New Compton housing project more than a place to live

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As a foster care kid nearly her whole life, Geneva Mason didn’t know where she might be living once she turned 18.

But fortunately for her and her 1-month-old son, Leon Jr., Casa Dominguez, a new housing project for the East Rancho Dominguez community, Mason has a home.

"I was living in a garage with dogs before I came here," said Mason. "If it wasn't for Casa Dominguez, Abode Communities and United Friends of the Children, I don't know where I could be right now."

Mason was lucky to have been chosen as one of the 70 families who are going to be living in Casa Dominguez, a community development agency which builds and finds housing for poor communities.

Abode Communities worked with United Friends of the Children, a foster care agency in East Rancho Dominguez, to place 10 young adults in addition to Mason.

Abode received more than 800 applications for the 70 units Casa Dominguez offers. The low-rent, coupled with the services and amenities the housing complex provides, makes Casa Dominguez attractive, said Robin Hughes, president of Abode Communities.

"It is so affordable," said Hughes. "The rent alone draws hundreds of people ... It breaks my heart to have to turn people away."

Offering rents that range from $396 to $1,279 per month for one to four-bedroom apartments, Casa Dominguez houses families who earn below the area median income, which is less than $39,650 per year for a family of four.

In addition to the $35 million apartment buildings jointly funded by the L.A. County Community Development Commission and Abode Communities, there is variety of services that are normally found outside of a residence.

There is an on-site child care center with a variety of after school programs and day care options, a computer lab with college preparatory and vocational courses available to residents. It also has a health care clinic in partnership with St. John Health and Wellness Center, which provides medical, dental, and mental health services to the residents and surrounding community.

Plans to expand more projects like Casa Dominguez to other areas are already underway, according to members of the L.A. County Community Development Commission.

According to Rogan there are plans "in the pipeline" for the commission to place 1,200 to 1,500 units in areas all over L.A. County within the next couple of years.

"Housing of this quality and affordability shouldn't be confined in one area," said Sean Rogan, head of the Community Development Commission. "There are so many other areas in city of Los Angeles, and L.A. County that are in desperate need of housing like this and we want to provide them.

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