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For 35-year-old Hollywood resident Robin Sergio Carf, having a roof over his head and a place to call home is a lifesaver. Carf, who is one of the residents at the newly opened Historic Courtyard Bungalows projects in Hollywood, said he would still be living on the streets and may even be dead if not for the help of the Hollywood Community Housing Corporation. At an opening ceremony for the newly remodeled housing developments on Sept. 30, Carf added that he shudders to think of where he would be without the corporation’s help.
“Being homeless and living with HIV and trying to fix your mind is really hard,” said Carf, who is recovering from neuro-syphilis, a disease that attacks the brain. “For three years, I was suffering, and I didn’t know where to turn. I was admitted to the hospital and got treatment, but then lost my job and ended up homeless. Over the last two years, I started talking with Hollywood Community Housing, and they put me on their emergency housing list. Having a house is so important to a person’s mental stability. It’s allowed me to become a productive member of society again.”
Carf lives on Serrano Avenue just north of Sunset Boulevard, in one of the bungalows in the neighborhood that have been restored through a partnership between the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, a non-profit entity that develops affordable housing for low income individuals and families. The 42 bungalows were all built in the 1920s, and had become dilapidated until the housing corporation purchased them in 2007 and began restoring the buildings. Three of the properties were scheduled for demolition, according to Malen Rodriguez, director of asset management for the Hollywood Community Housing Corporation. The site received a 2010 Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award and a 2010 California Preservation Design Award.
“The goal is to preserve the historic value of these properties, and at the same time, offer low income housing,” Rodriguez said. “When we purchased these properties, they were run down and in different levels of occupancy. We helped relocate the tenants. Some came back, but most are new tenants.”
The bungalows where Carf lives are located at 1616 N. Serrano Ave., while the other properties are located at 1544 N. Serrano Ave., 1554 N. Serrano Ave., and 1721 N. Kingsley Dr. All of the properties have undergone significant structural repairs, and have been freshly painted and landscaped. Fifteen units are set aside for disabled persons and people who are considered chronically homeless.
“They are now one hundred percent occupied,” Rodriguez added. “We are really proud of the way they turned out.”
Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District, said the bungalows project is an example of how non-profit organizations in the private sector can help solve the city’s housing problem.
“One in four people in the city who are seriously looking for full-time work can’t find it, so it really is a tough situation,” Garcetti said. “It’s wonderful to see the human faces of these projects. The Hollywood Community Housing Corporation revitalizes how people think about affordable housing, and these bungalows revolutionize how we think about our neighbors and each other.”
Carf, who formerly worked as a clothing designer, said the rent at his apartment is subsidized through the housing corporation and the county Section 8 program. He added that having a roof over his head has enabled him to get his life together.
“I‘m in a much better place than I have ever been in my life,” Carf added.
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