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Boyle Heights affordable housing complex finally moves forward

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But a lawsuit still may be on the horizon

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A years-long tug-of-war over a 49-unit homeless housing project in Boyle Heights ended today when the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve the development, Urbanize LA reports.

The Lorena Plaza project was proposed for an empty, city-owned lot at East First and Lorena streets, directly next to the popular El Mercado marketplace and adjacent to the Gold Line’s Indiana station.

The $23-million project had locked down funding and a developer—the nonprofit A Community of Friends—but it did not have the support of some community members, especially Councilmember Jose Huizar, who represents the area, and the owners of El Mercado.

The lack of support for the project took center stage in August, when the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee granted an appeal of the project brought by El Mercado’s owners.

At the time, the Los Angeles Times reported that Huizar, who chairs the PLUM committee, opposed the project “since at least 2013.”

But late last month, Huizar reversed his long-held position on the project and withdrew his opposition, Streetsblog reports. The change came after the developer wrote a letter to Huizar promising to make changes to the project to address the councilmember’s concerns.

Those changes include installing security cameras, hiring additional on-site security, adding thicker walls and insulation throughout the project, and removing any windows and openings in the building that face the El Mercado building.

Regardless of Huizar’s shift, the owners of El Mercado remain opposed to the project. They submitted their own letter suggesting that they will pursue litigation over the project should it move forward.