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Watts Receives $35M For Affordable Housing And Environmental Projects

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, joined by city officials and residents, gathered Thursday at Markham Middle School in Watts to celebrate the city receiving a $35M cap-and-trade grant from the state’s Transformative Climate Communities program.

The California Strategic Growth Council’s TCC grant provides cities money to develop and implement a neighborhood climate community plan. Watts is one of three areas to receive the grant. Fresno was awarded $70M. Ontario received $35M.

Garcetti asked residents to join him as he waved his right arm in the air, yelling, “Watts is rising.”

A rendering of the redevelopment of Jordan Downs, an affordable housing development in Watts

The $35M grant will fund 25 projects in Watts, including building 80 affordable housing units, the planting of 4,400 trees across the city, STEM education, creation of a five-mile bike path, more park space and 10 electric-powered buses, Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles President Doug Guthrie said.

Garcetti said the money toward affordable housing would help the city provide more units for residents, especially in low-income areas.

“[It is] 80 more units for us to reach our goal of building 1,400 units of affordable housing that our Jordan Downs project will deliver, doubling the number of affordable units that exist now to break the back of this housing crisis in LA,” Garcetti said.

Jordan Downs in Watts currently has 700 units of affordable housing. Construction of 250 units of new affordable housing is already underway in Jordan Downs.

The Jordan Downs neighborhood has an infamous history and past reputation for violence and gang activity. Garcetti said Jordan Downs and nearby Nickerson Gardens housing project used to average 10 homicides a year. With policing, resources and other initiatives, those areas had zero homicides last year.

In 2013, the Los Angeles City Council approved tearing down the existing buildings in Jordan Downs and redeveloping the housing project for new affordable housing units, green space and a resource center.

An advertisement banner of the Jordan Downs redevelopment project.

The city’s housing authority selected The Michaels Organization to redevelop the property.

“This is a vision that’s been a long time coming,” The Michaels Organization Vice President of Development Kecia Boulware said. “We’re building high-quality affordable housing that will benefit the community for a long time.”

Councilman Joe Buscaino said with this grant and other projects underway, Watts will have a greener and cleaner environment.

"An investment in sustainability is an investment in our future," Busciano said.