Step Up on Colorado Supportive Housing Opens in Santa Monica
Santa Monica’s eighth Step Up supportive housing project for formerly homeless mentally ill residents opened recently. Bisnow chatted with KFA principal Lise Bornstein to hear all about the new development.
Lise (here with Step Up on Second Inc CEO Tod Likpa) tells us the project at 520 Colorado Ave, called Step Up on Colorado Kaufmann Apartments, provides 32 chronically mentally ill folks who've been living on the streets safe, affordable, studio-sized apartments, along with supportive services. Two of the project’s 34 units are occupied by on-site staff. The building was co-developed by Step Up on Second Inc and affordable housing developer Hollywood Community Housing Corp. It got both public and private funding.
Lise tells us that the design challenge was to organize the building in a way to promote integration into the community, while making residents feel like they have roots in the neighborhood community. “What happens beyond the unit is as important as what happens inside the unit,” she says. “So this design gives tenants community spaces and gathering spaces that look out into the city.”
Inspired by a large tree on the site, the five-story wood and cement-board structure was designed around the concept of a Healing Tree. A second-story community room opens onto a private interior courtyard where residents can enjoy a quiet shaded garden. Located at the intersection of Colorado and 5th streets, the building is just steps from Downtown Santa Monica Station, the westernmost terminus of Metro’s Exposition Line, which is scheduled to begin serving Santa Monica early next year.
Step Up, which is modeled on the "Housing First” philosophy, operates seven similar housing facilities in Santa Monica and provides 22 different programs to address the entire spectrum of issues prominent in residents. Housing First was created by Pathways National (here's CEO Sam Tsemberis, right, chatting with longtime Step Up resident Jacob). For the tenants at Step Up on Colorado, a place to call home is a new experience, Lise notes. “Many of these residents had not lived in a home for many years, and it’s a joy to see them in their new homes.”