Skid Row development brings needed housing, jobs to area

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Residential and commercial construction jobs are hard to come by these days. But the New Genesis Apartments project will keep plumbers, electricians and welders busy for the next year.

Artist renderings of the New Genesis Apartments show a couple of towers, big windows and lots of shade trees.

Right now, deep valleys and tall mountains of loose gravel dot the site. Three heavy machines are excavating and Jack Murray operates each one. He says that these days, crews consist of somebody like him and a handful of workers with shovels.

“It’s, it’s tough. I feel for a lot of other people,” Murray says.

Murray makes about $40 an hour. He says that even if he holds on to steady work through the holidays, it’ll be a tough year.

“I’ll have a below-average year by about 10-20 percent. But in the big picture, that’s about 90 percent better than most people in my industry are doing.”

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says the New Genesis Apartments will generate 200 construction jobs and hundreds of other jobs once it opens.

“It’s about thinking creatively to fulfill our need for about affordable housing and good paying jobs,” Villaraigosa says.

Federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan credits the Skid Row Trust with having the vision to break ground - and for inspiring a national movement to end homelessness.

“You have helped us to bring down chronic homelessness by a third over the last four years across this country. You now have a president and an administration that is committed to finishing that job.”

Donovan says the Recovery Act created a $1 billion homeless-prevention program. It’s kept more than 500 million Americans — including a thousand Southland families — off the streets.

A public-private partnership — and about $10 million in federal stimulus money — paid for the New Genesis Apartments. L.A. has the largest homeless population in the country.

City officials hope this project will help some people stabilize their lives and save the city money on emergency care and policing.

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