The new $11 million Cloverfield Services Center, a 22,000-square-foot housing facility at Cloverfield Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in Santa Monica, was dedicated Thursday, November 16th, and is expected to open officially in December.
It is the first of two new facilities of OPCC (formerly Ocean Park Community Center) in Santa Monica.
The two centers are part of a major expansion of services on the Westside, said Kathy Kniss, director of media relations for the project.
The contemporary-style Cloverfield Services Center was designed by the local Killefer Flammang Architects, a firm known for its adaptive reuse work, Kniss said.
The center will house two OPCC programs — Daybreak and Safe Haven.
The center will provide an additional 55 beds for the chronically homeless — those that have been living on the streets the longest — suffering from mental illness and other disabilities.
Daybreak is a 30-bed transitional housing program that serves mentally ill homeless women and has a 97 percent success rate, according to OPCC officials.
Safe Haven is OPCC’s newest program — a 25-bed housing facility for homeless men and women who are disabled with severe mental illness, addiction and/or physical illness, according to OPCC executive director John Maceri.
The addition of these beds is the first in over a decade to the homeless system on the Westside, Maceri claims.
“We’re more than doubling our bed capacity with these two programs,” Maceri said.
The center will also provide day programs for 50 to 70 people, including arts and crafts, life skills classes and medication and money management classes.
Transportation will be provided for those in need of it to attend these day programs.
“We anticipate the first week of December that we’ll physically move [to the new center],” Maceri said.
He added that he is proud of the project and the architecture of the new center as well as the fact that “lives will be changed here.”
Many lives, including Naima Butler’s, have already been changed by OPCC programs.
Butler wound up homeless after moving to the area from Canada three and a half years ago.
After being helped by the Daybreak program and OPCC, she is now back on her feet.
Butler has her own place six blocks from the beach and recently built a recording studio in her apartment, as music is her passion.
“I’ve thrived over the last three years,” said Butler, a full-time student on the dean’s list at Santa Monica College. “With the help of OPCC, I’m making my dreams come true.”
OPCC partnered with the City of Santa Monica on this project. The city contributed $7.4 million toward the project, which was “overwhelmingly” supported by Santa Monica City Council and the city manager, said Bob Moncrief, housing manager for the Housing Division of the city.
“It’s a fine example of a public-private partnership,” Moncrief said.
The project was possible because of “compassion, but we also had a practical reason for doing this,” he said.
He noted that the center would help chronically homeless individuals, those “most vulnerable who have served their country and fell upon bad times.”
OPCC has a 55-year contract with the city of Santa Monica, which owns the center but is leasing the space to OPCC for $1 a year, said Moncrief.
Additional funding was also provided by the State of California, which gave $1 million, as well as by Los Angeles County and donors.
What is now the Cloverfield Services Center was converted in 17 months from an old manufacturing building that was acquired for $5 million and renovated for $6 million, Maceri said.
Before the project was started, meetings and focus groups were conducted with residents, which provided helpful feedback to OPCC, Maceri said.
Participants wanted to see attractive landscaping, a secure perimeter and natural light — goals that have all been achieved by OPCC at the center.
“There was a fair amount of concern about how it [the center] would impact the neighborhood,” Maceri said.
All concerns were taken into account by OPCC and now “I can honestly say [neighboring residents are] looking forward to us as neighbors and we’re happy to be here,” Maceri said.
Nearby Bergamot Station donated over 150 pieces of artwork that now decorate the walls of the center. OPCC clients’ artwork is also displayed on the walls, bringing color to the center.
The senior class at nearby Crossroads School made welcome baskets for soon-to-be residents of the center.
Homelessness has long been an issue in Los Angeles County — a county that has the largest population of people living below the poverty line of any metropolitan area in the United States, according to a 2005 Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA) study.
Over 88,000 people in Los Angeles County are homeless on any given night, and over the course of one year, 224,000 individuals will be homeless at some point, according to the same study.
Of these 88,000 individuals, 1,200 to 2,000 are homeless in Santa Monica on any given day, according to Joel Bellman, press deputy to Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who spoke at the center’s dedication.
“We are committed to making our community the best it can be, and to do that, assisting the most disadvantaged of our residents is crucial,” said Maceri.
OPCC, founded in 1963, has ten programs in eight locations on the Westside which provide food, emergency services, clothing, transitional and permanent housing, mental and medical health care, services for battered women and children and preparation for independent living to over 8,000 homeless and low income men, women, at-risk teens and children yearly, according to OPCC officials.