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Kensington Campus is latest effort to assist homeless

Merdies Hayes Editor In Chief | 6/22/2018, midnight

The city of Lancaster is continuing its effort to reduce homelessness with the ground breaking ceremony for Kensington Campus – a large community of townships designed to house, employ, and rehabilitate the local homeless population. The innovative 14-acre development, located at Avenue I and 32nd Street West in Lancaster, is made possible through partnerships with InSite Development LLC, The People Concern, and the County of Los Angeles. As part of the City’s overarching homelessness initiative, completion of Kensington Campus is expected next year, at which time it will seek to provide betterment, dignity, and purpose to those in most need.

This unparalleled development will incorporate 102 units of permanent supportive housing, bridge housing for 156 individuals, 20,000 square feet of wrap around supportive services space, and a 12,000 square foot enterprise job creation building. The collaboration and support that has been put into creating this project has set the bar for working together to meaningfully address an urgent problem expeditiously.

“It is no secret that the Antelope Valley has struggled to combat homelessness over the years – but as we break new ground, we lay the foundation for a permanent solution to this very problem,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We are grateful to have the support of so many outstanding organizations to help make Lancaster a better place for those in need of housing and a fresh start in life, as well as creating a replicable model for other municipalities to alleviate homelessness.”

Kensington will provide nonstop live-in services and follow an architectural design that utilizes cost-effective methods to creatively inspire, dignify, and support a true transition out of homelessness. Scattered throughout the campus will be townships with an array of units specified for either permanent or non-permanent housing constructed to cater to specific categorical needs of residents, and will be supervised by social service providers.

Kensington residents will have direct access to a central piazza with various support services, including but not limited to: life-skills education; case management; individualized service plans; mental healthcare; substance use services; medication management; and attendant care. This central piazza is designed to be the nucleus of the campus containing an amphitheater for meeting, entertainment and socialization.

“We developed Kensington Campus as a replicable solution to address homelessness. We know that homelessness is a serious problem throughout our County and State; we urge other cities to incorporate these strategies into your own communities,” said Vice Mayor Marvin Crist. “The time for action is now. The price of waiting is far too great; human lives are hanging in the balance. I encourage municipalities throughout California to follow our lead in adopting this comprehensive, holistic approach.”

Included in the campus is an Enterprise Job Creation building to promote work experience, as well as connect with local businesses and community organizations while recognizing their newfound purpose.

The social services and resident support will be offered by The People Concern, one of Los Angeles’ largest nonprofit social services agency. The People Concern provides a fully integrated system of care tailored to the unique needs of homeless individuals. Ninety-five percent of those in housing supported with wraparound retention services by The People Concern are never homeless again. They will generously lease buildings, as well as manage and operate the Kensington Campus facility.

“We commend the City of Lancaster and Mayor Parris for taking proactive and innovative measures in the fight to end homelessness,” said John Maceri, Executive Director of The People Concern. “We are excited to partner with the City of Lancaster, InSite Development, and the County of Los Angeles to help rebuild the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors. Creating a beautiful campus that is safe and welcoming for the residents at Kensington, as well as the larger community, has been an integral part of our organization’s work for over 55 years. We look forward to working with all our local partners to have a place any of us would be proud to call home.”

Investing in partnerships and finding common ground is the best way to ensure success and sustainability in responding to homelessness. As such, various local non-profits have joined the fight to combat homelessness and empower those experiencing it.

For more information regarding Kensington Campus, and the City’s overall Homelessness Initiative, contact the City of Lancaster at homelessimpact@cityoflancasterca.org.