The first of two town hall meetings focusing on housing, education, and employment conditions took place last Thursday at the Mendez Learning Center. The information and anecdotal stories compiled at these meetings will be presented at mayoral candidate forums before next year’s citywide elections.
Comunidades Unidas de Boyle Heights, or United Communities of Boyle Heights, is a coalition between local non-profits Inner City Struggle, Proyecto Pastoral, East Los Angeles Community Corporation, Legacy LA and Union de Vecinos. The organizers led the more than 60 Boyle Heights residents in workshops asking them about their experience with housing in the neighborhood and what they would ask the future mayor to do to improve housing.
“I get sick, I can’t pay my rent,” said Hermenegildo Ortega, a Boyle Heights resident. Ortega, whose testimonial was video recorded, said that he would hope affordable housing was created that gave the lowest of income earners the priority.
Ana Gomez, community organizer for Proyecto Pastoral, said that the coalition is trying to show how education, housing and employment all affect each other. While Proyecto Pastoral’s work doesn’t focus on housing specifically, the group participated she said because children’s education can be negatively affected if the housing conditions are poor. And one of the ways people get better housing is if they have better job opportunities.
“One person said they lived in a one bedroom apartment with six to seven people,” said Gomez.
Out of a total population of 95,000 in Boyle Heights, more than 75 percent are renters and tenants, according to the coalition. More than 30 percent also live below poverty.
The next town hall meeting on jobs and education is scheduled for November 15. The mayoral candidates forum is scheduled tentatively for January 29, said Sharis Delgadillo, an ELACC spokesperson.