Lead Story West Edition

New apartment complex provides needed housing in South L.A.

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — While rent prices continue to rise in the area, a new affordable-housing complex has opened more than 100 units to low-income families.

Rolland Curtis Gardens, a new South L.A. affordable housing complex, opened Nov. 7. The opening was attended by Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

The new complex includes 140 apartments, an on-site federally qualified health center, and a local market. The 140 apartments are targeted to serve low-income families making between 30 and 60 percent of L.A.’s annual median income.

The journey to the new development began in 2011, when a developer purchased the site, previously an old, poorly-maintained 48-unit apartment complex. The new owner sent the tenants 60-day notices to vacate. The tenants were being pushed out so the USC-adjacent property could become market-rate student housing. 

TRUST South L.A., a community land trust that focuses on affordable housing, found out and intervened. In 2012, TRUST South L.A. brought in nonprofit developer Adobe Communities, which bought the site for $8.33 million.

The development process included a community engagement period where residents and community members could have their concerns addressed, according to Adobe Communities. One of the concerns raised was the need for comprehensive health services within the complex.

Now, nearly half of the original Rolland Curtis residents have returned to live in the new units. According to a press release from Adobe Communities, many of the residents who returned were also part of the community organizing process that led to the site’s preservation.

David Mosely, a returning resident and artist, said “TRUST South L.A. and Adobe Communities brought us together and helped us understand our rights.”

Benjamin Torres, TRUST South L.A. board chair, added, “The residents of Rolland Curtis Gardens fought to stay here and today they can open nearly 100 more front doors in South L.A. By keeping this property in a community land trust, we are making a promise to the next generation of black and brown families that we will continue to fight to create homes for you in South Central L.A. to change displacement and gentrification.”

According to a report from the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, Los Angeles is the third-most rent-burdened metropolitan area in the country, with more than half of the renters spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Also, a recent study by Zillow shows that homelessness rises faster in less-affordable communities.

Johanna Blocker is one new resident whose family dealt with homelessness before arriving at Rolland Curtis.

“One day our lives changed,” she said. “I get to wake up in the morning and focus on getting my kids to school and I don’t have to worry about where we will sleep each night.

Robin Hughes, president and CEO of Adobe Communities, said, “More than half of the people who become homeless for the first time this year in Los Angeles experienced economic hardship. Our 2,000-household waiting list at Rolland Curtis is a key indicator that we must do more to address our local housing crisis for hard-working people.”