The Backyard Homes Project by LA-Más
In the unique setting of Brennan’s Work & Leisure near Midtown, CREW-St. Louis members gathered to hear about The Backyard Homes Project, an initiative started by LA-Más, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles.
According to Helen Leung, who presented at the event, LA-Más uses policy and architecture to ensure city growth is equitable and self-directed, where the best local solutions are brought to a city-wide scale.
“By advocating for communities that are often underserved or overlooked by traditional service providers, LA-Más demonstrates how to support and improve communities while preserving their local identities,” Helen elaborated on the organization and its goals.
The Backyard Homes Project grew from a need to assist Los Angeles’ more than 60,000 homeless people who walk the streets each night as well as combat the increasing cost of living for the lower income classes. The pilot program strived to offer incentives to existing homeowners to construct additional housing onto their own homes, attached garages and even detached garages. This then provides affordable housing options for the homeless and low income residents.
“This program may serve as a model on a smaller scale for a city such as St. Louis with its existing vacant or abandoned structures that could be repurposed and renovated with the purpose of providing affordable housing for the low income and homeless,” Helen suggested.
“In St. Louis, you have this same opportunity whether your county merges with the city or not. One in six properties that are abandoned or vacant provide quite a ROI with a project such as this,” Helen said.
LA-Más is much more than just The Backyard Homes Project. Their endeavors include providing small business support, community engagement efforts, working with the City of Los Angeles to provide additional alternative housing options, public realm interventions, environmental graphic design… to name just a few.
“Kudos to CREW-St. Louis for bringing in Helen Leung of LA-Más to share the work of her LA non-profit. It was refreshing to see a collaborative approach of design and policy being successfully executed in a complex sociological and political environment,” Amanda Norris with Core10 Architecture, comments about the event.
“I appreciate that Helen took time to equate her work in LA to what she sees in St. Louis, providing thoughtful suggestion and insight into how we can approach both similar and disparate solutions in our backyard.”
A guest to the event, Amanda Bohnert with S.M. Wilson, finds the concepts that LA-Más are working to implement to be inspiring.
"LA-Más’ concept is very inspiring and has some adaptability to the St. Louis market. It was amazing to see the community transformations with simple signage, seating and paint. It revitalized areas of LA and could do the same for our community,” Amanda remarks.
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