Public-Private Partners Break Ground on Affordable Housing Project in South L.A.

John Stanley, Southside Church of Christ and Innovative Housing Opportunities to build 50-unit complex on West Manchester Ave.

Participants in the groundbreaking ceremony included Saki Middleton (3rd from left), Chris Baccus (4th from left), Pastor Carl Baccus (5th from left) and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson (2nd from right). (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

Members of John Stanley, Inc., Southside Church of Christ and Innovative Housing Opportunities broke ground on Monday, Sept. 19, on Serenity, a mixed-use 50-unit affordable rental homeless senior project in South Los Angeles.

Saki S. Middleton,  president of John Stanley; Dr. Carl C. Baccus, Southside senior pastor; and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson (CD 8) were among the participants in the gala event held on Southside’s campus located at 1655 W. Manchester Avenue. The project, which will contain commercial space on the ground floor, will be erected on the former parking lot of the church.

The City of Los Angeles Housing Department provided a $9.22 Million Proposition HHH Supportive Housing Loan and issued $19,910,000 in Tax Exempt and Taxable Bonds for the construction of the project, and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles is providing 36 Project Based Vouchers for Chronically Homeless and Homeless Seniors.  It is slated to serve 18 chronically homeless and 18 homeless seniors and 14 non-homeless independent senior households.

“This is a true public-private partnership,” said Middleton. “It will provide homeless seniors with permanent housing and supportive services which will enhance their lives and improve the quality of the neighborhood.”

An artist’s rendering of Serenity Affordable Housing Complex. (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

“Such a long-awaited development we are so grateful to God, the church members, community, and the city for joining us in providing quality housing and services in the neighborhood,” said Pastor Baccus.

“To whom much is given, much is required. We are thankful God gave us this opportunity to give to others with this project.” We look forward to continuing to serve our community,” noted Chris Baccus, executive director of Concerned Citizens Community Involvement, Southside community development corporation.

“Innovative Housing Opportunities is proud to be part of the solution to create more affordable housing for all seniors,” said Rochelle Mills, president and CEO of Innovative Housing Opportunities.  “It’s imperative that all of us address this growing population with homes that are healthy, beautiful, and safe.”

Designed by Withee Malcolm Architects, the mixed-use 50-unit affordable rental homeless project will consist of one, five story building comprised of 50 studio and one-bedroom senior units, 1,600 sq. ft. of ground floor commercial space, and two levels of podium parking located on .82 acres. The development includes the replacement of the church parking.

The project will have 20 Studio/one bath and 30 One-bedroom/one bath units and 1,785 Ground Floor Commercial spaces. Amenities will include a 3rd level outdoor courtyard that includes a bbq area, sitting areas, and 1,500 square feet of indoor community space that includes a lounge, kitchen, flex room, and computer/classroom.

The project also has a 4th Floor gym, 3rd-floor laundry facility, and parking for the residents. The units will serve homeless senior and independent senior households fifty-five (55) years and older whose annual household incomes are at or below 60% of the Los Angeles County area median income.

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Report Reveals ‘A Hidden Key to Combating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice’

Report Reveals ‘A Hidden Key to Combating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice’

Stacy Brown / NNPA Newswire 

According to new Sentencing Project research, diverting youth from juvenile court involvement should be a central focus in reducing racial and ethnic disparities.

It should also improve outcomes in America’s youth justice systems.

The report’s author wrote that getting arrested in adolescence or having a delinquency case filed in juvenile court clearly damages young people’s futures and increases their subsequent involvement in the justice system.

“Compared with youth who are diverted, youth who are arrested and formally petitioned in court have a far higher likelihood of subsequent arrests and school failure,” wrote Richard A Mendel, Senior Research Fellow and Youth Justice at the Sentencing Project.

“Pre-arrest and pre-court diversion can avert these bad outcomes,” Mendel concluded.

According to Mendel’s research, Black youth are far more likely to be arrested than their white peers and far less likely to be diverted from court following arrest.

Other youth of color – including Latinx youth, Tribal youth, and Asian/Pacific Islander youth – are also less likely than their white peers to be diverted.

“The lack of diversion opportunities for youth of color is pivotal because the greater likelihood of formal processing in court means that youth of color accumulate longer court histories, leading to harsher consequences for any subsequent arrest,” Mendel asserted.

“Expanding diversion opportunities for youth of color, therefore, represents a crucial, untapped opportunity to address continuing disproportionality in juvenile justice,” he noted.

The in-depth analysis of the juvenile justice system’s unequal and limited use of diversion from court involvement, particularly for Black youth, found that in 2019, 52% of delinquency cases involving white youth were handled informally (diverted), far higher than the share of cases diverted involving Black youth (40%).

The report found the glaring disparity between Black and white youth in every major offense category.

“Overwhelming research finds that diverting youth from the court system yields better outcomes for young people’s futures and public safety,” Mendel insisted.

“Yet diversion remains sorely underutilized, especially for youth of color, and unequal treatment in diversion is a key driver for even larger disparities in confinement later in the process.”

Released on Aug. 30, the report, “Diversion: A Hidden Key to Combating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice,” examined decades of research showing how educational, career and public safety outcomes are better for youth diverted away from juvenile courts.

It provided a primer on diversion and its impact on racial equity – specifically, the report revealed that:

  • Compared to youth formally involved in court, youth diverted from court have a far lower likelihood of subsequent arrest.
  • They also are far less likely to be incarcerated, commit less violence, have higher school completion rates and college enrollment, and earn higher incomes in adulthood.

Mendel found that disparities in diversion result both from subjective biases against youth and families of color and from seemingly neutral diversion rules and practices that cause disproportionate harm to youth of color either by unnecessarily limiting eligibility for diversion or by making it difficult for youth of color to complete diversion successfully.

Many states and localities have recently adopted new strategies to expand and improve diversion, many of which show substantial promise, Mendel further discovered.

“However, efforts to expand diversion opportunities to date have most often lacked an explicit and determined focus on reducing racial and ethnic disparities – an essential ingredient for success,” he added.

In his conclusion, Mendel said the evidence leaves no doubt that the justice system “is toxic for youth and should be employed only in cases when young people pose a serious and imminent threat to the safety and well-being of others.”

“For most young people, diversion yields better public safety and youth development outcomes than formal processing in juvenile court – and for much less money,” he wrote.

However, youth of color are not being offered diversion in the same numbers as white youth.

“Racial and ethnic disparities at diversion play a significant role in propelling system-wide disparities and represent a key reason why efforts to improve equity in juvenile justice have achieved so little progress to date,” Mendel added.

For all these reasons, the diversion stage of the juvenile court process should be a top priority for youth justice reform, he stated.

“Advocates should push for, and system leaders should take aggressive action to address the disparities highlighted in this report,” Mendel wrote.

“Combined, the reforms recommended here to expand the use of diversion and to enhance supportive community-led programming for diverted youth offer perhaps the most important and promising avenue currently available to reduce disparities and to improve youth justice systems nationwide.”

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