An innovative housing project — three building complexes developed with prefabricated components, allowing them to be mass-produced quickly and inexpensively — has opened in El Monte.
LifeArk El Monte is a 19-unit permanent supportive housing complex for individuals transitioning out of homelessness, developed by the modular housing manufacturer LifeArk. It was the recipient of a $1 million award from the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative’s Housing Innovation Challenge funded by Measure H, with debt financing provided by Nonprofit Finance Fund. United Way of Greater Los Angeles and Home for Good Funders Collaborative also provided predevelopment funds through the Accelerating Permanent Supportive Housing RFP.
The per-unit cost for this project was under $190,000.
“As a resident of the City of El Monte, I am proud to have LifeArk’s permanent supportive housing project in my hometown,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “LifeArk El Monte shows just how important it is to partner with our cities in building housing across the County. And to that end, I hope that this first-of-its-kind project in the San Gabriel Valley will be the model for quickly and cost-effectively bringing our unhoused neighbors indoors.”
LifeArk is the first fully certified and approved plastic housing in the world. Components are rotationally molded using a proprietary plastic polymer and designed to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Originally envisioned as a floating housing response to flooding along the banks of the Amazon River, LifeArk is a life-saving housing innovation serving those who have been displaced by homelessness, emergency, or climate disaster.
“We are very grateful to the County for their support and thankful to the City of El Monte for allowing this new type of housing in their city,” said Charles Wee, Founder and CEO of LifeArk. “We wanted to tackle two large crises of our time: housing and climate change. We must radically rethink the way we build by using new materials and methods while helping to protect our planet. LifeArk was recently approved to use post-consumer recycled plastics in our formulation – this is a huge step towards reaching our sustainability goals so that we can help the most vulnerable in our communities and be good stewards of Earth. This has been a difficult journey, but humbling and rewarding – once we met the residents here, it reminded us why we got into this in the first place.”
LifeArk El Monte provides permanent supportive housing to medically vulnerable homeless individuals. Illumination Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission to disrupt the cycle of homelessness, provides ongoing intensive case management services and connects clients to community resources essential to long-term housing and health stability.
“Access to safe and stable housing is a fundamental human right,” said Paul Leon, CEO and President of Illumination Foundation. “By allowing impoverished communities to build affordable, high-quality housing using LifeArk modular housing system, we hope to be able to lift up individuals and families to improve their lives and create thriving communities.”
Home LA Development provides property management for LifeArk El Monte along with community support services such as life skills classes, emotional & spiritual wellness practices, and community building. As the property manager, Home LA Development is responsible for the overall maintenance and upkeep of the facilities to ensure a safe space for healing, recovery, and growth.
“We’re excited to foster a community of belonging at LifeArk El Monte and look forward to being a part of the residents’ journey back to recovery and housing stability,” said Michael Kang, CEO of Home LA Development.
More information, including videos, are available on the LifeArk website.