The 28th Street YMCA opened in Los Angeles in 1926 on an upbeat: the Spanish Colonial Revival building offered the African-American community a sparkling recreational facility with an indoor pool and affordable accommodations for young men who were migrating from other regions (and prevented by color barriers from staying at ordinary hotels). Philanthropist Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone, a black entrepreneur who amassed a fortune from hair pomades, was one high-profile donor. And the building's designer was Paul Revere Williams (1894'1980), the first registered African-American architect west of the Mississippi. His celebrated output would eventually range from mansions for Hollywood stars, including Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball, to hospitals, hotels, and even Los Angeles airport's 1961 Jetson-style restaurant building. But the YMCA was an early work, introducing a commitment to affordable housing that would reemerge throughout his career.
This four-story concrete building became a city, state, and national landmark, but by 2009, when the nonprofit developer Clifford Beers Housing (CBH) acquired the property, it was in serious disrepair, the residential quarters shuttered. CBH engaged Santa Monica'based Koning Eizenberg Architecture (KEA) to revive the structure and create quality permanent housing, with supportive services, for low-income tenants, including a mentally ill and chronically homeless population. Monthly rent is one-third of each tenant's income.