La Veranda rendering

Boyle Heights - Transportation officials broke ground last week on a mixed-use affordable housing development on a 1.96-acre Metro-owned property as part of a policy to build affordable housing near the transit service.

The project, known as La Veranda, is located near the corner of Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and Soto Street and will include 76 income-restricted apartments for families and people experiencing homelessness. The apartments are a range of one- to three-bedroom units, and 20% of them are reserved for people earning less than 20% of the area median income. The project will also include one property manager's unit and about 8,000 square feet of retail and parking on the ground floor.

"Angelenos want and deserve a city with affordable housing and improved transportation so every family can make their rent payments, every resident can get to work and school with ease, and every individual can access opportunity and prosperity, no matter where they live," said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also serves as board chair of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"The Chavez/Soto project is an example of how we can make the intersection of transportation and housing part of the blueprint of our efforts to tackle our housing crunch, create more affordable communities citywide, and forge a future of sustainability for our residents," he added.

The groundbreaking comes less than a week after Metro's board of directors voted to update their Joint Development Policy to prioritize building 100% income-restricted housing on unused Metro-owned land.

As of January, Metro's Joint Development team had completed 2,200 units of housing, 34% of which are considered affordable, according to Metro's website. Affordable housing is defined as units for people who earn 60% or less than the L.A. County area median income.

While the board does not have land use authority, it develops unused Metro-owned land, which is typically left over from construction projects.

"Transit-oriented development on Metro-owned land near transit stops helps families reduce the two largest household expenses -- housing and transportation" Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins said at Wednesday's groundbreaking. "How we use our land can help make the difference between a thriving community for all versus one that doesn't work for low- and moderate- income families."

The project is a partnership that will be managed by Abode Communities, a California-based nonprofit that provides service-enhanced affordable housing.

The group's president and CEO, Robin Hughes, said La Veranda "aims to stabilize families and individuals who are living on the fringe in Boyle Heights," and pointed out that the homes are just a short walk to the Gold Line.

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