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					The New Village Inn

1,000 Homes
The Urban Land Institute’s 1,000 Homes Competition initiative focuses on helping to address
the problem of chronic homelessness in LA County. This competition facilitates the
cooperation of stakeholders including elected officials, non-profit organizations, and the
private sector “in order to develop solutions that are effective, practical, and attainable” to
create solutions that have a lasting impact on the populations they are designed to serve.




Gabriel Albi+Joy Kim+Raul Lugo+Seung Jeung
Table of Contents
Introduction .............................................................................................................3
First Day ...................................................................................................................4
Strategic Vision .......................................................................................................8
Existing Conditions .............................................................................................. 10
Considerations ...................................................................................................... 13
Recommendations................................................................................................ 15
Development Analysis ......................................................................................... 18
Operations ............................................................................................................. 19
Funding .................................................................................................................... 20
Conclusion............................................................................................................. 21
Introduction


This report was made possible with collaborations from the Urban Land Institute
of Los Angeles, The City of Whittier, California, First Day Homeless Coalition of
Whittier, and the UCLA School of Public Affairs, Urban Planning Department.

Our project identifies the feasibility of a permanent supportive housing facility to
be managed by First Day Homeless Coalition (First Day), at the current site of
The Village Inn, a single-room occupancy hotel located in Uptown Whittier.

The Uptown Whittier Specific Plan outlines a community vision for Whittier’s
historic retail district. Uptown Whittier features a walkable urban form, and a
diverse mix of uses. This commercial core was built before the automobile
guided development patterns, and many buildings like The Village Inn have no
parking provisions at all. The compact size and human scale of the buildings and
streets in Uptown give it the character of an urban village.

As the Uptown Specific Plan outlines, the mix of civic uses, local commerce and
social institutions are the foundation of the community. There are a large number
of historic buildings that have been adaptively reused to create a more complete
streetscape, and introduce new uses in buildings where blight took place. The
plan envisions high quality in the public realm and the preservation of a distinct
historical character. It also aims to create housing that fulfills policy goals and
market demand, and pays special attention to pedestrian orientation 1. These
views were echoed in our conversations with Whittier City Manager Steve
Helvey, who contributed a great wealth of knowledge to the project.

After meeting with First Day’s Director Ted Knoll, our team assessed the goals of
the organization as we sought to design a functional and interactive space that
could encompass their great mission and deliver permanent supportive housing




1   Uptown Whittier Specific Plan- General Plan Update
for the homeless population in Whittier, while addressing community visions
outlined in the Specific Plan.

Here, we address some strategies that can be used to create a successful Public
Private Partnership (PPP) between First Day and the City of Whittier to satisfy
the interests of the different stakeholders in order to marshal resources through
cooperation to address basic fundamental needs in a comprehensive and
compassionate approach.



First Day
The greatest asset towards making this project a reality is the First Day
Homeless Coalition of Whittier. This organization started as The Social Services
Coalition (SSC), it was founded in 1989 by the Whittier Area Interfaith Council,
the City of Whittier, and the Whittier Salvation Army and became a 501(c)(3) non-
profit entity in 1994. This partnership between different stakeholders within the
city would pave the way for the advancements made by the organization today.
In 2001, SSC moved to its current facility due to collaborative efforts of the
Whittier One Stop Center (WOSC) in securing the space.



Both SSC and WOSC formed a partnership when they realized they would be
competing for the limited dollars allotted to homeless services and duplicating
operational and funding efforts. These two organizations merged at the start of
2002 to form the current agency, Whittier Area First Day Coalition (First Day).

It is noteworthy to mention here that First Day was able to overcome NIMBY
local attitudes towards the homeless, and eventually obtain the Conditional Use
Permit (CUP) to locate at its current headquarters. This was largely due to the
efforts of First Day Executive Director Ted Knoll. Mr. Knoll employed a brilliant
strategy of including local residents and key stakeholders in the decision making
process of the organization. This proactive approach of reaching out to the
community forces the stakeholders to face the issues head-on. This has been the
key to gaining political support to carry out the mission of providing temporary
transitional housing for the homeless population of Whittier.

As a result of these efforts, the County of Los Angeles amended its laws to allow
organizations wishing to start a facility to serve the homeless do not need site
control to apply for the CUP. First Day provides the environment where
individuals can go back into society through participatory exposure and service to
their community. Ted Knoll also sits on the Council of Governments (COG) of the
Gateway Cities region to discuss regional planning issues dealing with the
homeless population.

Essential to First Day’s success is the agency’s pioneering of a new treatment
model—Reciprocal Community Engagement Model (RCEM). RCEM asserts that
the homeless cannot be treated in isolation from the wider community. It
recognizes the essential therapeutic nature of relationships and nurtures
relationship building through a network of programs that foster positive human
connections.



First Day connects the homeless population to an extensive network of providers
that have partnered with the program to provide necessary services to individuals
that walk through their doors. This function is strengthened by the fact that First
Day aims to prevent service duplication, as they are an organization that is
rooted in the mentality of preserving valuable resources for essential uses. This
leads to First Day being able to connect residents of their temporary housing
facilities with services they cannot afford to provide on-site. The Social Services
Program evaluates the needs of each client and suggests the appropriate
course of action. They also provide financial assistance to obtain birth
certificates, CA identification, CA driver’s license and other documentation
necessary to receive government benefits and employment. Transportation
for program participants is also available in the form of tokens and taxi
vouchers for job interviews, referrals and appointments. These are all
essential tools necessary to helping the individual establish structure in his
or her life.

The Recovery from Homelessness Program (RFHP) provides a short-term
emergency transitional housing with on site supportive services to 45
individuals in the City of Whittier. Services include: on-site health clinic,
health     screenings,   mental   health   services,   on-site   meals,   case
management, clothing, transportation, 12 step meetings, education,
training and employment assistance. First Day provides professional and
social service offices and meeting space.

In the evaluation and assessment phase, the individual is provided with a
supportive transitional setting from the isolation of the streets to a
community setting. Individuals are required to attend all daytime
educational classes to prepare them with life-skills education to integrate
back into the community.

Individuals are then assigned educational classes and required to attend
the Job Club. This is based on a client centered problem-solving model,
and it seeks to identify and overcome the barriers to employment for the
homeless through education and breaking down negative perceptions of
the self that often prevent homeless individuals to integrate into a
community and retreat to isolation.

Those who have demonstrated the willingness and determination to move
toward self-sufficiency are allowed to stay additional time at the temporary
housing facility. After a job has been secured an individual can retain their
residency to accumulate sufficient funds to acquire permanent and stable
housing.

Much has been written about the success of First Day’s programs and services;
“Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day…Teach a man to fish – you
feed him for a lifetime…” says Ted Knoll. And this is precisely the model
that allows an organization like First Day to operate a transitional housing
shelter for 45 adult individuals in need, with a staff of only two people.

First Day emphasizes a model where recovery is possible because the
organization builds a sense of personal and community responsibility
within the individual that allows them to feel included and valuable. These
individuals then render service to the community through The Ladder
Program, which involves residents in the community by placing them in
volunteer opportunities and gradually expose the person to contact with
society in the capacity of service.

The simplicity of the concept is truly genius, at First Day everybody is
treated as a responsible adult; this creates an amazing atmosphere in
which the group serves the single as much as the single serves the group.
It is something special when a group of individuals make the commitment
to help each other achieve their purpose and restore their lives; it results in
stability and safety with minimal need for supervision.
Strategic Vision

Steve Helvey expressed that this project is being considered for the possibility of
removing blight from an area of Whittier that is undergoing revitalization.
Additionally it is clear that without the supportive programming provided by First
Day, this proposed redevelopment would not make sense.

Ted Knoll has a clear understanding of the direction that First Day can take with
this project. The vision is to rehabilitate The Village Inn to accommodate
permanent housing for 30+ individuals that graduate from the temporary housing
component of First Day’s recovery program.

First Day currently has a waiting list of 26 applicants who would like permanent
supportive housing. The great majority of these applicants are families, and due
to constrains in the regulating framework First Day cannot accommodate
families. The new facility would cater specifically to this population.

We must forget the traditional concept of a family being a man, a woman, and
their children. The homeless population is most vulnerable in the sense that they
are likely to experience separation from their families, and alienation from
society.

Currently, there are no facilities in the area to house homeless single parents
with their children, who make up the biggest percentage of First Day’s applicants.
The facility would also support adult graduates of the program who voluntarily
choose to engage in relationships of personal responsibility and mutual respect,
and they can choose to live as non-traditional family units. This is an
arrangement that has proven to be effective for First Day.

Currently, this building has a negative perception throughout the community.
Although the form and use of the building is appropriate. The fact that this hotel
operates with questionable practices creates a situation in which nefarious
characters are known to engage in illegal activities. The city would like to change
this, and the redevelopment goals set forth in the update to the General Plan are
in accordance with our proposed development.
Existing Conditions

The Village Inn is located at 7232 Greenleaf Avenue in Whittier, California. The
area of the building is roughly 5620 square feet per floor measuring the footprint
of the building, with 9050 total square feet according to the assessor’s office.

The lot is currently zoned C2 for Unlimited Commercial Use. This parcel was
subdivided in 1922 and the hotel was effectively built in 1930. This hotel is a
Type-V construction with a concrete foundation and a wooden structure, with a
stucco                                                                      exterior.




The hotel contains 45 single-occupancy rooms, 9 bathrooms, as well as two retail
spaces facing measuring 230 sq. ft. each along Greenleaf Ave. One of these
shops is a thrift store boutique, and the other is a psychic shop complete with
tarot card readings. The hotel was built prior to contemporary parking
requirements, and its use is grandfathered into the existing regulating framework.
The land value is assessed at $1,061,200, while the improvements to the land
are valued at $1,337,122. This assessment was made in 2006 when the last
recorded sale occurred. The last recorded sale price was $2,398,330.

                                                  The      building    itself   shows
                                                  considerable signs of decline. A
                                                  deteriorating posterior wall that
                                                  abuts the alley compromises
                                                  the integrity of the structure.
                                                  The building is in urgent need
                                                  of maintenance and renovation,
                                                  as it does not currently meet
                                                  building code regulations to
                                                  obtain      a       certificate   of
occupancy due to the numerous visible violations such as torn carpets which
exposed the flooring in the hallway, as well as major cracks and holes in the
stucco, and visible water damage throughout the sides and back of the property.




Nevertheless, the single-room occupancy hotel is allowed to operate at full
capacity despite growing weariness from the community towards the individuals
that use it. This point is illustrated here as we spoke with patrons of the business
district:
“How about we keep the bums from pissing all over the place, the homies from
etching their names into the plate glass, and the creepy weirdos from snatching
purses. All we really need is a couple of mall cops to walk from one end of
Greenleaf to the other and it would be a decent place to shop provided there
were more than just tattoo shops and second hand stores.” –Local Resident

This quote speaks to the locals growing weary of this property that has earned a
reputation of being a place where prostitution occurs, and where illegal drugs are
sold. Below are some reviews found online from people who have enjoyed their
stay at The Village Inn:




Benjamin Pongetti revealed that it has been the intent of the redevelopment
agency to create a project that would change the programming of this building.
Currently, the residents of the area, business owners, and retail patrons have a
negative perception of the building because of the illegal nature of the activity
that spills from the hotel onto the street and the loitering of individuals seen as
undesirable. Below, we outline some of the challenges we encountered in the
quest to find a strategy to deliver a new use for the building, turning it from a
problem to an asset for the community, leveraging First Day’s reputation, and
mission in the community of Whittier.




Considerations

There are a number of issues within the regulatory framework that greatly affect
the feasibility of this proposed adaptation of The Village Inn. They are briefly
summarized here:

Ownership: The Village Inn is privately owned; the great income potential of 45
units in the building makes it likely that the price will rise when the owner
becomes aware of the intent to redevelop the property. Site acquisition can be
jeopardized with an unexpected rise in cost.

Existing Use: The hotel was built before restrictive zoning regulations required
commercial buildings to include parking spaces for their customers. This use was
grandfathered in, as the building does not comply with today’s zoning
regulations. Any proposed changes to the building would likely result in the
requirement to obtain special considerations to exempt the project from meeting
requirements that would bring the building up to code. Even with a ratio of half a
parking space per unit, the project becomes unfeasible, as a separate parking
structure needs to be provided. We are assuming a scenario where new parking
would not be required for the project as the number of units is being reduced. We
are also assuming the approval of the addition of a third story.

Structure: The existing structure has to be reinforced at the foundation to bear
the proposed addition. The structure was built in 1930, which means a major
renovation must occur, this would include partially replacing existing framing and
mechanical systems.

Relocation and Replacement: Redevelopment Manager Benjamin Pongetti
stated that the relocation fees associated with relocating 45 individuals and two
businesses pose an important obstacle to the project. There is also a concern
that the hotel is likely to be treated as housing under CEQA regulations, and
housing units lost would have to be replaced at an alternate site. Our scenario
does not include these possibilities.
Recommendations

The Village Inn Hotel provides an excellent opportunity to create a project that
satisfies the desires of the various agency stakeholders, enriches the lives of the
residents, and facilitates an environment in which participants are encouraged to
integrate back into society and out of homelessness and isolation.

First, we focused on the two retail spaces that front Greenleaf Ave. These
spaces are approximately 230 sq. ft. in size. One of these spaces will be used for
a pilot program where First Day will be operating a coffee shop as part of their
employment training program, and allowing direct interaction between the
residents, and the rest of the community in a safe environment where healthy
commerce can take place. The other space will be leased out for income. Finally,
the project will provide special accommodation for the existing partnership
between First Day and the Whittier business community. This will be done in the
manner of a space where a security guard from the existing Business
Improvement District (BID) can have a post at the facility looking out onto the
streets and providing safety. This effectively changes the entire image of a
building that used to have “bums ..pissing all over the place”, to a secure street
where a more diverse mix of business can locate than “tattoo parlors and
second-hand stores”.



                       The building also features two large multi-purpose rooms,
                       which can be converted from conference rooms to other
                       optional uses. One possible use is a nursery to provide
                       childcare to single mothers who seek employment and
economic stability. Inadequate access to affordable childcare is a major barrier
of entry into the workforce for many single mothers.
Shared Living Spaces




The design allows the flexibility of providing units that share common living
space, thus creating an environment where participating individuals can
share the responsibility of the upkeep of the space.

In these shared living spaces they would essentially come together,
communicate and learn from each other. This facilitates communication
and cooperation. These families can than work together for the betterment
of each other’s lives.

This model emphasizes interactions in an environment where people must
depend on each other to help each other lead productive lives and recover
from homelessness.
Development Analysis


Although we have an existing structure, the extensive nature of the modifications
needed make this a major renovation project for adaptive reuse. The acquisition
of the site makes a significant portion of the cost of the project. We used the last
sale price of $2,398,330 as a basis of comparison. We were informed about
several factors that could affect the price of the site by the staff of the
redevelopment agency.

We considered several factors such as the dramatic drop in real estate values
due to the economic recession, as well as the income potential of the building.
There was also the likelihood that the price would increase upon the owner
becoming aware of the intent of the Whittier Redevelopment Agency to gain
control of the property. We have estimated acquisition costs to be $2.5 million
dollars, while the total cost for the project is estimated at $5,365,318. The total
amount of equity needed for construction is $1,198,000. Below is a breakdown of
project development costs.
We contacted several building contractors who specialize in rehabilitating large
residential commercial buildings to get a sense of construction costs for the
changes we proposed. All-Cities Construction Co. returned a detailed proposal
estimating the cost of the renovation, including underpinning of existing complex,
162 screw anchor piers installed to repair the foundation, soils investigation and
engineering. Also included in this figure is excavation and concrete grade beams.
This allows a third story to be built. Total estimated cost of construction was
$1.35 million dollars for the residential units, and minor upkeep of two retail
spaces, as well as the creation of a newly arranged space to suit the needs of
First Day’s recovery programs.




Operations


The proposed project consists of 35 units. There are three types of units:

Type 1: 4 Bedroom + 1 Kitchen + 1 Bathroom
Type 2: 2 Bedroom + 1 Kitchen + 2 Bathroom
Type 3: 1 Bedroom + 1 Bathroom

There are five (5) Type 1; six (6) Type 2; and (4) Type 3.

The units share common living spaces with sleeping quarters provided in the
form of alcoves, while most of the space can be used for a variety of purposes,
and engaging participants in cooperation and mutual respect to maintain the
shared environments and maximize their use. The sleeping alcoves are
approximately 90 square feet.      Based on comparables, and using the Little
Tokyo Service Center as reference, the proposed rate is $615 per bedroom per
month for each of the distinct unit arrangements.
This project has a Gross Potential Rental Income of $22,025 per month, and
$264,300 per year; this includes rent for the retail spaces. Income resulting from
the operations of the coffee shop by First Day is not factored in.

The project would require an additional $430,000 for the operation of First Day’s
programs. This includes all administrative duties, as well as one licensed case
manager at a salary of $47,000, a counselor at $35,000,and a live-in residential
manager to occupy one of the units at a salary of $42,000.




Funding

The feasibility of the project depends on the different development
scenarios    that   can    occur.    Hypothetically    speaking,     the   Whittier
Redevelopment Agency can incur the cost of acquisition and renovation of
the building, while First Day would operate their programs out of this
facility.

There are a number of different programs developers can use to fund
these types of projects. Prop 1C passed in 2006, earmarking $50 million
for supportive housing. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
includes $1.5 billion for Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing.

Since this is a major renovation, this project is eligible for LAHD funds in
the form of 4% tax credits since 100 percent of the units serve homeless
individuals and families

Support for the residents will come in the way of Section 8 housing
vouchers, where applicable, as well as any individual housing subsidies
they receive. First Day estimates that this facility would require a similar
operating budget as their transitional housing facility. Their program budget
was $984,300 for 2009.




Conclusion
The feasibility of this project is highly dependant on the support from the
Redevelopment Agency of the City of Whittier. It is equally dependant on the
effective programming that an experienced partner like First Day provides.

The Village Inn has proven to be a nuisance in an area where the City of Whittier
would like to see the revitalization of their historic core of retail. The proposed
programming for the space would change the image of the block dramatically, as
an inviting and safe atmosphere replaces a doorstep known for attracting
characters with questionable motives.

The considerations contained in this proposal outline the difficulties in acquisition,
construction, and operations of the project, but we feel that the political capital
gained by First Day could garner the support from the City of Whittier to invest
public redevelopment funds and return a habitable and inviting building where
illicit activity currently exists.

				
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