By Shirley Hawkins
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — A 52-unit housing complex is beung built in the parking lot of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church to house the homeless in the community.
Ground was broken in late July for the Permanent Supportive Housing project that will be called the Bethel Manor Apartments.
On hand to celebrate the groundbreaking at the corner of 79th Street and Western Avenue were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, funders, building partners, service providers and members of the community.
Logos Faith Development initially partnered with Bethel AME to help the church to determine the best way to use the church’s real estate to positively impact the community.
“Thank you to Logos Faith Development for bringing us together,” Garcetti said. “Your dedication to serve our community and to serve our unhoused neighbors, is unmatched.”
“Logos is here to attend to each church’s different needs and vision,” said Martin C. Porter, managing partner of Logos Faith Development. “We’re committed to finding real and practical solutions that are customized and curated to the needs of each land partner.”
Logos Faith Development continues building on momentum in faith-based real estate development throughout the Los Angeles region. Bethel AME is one of several churches that have met with Logos seeking ways to create revenue at a time when many houses of worship are facing declining resources in communities that need more services and housing.
As word spread of this movement, more and more churches approached Logos.
“With that in mind, Logos will continue to work with denominations and churches, government agencies, the community, as well as funders and builders, to craft the best solutions for each project that focus on a victory for the church and a victory for the community,” Porter added.
Bethel AME Senior Pastor Kelvin T. Calloway said the church has been involved in the partnership with Los Angeles City and county as well as the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. He is excited to see the project getting off the ground.
“We’ve already secured the funding for the project from the SDS Capitol Group and the SDS Supportive Housing Fund,” he added.
Bethel AME has long been involved in helping the homeless by opening its fellowship hall to provide temporary shelter during winter months.
“We did that for seven years,” said Calloway, “but we realized that it was like a Band Aid for a major problem. It gave us the impetus to explore the options of building homes for the homeless.
“Affordable housing in South Los Angeles is in crisis proportions,” he added. But we had people working with us [on this project] and that was huge.”
Calloway said he realized that the homeless need not only supportive housing, but supportive services to sustain themselves that includes services such as mental wellness and substance abuse counseling, life skills training and career guidance.
“Our goal is one of transformation,” he said. “There are many homeless in Los Angeles that need help and we are going to do what we can to get the homeless back on their feet. We want to assist them to get the help they need to become productive citizens.”
Plans have already been designed for the development which will be completed in less than two years.
“We’re going to build the homeless housing on top of the parking lot,” Calloway said. “We’ll have a conference recreation room, a garden on top of the complex, a bike storage room, and it will be near the bus line so the tenants will have access to transportation.
“We have so many homeless on the street right now that the more they get off the street the better.
“What we are also committed to in terms of the project is that there will be a 20% local hire. We want people in this community working on this project.”
Councilman Harris-Dawson said, “Everybody’s been recognized for their work, Logos and the financing partners, our service providers, but I want to take a second to talk about the AME Church and Bethel AME, which has been an anchor here on Western Avenue all my life and even prior to that.
“[Bethel] isn’t just a building, it isn’t just a church, or a place where people go. It’s a place where every single time there’s a big fight, or a big struggle, or a big problem to be solved in the community, Bethel is the first to raise their hand.”
“We were right on the verge of getting this (housing development) off the ground when COVID hit,” Calloway said. “Plan checking was halted. The city was shut down but we kept pushing and they kept working with us even during this challenging time.”
Bethel Manor Apartments will be the seventh Los Angeles project financed for unhoused individuals. The goal is to build 1,800 units over the next two years for the homeless with 438 units already under construction.
“The church is excited,” Calloway said, adding that construction on the housing development will begin before the end of the year.
Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at email@example.com.