Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia Joins Linc Housing and the Community to Celebrate the Completion of 95 New Affordable and Supportive Homes at Spark at Midtown in Long Beach


Ground Floor Features Dignity Health Clinic, YMCA Youth Institute, and Change Agent Productions

LONG BEACH, Calif. - July 19, 2021 — Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia today joined Linc Housing, county and city officials, and other partners to celebrate the grand opening of Spark at Midtown, a 95-unit affordable housing community for low-income families and people who have experienced homelessness. The new building also features ground floor space that houses the YMCA of Greater Long Beach Community Development Branch's Youth Institute and Change Agent Productions, as well as a Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center health clinic. A third space is targeted to a business that will bring healthy food options to the neighborhood.

“Our efforts to address and expand affordable housing opportunities across all parts of Long Beach continue to be successful,” said Mayor Garcia. “This development will provide affordable homes, address housing insecurity and help ignite the revitalization of the Long Beach Boulevard corridor.���

Spark at Midtown, located at 1900 Long Beach Blvd., is one of the first developments under Long Beach's Midtown Specific Plan. It aims to ignite the Midtown area into a thriving and livable community, promoting healthy living, education and opportunity, neighborhood engagement, and connectivity. Half of the 95 homes are occupied by individuals and families who have been homeless. The other half serve families earning up to 60% of area median income.

“Some of these new residents have struggled with homelessness and housing insecurity for years before moving into Spark at Midtown,” Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose office helped fund the development, said prior to the event. “Not only do these residents finally have a place to call home, they also have a support system ready to help them make sure their home is a place they can thrive. As we confront the homelessness crisis, this is the kind of community-centered project we need to build across the county.”

Erica, a Spark resident, spent 15 years without a permanent home. She “couch surfed” for many years, but after a while, she didn't want to be a burden to her friends and family. She ended up living on the sidewalk in Long Beach, and severe depression became yet another challenge. It all started when she lost her job and had issues with her family. “Once you fall off, it's hard to get back on,” she said. Erica wasn't aware there were services to help people in her situation. She started working with the Long Beach Multi-Service Center about two years ago, and now, she has a safe, permanent home. “I feel really good about my future,” she said. “I finally have everything I need to move ahead.” Erica has spent many hours volunteering at her church, helping serve meals to others who have struggled. She says she wants to stay positive and spiritually grounded. “I'm a changed woman,” she said.

"Spark at Midtown is now one of our flagship properties - a new community that improves people's lives and is an integral part of the fabric of the neighborhood. It's housing, supportive services, and community revitalization - all at the same time," said Suny Lay Chang, Linc president and COO. "Linc has been headquartered in Long Beach since 1997, and we're excited to bring our community development expertise to our own backyard."

The new community has 47 one-bedroom, 24 two-bedroom and 24 three-bedroom homes. The second floor features multiple case management offices as well as flexible meeting spaces for health education, financial empowerment, support groups, and employment-related workshops and services. Additional amenities include a community room with computer lab, an after-school program space, a demonstration kitchen, bike storage, and a mini park that is open to the public.

Partnerships with Los Angeles County of Department of Health Services and The People Concern allow Linc to serve the 47 formerly homeless households with intensive case management services. Services include: resident outreach and engagement, ongoing case management, referrals to health, mental health, and substance use disorder services, benefits assistance, assistance with life skills, employment, and education, and eviction prevention services. All residents have access to life-enhancing services through Linc's resident services. Programs include: after-school program, financial empowerment and nutrition workshops, volunteer and civic engagement opportunities, and community building social activities.

To help bridge the digital divide, Linc worked with the City of Long Beach and Crown Castle to connect the Spark building to city fiber and provide high-speed internet access for residents. Grant funding from City National Bank supported broadband internet access for the building, including internet service for Spark residents.

Another noteworthy aspect of this new community is Linc's partnership with the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and the California Energy Commission to test a battery storage initiative for low-income residents. This initiative allows UCR and Linc to access a larger capacity battery to store more solar energy to use at times of peak demand to serve a larger apartment community (95 units). This project was designed to maximize the benefits to Spark's residents in addition to covering the electrical loads of the common areas. UCR will track savings on residents' electric bills. The aim is for residents to save money that can be used for other necessities, including health and education expenses. Spark at Midtown has registered with the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED Gold certification.

The homes reserved for people who have been homeless were filled through referrals and coordination from LA Care, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Long Beach Multi-Service Center, Coordinated Entry System (CES), and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Services. The remaining traditional affordable housing units were filled by referrals from the Housing Authority of the City of Long Beach, using project-based vouchers. All residents pay 30% of their income for their apartment. Rents range from $415 to $545 for one bedroom, $654 to $1,309 for two bedrooms, and $756 to $1,512 for three bedrooms.

Funding for the development comes from a number of sources including $10.7 million from the Los Angeles County Development Authority (combination of County General Funds, Mental Health Housing Program Funds, Measure H Funds, and Homeless Service Center Funds), a loan and impact fee waiver from the Long Beach Community Investment Company, an Infrastructure Infill Grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development, a conventional loan from Capital One N.A., with permanent financing provided by Century Housing, tax credit equity from Raymond James Tax Credit Funds Inc., and Affordable Housing Program funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. Predevelopment support was provided by The California Endowment and Enterprise Community Partners. Additional grant funds to design and equip community-serving facilities at Spark were provided by Wells Fargo Foundation and The Ahmanson Foundation. Support to launch programs at Spark were provided by Capital One, California Community Foundation, and Union Bank.

Spark at Midtown was designed in collaboration with WHA Architects, D33 Design & Planning, and City Fabrick. Walton Construction Inc. was the general contractor. The building was completed in early 2021, and residents began to move in in late January. Spark is Linc's third development in Long Beach. Bloom at Magnolia, with 40 units will be completed in late 2021, and The Palace, which opened in 2012, has 13 homes for transition age youth.

About Linc Housing Corporation
Linc Housing, one of California's most productive nonprofit developers of affordable housing, is committed to building communities and strengthening neighborhoods for people underserved by the marketplace. Linc has helped create nearly 8,800 homes in 88 communities throughout the state. The organization's properties are known for excellent design, outstanding management and life-enhancing services for its residents. Linc has 37 years of service to families, seniors, people with special needs, and local governments - helping to create sustainable communities via new construction, acquisition and rehabilitation, and historic preservation. Visit www.Linchousing.org for more information.

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