Twenty formerly homeless families have been given the chance to transform their lives in new homes of their own as the result of the grand opening Thursday of Pasadena’s brand new permanent supportive housing program called “Marv’s Place.”
The years-long project, located on the northwest corner of North Mar Vista Avenue and Union Street, is an ambitious effort spearheaded by the City and other local organizations with a common goal and determination to combat chronic homelessness one family at at time.
“Marv’s Place is a model effort on a number of levels. It is the first affordable housing development specifically designed for formerly homeless families in the City of Pasadena, a critical component of the City’s efforts to help individuals and families transition from homelessness, and a great example of collective impact making a difference,” said President and CEO of National Community Renaissance (CORE) Steve PonTell, the project’s nonprofit owner and developer.
Marv’s Place features 20 units and not only provides affordable housing for the formerly homeless, but offers supportive services onsite to offer families to tools and resources needed to end their cycle of homelessness and lead productive lives.
Residents — including parents and children — will have access to numerous on and off-site social services, such as case management, career development, money management courses, mental health services, substance abuse services, green education and health care.
“The only thing that ends homelessness is permanent housing,” explained City of Pasadena Housing Department Director Bill Huang.
“For folks who have been homeless — permanent housing with supportive services is the best practice. It’s the model that really works where people have about a ninety-five percent success rate of staying in that housing.”
The Mediterranean-style building was made possible by the National CORE, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit community builders, and Pasadena’s Union Station Homeless Services, a nonprofit with more that 40 years of experience in providing homeless men, women and children with supportive care.
“I think Marv’s Place is the first step in a very long journey we have to end homelessness, but this is how you do it. It’s permanent long term supportive housing and to meet the residents and the folks that live here you know we’re doing the right thing and we have to do more of it,” said Union Station Homeless Services CEO John Brauer.
Construction costs for the project were $12.2 million with funding from a combination of low-income housing tax credits and City of Pasadena and L.A. County housing funds, according to a press release.
Seven of the 20 units were set aside for families with children ages five and under through funding from First 5 LA, which had never before allocated dollars specifically for housing. First 5 LA also awarded Marv’s Place a $200,000 grant over three years for supportive services.
The City of Pasadena put in $3.8 million dollars into Marv’s Place, according to Huang.
“We have rental assistance so we basically pay the majority of the rent for all the tenants here every month,” said Huang who mentioned that 62 formerly homeless people, which includes 36 children, are now no longer homeless.
The building itself is state of the art and recently earned Platinum LEED certification from he U.S. Green Building Council for energy and environmental efficiency.
The main entrance has direct access to public streets and sidewalks to public transit stops. All units come fully furnished to help ease a family’s transition, according to a press release.
“Homelessness is not just a name and it’s not a color. It’s a reality. Marv’s Place is going to serve as an example of what we can do when we put our minds, our resources and our funds together. When I moved in here last October, I was amazed to see that somebody loved me enough to give me a beautiful home,” said resident Stanley Charles.
According to Huang, the City of Pasadena has ??530 homeless individuals that includes families, children and seniors.
“We made a lot of progress with respect to homeless families. We don’t have any homeless families living on the street,” said Huang.
Marv’s place was recently honored as Supportive Housing Project of the Year by the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing.
“To have children living on the streets is something that none of us should be willing to accept and this is a project that is an example and model of what can be done. It’s not complicated, but it’s really hard, but I don’t think we have a choice so we very much appreciate all the partners that made this happen because no one organization could do this alone,” said PonTell.
Additional partners that contributed to the development of Marv’s Place include the County of Los Angeles Community Development Commission, JP Morgan Chase & Co., FHL Bank San Francisco, the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, Westport Construction, Onyx Architects, Raymond James Tax Credit Funds Inc. and DCI Engineering Inc.
“This is just the beginning and together we’re going to end homelessness,” said Brauer.