Can L.A. Transform a Notorious Housing Project into a Vibrant Mixed-Income Community?

Jessica Garrison reports on the ambitious $600 million "makeover" planned for the Jordan Downs housing project. The phased transformation, which allows any existing resident "in good standing" to stay, will be the largest such effort in the U.S.
February 11, 2013, 7am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles has embarked on an ambitious, and unprecedented, plan to transform Jordan Downs' "700 aging units into a mixed-income community of up to 1,400 apartments and condominiums, with shops and restaurants and fancy touches such as native plant gardens. The city hopes to draw in hundreds of more-affluent residents willing to pay market rate to live side by side with the city's poorest."

"Spurred by changes in federal funding and policy, such 'mixed use' developments have sprung up in place of infamous housing projects all over the country. But experts say Jordan is taking an approach that has not been tried on this scale," explains Garrison. "Typically, public housing residents are moved out ahead of the bulldozers, scattered to search for new shelter. In Los Angeles, the housing authority has promised that any of the 2,300 Jordan residents 'in good standing"' can stay in their old units until the day they move into new ones. The project is to be built in phases, beginning with units on 21 acres of adjacent land purchased by the authority in 2008 for $31 million."

"In essence, officials intend to raze the buildings, not the community — and radically change its character."

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Published on Sunday, February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles Times
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