When was the last time you heard about big local institutions working with community groups to tackle seemingly intractable problems? Well that’s exactly what’s happening in South LA. LA Trade Tech President Larry Frank has forged a partnership with Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAUSD, three universities, the LA County Sheriff, LA Metro and over 50 non-profits to create more opportunity in South LA. The catalyst for forming the South LA Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z) coalition was the opportunity to get a federal “Promise Zone” designation, which could give South LA a competitive edge on over 200 different federal grants.
Check out the SLATE-Z map and you’ll see that it includes portions of the neighborhoods of Vernon-Central, South Park, Florence, Exposition Park, Vermont Square, Leimert Park and a small portion of Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw. These are some of the poorest areas of the city, and all face big challenges.
Three of the Slate-Z strategies aim to bring opportunity for a better life by moving residents from working poverty to living wage jobs, from high school to college completion and living wage careers, and from gangs and re-entry to education & careers. Other strategies aim to increase access to transit and create new opportunities for entrepreneurship.
A quick look at some statistics about the neighborhoods shows that these strategies are sorely needed.
- About 46% of the roughly 200,000 residents live below the federal poverty line
- Over half of children in SLATE-Z live in poverty — more than twice the rate in LA County
- About 45% of workers in SLATE-Z live below 150% of the federal poverty level (about two and a half times the county rate)
- 58% of 18 to 64 year olds are in the workforce, which is 7% below the county figure
- 17% of South LA residents are undocumented immigrants, which is 7% above the county rate
- Gang-related violent crime rose 57% between 2014 and 2015, while it rose 20% in the City
Move LA’s Beth Steckler and LA Metro’s Miriam Long convened the transit working group, which included representatives from TRUST South LA, the LA County Bicycle Coalition, LA Neighborhood Initiative, and the Brotherhood Crusade. Move LA Leadership Board members Nolan Rollins of the LA Urban League and Joyce Perkins from LANI were also active participants. All parties agree that the Promise Zone application filed with HUD at the end of February was very strong. Whether or not HUD agrees, the partnerships forged have the power to bring real change to a piece of South LA.
1) Downloadable map on Slate Z website: slatez.org (about)
2) LA Trade Tech’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LATTC/photos/pcb.10153280599196190/10153280597691190/?type=3&theater