Statement from One LA-IAF on the Passing of Bishop David O’Connell
We are shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic death of Bishop David O’Connell. He was a beloved bishop, an extraordinary pastor, and a wonderful man. He taught thousands of One LA leaders to both love their neighbor and to fight against injustice. We will carry him in our hearts.
Bishop Dave had a long career as a leader in local Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations through his decades of service in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In the 1980s and 1990s, Bishop Dave was an active leader in the South Central Organizing Committee (SCOC) as the pastor of St. Frances X. Cabrini and Ascension parishes. His ministry and organizing work addressed gun violence, historic disinvestment in what was then known as South Central Los Angeles, poverty, and the plight of undocumented immigrants.
The organizing work of Bishop Dave and SCOC led to the passage of California’s assault weapons ban in 1989, helped thousands of immigrants become citizens after the 1986 immigration reform act passed during the Reagan Administration, and shut down liquor stores in the wake of the riots following the Rodney King beating. Bishop Dave continued his IAF organizing work with St. Michael’s parish and was one of the founding leaders of One LA-IAF in 2004 when SCOC and three other local organizations merged to form a county-wide organizing effort. As a leader with One LA-IAF, Bishop Dave led efforts to win health care coverage for undocumented immigrants, expand community-based policing, assist homeowners facing foreclosure during the Great Recession, and help former prisoners obtain employment and rebuild their lives.
We will remember Bishop Dave for his emphasis on the development of parish leaders and for the love that he infused in everything that he did. Most recently, Bishop Dave played an instrumental role in the IAF’s Recognizing the Stranger training initiative, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Recognizing the Stranger has trained over 4,000 parish leaders throughout the West and Southwest in how to utilize the skills of broad-based organizing to strengthen their communities through a culture of encounter and the building of relationships with people from different backgrounds. These themes echoed throughout Bishop Dave’s life as a pastor who was known for his presence and ministry on-the-ground, among the people. We miss him dearly and will continue to be inspired and transformed by his life and legacy.
Photo Credit [Fox11 News]
One LA-IAF, a broad based organizing group in Los Angeles, received commitments from candidates running for Mayor and County Supervisor to work together on issues of affordable housing and mental healthcare access.
Los Angeles, CA --- On Sunday, October 23rd faith and community leaders from the broad-based, nonpartisan organization One LA-IAF gathered at Northridge Middle School in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. The public assembly was held two weeks before the general election and invited candidates for the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles and for County Supervisor, District 3. Candidates Karen Bass, Lindsey Horvath and Bob Hertzberg attended.
In stark contrast to the zero-sum politics of Los Angeles City Council, One LA leaders from all corners of the county (South Los Angeles, the Westside, the Eastside, the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys) came together to present a common agenda that cut across faith, race, and geographic lines. The agenda focused on affordable housing and mental health care access.
One LA-IAF highlighted the overlooked opportunity to maximize the amount of affordable housing built on the publicly owned land on Metro projects. Desmond Faison, of NoHo Home Alliance, challenged the candidates to think about the current project in North Hollywood, District NoHo. “Failing to create a significant amount of integrated affordable housing on public land is inconsistent with Metro's policies and a huge missed opportunity to create an affordable community at one of the busiest public transit hubs in Los Angeles.” The median income of the area is $48,000 yet only 20% (or 300) of the 1500 units of the project will be affordable units and will be segregated from the market-level units. This number is well below the project's original proposal and Metro’s current standards of 100% income restricted units.
Candidate Bass responding to One LA, Photo credit [Fox11 News]
Mary Jackson, St. Brigid Catholic Church, shared the effects felt in her entire family by the lack of mental health care access, “When we invest in individuals with mental illness, we help not just that individual- but their families and their communities. By helping these vulnerable members of our society, we will make Los Angeles County more safe and livable for all.” Despite consistent promises to provide community mental health treatment options, there is a persistent shortage in mental health beds for short-term acute, sub-acute, and longer-term patients. Families in Los Angeles struggle to find adequate mental healthcare treatment options and worry that without support their loved ones either end up in jail or homeless. Conversations between One LA leaders, providers, and experts point to the inflexibility of County funding as a barrier preventing providers from nimbly delivering services that can address the severity of the needs for mental healthcare treatment.
Representative Karen Bass, Candidate for Mayor, affirmed her desire to work with One LA, “I can’t succeed without your participation. I love One LA and the diversity reflected today.” She agreed to work with One LA to promote affordable housing on publicly owned land and increase access to mental health and agreed to meet within the first 100 days of her administration.
West Hollywood Councilmember and District 3 Supervisorial Candidate Lindsey Horvath expressed her desire to work with One LA and suggested that the next meeting take place sooner than 100 days.
State Senator Bob Hertzberg and Supervisor District 3 candidate agreed to work with One LA on the issues of affordable housing and mental health, keeping track of his own commitments in a journal while on stage.
Throughout the meeting local leaders then shared stories about the issues they and their communities are facing. A former educator shared the bureaucratic barriers providers face when applying to county mental health service funds and a Black mother and veteran shared how her family was priced out of their rental home in Jefferson Park. Each candidate was then given the same amount of time to answer questions related to the issue agenda.
“We know that our democracy does not stop after November 8th. That is why we will be following up with all elected officials and ensure that we keep this conversation moving forward. We are working together to better our cities and county and make our government work for and with us,” declared Christine Walters from Community United Methodist Church.
Sheila Thomas, One LA-IAF leader and member of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church meets with Pope Francis.
[Photos credit: Rabbi John Linder]
Our network had the rare opportunity to visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
An interfaith delegation of 20 leaders and organizers from the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation met with him to share our collective work of broad based organizing at a time when the Pope is guiding the global church in a historic Synod listening process.
The Holy Father sat side by side with us in his residence, thanking us for inconveniencing ourselves to come see him. What ensued was a true dialogue, a 90-minute conversation in Spanish with lots of back and forth engagement. The encounter was filled with many graced moments about both the joys and the struggles of our work, and the work of the Church, past, present, and to come.
This invitation to meet was in large part due to the recognition of our work by local Bishops, particularly those involved with the 'Recognizing the Stranger' strategy, which is dedicated to formation and leadership development of immigrant parishioners. As well, our involvement to support the Synod process in multiple dioceses has helped to bring those in the margins to the center of the synodal dialogue.
As we shared our experiences of organizing, we were struck by how carefully he listened, asked questions, and engaged with lots of humor. Early on, he reflected back to us, “Usaron mucho las palabras ‘ver’ y ‘escuchar,’... Me impresiona que ninguno de ustedes es parte de alguna teoría. Ninguno dice ‘leí un libro y me interesó eso.’” (You constantly use the words “to see” and “to listen.. I am impressed that none of you start with any theory. No one says ‘I read a book and that interested me.’) “El peligro es intelectualizar el problema” (The danger is when you intellectualize a problem).
He stressed the importance of being with people and paying attention to their reality, emphasizing Amor Concreto, love concretely in action, saying that he understood our work as seeing and hearing of injustice in the real lives of our people, acting to change the situation, and being changed ourselves as a result. He expressed his appreciation for our focus on what we are doing, rather than to complain about what is not being done or to disparage anyone. “Ustedes no menospreciaron a nadie.”
Before concluding, he thanked us for our visit, saying that although he had never known of IAF before, he was glad that he knew us now, and he welcomed further conversation around our continuing work with the Synod process.
We teach that power recognizes power. For Pope Francis, “el verdadero poder es el servicio,” (“true power is service”). Recounting the Good Samaritan, he clearly stated that the Gospel cannot be understood without acting with those who are suffering. He recognized the leaders and organizations of the IAF and the powerful work that is happening every day at the margins. He referred to the IAF as “Good News for the United States.”
We are humbled to represent the many decades of work from those who preceded us, and we are encouraged in the continuation of our work into the future.
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.