Dozens of veterans who are low income or experiencing homelessness and struggling with their mental health will soon have more resources in West Long Beach.

Officials and developers celebrated the groundbreaking of The Cove on Wednesday. The latest project at the 27-acre Century Villages at Cabrillo campus, the 90-unit development will offer affordable and supportive housing for veterans earning 30-60% of the area’s median income.

“The Cove is our sixth phase of development here at the Villages, and it comes as we celebrate our 25th anniversary,” Brian D’Andrea, president of Century Affordable Development and the Villages, said during a groundbreaking ceremony.

“Over those years, we have served thousands and thousands of veterans, individuals and families in need here in Long Beach,” D’Andrea added.

The four-story, 71,000-square-foot building will include over 7,000 square feet of common space, including a lobby, community room, computer lab, classroom, bicycle storage and maintenance, resident services and administrative offices. The development also includes a 3,800-square-foot courtyard on the second floor and 40 parking stalls.

The number of homeless veterans in Long Beach increased 48% from 2019 to 2022, according to city data. In this year’s homeless count, volunteers identified 451 unhoused veterans in the city—187 sheltered and 264 unsheltered—up from 304 in 2019.

The city’s overall number of unhoused people increased 62% from 2020 to 2022.

“We are living in a moment where there is no bigger issue than the issue of folks that are unhoused,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in his remarks Wednesday. “This is a failure of our society.”

“Projects like this one are transformational for our community,” Garcia added, saying the Century Villages are a model for the country.

The city housing authority is providing 60 project-based housing vouchers for residents of The Cove.

The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health is sponsoring 15 of the new units, which will be designated for veterans experiencing mental health challenges, Division Chief of Program Development Lori Willis said during the event.

As is the case with all affordable housing developments, funding for The Cove was pooled from various sources, including $5 million from the Los Angeles County Development Authority, $4 million from the Long Beach Community Investment Company, $2.1 million from the county’s No Place Like Home Program, over $1 million in Community Project Funding through Rep. Alan Lowenthal’s office, $750,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas Affordable housing Program and $500,000 from The Home Depot Foundation.

Wells Fargo, a long-time partner of Century Affordable Development, provided over $27 million in construction loan financing and over $24 million in tax credit equity.

The Cove is slated for completion in October of next year, with occupancy expected in spring 2024.

“The continuing incidents of veteran homelessness is a real stain on our nation’s conscience,” D’Andrea said. “It’s a stain that we at Century, and all our partners, take that very seriously and we remain steadfast in addressing it.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more information from the city.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.