Firm Designs Housing for Homeless Veterans

THURSDAY, MAY 25, 2017

Affordable housing developer Skid Row Housing Trust recently teamed up with architectural design firm Brooks + Scarpa (both of Los Angeles) to bring to life a 52-unit development called “The Six.”

The residence and its namesake pay homage to military service members—with a reference to the military saying “got your six,” or “I’ve got your back—with a third of its units set aside for homeless veterans.

“The project is 100 percent permanent supportive housing, with 35 percent of the units set aside for homeless veterans,” said Dana Trujillo, chief real estate officer at the Trust.

The rest of the units are set aside to serve other formerly homeless individuals.

About 20 units are restricted at 30 percent of the area median income, 18 units are restricted at 45 percent of the AMI, and 11 units are restricted at 50 percent of the AMI, according to Affordable Housing Finance. All of those measures in the $16.7 million development are supported by Section 8 vouchers.

Though both the Trust and Brooks + Scarpa have a long-running reputation for affordable housing ventures, this is the first building from the developer with units specifically designated for veterans, picking up a project in Los Angeles to combat its homeless vets statistic. L.A. had 4,016 homeless veterans in 2015, the highest number in the nation.

The Design

The residency sits in McArthur Park, which has one of the highest population densities in the nation, with over 38,000 people per square mile. The development mixes public and private “zones” to step away from the isolation that these types of projects can normally inflict.

“The ground level contains offices, support spaces for the veterans, and bike storage and parking, while the second level has a large public courtyard,” according to Brooks + Scarpa’s website. “Surrounded by four levels of housing units with balconies wrapped with a wood screen made from recycle planking, the courtyard has large openings with green roofs that visually connects the space to the street on the lower level beyond. This allows the tenants to enjoy a secured open space while still connecting to the larger community.”

The structure is certified LEED Platinum for its energy-efficient measures, which dealt with the challenge of vast temperature swings in the California climate.

Each unit features 10-foot ceilings, cross ventilation and a lot of windows. Concrete walls and floors are placed strategically for function as “thermal heat sinks,” and dual glazing with low-E film in thermally broken vinyl frames also helps control heat.

There is cellulose blown into the envelope as well,  and white stucco provides some light reflection.

Also on the building’s exterior are solar panels, which take up about a third of the roof. Those panels create the energy for the building’s hot water by connecting to a common boiler.

An irrigation system was also created to aid not just the green roof, but numerous gardens (including an edible one) along the building’s terraces.

Although The Six was completed in 2016, it recently came away with a slew of awards and honors, including a 2017 National AIA Institute Honor award, an AIA National Housing Award, an AIALA Honor Award and an AIALA Sustainability Honor Award.


Tagged categories: Good Technical Practice; Green roofs; Housing; North America; Residential Construction; Sustainability

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