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LINC in the News
The Spark At Midtown Aims To Ignite Change
Long Beach Business Journal, March 25, 2019
By Brandon Richardson

The Long Beach community came together on March 20, despite the threat of rain, to celebrate the groundbreaking of The Spark at Midtown, an affordable housing development that stands to revitalize and activate a vacant lot.

“This project was designed to create a spark and a light for those people who are going to live here,” Rebecca Clark, president and CEO of developer LINC Housing, said during the event. “It’s meant to ignite the collective energies of a whole group of people that are committed to a larger vision.”

Located on a 0.93-acre vacant lot at 1900 Long Beach Blvd., plans for the five-story development consist of 95 apartments for low-income families and individuals who have experienced homelessness. Units range from 570 to 1,068 square feet, including 47 one-bedroom units, 24 two-bedroom units and 24 three-bedroom units. The project is expected to be completed next year.

In addition to 95 affordable residential units, developer LINC Housing’s The Spark at Midtown will feature a health clinic, a YMCA Youth Institute, a cafe, a community kitchen and extensive case management services at 1900 Long Beach Blvd. Pictured from left: John Given, board chair for LINC; Bonnie Lowenthal, retired California assemblymember and LINC boardmember; Bob Cabeza, vice president of community development for YMCA of Greater Long Beach; Long Beach Vice Mayor Dee Andrews; Los Angeles County 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn; Carolyn Caldwell, president and CEO, Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center; John Thomas, board chair of the Long Beach Community Investment Company; Rebecca Clark, president and CEO of LINC; Suny Lay Chang, COO of LINC; and Minh Nguyen, LINC boardmember. (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Brandon Richardson)

Tenants in 53 of the apartments will pay rent at a rate of 30% of the area’s median income (AMI), while tenants of the remaining 41 units will pay 60% AMI. No resident will pay more than 30% of their income on rent. Aside from affordable units, tenants will have access to intensive case management services, a community room with computer lab, courtyards, a community garden, bikes and meeting rooms.

“Getting people off the streets isn’t enough,” LINC COO Suny Lay Chang said at the event. “You have to help them get back on their feet and you have to give them a track record of proving their worth so that when they go out in the real world, they’ve got something to stand on.”

To further assist tenants, The Spark will house a demonstration kitchen and the Deli 456. Operated by Mental Health America Los Angeles, the social enterprise cafe will provide residents with job and culinary skills, as well as a reference for future job applications. The ground floor of The Spark is also slated to house the YMCA Youth Institute and a four-room clinic operated by Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center.

Being a part of The Spark falls directly in line with St. Mary’s mission statement, according to President and CEO Carolyn Caldwell. “We dedicate our resources to delivering compassionate, high-quality affordable health care services, serving and advocating for our sisters and brothers who are poor and disenfranchised, partnering with others in the community to improve the quality of life,” she said, reading the hospital’s mission statement. “This will be a location for our faculty and for our residents so that they can practice their healing ministry of providing health care . . . for those in our community that are the most vulnerable.”

“After 20 years of doing this work, we have low-income youth of color in Long Beach who are engineers, who are doctors, who are attorneys, who are social workers, and they’re giving back to community,” Bob Cabeza, vice president of community development for the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, said during the event. “We need to give others a home and a place. That’s what The Spark is doing. . . . That is why we’re so excited to be involved in this partnership. I have seen it in this city, and we can teach other cities how to do this right, how to do this well, how to help our children and our families move out of poverty.”

The Spark is LINC’s second project in Long Beach, but its first completely new development. The nonprofit affordable housing developer is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. It has been located in Long Beach for more than 25 years. The company has developed over 8,000 affordable units statewide.

During construction, The Spark is expected to create 153 jobs, generating more than $3.4 million in business revenue, nearly $7.6 million in wages and salaries, and $2.1 million in taxes and fees. Once completed, estimated ongoing annual impacts include 41 jobs, nearly $600,000 in business revenue, more than $1.9 million in wages and salaries, and $478,325 in taxes and fees.

With a price tag of nearly $52.6 million, LINC received funding from several sources for The Spark, including more than $24 million through Raymond James Tax Credit funds, a leading sponsor of the state’s low-income housing tax credit program. Additionally, both Century Housing and Los Angeles County chipped in more $10.3 million and $10.7 million, respectively. The Long Beach Community Investment Company provided $3 million to the project, while the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco supplied nearly $2 million.

“It’s no secret that homelessness and the housing crisis are the greatest challenges of our time. That’s evident by the thousands of people who have no choice but to sleep on our sidewalks, and it’s felt by the families forced to make the impossible decision between buying food and keeping a roof over their family’s heads. And we don’t accept that,” Los Angeles County 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn said at the event. “These are the kinds of projects that allow neighborhoods to thrive and that’s why I was so happy to help ensure that the county contributed to make The Spark at Midtown a reality.”

© 2019 South Coast Publishing.