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Gift to help finish 115 units for homeless

October 24, 2006|J. Michael Kennedy | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles' largest downtown residential developer Monday donated $1.5 million that will allow the Skid Row Housing Trust to complete 115 efficiency apartments for the homeless mentally ill.

The donation by Sonny Astani will enable the completion of the Abbey Apartments on San Pedro Street.

"Sonny's gift means we will be able to finish a critical project that provides the opportunity for 115 extremely vulnerable people who have been living on the street to move into well constructed efficiency apartments," said Mike Alvidrez, executive director of the Skid Row Housing Trust, created in 1989 by a group of community leaders and activists concerned about the disappearance of single-room-occupancy hotels.

The trust has developed and restored 19 hotel properties, which include almost 1,200 units of affordable housing. The latest apartments will have on-site access to social, medical and mental health services.

"We live in a time when federal and state funding often is used ineffectively and leaves little for public housing," Astani said, adding that Los Angeles has the largest homeless population in the nation. "This is a human tragedy, which not only destroys people but the social and economic vibrancy of the city as well. We all share responsibility in working to eliminate it."

Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes the project, lauded the privatepublic partnership that is allowing the project to move forward.

"This should give confidence to the business community that, if they make a financial commitment, it will have a significant impact," she said. "Everyone needs to be a partner in this effort,"

Astani's company is in varying stages of building about 2,000 condominiums, valued at about $1 billion, in downtown, Hollywood and Koreatown.

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