Senior citizens feel the impact of lack of affordable housing in the USC area, but one collaboration hopes to change that

Finding a place to live in South L.A. continues to be a struggle for local residents, but real estate developer John Stanley, Inc. and the Southside Church of Christ are looking to create more community housing.

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The struggle for affordable housing has been a cause of concern for unhoused and low-income senior citizens in the South Los Angeles community for years.

A new partnership between unexpected bedfellows – a real estate developer and a pastor – may offer a solution for at least a few dozen people in need.

With a shovel in hand, Carl C. Baccus, the pastor of Southside Church of Christ, joined forces with local Southern California developer, John Stanley Inc. to break ground on what will be a 50-unit affordable building offering housing for seniors on Manchester Avenue.

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The partnership is between real estate developers John Stanley, Inc., Southside Church and Innovative Housing Opportunities, a non-profit organization that specializes in building affordable housing for veterans, those living with mental illness, formerly unhoused people and developmentally disabled people. According to a press release from Newswire, the building, called “Serenity” by developers, will offer lodging for 18 unhoused people, 18 unhoused older adults and 14 independent older adults.

According to, as of August 2022, the median listing home price in Downtown L.A. is trending up by 8.8% year-over-year. The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Downtown L.A. is currently $2,841, according to Zillow. This represents a 7% increase compared to last year.

Although certain cases of homelessness have trended down in recent years, Spectrum News 1 found that homelessness among seniors had increased by 6.5% as of September 13. Senior citizens in particular are feeling the impact, as they live on fixed incomes.

“My vision to break ground on this housing development took over 40 years to be realized,” Baccus said.

President of John Stanley Inc. Saki Middleton said the vision for this complex is to house unhoused and low-income older adults, but also to provide retail space to the local community. Middleton believes this will benefit the community by providing businesses and services. The hope is that the project will encourage investment from other developers and investors, she said. Their plan is to design a market-rate project, despite the fact that it is an affordable building.

The group is still finalizing the specifics about the types of businesses that will go in the retail space at the Serenity complex.

“We don’t have a final agreement with the tenants. However, the goal is to provide healthy food and provide space for new locally founded and based businesses,” Middleton said. “The tenants would create new jobs for the community.”

The primary goal of constructing this complex is to house individuals in the community who can no longer afford to live there. Furthermore, the project aims to bring construction to the area and revitalize lots that are no longer in use.

Nate Lockett, a neighborhood local who was formerly unhoused, said that one of his concerns was “the bigger problem.” Because drugs such as cocaine, heroin and now meth have been a long-time struggle in the area, a project like this “might be a temporary solution to a bigger problem,” he said.

The USC Village, a retail and housing area right off campus was built in 2017 to alleviate the need for students to find off-campus rental solutions. According to Zillow, South L.A. rents have increased by 17% since January 2021.

Kenji Corbisiero, a resident of the USC area, stated that the true tension in terms of affordable housing in the area stood between management companies and the local residents.

Corbisiero said that often when residents do not have good credit, management companies charge “an arm and a leg” for a deposit.

“If you don’t fit the bill for what they’re looking for, they’ll lie to you and tell you that there is no space available,” Corbisiero said.

Buildings like Serenity may relieve these tensions in the community, Baccus said.

“God is faithful, and the Southside Church of Christ is committed to serving the whole man both physically and spiritually,” Baccus said.