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PROJECT OFFERS SCHOOL, HOUSING JOINT-USE PLAN COULD BE REPLICATED CITYWIDE.

Byline: Rick Orlov Staff Writer

With little land available for the hundreds of new schools needed in Los Angeles, officials announced plans Monday for a joint-use project to provide affordable housing and primary education for inner-city children.

Officials said they hope to replicate the project across the city as the Los Angeles Unified School District seeks land to build 80 schools in the immediate future and more than 100 others beyond that to meet the growing student population.

``I think this is something we have to look at doing everywhere we build a school in this city,'' LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer said at a news conference with city and county officials at Gratts Elementary School, one of the most crowded in the district.

Under the plan, for which the district has set aside $28.6 million to build a kindergarten-through-second-grade campus, the school would coexist with an apartment building to provide affordable housing to area residents. It has not been determined how many housing units will be built, officials said.

Romer said the project is much different from the district's previous joint-use project, the Belmont Learning Center, both in scope and difficulty.

``This is something where we know what we need to do in advance and we have taken steps to deal with any problems,'' Romer said. ``We have simply got to build schools, and this is a way to work with the communities to accomplish that.''

The housing costs are being absorbed by a number of nonprofit groups, with funding from the state and county as well as from the Proposition 10 tax on tobacco products. No estimate was provided on the housing costs, since it will vary based on the number of units to be constructed.

Mayor James Hahn said the project served to provide two major needs of the city - more schools and housing.

``This is a great victory for children and families,'' Hahn said. ``The old way of doing business is no longer viable in neighborhoods where we have multiple needs and too little land.''

The project came about after the nonprofit housing development A Community of Friends acquired the land and was told the school district wanted to take the property over for a school. Instead, the two worked together through Councilman Ed Reyes to come up with the joint development.

Final details are to be worked out over the next 90 days on the size of the housing element and when construction can begin. No city money will be involved, Hahn said, but it will make use of his plans to have city departments work with the LAUSD to expedite work to find potential school sites.

School officials said the new facility will have space for 380 students and draw equally from Gratts and Union elementary schools to relieve overcrowding.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 4, 2003
Words:466
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