Reps. Bass and Roybal-Allard welcome HUD Secretary Castro to South Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES—As part of their ongoing work to increase affordable housing, address the needs of the homeless, create jobs and invest in the Los Angeles economy, Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Karen Bass (D-Calif.) welcomed Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro this week to South Los Angeles.
“We were honored to have Secretary Castro visit us in South Los Angeles and see firsthand how our leaders are united in the effort to revitalize this area and help people in our community,” said Rep. Karen Bass. “The housing crisis in South LA is unique because there is serious overcrowding and homelessness. We do not have the issue of high vacancy rates like cities in the East Coast. It will take continued collaboration across community organizations and all levels of government to deliver a solution to this problem and lasting change.”
“It was a privilege to show Secretary Castro how the federal government has been able to partner with South Los Angeles leaders and advocates on local housing initiatives,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard. “These efforts have increased the area’s economic activity, expanded local educational opportunities, and improved community safety and health. I look forward to helping my federal colleagues and my South LA constituents work together to build on these successes in the years to come, and to make South Los Angeles a safer and more prosperous community for all of its residents.”
Bass, Roybal-Allard and Castro spent the afternoon meeting with some of the area’s elected leaders, advocates, and recipients of housing programs to discuss federal programs that are helping to address housing needs in the area. Leaders saw for themselves some of the housing in South Los Angeles that receives HUD investment, and met face-to-face with individuals who are benefiting from HUD’s investment in the area. They also discussed how these programs can be improved and how HUD can provide further resources to the South Los Angeles community.
The afternoon began at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, where Secretary Castro and Reps. Bass and Roybal-Allard hosted a meeting with 30 leaders from South Los Angeles, including local and state elected officials as well as community leaders who are focused on addressing the educational, housing, and economic development needs in the area.
“We want to thank Secretary Julian Castro for taking the time to meet with our Promise Zone team here on the campus of the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College campus,” said LATTC president Larry Frank. “Higher education is the foundation of an empowerment zone, and this community’s leadership knows how important this community college in creating the skilled workforce and opportunities necessary to lift our neighborhoods to new heights.”
Los Angeles Trade Tech has successfully partnered with HUD over the last decade to address the needs of the working class families in the neighborhood, and the college is an example of the positive impact that can result when all levels of government work together with both non-profits and businesses to provide opportunities to a diverse student body and the people who live and work in the area surrounding the college.
Following the meeting at Los Angeles Trade Tech, Secretary Castro and Reps. Roybal-Allard and Bass joined Los Angeles City Councilmembers Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson for a tour of South Los Angeles that included visits to Ruth’s Place/Broadway Apartments, Figueroa Apartments, and Dunbar Village. These housing developments, owned by Coalition for Responsible Community Development & its partners, are using federal funding to provide affordable housing to working families, address overcrowding, and help the long-term homeless.
A 2014 study by the California Housing Partnership Corp., a nonprofit group set up by the state, determined that Los Angeles County needs nearly 500,000 more affordable housing units to address the housing needs of Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable residents.
“Locally, the Ninth District has the highest rate of poverty of any council area at 36 percent, suffers from high unemployment and low graduation rates,” said Councilmember Curren D. Price, Jr. “This is an area that has serious needs. It’s time to turn these hefty challenges into grand opportunities. I hope that during this tour, we were able to effectively tell our story in a way that renews our commitment to improve the quality of life for our residents and leads to meaningful change for generations to come."
To cap off the visit, Secretary Castro and Reps. Bass and Roybal-Allard visited the Coalition for Responsible Community Development’s 28th Street Apartments & VCN YouthSource Center, where they met with transition-aged foster youth & other young people who benefit from the facility’s affordable housing, education & career opportunities. Los Angeles County is home to approximately 26,000 homeless youth, and nearly 5,000 of these young people are foster youth who have transitioned out of the child welfare system.
“It’s now a critical time for federal and local leaders to work together to solve the affordable housing crisis,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “A broad array of community leaders have initiated work in South Los Angeles to develop solutions that can transform our communities."
One of the young people who met with Secretary Castro and Reps. Bass and Roybal-Allard was Jesse Sauceda, who aged out of foster care at age 18 and became homeless. While still living without a home, he decided to pursue his high school diploma and joined a YouthBuild program with Coalition for Responsible Community Development. His case manager helped him obtain a Section 8 Choice Voucher, and today he has an apartment of his own. With his housing secure, Jesse is preparing to graduate from high school and pursue his dreams.
”I went from being incarcerated to being homeless, and from being a former foster youth to working toward my high school diploma, getting housing, obtaining my construction credential, and completing work experience,” said Jesse Sauceda. “Prior to coming to Coalition for Responsible Community Development, I was staying on a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles, but that did not stop me from going to school and being an active student in the South Los Angeles YouthBuild program. Having housing has given me a sense of stability.”