Affordable Housing Comes to Jefferson Park

When thinking back on growing up in Jefferson Park, I recall a rundown Fatburger on a shady side of Western Avenue. I distinctly remember a German Shepherd who wagged his tail as my mom and I walked past his Jefferson Boulevard chain link fence on our way to 6th Avenue Elementary. During our four-block walk to school we would also encounter homeless people hiding in abandoned corners along the street. This was at least 20 years ago when the average gross rent in South Los Angeles was $525.

Today, the scene down Jefferson Park’s main arteries -- Western Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard -- looks a little different. The site of the first-ever Fatburger on Western and the friendly dog’s home on Jefferson have recently been converted into residential buildings for community members who need housing assistance. 

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s latest report indicated the city’s streets are home to 58,423 homeless people and according to Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti, the city will need 82,000 affordable housing units between now and 2012. 

Two new housing projects in Jefferson Park are examples of collaborations between public entities and private companies coming together to tackle the city’s housing crisis.  They will provide 100 new affordable housing units to the Jefferson Park community. City Council President Herb Wesson said “It’s a reminder of what can be accomplished when we work together.”

(Jefferson Square)


The corner of Jefferson and 4th Avenue is now home to Jefferson Square, a new 40-unit apartment building. The complex has one, two, and three-bedroom homes, and residents have access to a community room, fitness center, computer lab, television room, and library. Renting a unit ranges between an estimated $593-$1,253.  Applicants were required to have incomes below 60 percent of the median income for Los Angeles County. 

According to a Los Angeles Times neighborhood profile, the 1.42-square-mile Jefferson Park had a median household income of $32,654 in 2008 and 26.6 percent of families are headed by single parents.

Developer Thomas Saffran & Associates, maker of more than 5,000 units of affordable housing units for seniors and low-income families, received about $6 million in public subsidies from the state’s Proposition 1C Affordable Housing Bond, the Community Redevelopment Agency, and the City of Los Angeles Affordable Housing Trust, according to the Los Angeles Sentinel.

jeffersonweb2 (Jefferson Park Terrace)

At Western Avenue and 30th Street stands the four-story, 60-unit Jefferson Park Terrace. The apartments have between one and four bedrooms, plus access to a picnic area, computer center, community room, and outdoor play area, among other amenities. The waitlist is currently closed. 

“Every individual has the right to live in safe, affordable and quality housing,” said County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas when Jefferson Park Terrace opened. 

In addition to private funding, this project received funds from the city’s Community Development Block Grants, the Los Angeles Housing Department, the California Housing Finance Agency, and the county Community Development Commission.

Developer Mercy Housing offers Jefferson Park Terrace apartments to low-income families and has allocated six units for people who live with HIV/AIDS. 

HIV/AIDS rates were 38 percent higher in South los Angeles than the rest of the county, according a housing study from 2000. Between one-third and one-half of Angelenos living with HIV/AIDS are either homeless or close to becoming homeless due to the financial burden of HIV-related disabilities, job discrimination, or the cost of healthcare. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has set goals to tackle what he calls the worst shortage of housing in the city since World War II. His plans include building 100,000 housing units by 2021 to help meet current demand, raising the minimum wage, and preserving the city’s tenant protections.

As for fans of the first-ever Fatburger on Western -- even though the restaurant was shuttered to make room for Jefferson Park Terrace, the stand has been preserved as a symbol of black entrepreneurship. A team of historic architecture specialists worked to protect the stand’s 1952 character in honor of owner Lovie Yancey, who is known to have nurtured musicians and entertainers including Redd Foxx and Ray Charles.

Photo by Dawn Kirkpatrick


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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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