The Dream Center in Echo Park, Los Angeles
Operators of a former hospital campus known as the Dream Center expect to receive a $49.7 million federal grant to add more housing to their charitable operations in Echo Park.

The expansion marks a major milestone for the charity, which purchased the property formerly known as Queen of Angels Hospital for $3.9 million in 1996 and has worked since then to build a facility to help impoverished families, troubled youths and victimized women, some of whom might otherwise land in the penal system.

"It feels like we're finally done," Executive Director Matthew Barnett said.

The centerpiece of the Dream Center is a 14-story building completed by the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1926 that towers over the 101 Freeway today. Queen of Angels Hospital served the city until 1989, when its operations were moved to the newer Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in a merger.

Nine of the former hospital's floors have already been converted to housing as part of $25 million worth of previous improvements to the 9-acre campus. The New Markets Tax Credit grant, expected to arrive Monday, will enable the Dream Center to turn the five remaining floors into additional housing for adults in recovery from substance abuse and families facing homelessness.

Federal tax credit funds were also allocated to the Dream Center from other sources, including the nonprofit Opportunity Fund in San Jose, Chase New Markets Corp. and the Los Angeles Development Fund, established by the city.

"I know this expansion will be a blessing for those most in need," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.
27 August 2012