Lori Gay, president & CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County. (Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“We’re rejoicing, it’s a great day to know restricted covenants are over and that we’re able to celebrate and spend time rejoicing for all families being included,” said Lori Gay, president & CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County (NHSLA).

On Friday, September 1, the NHSLA with co-developer Abode Communities, broke ground on a site that previously had a restrictive covenant that forbade sale or rental to “any person of the African or the Mongolian race,” which included anyone of Asian descent.

The new development project, located at 8721 S. Broadway, will be known as the Manchester Urban Homes featuring 122 affordable family homes in a mix of multi-family, residential and townhome-style buildings. The project looks to be complete in early 2025.

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Restrictive covenants were eventually outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1948 but was active and being used until the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Gay shared September 1 was the 60th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by the late civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his speech, King mentions a promissory note which every American is heir to and Gay believes the Manchester Urban Homes is a part of that promissory note.

Los Angeles Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson (Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“I say today, we’re righting some more wrongs, we’re measuring up today and it was God’s blessings that we were able to hold on to this land since 2014 to help make sure that the debt would be paid,” said Gay, “and now, families of all races, backgrounds, individuals, of all ages, disabilities can come and participate and live here for next hundred or two hundred years.”

“This work is really, really hard but, at the end of the day, all those hard moments—it makes it worth it,” said Holly Benson, president & CEO of Abode Communities. “Today is exciting but, when we have that grand opening, it’s going to be so inspiring to see all the people [be] served.”

Gay paid thanks to Congresswoman Maxine Waters sharing… “Little known fact, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program was the funding that helped us get this site acquired and so having the vision for that legislation, back in the last crisis, was her work.”

Gay continued, “It takes a village, and that might be an African proverb but, it’s one that applies to all cultures.”

Local investment for this $83.6MM development included a $7.0MM permanent loan, and a $2.3MM grant from the City of Los Angeles and Council District 8, respectively. Major permanent financing also included funding from the California State Department of Housing & Community Development Affordable Housing & Sustainable Communities and Infill Infrastructure Grant program, a permanent loan from Citi Community Capital, Low Income Housing Tax Credit Equity investment by U.S. Bank, and a seller carryback loan from NHSLA. Construction financing included tax-exempt bonds awarded to the project by the State of California Debt Limit Allocation Committee and issued by the City of Los Angeles. U.S. Bank utilized the bonds to provide a $40.6MM construction loan to the project.

Holly Benson, president & CEO of Abode Communities (Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“I know how hard it is to make these projects come to life so, what an amazing moment to be here today,” said Jenna Hornstock, deputy mayor for housing for the City of Los Angeles Office of Mayor Karen Bass. “This really is another important step forward for our longstanding commitment to partner on delivering affordable housing.”

She continued, “From the day that she took office, our mayor has made a commitment to treat this homelessness crisis with urgency.

“We express our gratitude to Neighborhood Housing Services, to Abode and all the partners.”

“We’re doing a lot of housing all over the city of Los Angeles, as we should,“ said Los Angeles Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “This project is different and distinct in a few important ways.

“We want to make sure homeless housing isn’t just studios and one-bedroom apartments. Because we understand that homelessness and the struggle for housing affects all kinds of people, including people who have families.

“We’re excited today that this is one of the developments that has as many or more, multi-bedroom units as any project that we’re doing anywhere in the city.

“This will be one of the most environmentally conscious developments that we’re doing anywhere in the city.”

Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County and co-developer Abode Communities join with partners and representatives of other organizations to break ground on the future site of the Manchester Urban Homes (Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

Residents will benefit from onsite services that include financial counseling that aim to support them in achieving their personal goals, building generational wealth, and retaining their housing. Building amenities will also include a green alley, community garden, central courtyard and playground, a lounge area with rooftop deck, community room, bike safety and transit ridership programs.

“Yes, there will be 120 households, 400 people will move in on day one but, this housing is going to be remaining affordable at least 55 years,” said Benson. “You think about, as families move on and move out, how many more families over 55 years we’re going to serve?

“This is having a generational impact and I’m really excited about it.”

For more information about Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County, please visit https://nhslacounty.org

For more information about Abode Communities, visit www.abodecommunities.org