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Can Huge Jordan Downs Makeover Change Its Whole Character?

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Construction has not yet begun, but there is movement on the LA Housing Authority's plan for a major overhaul of the Jordan Downs housing project in Watts--they're working with current residents to prepare them for a redevelopment that's intended to bring "hundreds of more-affluent residents willing to pay market rate to live side by side with the city's poorest," reports the LA Times. Previous plans called for as many as 1,800 new residential units, but it now looks like it'll be 1,400 new apartments and condos--plus shops and restaurants--replacing the project's 700 apartments (which are home to 2,300 residents). This isn't the first effort to tear down and fancify a crumbling housing project, but it is the first time such a large project has been undertaken without kicking all of the current residents out first.

Work on the new Jordan Downs will begin on a piece of land adjacent to the existing residences, so current residents "in good standing" can stay put until their new units are ready. But before any construction begins, Jordan Downs is being flooded with social services: job training and parenting classes, social workers, and youth football coaches. Other efforts include "a Facebook page -- featuring idyllic sketches of a bucolic park with picnicking families amid smart new four-story town homes -- and [giving] nearly everyone, it seems, a T-shirt proclaiming 'Watts Is Worth It.'" It seems to be having an effect; there's been a 53 percent drop in violent crime since the programs began, and no homicides in Jordan Downs in 18 months. "In essence, officials intend to raze the buildings, not the community -- and radically change its character."

For all the work going on, much remains up in the air. The Housing Authority will be applying soon for $30 million in seed money from the federal government, but already the project has run into money woes. Shields for Families, the organization providing many of the social services at Jordan Downs, had its contract from the Housing Authority cut 30 percent this year.
· Ambitious makeover planned for old housing project [LA Times]
· LA Moving On Huge Jordan Downs Redevelopment in Watts [Curbed LA]

Jordan Downs

9800 Grape Street, , CA 90002 Visit Website