SANTA MONICA—On June 2, affordable housing complex Step Up on 5th was one of two structures to win 2015 HUD Secretary’s Housing and Community Design Awards.

The award was given by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (or HUD) in partnership with the American Institute of Architects (or AIA) to recognize excellence in design in response to both the needs and constraints of affordable housing. Along with the Co-Op Plaza Redevelopment in Brattleboro, Vermont, Step Up on 5th was declared a national model of affordable housing.

Step Up on 5th, designed by Brooks + Scarpa Architects, provides housing, support services, and rehabilitation for homeless and mentally disabled people, and it does so in style. Jury comments on the AIA website lauded Step Up on 5th for its “rigorous design, which is sophisticated and makes the most of a tight site,” and called it “a beacon for doing excellent architecture for the homeless and mentally disabled.”

In addition to providing 46 units of affordable housing, Step Up on 5th is also environmentally friendly. According to the HUD press release, “while California has the most stringent energy efficiency requirements in the United States, Step Up incorporates numerous sustainable features that exceed state-mandated Title 24 energy measures by 26 percent.” Each unit is equipped with water-saving low-flow toilets and a high-efficiency hydronic heating system.

“Affordable housing represents a gateway to greater opportunity,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These two projects are a powerful reminder that bold vision and innovative design can shape communities of promise. I congratulate these winners on their achievements and I’m proud to honor them for their commitment to inclusive development.”