Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony for a newly renovated permanent supportive housing (PSH) development in South L.A. on Thursday. The ceremony also included speakers like USC President Carol L. Folt, L.A. Councilmember Curren Price, L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell and some of Casa de Rosas’ residents.
Casa de Rosas, also known as the Froebel Institute and the Sunshine Mission, is a historic building in the West Adams district and was previously the oldest women’s shelter in L.A. Now, it has been transformed into a PSH development for homeless veterans and their families.
“What a wonderful way to start your day: ribbon cutting at a beautiful facility,” Bass said at the ceremony. “Now, this is work that was done years ago. And although I served as a cheerleader, it was your hard work that got this done.”
Casa de Rosas, situated on the corner of South Hoover Street and West Adams Boulevard, consists of 15 single units, 19 one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units. It houses 36 veteran families.
“I think the program is magnificent,” said Greg Walker, who sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is often referred to as the Black national anthem, at the ceremony. “There are people that are out here that really can’t be heard, can’t be noticed or anything, but this program gets them heard. It gets their voice out there.”
When Casa de Rosas was built in 1893, it initially served as a private kindergarten at a time when education for younger children was a novelty. Since then, it has served as a college preparation center for women, an inn, a restaurant, military barracks during World War II and a Church of Scientology headquarters. In the 1950s, radio evangelist Essie Binkley West bought the property and turned it into a women’s homeless shelter, Sunshine Mission for Women.
“Renovating it for [these] purposes is fantastic,” said Lika Dozier, a program manager for the Leslie and William McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI), a college access and success program that works with students from low-income households in South and East L.A. Dozier also sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the event as a representative of USC.
“I’ve lived in the neighborhood for several years since I was a college student at USC,” Dozier said. “And I’ve seen this house on this corner for many years. I’m so glad to see, that one, it is being used again, [and] two, that it has been renovated so beautifully. And so to be here, and hear kind of the journey of how long and how many people it took to get here is amazing.”
Federal and state regulations require residents of Casa de Rosas to have a household annual income that does not exceed the income limits published by the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee.
“We have such a big problem in our city,” Bass said. “So one of the challenges that veterans face is that their benefits tend to be just too much money for them to qualify for housing. So then veterans have to choose between your [Veterans Health Administration health care] or a house.”
Bass shared that she met with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough in Washington, D.C. to discuss the rules and regulations that veterans face when searching for housing. She also announced that Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge just awarded L.A. $157 million “on top of the $60 million that she awarded us just a couple of months ago.”
“What this is showing is that when we show the leadership of the country, the state, the county and the city, all working together, people are willing to step up and say, ‘We know you have a massive problem in L.A., but we see that you’re doing everything possible to address that problem,’” Bass said. “And then other people will come forward.”