South LA’s latest affordable rental project would use recycled shipping containers

A blighted property near 110-105 interchange could become housing for chronically homeless Angelenos

Cristian Ahumada Executive Director at Clifford Beers Housing
Cristian Ahumada Executive Director at Clifford Beers Housing

A small vacant lot in South L.A. bound by streets on each side could become an affordable housing complex if affordable developer Clifford Beers Housing gets a green light from the city.

The lot is one a kind. It’s an isolated, paved 18,000 square foot triangle-shaped lot at 283 W. Imperial Highway where a residential neighborhood meets the massive interchange for interstates 110 and 105. Clifford Beers, which filed for the project with the city on Thursday, wants to call it Isla de Los Angeles.

The planned development is also unusual. Clifford Beers wants to build it out of recycled shipping containers, a method that’s gained some traction with affordable developers around the country. In 2016, developer John Sobrato set out to build micro-apartments in Santa Clara out of affordable shipping containers.

The South L.A. project would have 53 affordable studio apartments and an unspecified amount of commercial space. All of the units would be fully furnished. Its form and landscaping is designed to reduce noise and air pollution from the nearby highways.

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Clifford Beers wants to set aside 24 units for chronically homeless individuals with severe mental illnesses or people who frequent the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Health Services. Those would be rented at rates for 30 percent of AMI, while the rest would rent at 40 percent of AMI.

Clifford Beers seeks a reduction in open space and a waiver of setback requirements through the Transit-Oriented Communities program, which provides those and other incentives for developers who build affordable units near transit options.

The North Hollywood-based developer says around $11.6 million in funding would come from Proposition HHH funds. It needs $21.8 million in funding total.

Prop HHH, approved by voters in 2016, provided $1.2 billion in funding to develop affordable housing in L.A.