The Pilipino Worker’s Center and LTSC Community Development Corporation on Thursday celebrated the groundbreaking of the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) Family Housing project.
When completed, PWC Family Housing will provide 45 total units of affordable family housing, including nine units set aside for transition-age youth and 22 units for homeless individuals. All units are affordable and range from 30 to 50 percent average median income.
In addition, the project will provide community and social service space for access to recreational activities; assistance in accessing affordable healthcare; case management services regarding immigration; employment or healthcare-related issues or needs; and job skills workshops such as financial literary, computer skills trainings, and resume building; a community technology center; and retail space.
The project is near one of the entrances into Historic Filipinotown and the exterior design will integrate the unique and various Pilipino architectural styles in order to distinctly mark the gateway into Historic Filipinotown.
The PWC Family Housing would not be possible without funding from Bank of America, which provided over $9 million in a construction loan, a $2.25 million permanent loan and $9 million in tax credit equity investment. The Environmental Protection Agency’s $200,000 Brownfields Cleanup Grant helped to cap historic underground petroleum tanks and remove 1,000 yards of contaminated soil. California Department of Toxic Substances Control assisted with an $88,000 grant from the EPA-funded Brownfield Revolving Loan program to remove hazardous waste from demolished buildings at the site.
“EPA is pleased to be part of this outstanding nonprofit and public agency partnership showcasing how we can work together to revitalize neighborhoods and create affordable housing,” said Noemi Emeric Ford, EPA’s Brownfields coordinator.
Thomas Cota, acting assistant deputy director of DTSC Brownfields and Environmental Restoration Program, added, “We are pleased to have provided funding for this affordable family housing project, which provides critical service to the community.”
Other funders include the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Enterprise Community Partners, California Department of Housing and Community Development, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, California Housing Finance Agency, Mental Health Services Act Housing Program, CALReUSE, City of Los Angeles Housing Department, County of Los Angeles Department of Mental Health, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles.
The project’s service provider, PWC, began serving the neighborhood in 1997. PWC recognized that Pilipinos are the largest Asian population in Los Angeles with many recent immigrants going to Historic Filipinotown for language-appropriate and culturally sensitive services. PWC’s constituency is mostly working poor residents in low-wage service-sector jobs with over 75 percent working as parking attendants, home healthcare providers, convalescent home workers, restaurant workers and retail workers. A majority of the jobs only offer minimum wage and rarely provide health insurance or benefits.Nearly 21,000 Pilipino Americans in the county live below the federal poverty line, and nearly 60,000 live below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
Through counseling, workshops, and referrals in employment, immigration, and healthcare, PWC is aware of other challenges that its constituency faces. After many residents voiced concern over their living situation, including increases in rent, threats of eviction, and the hardships of living in dilapidated and severely overcrowded units, PWC felt compelled to act on the need for decent and affordable housing.
Little Tokyo Service Center Community Development Corporation is the lead developer; the community partner is PWC; the architect is Birba Group Architects; the construction manager is Castle & Gray International; the general contractor is Walton Construction Services; the financial consultant is Inclusive Homes; the legal consultant is Gubb & Barshay.