The new housing project ensures that unhoused youth have a home to continue their education and training.
On Monday, November 27, Sunnyside 5 (SS5) Student Housing held their grand opening at Sunnyside Baptist Church in South Los Angeles.
Sunnyside 5 is a new faith-inspired, non-profit project created to serve young people experiencing homelessness, who need supportive transitional housing. The Rev. Dyke Redmond, D. Min, and his daughter, Dominique Redmond-Milton, along with partners and city representatives, recently cut the ribbon on the church grounds.
“Oh my gosh it’s surreal. This is definitely a long time coming,” said Redmond-Milton. “People had to believe in us because we’re a church in the middle of South L.A. on 94th and Budlong.”
She continued, “For people, they maybe didn’t see this vision but, with Dr. Redmond, it was always a very strong goal.
“This is surreal to be here and to actually cut the ribbon and have the students here.”
SS5 is located in South Los Angeles in Westmont, an intersection of several gang territories also known as “Death Alley.” The area also has high concentrations of homelessness, drug activity, foster care entry, and is considered a food desert. It’s in this environment that Sunnyside 5 is birthing something new.
“We’re here for the community and 90 percent of our staff is from the community,” said Redmond-Milton. “We’re trying to fill voids that we saw in different agencies. Our case management 101 is to develop a plan so not only can they get housing after this, but also keep it.”
Homelessness is a major complication for college students and those pursuing a trade. SS5 helps to ensure South Los Angeles college students realize their post-secondary education goals by providing an affordable transitional housing residential education program as well as promote persistence, retention, and completion of their degrees.
SS5 was realized with the help of funding from L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell to create 14 tiny homes to provide transitional housing for homeless young adults, who are currently enrolled in college or trade school.
Rev. Redmond founded the Heart and Soul Center (HAS Center) in 2007, which provided innovative education and job training in multimedia production, with a state-of-the-art multimedia facility. In 2016, he became pastor of Sunnyside Baptist Church and moved HAS Center’s multimedia production studio from West Los Angeles to its current home at Sunnyside Baptist Church, creating the opportunity to serve residents of South Los Angeles directly.
Under Rev. Redmond, the HAS Center has grown to operate in 140+ schools across Los Angeles. Over the years, the church has also supported hundreds of youths through programming, combining the assets of HAS Center and Sunnyside Church, this housing initiative has launched on their shared campus. Rev. Redmond shared how felt about the grand opening of SS5.
“After three years of up-and-down and all-around, it feels fantastic,” said Rev. Redmond. “It makes me know that the Lord is still in control despite obstacles, mountains and valleys but, He always makes a way.”
“This is an incredible day, we are so proud of this program and inspired by Dr. D. K. Redmond and his daughter, Dominique,” said philanthropist and homeless advocate Marilyn Wells of Stories From the Front Line.
“They have created a beautiful, church community and the students, and the people that are working at these units—we couldn’t be happier to have been blessed to have the opportunity to meet with them and work with them.”
“I go to the church. I’ve been going there for years, so Dominique and [my] pastor just told me about it and we went with applying and I got in,” said SS5 housing student Maya M., who currently attends California State University, Dominguez Hills.
“It’s been nice, I’m just waiting for it to be roomier myself, just fixing up,” said housing student Mariah M., who is in the process of transferring to Los Angeles Trade Technical-College.
“I really love the program, I just wish it was here when I needed it the most but, I’m glad it’s here now.”
Maya echoed her twin sister’s feelings and added, “It’s been going really good. We just got hired last week, so it’s going well with everything.
“I’m trying to make it feel more homey, so I’m just trying to get more stuff to make it feel like me.”
SS5 also provides mental health resources, three meals a day, and housing. The program incorporates mentorship and case management by staff that is community-based and trained in social-emotional development. Residents will build life skills, confidence, and a positive life plan as they work toward their career or educational goals, and their transition to permanent housing.
“We do workshops at least once a month that includes financial literacy, budget making, credit repair, and then, one-on-one because, each person is different,” said Redmond-Milton.
“We also do etiquette classes, business resume, anything that you would need for a whole person approach.
“We also do community building, so we do fun activities together to have that family vibe.”
For more information, visit Sunnysidefive.org.