History in the Making: LTSC Breaks Ground on Umeya Affordable Housing Development - Little Tokyo Service Center

History in the Making: LTSC Breaks Ground on Umeya Affordable Housing Development

History in the Making: LTSC Breaks Ground on Umeya Affordable Housing Development 

The end of an era and the start of a new beginning took place on the morning of April 18 as Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) broke ground on The Umeya: our latest affordable and permanent supportive housing development.

The project is located in Skid Row, with plans for development starting in 2019 when LTSC acquired the site of the historic Umeya Rice Cake Company from the Hamano family, who ran the business for three generations until closing up shop in 2017. 

The Umeya Groundbreaking Ceremony celebrated the site’s historic roots in the Japanese American community while looking towards a future of serving the local Skid Row neighborhood with 175 units of deeply affordable housing. Half of these units will be set aside as permanent supportive housing (PSH) for formerly unhoused individuals, with on-site supportive services for residents. The ground floor will be dedicated to community, commercial, and service provider space.

“At LTSC, we believe that development should happen within the context of a neighborhood. Beyond housing, we want to make sure that the project is going to have a positive impact on the neighborhood as a whole. This project is symbolic because not only are we contributing to addressing the homelessness crisis here in Los Angeles, but we’re doing it in a place that has been so directly impacted by that crisis. Developing 175 affordable units on this historic site in a way that involves meaningful community partnership is really significant,” said Grant Sunoo, LTSC’s Director of Community Building and Engagement.

Umeya will also feature a landscaped courtyard, a community-led mural by local Skid Row artist, Showzart, and an exhibit honoring Umeya’s legacy. LTSC recently worked with Showzart at our Adopt-a-Block event, where LTSC engaged with members of the Skid Row community ahead of Umeya’s groundbreaking.

The morning’s ceremony honored the collaborative nature of the project with performances from J-Town Taiko Club, LA CAN Housing Organizer Natosha Smith, and Skid Row arts organization Urban Voices. The program also featured speeches from partners, funders and elected officials integral to the project’s success.

Jenna Hornstock, Deputy Mayor of Housing, said, “Our office is pleased to have been able to have a real hand in helping push this project forward. Our emergency declaration the first day in office allowed us to move quickly…to work with the housing department and close the gap. It’s a sign of the change that’s coming and what we’re going to continue to do at the mayor’s office. As Mayor Bass says, we’re rolling up our sleeves and we’re doing the work. We’re working with this development community, federal, state, and local partners, and all Angelenos, to bring folks inside.”

Umeya adds 175 units to LTSC’s portfolio of over 1,000 affordable units across Southern California. Two major affordable housing projects currently in LTSC’s pipeline include First Street North Apartments in Little Tokyo and Santa Monica Vermont Apartments in East Hollywood.

“We all know that affordable, accessible, and supportive housing is key to everything that we do. It affects health outcomes, quality of life, and the ability to build community. This is why Governor Newson, the California legislature, and the entire administration are working in partnership to accelerate housing production, to provide more resources, and to work in partnership with local leaders to build permanent supportive housing in places that are in need. And this site is exactly doing that,” said Lourdes Castro Ramirez, Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency for California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The Umeya is slated for completion in 2025. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram or Facebook to stay up to date with Umeya’s milestones, and check out our Homesick Webinar to find out more about the housing crisis and our efforts to combat homelessness in LA with community-based remedies. 

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