PASADENA, CA – On April 14, Union Station Homeless Services joined National Community Renaissance (National CORE), representatives of Los Angeles County, and the Mayor and Council Members of the City of Pasadena to celebrate the ground breaking of Mar Vista Apartments, an affordable housing development for low-income, homeless families. Mar Vista features 10 one-bedroom and 10 two bed-room units, with four units equipped for the mobility impaired and audio or visually impaired, and one unit reserved for an onsite coordinator. Other amenities include a community garden, tot lot, community room, onsite computer lab, and laundry rooms.
The project, scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2016, is a collaborative effort between Union Station Homeless Services and National CORE, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing. Funding for Mar Vista Apartments will be provided by Los Angeles Community Development Commission (LA CDC), First 5 LA, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits through the State of California, and the City of Pasadena. Union Station will provide the onsite wrap-around services to residents, such as health care, substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling, and employment assistance.
“It all started with a vision from Marv Gross to provide the homeless clients they serve at Union Station with permanent housing,” says Julie Mungai, VP of Acquisitions with National CORE. The vision became a reality when William Huang, Director of Housing for the City of Pasadena, approached Union Station and National CORE about the reuse or demolition of the former Broadway Apartments, located on North Mar Vista Avenue.
The previous owner of the apartments had relocated it there from its original site near Fuller Seminary. The abandoned apartment complex fell into disrepair as efforts to preserve the building as a historic structure were constantly delayed. The construction of the Mar Vista Apartments will be a positive change for the once dilapidated lot, and will bring change for the lives of its future residents.
“This is an important neighborhood improvement project,” Victor Gordo, council member of the City of Pasadena states. “Families will soon come here and we’ll be proud when they leave here as successful members of the community.”
For over 40 years, Union Station has worked with the City of Pasadena to help individuals and families transition from homelessness. The results from Pasadena’s 2015 Homeless Count show a 5% decrease in the overall homeless population from last year, with a reduction of 48% within the past 4 years. However, while the number of people experiencing homelessness has decreased, the remaining population has greater and more extensive needs, making them more visible to the public.
“This is a critically important project,” says William Huang, the City of Pasadena’s Director of Housing and Career Services. “It will end homelessness for 19 families. If you think of 632 homeless people in a city that’s only 23 square miles, it’s still way too many people.”
“This effort has required many hands and many hearts. Mar Vista has been a labor of love,” Marv Gross, CEO of Union Station Homeless Services addressed the crowd. “We’re groundbreaking today, but this event is ground breaking because this is the first purpose built permanent housing for families in Pasadena. Families will have the opportunity to rebuild their lives. This is something we can all be proud of.”