Los Angeles – One LA-IAF leaders from Temple Beth Am won a huge victory when the Los Angeles Planning Commission rejected a redevelopment project that would eliminate 12 units of affordable housing in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, a desert for subsidized housing units. Before the Thanksgiving holiday the Los Angeles Planning Commission unanimously rejected a plan to demolish 6 commercial properties and 12 units of rent stabilized housing to construct a 7-story hotel in their place. It was an unusual move prompted by local community leaders from One LA who were working with city officials to mitigate the loss of precious affordable housing. The community leaders are not opposed to the redevelopment of the area, but they are concerned about losing housing in a neighborhood where the local city council district office had confirmed that it did not have any housing units that could benefit from the city’s linkage fee program. Nancy Goldstone, a leader with One LA and resident of Pico-Robertson said, “This hotel project was going to eliminate affordable housing in an area where there is very little to none. As a One LA leader it was important for me and our team to organize and have conversations with city officials to let them know that this project did not serve the interests or general good of the neighborhood.”
Addressing community issues by working closely with government officials is part of the mission of One LA. It takes a partnership between elected officials and an organized citizenry to make democracy work and to build the kind of Los Angeles that allows ordinary families to thrive.
Leaders Applaud AB832 for Keeping Families Housed & Rental Assistance Flowing
Thousands of leaders across California Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations celebrate a new deal announced by the Governor and state legislators to extend the state’s eviction moratorium and rent relief program that was set to expire June 30, 2021.
The California IAF specifically applauds State leaders for:
- Extending the eviction ban to September 30, 2021
- Paying 100% of overdue rent and utilities paid for landlords and tenants
- Providing up to18 months of rental assistance for past and future rent
- Allowing either tenants or land lords to receive funds
- Forestalling evictions until rental assistance applications are attempted
On June 3rd, 2021, over 600 California IAF leaders convened on Zoom -- along with Catholic Bishop Oscar Cantú (whose op-ed can be read here), Episcopal Bishop Lucinda Ashby and two state legislators -- to call for an extension of the eviction moratorium and expansion of SB91 to allow more flexibility with rental assistance distribution to keep families housed. California IAF organized hundreds of phone calls and emails to State Senators, Assembly members and the Governor asking for more time and flexibility to get funds to families who missed rent due to the pandemic.
“California IAF leaders are pleased our state legislators acted to protect our families from eviction and provide 100% of rent owed. Our thanks go to Senators Caballero, Durazo, Laird and Weiner and Assemblymembers Chiu, Bloom, Reyes and Santiago for leading the charge on behalf of our families," said Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El, Aptos. "We would have preferred a 6 month extension, but we will turn our focus now to local organizing meetings so our families understand their rights and how to apply for rental assistance.”
“By sharing our stories with state agency staff and legislators, our recommendations were accepted to allow for easier income verification and tenants with informal leases to be included as eligible for assistance. By making future months of rent available, this will allow tenants like me to be able to cover my rent while I pay off the debts to my family and credit card that I took on to keep my landlord paid,” said Lourdes Rios, COPA leader in Santa Cruz County.
- Central Coast Reacts to the Extension of the Eviction Moratorium, Noticias Ya [video in Spanish]
- Oped by Bishop Oscar Cantú: California Must Release Rent Funds and Stop Evictions, Mercury News
- Santa Cruz County Housing Advocates Seek State Eviction Moratorium Extension, Santa Cruz Sentinel [pdf]
- Local Leaders Ask for Extension of Moratorium on Evictions in California, Telemundo [en español] [pdf]
- California IAF Action on Renter Protection, California IAF
- Hundreds of Advocates Urge Gov. Newsom to Expand SB91, Good Times [pdf]
- With Assistance Lagging, State Must Extend Rental Eviction Moratorium, Santa Cruz Sentinel [pdf]
- Hundreds of Advocates Urge Gov. Newsom to Expand SB91, The Pajaronian [pdf]
In less than two weeks, One LA - IAF leaders launched a pilot effort to vaccinate close to 900 senior citizens and essential workers in the hard-hit South LA community around St. Brigid Catholic Church. Originally planning to vaccinate 600 people, the two-day event accommodated hundreds more who were eligible as word spread in the community.
"The issue is vaccine access," said Jim Mangia, President and CEO of St. John's Well Child and Family Center in an interview with ABC National News. "Most people in South LA have not had access to the vaccine. There's not hesitancy- people have questions of course, but people want to get vaccinated. The issue is that there was nowhere for them to go."
Nowhere to go, that is, until One LA leaders began organizing. After months of advocating for a more equitable vaccination campaign targeting hard-hit neighborhoods, One LA leaders secured a partnership with Supervisor Holly Mitchell and medical partner St. John's Well Child & Family Center to bring the vaccines to the neighborhood around St. Brigid Catholic Church.
"Unfortunately, it is one of the least vaccinated areas in Los Angeles," said Fr. Kenneth Keke, Pastor of St. Brigid Catholic Church. "One in five residents have had Covid-19, and only 1 in 18 have been vaccinated. We are going to change that. We don't want anybody left behind."
Over the course of four days, One LA leaders went door to door, passed out flyers and called 4,000 households. The targeted approach shielded the vaccine supply from out-of-the-area "vaccine chasers," but more importantly reached people who otherwise wouldn't be able to access the vaccine at all.
Meaghan Myrtle, a 90 year old resident of the neighborhood, had been trying for months to secure an appointment. Ms. Myrtle had no access to transportation or the internet. "This church called me back. Nobody else called me back."
One LA leaders are now working to duplicate the pilot in other hard hit communities, and to work with LA County to add these neighborhood-based pop-ups to the many methods needed to vaccinate the whole county.
"A year into this pandemic, we refuse to stay at home anymore," said Phaebra Croft, a One LA leader with St. Brigid and teacher with LAUSD. "Don't let anyone try to convince you that our communities don't want this vaccine. Demand is high and will only get higher."
Group Gives Help to Vaccine Candidates, Gordon Tokumatsu, NBC 4 (Los Angeles) [video]
Fight for Vaccine Equity, Kaylee Hartung, ABC News (National) [video]
A Los Angeles Pilot Program Will Vaccinate Hundreds within a 2 Mile Radius of a Catholic Church, Alejandra Molina, Religious News Service
Hundreds of Vaccines Administered in South LA after volunteers go door to door to increase interest, John Gregory, ABC 7 (Los Angeles) [video]
Photo credit: Rafael Paz [additional photos]
At a press conference on Tuesday, February 2, One LA leaders called on LA County and LA CIty to partner with churches, schools and clinics to bring the vaccine to the neighborhoods most hard-hit by COVID-19.
"We feel like our community is left behind in this crucial time," said Rev. Kenneth Keke, pastor of St. Brigid Catholic Church in South Central LA.
As the vaccine rollout began, leaders began hearing hundreds of stories of seniors and essential workers unable to get the vaccine in neighborhoods where the virus is surging.
The Covid-19 death rate for Latinos in Los Angeles County has increased by 1000% since November. Blacks, Latinos, and Asians are all more likely to die than white residents. People living in the poorest neighborhoods are more than three times as likely to die as the residents of the wealthiest neighborhoods.
Leaders took swift action, developing a 6 point plan to close the equity gap.
"Our church is prepared to take a more active role," said Rev. Austin Doran, pastor at St. Anthony Catholic Church in San Gabriel. "If needed, the church could be used as a vaccination site. Residents are used to coming to our church. They know how to get here."
The plan calls for mobile vaccination teams that would set up temporary sites in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Leaders from neighborhood institutions educate residents about the vaccine, as well as help people sign up for the vaccine from parking lots of parishes and other sites.
"The hardest-hit communities can be identified through U.S. Census tracts with the highest incidents of COVID-19 and lowest rates of vaccination," said Diane Vanette, a leader with Temple Emanuel.
“By targeting the hot spots first, we would be able to save lives and break the chain of transmission.”
Since Tuesday, One LA leaders have heard back from county and city officials and will be meeting with them in the next week to push their strategy forward.
Churches in LA's Working Class Neighborhood Urge, "Bring the Vaccine to the People," Religious News Service, Alejandra Molina [pdf]
Covid-19 Vaccines and Seniors: What it is Like for Older Adults Getting Their Shots, Wall Street Journal, Jim Carlton and Joseph de Avila [pdf]
Biden Adminstration Charging Up Vaccination Rollout [video], NBC News, Hetty Chang
Faith Leaders Commend Supervisor Solis and Commit to Work with County on Plan to Vaccinate Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
One LA - IAF leaders stand ready to work with Los Angeles County on a plan targeting hot-spot neighborhoods to break the chain of transmission and reduce racial inequity.
Faith Leaders Commend Supervisor Solis and Commit to Work with County on Plan to Vaccinate Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods
One LA-IAF leaders extend their appreciation for Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis’ leadership and swift response to the call for targeted COVID-19 vaccinations to LA County residents in the hardest hit areas of LA County: Boyle Heights, El Monte, South LA and Pacoima. These efforts will directly address and help to dismantle the racial inequalities resulting from the vaccination strategies undertaken in the recent past.
One LA-IAF institutions stand ready to collaborate with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, LA County's Department of Public Health and Health Services to remove barriers currently facing low-wage and essential workers who currently do not have access to COVID-19 vaccinations.
One LA’s 6 Point Plan is designed to provide access to vaccinations for those neighborhoods hardest hit by this pandemic. This includes:
- Target the hardest-hit neighborhoods by identifying the census tracts with the highest-incidence of Covid-19 and lowest rates of vaccination.
- Partner with trusted, local institutions – congregations, neighborhood organizations, schools – which are better suited to provide information, dispel fears and myths, and guide people through the process of registering for an appointment.
- Invest in mobile vaccination teams that can set up temporary neighborhood-level vaccination sites in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.
- Simplify the sign-up process with multiple methods to register and a large base of volunteers from trusted community institutions to do outreach.
- Use a pro-active model, rather than a passive approach, that includes door to-door canvassing in the hardest-hit areas and hardest-to-reach populations.
- Saturate hot spots until they have achieved 60-70% vaccination rates. This will break the chain of transmission and demonstrate that vaccination works, which will promote public confidence and reduce vaccine hesitancy.
One LA member institutions are trust centers made up of churches, schools, community non-profits and synagogues. Our institutions are predominately in neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the pandemic- we are also the first place Angelenos reach out to when in need. We look forward to working with Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to increase access to Covid-19 vaccinations and education that will help temper the fear and despair felt by so many individuals and families.
One LA-IAF is a broad-based organization made up of 25 member institutions, including churches, synagogues, schools, clinics and nonprofits across LA County. One LA-IAF is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the oldest and largest national organizing and leadership development network in the United States, and the West / Southwest IAF.
Contact: Robert Hoo, [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
On Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 11:30 AM via Zoom, faith and community leaders with One LA - IAF will share stories collected from hundreds of conversations with residents in low-income neighborhoods who cannot access the COVID-19 vaccine. Leaders will also share a 6 point plan for targeting hot-spot neighborhoods to make the inoculation campaign more efficient and more equitable across LA County.
Faith Leaders Urge County to Focus on Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods
At a press conference on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 11:30 AM, One LA - IAF will share on-the-ground stories as well as a six point plan for vaccination teams to partner with local institutions to bring the vaccines into hotspot neighborhoods, which epidemiologists have argued will reduce transmission and deaths, both in individual neighborhoods and in the county as a whole.
In the latest surge of COVID-19 in LA County, faith leaders in low-income neighborhoods have watched their communities disproportionately bear the brunt of severe illness and deaths.
“The last time I gave the mass at our convent, over eighty percent of the catholic sisters there had contracted COVID-19,” said Fr. Kenneth Keke, Pastor at St. Brigid Catholic Church in South LA. “My parish is just as vulnerable- our members have told me story after story of how they can’t get to the vaccine, and it is they and their elderly family members who are suffering the most.”
St. Brigid Catholic Church is a member of One LA - IAF, a broad-based organization made up of 25 member institutions, including churches, synagogues, schools, clinics and nonprofits across LA County, predominantly in neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. These neighborhoods include Pacoima, Westlake, Pico-Union, South LA, Compton, Boyle Heights and El Monte, whose residents have been dying at rates three times higher than those in the county as a whole.
Since LA County began its vaccination campaign, One LA leaders have held hundreds of conversations with their members to find out who has been getting the vaccine, and who is being left behind.
“It makes no sense to me,” said Ortencia Ramirez, a parishioner at San Gabriel Mission and a leader with One LA - IAF. “I’m over 65 and a care-taker for my mother who is in an assisted living center. I have tried for days to get an appointment for the vaccine and had no luck with the County’s system or even my health care provider. Like me, there are hundreds of others at the Mission that have been shut out.”
Maps produced by LA County show staggering levels of spatial inequality. COVID-19 disproportionately impacts poor and minority neighborhoods where essential workers are forced to live in overcrowded conditions. For example, 9 people have died from Covid-19 in Brentwood, while 202 people have died in Westlake, near MacArthur Park.
“Our members are dying. We can’t wait for our families to get through the portals and the lines, while those with internet savvy, time and reliable transportation jump to the front of the queue,” said Fr. Arturo Corral, Pastor at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church (La Placita) in downtown LA. “We want the county and city vaccination teams to come to us. La Placita stands ready to partner with health officials to implement a plan that targets the hardest-hit neighborhoods.”
One LA-IAF joins the countless people and institutions in Los Angeles and across the country who are shocked and angered by the brutal murder of George Floyd. We are also troubled by those, especially elected officials, who refuse to address the racism and gross inequities that have been exposed and instead resort to inflammatory speeches and measures.
As a multi-faith coalition of churches, synagogues and other institutions committed to civic measures for justice, representing thousands of families, we stand with those who protest the injustices. We extend support to those doubly victimized by the COVID-19 pandemic, by racism and other forms of economic and legal inequality that blight our society. We declare our commitment to increasing our efforts to undo the damage and to create a society worthy of our religious and political traditions.
One LA-IAF will continue to organize across lines of race, class, ethnicity, religion, geography, and political perspective. We will fight to address the inequities that lead to higher death rates from COVID-19 in African-American, Latino, and Pacific Islander communities. We will fight to ensure that California supports all essential workers, including undocumented workers, so that no one gets left behind. We will continue coming together from diverse backgrounds to listen, deliberate, and organize as One LA.
We urge those who work for a just and equitable America to not allow divisive rhetoric win. We urge our members to come together to strengthen our efforts to fix the deep and deadly holes in the fabric of our society. We believe in the goodwill of the people of this city and country, and call upon all to strengthen the efforts to create the Los Angeles and the United States envisioned by our best founders and that deserve our respect.