Case Study

Multi-Credit Hollywood Arts Collective

8 min read

Actors Fund Builds Affordable Housing for Entertainment Professionals

When most of us put the words “Hollywood” and “actor” together, the first image our minds tend to conjure is of young, beautiful men and women who are both rich and famous. “And that image colors the public’s impression,” says Keith McNutt, director of the Western Region of the Actors Fund. “In fact, most people in the entertainment business are freelancers who work month-to-month, don’t experience the same kind of progressive career ladder as in many professions, and don’t enjoy the same employer-related benefits. On top of that, their careers are often centered in very expensive places, like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the need for affordable housing is most acute.”

Motivation is a basic actors’ tool – and it’s also the driving force behind the Actors Fund’s tireless effort to create the Hollywood Arts Collective: a new multi-use affordable housing development for all entertainment industry professionals being developed in Los Angeles.

Founded in 1882, the Actors Fund is a national human services organization that fosters stability and resiliency, as well as providing a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their entire lifespans, including social services and emergency financial assistance, healthcare and insurance counseling, secondary employment and training services and, importantly to many, affordable housing. The requirement to qualify is to have earned money in the industry each of the past five years, or any ten years over an entire career.

The Hollywood Arts Collective (HAC), appropriately situated on Hollywood Boulevard between Schrader Boulevard and Wilcox Avenue, is intended as an anchor for local arts revitalization, and will include two buildings: a seven-story residential structure with affordable housing for industry members, onsite studio and rehearsal space and ground floor retail; an outdoor exhibit space, amphitheater and parking; and a dedicated arts building with a black box theater, a gallery and office and studio space for nonprofit arts organizations. The site was previously occupied by a parking lot and an older building that housed nonprofit arts organizations.

As the project overview explains, “By creating affordable housing that allows longtime residents to remain in the community and maintaining the tenancy of legacy arts organizations, the development is a model of how to invest in the cultural vitality of a neighborhood while mitigating the displacement of arts and entertainment workers and nonprofit cultural organizations.” Construction is expected to take about two years.

Ten Years of Planning
Making HAC a reality has been at least as long and arduous a process as getting a major motion picture greenlit by a movie studio. “I had my first meeting with the city of Los Angeles about this in 2010,” McNutt relates.

After issuing a request for proposal  to develop the municipally owned site, in November 2016 the Los Angeles City Council selected the Actors Fund and Thomas Safran & Associates from among four finalists as the development team. The selection process was facilitated through the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCID) and the city’s Department of Transportation, which controlled the land and therefore shared jurisdiction. Safran has developed and managed more than 6,000 housing units over 40 years in Southern California. As a component of the deal, Safran negotiated a 99-year lease for $1 with the city.

“The process was complicated, since we had to deal with both city and county governments,” McNutt says.

The projected cost of the buildings themselves is $92 million; $82 million for the 150-unit residential building and $10 million for the arts building. With a philanthropic goal contributing up to $13.5 million in additional support, the total project cost is estimated at $105.6 million, 87 percent of which will come from public sources and conventional financing. A lead gift has been secured from Glorya Kaufman, a major California philanthropist whose previous major gifts have benefited the Los Angeles Music Center and Public Library.

The design is by John Frane, a principal at Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, whose work has included high-design arts and culture projects, in conjunction with Withee Malcolm Architects. Once completed, the complex will be managed by TSA management, a division of Thomas Safran.

HAC is employing both federal and city tax credits, which the Actors Fund is securing as the project’s nonprofit partner. Federal credits are allocated by Los Angeles County and city credits through the municipal government. “We decided to go for four percent credits because the process was less competitive and we felt they would be easier to get,” McNutt explains. “We applied in 2019 and should get notice of the award this spring.”

Additionally, new tax credits are being awarded by the state of California. “Part of the Actors Fund’s role was to figure out if we could expand the number of affordable units. If we get these, then all 150 of the apartment units can be affordable,” he says. Otherwise, the projected mix is 60 affordable and 90 at market rate.

The project is located in a designated Opportunity Zone, so an Opportunity Fund investment is also a possibility. “Thomas Safran is looking into it, and it’s certainly something we would be open to,” McNutt says.

Ripe for Opportunity Funds
While affordable housing is a prime focus of HAC, it is not the only goal. The Actors Fund is dedicated to preventing displacement of Hollywood’s arts community in what has become a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood by providing rehearsal, performance and meeting space for local artists and arts organizations. In so doing, they aim to create an arts hub that will draw in local residents and others to stimulate new economic activity, which in turn would create new jobs for community residents. This would appear to make HAC a prime candidate for Opportunity Fund investment. And finally, HAC seeks to develop opportunities for resident artists to engage with local youth, providing access to creative programming and arts in education to broaden their horizons and open up potential new career paths.

In tandem with these goals, the project is designed to improve the streetscape and create inviting new spaces for community residents, along with educational and public programming to stimulate new opportunities for integrating culture and art into the lives of community residents. The site is located near two subway stops.

Another Actors Fund apartment complex was opened in 1998. The Palm View consists of 40 apartments in three buildings, surrounding an outdoor courtyard. It is a collaborative project with the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation (WHCHC), Housing for Entertainment Professionals and various funders. Eligibility requirements for housing in The Palm View are based on occupancy and annual income criteria, and residents must be diagnosed with a permanent disability or HIV or AIDS.

Not surprisingly, the Actors Fund is also active in and around the East Coast arts center, New York City.

The Actors Fund Home in Englewood, NJ is located on six acres, about seven miles from New York City, has 169 beds and offers assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, rehabilitation services and sub-acute care. Last year it achieved a perfect score from the New Jersey State Department of Health and a Five Star rating from the federal government’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Dorothy Ross Friedman Residence at 57th Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan is a 30-story condominium that was converted into 178 shared residential units of supportive housing. Each resident has his or her own bedroom and shares a living room and kitchen with one or two others. Some apartments have a shared bathroom; others have private baths. In addition to shared apartments, there are 27 one-bedroom units. Vacancies are prioritized to people with specialized medical needs. Eligibility for the building is based on federal guidelines under the Tax Credit program, and most forms of rental subsidy are accepted. Medical services are available to residents through the Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts in Times Square. In addition, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York provides on-site evaluations to determine the individual medical needs of residents and arranges for all services and treatments.

The Schermerhorn Residence at 160 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn is a 217-unit residence for single adults, half in the performing arts and half recovering from homelessness. It is a partnership between the Actors Fund and Breaking Ground Community, a homelessness service agency. The Brooklyn Ballet occupies the retail space, encouraging arts engagement in the neighborhood. The complex also houses the Actors Fund Arts Center, a 2,000-square-foot performance space and multipurpose room. Residents and community arts organizations may use this space for rehearsals, performances, films and exhibitions, enriching the vibrant and growing Brooklyn arts culture.

Across the board, the Actors Fund is dedicated to doing everything it can to house and take care of its own. It’s a model for all industries to look beyond jobs at its participants’ needs.

Story Contact:
Keith McNutt,