What happens to children when they age out of foster care at 18 and don’t have a place to live, funds to gain an education, or skills to earn a living?
That concern led to Casa Dominguez: a low-rise Spanish mission-style complex on a vacant 2-acre industrial site straddling south Los Angeles and unincorporated Los Angeles County. Seven of the 70 units serve as the county’s first permanent, affordable housing for emancipated youth in transition.
The Los Angeles County Community Development Commission (CDC), along with its partner, Los Angeles-based nonprofit United Friends of the Children, asked Los Angeles-based Abode Communities to construct Casa Dominguez. The groups created a supportive environment for the residents with a plethora of on-site services and amenities.
“The county has one of the largest populations of foster kids in the nation—about 40,000,” says Lois Starr, director of CDC’s Housing Development and Preservation Division, whose organization provided a portion of the project’s permanent financing. “Each year, about 15,000 turn 18, and 50 percent end up homeless, unable to care for themselves.”
To appeal to all family situations, Casa Dominguez’s units range from 950-square-foot one-bedroom units renting for $400 a month to 1,400-square-foot four-bedroom units renting for $1,086 a month.
Abode Communities’ management office has received more than 800 rental applications since the building earned its certificate of occupancy last December. Within a month, all units were leased. At the ribbon cutting, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said, “I hope that this project will replicate itself over and over and over again.”