live / 2021

The Village: A Collective Approach to Affordable Housing

The Village: A Collective Approach to Affordable Housing

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects

The Village is a community-oriented supportive housing concept that will provide safe and affordable housing for female-led households. Organized around shared, collective spaces, it will explore the potential of supportive housing integrated with other programs such as childcare, spaces for economic development, or healthcare to strengthen communities and bolster essential networks of support. With the grant funds, we will work in partnership with the community to design a space that embodies their collective needs and aspirations.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • San Gabriel Valley
  • County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

The scale of the housing crisis enveloping Los Angeles in recent years is well publicized. Under mounting political pressure, the dominant solution has been to target narrow quantitative metrics by providing as many units of housing as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Embodied in the provision of this housing are cultural values that are often incongruous with the lifestyle, demographics, and needs of the population being housed. To receive assistance, potential residents must conform or they do not qualify. Housing provided is typically individual units with parking and little collective space, unavailable to undocumented individuals or families, and with little ability to reduce the cost of housing for the end-user without public assistance throughout their tenancy. Additionally, a metrics-driven housing practice spatially distributes supportive housing far from employment opportunities and other necessary amenities, compounding the deleterious effects of housing insecurity.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

We propose to develop a process and design model for community-oriented supportive housing as an alternative to the metrics-driven models commonly deployed in Los Angeles. The Village is a shared, integrated, affordable housing concept accommodating multiple families in rental housing, and will be oriented towards female-led households to protect victims of domestic violence and to address the soaring number of women and their families experiencing increased instability as a result of the pandemic. In contrast to the majority of supportive housing that is provided as atomized, individual units, encouraging atomized, isolated patterns of use, The Village will be oriented around The Village commons, communal spaces that facilitate the sharing of domestic labor such as childcare and cooking. It will explore the potential of supportive housing to strengthen communities and bolster essential networks of support, while providing onsite job opportunities through these networks. It will also incorporate a diversity of additional programs, such as spaces for economic development or healthcare to mitigate challenges brought about by the geographic sprawl of LA County. In developing this project, we intend to create a roadmap for others to follow, extract insights from, and expand upon. Critically, the prototype will be developed through a community-led design process, giving potential residents the agency to advocate for the values most important to them.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

150
Direct impact
1,000
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

We will develop a replicable model for a community-led approach to the provision of supportive housing, reflective of the needs and values of its immediate context. In addition to creating a prototypical design for The Village, the open-source development model seeks to strengthen communities through increased agency and access to critical resources such as quality and affordable healthcare and childcare, and offer tools to residents and community leaders to better advocate for their needs. These elements are required to stabilize female-headed households whose instability has only increased as a result of the pandemic. The Village concept aspires to consider each resident as a vital node in the broader community, whose health and welfare is determined by the strength of bonds between members. Ultimately, by synthesizing the values embodied in design and development, we hope to build upon the interdependency of community members to amplify opportunities and quality of life.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

As a pilot initiative, this venture builds on a shared commitment to research and collaboration. In order to ensure success, we have strategized to most effectively leverage our complimentary, yet diverse areas of expertise. Procedurally, we will structure our efforts through quarterly reports consolidating our findings with analysis from community outreach and design. We will regularly share these with community stakeholders and industry leaders for their feedback, but consider the community response to be our most valuable metric of success. We will develop a “Social Impact Bond” to address the current inability of funding models to reflect and quantify the long-term financial impact of innovative housing schemes. The design solutions will also need to meet the requirements we have delineated in quantifiable arenas in integrated housing, as well as intangible metrics such as access to community and economic resources.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

LOHA and TBE will function as a single team, sharing coordination and design responsibilities. They will produce written and visual analyses for the research and outreach components, and lead the design process to create a new housing strategy prototype. Together with NEW and CCF, they will organize workshops, design charrettes, and community outreach events. NEW and CCF will contribute feedback and direction to the proposals, leverage their extensive experience in community development, and identify potential project sites. We have readied ourselves to work together as a team, and by integrating design-thinking from the earliest stage of project conceptualization, our interdisciplinary approach gives us a unique understanding of how to create a better way to house unstable families.

Which of the live metrics will you impact?​

  • Housing affordability
  • Resilient communities
  • Homelessness

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to CREATE
  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT