“Ten years ago I was in the alley behind this building crying.” Those were the words of former street person Jacob Ramsey, who emceed the groundbreaking for Step Up on Second’s newest permanent housing location, Step Up on Fifth at 1548 Fifth Street in Santa Monica.
This five-story residential apartment building, which will consist of 46 single rooms, begins construction in the fall of this year and is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2009. The project has two community rooms which contain full kitchen facilities, computers and televisions and will serve as a place for social gatherings for the tenants.
With a waiting list for permanent housing at Step Up on Second’s 36-unit residential apartment building currently at three to five years, this new housing will provide much- needed additional housing for homeless people who suffer from chronic mental illness. Step Up on Second has been helping the downtrodden for over 20 years by providing a broad range of free services.
The total budget for Step Up on Fifth is $14.6 million, which includes land acquisition, construction, architectural and other costs. Government partners have provided $12.6 million, including a loan from the City of Santa Monica to purchase the property. Private foundations such as the Annenberg Foundation, the George W. Hoag Family Foundation, the Weingart Foundation and the Ahmanson Foundation have all contributed to help make this project a reality.
In his address, Bruce Rognlien, Chairman of the Step Up on Fifth Capital Campaign, said, “Santa Monica has cast a long shadow of caring.” Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom agreed, “We are truly the luckiest people in the world to live in Santa Monica – the greatest, most special place on earth,” adding that this new facility will not only provide this much-needed housing, but “will impact on the family and friends of the individuals who will live here.”
But perhaps the most touching moment was when Ramsey quoted the poignant lyrics from James Taylor’s “Fire And Rain,” which seem to sum up his life before he found Step Up on Second:
Oh I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again…
For further information about the services provided, call 310.394.6889 or go to stepuponsesecond.org.