Although it may be a disheartening truth, it is undeniable that veterans are disproportionately susceptible to challenges in housing insecurity and income instability. This has been highlighted recently by groups focused on advocacy for past and present service members; for example, the veteran-focused Bob Woodruff Foundation identified housing insecurity as their most pressing issue of 2022. Meanwhile, HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) identified a staggering average of nearly 20,000 veterans experiencing homelessness nationwide. CREA believes it is imperative to provide stable, safe, affordable housing for all who need it – especially for those who have sacrificed so much for our country already. In Los Angeles, our partners at East LA Community Corporation (ELACC) are combating this issue through the development of Rosa de Castilla Apartments.
This newly constructed affordable community is designed and reserved for individuals who are statistically inclined to face housing challenges, including low-income families and, most notably, veterans. Sixty-three of the affordable homes are set aside as permanent supportive housing for veterans - over 75% of the 85 total. However, Rosa de Castilla will equip these residents with more than just a home.
As part of their residency, all veterans living in the development will be offered supportive services from the People Concern and from the Veterans Administration. These services include full-time individual case management, mental health support, and a variety of other on and off-site resources. Deep, multi-faceted services like these offered by our partner organizations are essential for veteran communities.
Monica Meija, President and CEO of ELACC, said the following of the transformative community: “Rosa de Castilla is an apartment building for 85 formerly homeless and low-income households who now have a peaceful, safe, long-lasting place to live. It is a basic requirement of life to have a safe place to live and thrive. Our real estate economic system leaves people behind – with nowhere to live. Affordable housing changes this economic system, giving everyone a place to live with dignity. We are very proud of our partnerships with CREA and Aetna, a CVS Health Company that together, we are able to address the housing crisis head on and find options for people to have a fair chance in our system.”
Rosa de Castilla’s location is situated in east Los Angeles, which sadly harbors a large number of unhoused veterans. The LA Times reported last November that 3,900 such service members were experiencing homelessness in the city alone. While the country at large has made marked progress in combating this issue, the report notes that LA’s figure “remain[s] essentially unchanged since 2015,” and describes the city as “the epicenter of unsheltered veterans in the United States.” Veterans experiencing homelessness continues to be a topic of concern at the state-wide level as well. The HUD’s AHAR reports that California has the highest number of veterans experiencing sheltered homelessness of any state in the country, accounting for 16% of the nationwide total. It’s clear that California, and specifically LA, are in demonstrable need of supportive and affordable housing for veterans. While it’s important to note that accurately gathering statistics on homeless populations is notoriously difficult, the problem remains undeniable no matter the specific figure used.
“This project is truly a home run,” said Richard Shea, SVP & Originator at CREA. “Being part of a team that has developed and is providing safe, supportive and peaceful housing at Rosa de Castilla to those who have served is a privilege. I can’t give enough praise to ELACC for persevering through so many challenges and completing yet another project in their Mission area of East Los Angeles. I’d also like to thank Aetna and numerous other investors committed to serving those that have served us.”
As opposed to transitional housing, Rosa de Castilla will provide permanent homes that can help lay the groundwork for individual achievement and community strength. ELACC’s purpose-driven development practices align with CREA’s mission, and we are proud of the high caliber of affordable housing this partnership brings. Our organizations are focused on creating housing that supports each resident as they seek stability in the community and with their personal finances. In addition to the transformative supportive services offered by the People Concern, Rosa de Castilla will also offer the following to its residents:
· After school tutoring services
· Financial literacy classes
· Multiple dedicated community spaces
· Onsite underground garage
· Laundry facilities on each floor
· Mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units for single residents and families alike
In addition, the Rosa de Castilla community has been constructed with LEED Gold Certification guidelines in mind by following sustainable building measures, offering state-of-the-art sustainable appliances in individual units and community spaces, opting for solar water heating technology and investing in infrastructure to support electric vehicles.
Affordable housing developments like this one would not be possible without the support of institutions like Aetna, a CVS Health Company. Aetna’s material support for community development is being felt across the country. CREA extends our thanks to Aetna and all investors in the national fund supporting Rosa de Castilla.
"When people have access to high-quality, safe, affordable housing, it puts them in a better position to take care of their health and manage chronic disease," said Keli Savage, Executive Director and Head of Impact Investment Strategy, CVS Health. "That’s why we continue to find opportunities at the local level – like here in Los Angeles – to provide housing and supportive services to those who need it most. The rich array of supportive services offered by New Directions will help empower the residents of Rosa De Castilla to unlock their potential and live healthier and better lives.”
Financial Support & Partnership: In addition to $13.9MM in low-income tax credit (LIHTC) equity provided through CREA Corporate Tax Credit Funds 74 & 78, Rosa de Castilla Apartments is financed with over $34MM in construction a perm loans, a $12MM Loan from the City of Los Angeles through their HHH program, a $1.5MM AHTF Loan from the County of Los Angeles, as well as a $5,943,177 Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention fund Loan from the California Department of Housing and Community Development.