Actor’s Fund project to provide housing for artists

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By Juliet Bennett Rylah

Contributing Writer

HOLLYWOOD — Work has begun on the Actors Fund’s latest affordable housing project, the Hollywood Arts Collective. The $120 million complex will contain 151 affordable units for artists, a theater, gallery and rehearsal space and more when completed in 2024.

The Actors Fund is a nonprofit founded in 1882 to provide aid to actors, dancers, musicians and other performing artists. Today, those services include emergency financial assistance, health care, senior care, affordable housing and career development.

When it comes to housing, the Actors Fund offers seminars and other resources for tenants and those seeking to purchase a house, but it also operates the Housing Development Corporation, founded in 2009, to build new affordable housing. In 1998, it opened the Palm View, a 40-unit complex in West Hollywood available to low-income residents with special needs.

The Hollywood Arts Collective will consist of two buildings on Hollywood Boulevard between Wilcox Avenue and Schrader Boulevard, formerly the site of a surface parking lot. In addition to 151 housing units, the project will include three gardens, a fitness room, two rehearsal studios, the 86-seat Glorya Kaufman Theater, art galleries and the Actors Fund’s Western Region Headquarters. The Actors Fund partnered with developers Thomas Safran & Associates and the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Transportation on the project.

Funding comes via $100 million already obtained from the city and state, the Los Angeles Development Fund and the federal low-income housing tax credit program, while the Actors Fund will raise another $20 million via philanthropy. Thus far, it has raised a quarter of that goal.

The project is more than 10 years in the making. According to Keith McNutt, executive director of the Western Region of the Actors Fund, that process was split into two segments.

Between 2010 and 2015, the process was focused on predevelopment, site selection and exploration, building partnerships and working with the city on a site they wanted. The original exploration was for downtown, but after [Gov. Jerry Brown] closed all of the [community redevelopment agencies] in the state [in 2012], the search turned to Hollywood, where the Actors Fund applied for an initial [request for proposals] there,” McNutt said.

Those initial proposals were rejected, so the Actors Fund partnered with Thomas Safran & Associates, submitted the application for new [proposals] and won the site in November 2016. Development began in 2017.

In 2012, the Actors Fund partnered with the Department of Cultural Affairs on a survey that found many working artists had been priced out of L.A. and required more affordable rehearsal and performance spaces.

According to McNutt, 67% of artists earn less than $40,000 per year. The pandemic has only made the situation worse for many, especially those in the performing arts as live productions have yet to come back. Due to the pandemic, an estimated 95% of artists and creative workers have lost income, and 63% are unemployed altogether.

The Actors Fund has provided $19 million financial assistance to artists since the onset of the pandemic. Over half of those artists live in California.

When Hollywood Arts Collective begins renting in 2023 ahead of its 2024 opening, units will be reserved for individuals and families at 60% area median income or lower. For reference, the current area median income for L.A. County is $77,300.

To celebrate the start of the project, the Actors Fund held a virtual event Feb. 11 attended by McNutt, City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, Actors Fund Vice Chair Annette Bening, Chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Chandra Wilson, head of the Western Council of the Actor’s Fund; among others.

Juliet Bennett Rylah is a freelance reporter who covers Hollywood and West Hollywood. She can be reached at jbrylah@gmail.com.