Enormous Taxpayer-Funded 19-Story Tower To Open in Skid Row, Providing Homeless With Rooms, Gym, Café, and More

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jun 10, 2024

An enormous 19-story tower will be opening in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Skid Row this month with the intended goal of providing luxury living spaces and amenities to the area’s homeless population.

Once it opens, the tower will become the largest permanent homeless-supporting housing project in Los Angeles.

Homeless Living

This 19-story tower will feature 228 studio, 50 one-bedroom apartments, and will be located in the middle of Skid Row in Los Angeles. This effort is part of a three-building project to support and shelter the city’s homeless population.

Aerial view of Los Angeles cityscape showing dense urban development, high-rise buildings downtown, sprawling neighborhoods, and distant mountains, under clear skies

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“We’re trying to make our little corner of the world look and feel a little better,” Weingart Center Assistant Chief Executive and President Kevin Murray told the Los Angeles Times.


Stunning Design

Last year, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Mercedes Marquez, impressed with the building plans, showered the project with compliments.

View of downtown Los Angeles skyline from a car on the freeway, with clear visibility of tall buildings and distant mountains

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“You see the design, it’s stunning. We’re talking about world-class architecture,” said Marquez. “A 100% affordable, permanent, supportive housing meant to house those with the biggest problems.”

Sprawling Views

The new living space will provide scenic views of the downtown area as well as the San Gabriel mountains. Murray was responsible for devising the plan in 2018 and wanted to provide many amenities for residents to enjoy.

A view of the San Gabriel Mountains that are in the distance.

Source: Rlevse/Wikimedia

The tower features a gym, an art room, a music room, a computer room, a library, bicycle storage, a career center, community gardens, a TV lounge, a courtyard, a café, a commercial kitchen, and several large balconies. 

Project Funding

According to reports, the entire project will cost $165 million and is partially funded through Los Angeles Proposition HHH, which allows city officials to create permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless.

Buses and cars driving down streets in downtown Los Angeles beneath tall buildings.

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The project is also funded through state housing funds and will receive $56 million in state tax credits, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Furnished Rooms

Each individual room will have its own television and also feature a microwave, oven, fridge, and a single bed.

A front view of a used Sharp Carousel microwave oven. The white appliance features a variety of cooking options labeled on the right side

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According to Weingart’s website, 40 of the income-based units are “reserved for Veteran households meeting certain qualifications, acknowledging the unique needs of this group.”


Supporting Wellness

The Weingart Center Association is a nonprofit group that is behind the project to create the three towers, the first of which is called Tower 1. Weingart hopes the project will improve the health of struggling area residents.

A person's hand is holding a white mug with steam rising from it

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“Residents of Weingart Tower 1 will benefit from Weingart Center’s on-site comprehensive support services,” the Weingart Center said. “These services are specially developed to help maintain housing stability and attend to residents’ health and wellness requirements.”


Big Effort

Murray told the Los Angeles Times that a big building like this is needed to address the scale of the homeless problem in the city, and added he isn’t concerned about the developer fee.

Tents on the pavement.

Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash

“We aren’t in it for the developer fee, so we said let’s just build the biggest thing we can,” Murray said. “You just can’t fix the problem at 50 units a pop.”


Not Making a Dent

Despite the size of the tower and the number of units offered, it’s unlikely that this gigantic project will make a substantial dent in the homeless problem in Los Angeles alone.

A blue camo homeless tent next to some benches.

Gustavo Sánchez/Unsplash

“We’re supposed to build 10,000 units. We’re maybe 20 percent of the way there after seven years?” said Andy Bales, former president of the Union Rescue Mission last year, thinking temporary housing methods were a better solution. “Mobile homes, container homes, prefab homes – there’s more ways we can address this crisis and get people off the streets.”


Homelessness Problem

Last year, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority documented a 9% rise in homelessness year over year on the average night in Los Angeles County.

A homeless camp can be seen on the side of the street. There is a large blue tarp and various personal belongings messily left on the sidewalk

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The city of Los Angeles experienced a 10% rise and the agency estimated that the homeless numbers are around 75,518 homeless people in the greater Los Angeles area.


Crisis in the Streets

In the report, Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, emphasized the level of crisis people on the streets are facing.

A row of assorted tents pitched on the side of a city street at dusk, with trees in the background and a modern building in the distance

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“The homeless count results tell us what we already know — that we have a crisis on our streets, and it’s getting worse,” said Kellum. “The important thing to take away from today is that for the first time, the city, county, and LAHSA are moving with urgency to house the people living on our streets.”


More For Skid Row

Pete White, executive director of the Skid Row advocacy group Los Angeles Community Action Network, described to the Los Angeles Times the great need for more housing in the area and something that gives poor residents their dignity.

Close-up of a person's hands as they count a stack of US dollar bills. The person is wearing a dark blue shirt, and their fingernails are painted in a light color

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“We 100% need more housing in Skid Row,” said White. “I see the tower as providing a great need, a great housing need in Skid Row and a design that says poor residents are worthy.”