LAUSD launches housing complex to address increase in student homelessness

Due to the increasing number of homeless students in LA Unified schools, a 26-unit housing complex for families without housing was inaugurated last month.

The completion of the project took five years, a timeline that was emphasized by representatives of the organizations involved, acknowledging the effort.

“We need to strive for improvement once we are aware of the situation,” stated Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of LAUSD. “This time, we must do better and faster. The Sun King project demonstrates that what may seem impossible can become a reality.”

Carvalho described the collaboration as a unique and challenging partnership, stressing the importance of applying the knowledge gained to expedite the delivery of future projects.

Positioned half a mile from Fernangeles Elementary School in the San Fernando Valley, the Sun King Apartments resulted from a joint venture between LAUSD, Many Mansions, and Housing Works.

Homeless family services have become increasingly crucial as student homelessness in LA Unified surged by 19% from the previous academic year, with 15,000 students identified as homeless as of 2023–2024.

“Around 2019, Many Mansions approached us,” explained Celina Alvarez, executive director at Housing Works. “Navigating through the multitude of requirements, documentation, financing hurdles, and service provisions can be time-consuming.”

Alvarez pointed out that rising homelessness is primarily attributable to escalating rents and the inadequacy of trauma support services.

“The rapid displacement of individuals is a significant issue, with numerous children hailing from households where parents lack awareness or readily available resources to understand their tenancy rights,” Alvarez elaborated.

The recent completion of new apartments brought relief to Annika—a homeless mother who, along with her daughter Faith and partner Angel, endured years of unstable living conditions.

“Our prolonged experience of homelessness, from moving between couches, park benches, and shelters, has taken a toll on our emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being,” reflected Annika. “Having a permanent residency has revitalized our outlook on the future.”

Featuring gated parking, an outdoor space with a kitchen, a laundry facility, and a community garden, the housing complex also offers direct services for students, including tutoring, educational materials, summer courses, and family events.

LAUSD has a history of collaborating with developers to furnish housing for educators and pupils. In 2017, the district partnered with BRIDGE to construct the 90-unit Sage Park Apartments using vacant land near Gardena High School Campus.

The dearth of mental health support for impoverished youth, coupled with the growing housing crisis, impedes students in accessing essential services.

Alvarez remarked, “People grappling with unresolved trauma, untreated mental health conditions, and substance abuse often resort to illicit substances as they are more accessible than mental health interventions.”

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