Integration of art into new housing for formerly homeless and low-income seniors helps to instill community pride for residents and neighbors

Anaheim, CA (August 5, 2021) — A new affordable housing community in Anaheim embodies why art is so important to its residents and local community. At El Verano, a newly-built 54-unit affordable housing community that is fully occupied by formerly homeless and low-income seniors, features a landscaped living art wall at its entrance.

The art installation was planned and implemented by the El Verano Arts Committee which includes El Verano residents, representatives from the City of Anaheim, Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center, Anaheim Beautiful, Innovative Housing Opportunities (IHO) staff, and the landscape architect who designed the wall. The Arts Committee also designed three additional public art components for the site, and El Verano residents helped to install the art wall’s landscape elements.

“Art uplifts the human spirit which is why we strive to include local culture and arts wherever possible in our communities. We planned for the art inspirations early on at El Verano and got the residents, community, stakeholders as well as the Mayor of Anaheim and city staff to decide how best to make it happen,” said Rochelle Mills, IHO president and CEO. “If we can get people to see the beauty that we’ve created in El Verano then it could change how people perceive affordable housing and its ability to uplift not just our residents but the neighborhood around it.”

El Verano builds on the success of its adjacent property, Rockwood Apartments, an innovative multifamily development that provides stable housing and support services for 48 formerly homeless families and their children in Orange County, as well as 15 permanent supportive housing units for clients living with mental illness. Rockwood was developed by IHO in a joint venture partnership with Jamboree. The craftsman-style architecture features windows styled with a stained-glass treatment and public art at the property entrance.

Art is also an important part of the customized programing at El Verano. Creative art making classes offered on site for residents include water painting, storytelling, and art journaling.

According to IHO, the intent is to work collaboratively to improve lives by transforming affordable housing communities into vibrant centers of teaching and learning, artistic exploration, creativity, and engagement by providing arts, wellness, lifelong learning, and intergenerational programming.

“Our committee even included a young art student, Isabel Ibarra, living at Rockwood, whose grandmother was approved as a resident at El Verano. We were thrilled to have her participate and help to create the artwork that her grandmother would eventually enjoy. It truly shows how much we can do to help encourage family and make a difference in the lives of our residents,” added Mills. Ibarra is now studying art at Fullerton College while working to support her family.

About Innovative Housing Opportunities (IHO): IHO was formed in 1976 to help the business community and government address the shortage of low-to-moderate income housing in the City of Irvine. Since that time, IHO has expanded its development portfolio to include high-quality, well-designed, affordable housing to meet the growing need for housing across Southern California. IHO has successfully provided housing and supportive services for seniors, families, veterans, those living with mental illness, formerly homeless, developmentally disabled and other special needs and mixed populations. Its portfolio totals more than 600 units across seven properties in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties. For more information, visit www.innovativehousing.com.