communities, in fact it’s much smaller.
Is this the most efficient use of funds? Are there better alternatives? Based on substantive research over the past decade, development of permanent supportive housing is a cost effective intervention that saves local governments money and successfully ends homelessness for most. There are also other cost-effective programs and interventions, but permanent supportive housing development is greatly needed to supplement other programs in Los Angeles in order to end homelessness.
What is the update on the design process? Will you stop your design process until there is more opportunity for input? Our team, particularly the architects, are in the process of creating and refining possible design concepts for the site. We estimate that we will have something to present at a community meeting by mid-June. We will continue to accept and incorporate input throughout the design process, but we aren’t going to stop our process as we’ve heard overwhelmingly that people would like to have something more concrete to see, evaluate and respond to.
The proposed project has not yet been submitted to or approved by the Coastal Commission. That process is expected to take place sometime in the next year or so. The site is within the Venice Specific Plan area.
- 68 PSH apartments for formerly homeless individuals and families (household income ≤ 30% Area Median Income (AMI))
- 34 apartments for low-income artists (≤ 60% AMI)
- 34 apartments for lower wage households (≤ 60% AMI)
- 4 apartments for on-site employees such as resident managers and maintenance personnel
- 4 full-time case managers who will work with residents only and will meet in offices and community spaces that have been incorporated into the property.
- Partnerships with existing service providers, food pantries, and other community-based organizations to ensure that residents can address pressing needs and are connected to opportunities in the community.
- Community Arts Space, with flexible design for multiple uses including community meetings
- Community-Serving Retail and/or Social Enterprise
- Open/Green space and garden(s)
- Public, residential and commercial parking
- Two primary building zones (east and west of the canal), with varied massing that helps create the feel of multiple buildings
- A varied roof line on the buildings
- Probable zone change request to RAS3, though other zoning options are being explored
- Public plaza/landscape surrounding a revitalized canal
- Pedestrian arcades
- Multi-level landscape features, with an increased focus on ground-level green space
- Ground-level artist lofts and shared arts space
- Sidewalk width of 10 feet, with a minimum of an additional 5 foot setback to the building (some areas greater than 5 feet)
- Maintain the current level of public parking in addition to the parking required for the project
Note: Some design features and program elements that have been discussed at community meetings, such as traffic, are still to be studied.
- Housing = 75,000 sq ft
- Neighborhood serving retail/Social enterprise/Flexible arts spaces = 10,500 sq ft
- Parking = 420 spaces (including 188 existing public parking spaces); Footprint of parking = 37,400 sq ft (continuous ramp layout)
- July-August 2017
- Finish designs and other architectural work
- September 2017
- Submit application to develop the site to the City of Los Angeles
Note: This application includes requested zone changes, design plans and other details, is a public document, and will be made available to the public by the development team
- Submit application to develop the site to the City of Los Angeles
- September 2017 thru September 2018
- Public hearings and public approvals, including:
- Venice Neighborhood Council
- Coastal Commission
- City of Los Angeles (likely multiple City hearings/approvals)
- Public hearings and public approvals, including:
- September 2017 thru September 2018
- Complete Environmental Impact Report and related public hearings/approval
- December 2017
- Target date to enter into a development agreement with the City
Note: Under the current Exclusive Negotiating Agreement, this can take place anytime up to December 2018
- Target date to enter into a development agreement with the City
- September 2017
- Create project budget and financing plan
- Fall 2017 thru May 2019
- Complete public funding process, including applications for:
- Prop HHH funds (City of LA)
- LA County affordable housing funds
- No Place Like Home funds (State of CA)
- Tax credits and tax-exempt bonds (federal source, administered by CA)
Note: Some, but not all, funding approvals include public hearings
Will units for people with disabilities be included at this site?
Yes. At a minimum, we will provide a specific number of units that are fully accessible, along with accessible common areas, as required by law. We are also likely to use funding for development and/or rental subsidies that further target and/or prioritize people with disabilities, such as the new No Place Like Home state funds, the County’s Housing for Health program, and others. However, we are not yet at the point of financing the project, so the specifics of the populations to be served aren’t yet known. We will keep people updated as we go through the process, but it is certain that people with disabilities will be served by this project.
Will the City have public hearings to discuss what goes into the Development and Disposition Agreement (DDA)? In our experience, the City generally does not hold public hearings to inform the content of a DDA in advance of drafting. However, there is a public approval process for any DDA, which includes public testimony.
Your website states that an application to develop the site will be submitted to the City in September. Does this mean all public input on design and other related work is over? Does this mean that at this time we will know what the project is going to look like, number of units, square footage, etc.? Does it make sense to apply to develop the site now if the development agreement has not been approved yet? The project approvals will likely take 12 – 14 months, and there are a lot of public hearings and other interactions during that time so public input on design and other related work does not end when the application is submitted. The application will include our proposal details, and is a public document and will be made available. Lastly, it does make sense to start the process prior to approval of a development agreement, as the development agreement is just one part of the overall approval process. We need to go through the development process concurrently – not all of the steps happen sequentially.