'Star Apartments' Beget New Universe of Homeless Housing

In Los Angeles, the Skid Row Housing Trust is breaking past precedent by building modular, but vibrant, housing aimed at emulating city-life; giving residents a sense of community, and a new lease on life.
December 23, 2012, 9am PST | Erica Gutiérrez
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In the past, the Skid Row Housing Trust has opted to renovate abandoned buildings to convert them into well-designed, and discrete homeless shelters. This time, the Trust is varying its approach, building from scratch and taking the pre-fab route -- and it's doing so on time and on budget. “A 102-unit, $20.5-million complex is being built by stacking pre-outfitted apartments atop one another in a Lego-like fashion, limiting construction costs and fast-forwarding the project timeline,” writes Wesley Lowery. This method of building, however, normally applied to single-family construction, has required the architect, planners and city officials to work together “to clarify regulations and standards for shipping in the pre-constructed apartments,” he adds.

“The project, designed by award-winning architect Michael Maltzan, will include basketball courts, art centers, community gardens and hundreds of feet of green space” with the goal of rehabilitating residents "through on-site social services, community space and professional development,” reports Lowery. According to Mike Alvidrez, the executive director of the Skid Row Housing Trust, the Star Apartments will focus on attracting up to 100 new residents with chronic medical conditions. Residents will be able to stay as long as they want, given they continue to pay 30 percent of their employment or assistance income, and regardless of whether they choose to take part in available on-site medical treatment, counseling or therapy.

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Published on Sunday, December 16, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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