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Community Corp of Santa Monica Wins $1 Million Innovation Grant

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

February 1, 2019 -- Santa Monica's biggest affordable housing provider has received a $1 million innovation grant for a "design toolkit" that allows pre-fab housing to be built easily on any lot.

Community Corporation of Santa Monica (Community Corp) was one five winners of Los Angeles County's Housing Innovation Challenge, LA County officials announced Friday.

The awards fund "new and scalable housing solutions for those experiencing homelessness," said officials of Community Corp, which has created more than 1,700 affordable housing units in the city.

proposed “Nest Design Tool Kit”
“Nest Design Tool Kit” (Rendering courtesy Brooks + Scarpa)

The proposed “Nest Design Tool Kit” was submitted by Community Corp in partnership with the Plant Prefab custom construction company. It was designed by the architectural firm Brooks + Scarpa, which has designed several of Community Corp's buildings.

"The proposed innovation adapts prefabricated home construction to Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)," which provides health care and supportive services, agency officials said.

The Design Tool Kit would "enable prefab housing components to be adapted to any site in LA County, starting with the typical 50x150 suburban lot size and scaling up from there," officials said.

By using standard residential setbacks, it allows housing to be built “by-right” without the discretionary review process that delays construction projects and increases costs.

Building by-right "is seen nationwide as a key to creating affordable housing in the face of often-restrictive zoning policies," Community Corp officials said.

The toolkit also contains "modular façade options" that allow the design to be "tailored to any site, scale, and architectural orientation."

More than 50 proposals were submitted to the Innovation Challenge competition, which awarded a total of $4.5 million to the five winners, LA County officials said.

Other winners were:

* Flyaway Homes, LLC for a project to scale their model of leveraging private equity to develop supportive housing faster and at ¼ the cost per person ($1 million);

* LifeArk, SPC for a "kit-of-parts building system" that can be used to develop housing on any lot size or shape ($1 million);

* United Dwelling for its "institutional development of beautifully-designed garage-converted" Accessory Dwelling Units ($ 1 million), and

* Restore Neighborhoods Los Angeles for its neighborhood shared equity model for accessible units built by-right in a traditional bungalow style courtyard ($500,000).

The money awarded come from Measure H, a countywide quarter-cent sales tax increase to help end homelessness.

“The Challenge was issued at a critical juncture in the countywide movement to combat and prevent homelessness,” said Phil Ansell, director of the L.A. County Homeless Initiative.

“While our collective efforts are moving in the right direction, this was a unique opportunity to solicit new approaches and continue to advance our efforts to help people move from homelessness to housing.”

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