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Was South L.A. Snubbed in Distribution of 'Promise Zone' Funds?

The choice of communities drew criticism from South Los Angeles-area City Councilman Curren Price says he is disappointed to see "the city's poorest communities excluded once again."

By City News Service

A portion of Los Angeles was one of five "promise zones" chosen to receive millions of federal dollars aimed at combating poverty, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today from Washington, D.C.

The Los Angeles zone includes communities in East Hollywood, Pico- Union/Westlake, Thai Town, Little Armenia and Koreatown, according to the mayor's office.

Mayoral spokesman Jeff Millman said the city likely will transfer the funds to nonprofits and other groups involved in anti-poverty efforts in those communities.

Garcetti was in Washington, to attend President Barack Obama's announcement. The mayor was scheduled to return to Los Angeles tonight.

"This is a historic victory for Los Angeles," Garcetti said. "This gives the city of L.A. and its partners the opportunity to make real change in the lives of so many Angelenos who need it most by creating opportunity and strengthening our neighborhoods."

The choice of communities drew criticism from South Los Angeles-area City Councilman Curren Price, who said he was disappointed to see "the city's poorest communities excluded once again."

"South Los Angeles struggles with the highest concentration of poverty in the city, with more than one out of three households living below the poverty rate, a rate nearly 10 percentage points higher than any other region in the city. And yet our community will not benefit from this investment of up to a half a billion dollars," he said.

"I urge federal officials, as well as our mayor as he lobbies Washington for more funding, to reconsider their selection process now and moving forward."

Councilman Bernard Parks also urged Garcetti to expand the grant to South Los Angeles communities.

"Although, many parts of the city of Los Angeles have needs and challenges, it defies logic that most of the city's population that lives south of the Santa Monica freeway is not a part of or given any consideration to receive these new funds," he said.

The city became eligible to apply for the promise zone program after a local nonprofit, Youth Policy Institute, secured three anti-poverty grants from the federal government, according to Garcetti's office.

Parks placed the blame on the Youth Policy Institute, saying "it is very unfortunate" that the nonprofit, which got $30 million in grants to apply for program on behalf of the city "did not take a broader approach."

Now it's up to Garcetti to "create a broader and more equitable distribution to ensure the true goals of promise zones are realized," he said.

City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell -- whose 13th District Garcetti represented before he became mayor -- said today the funding would benefit areas in his district, including parts of Hollywood, East Hollywood, Westlake, Little Armenia, Historic Filipinotown and Koreatown.

"I am thrilled and appreciative that President Obama has chosen these areas to be included in this community building initiative," he said. "It validates what Mayor Garcetti and I have known for a long time, that considerable investment will provide that key ingredient to lift these neighborhoods up to the level our constituents deserve."

In an email following the announcement, Garcetti urged the public to submit ideas to his city website at http://www.lamayor.org/ for how the money should be used.

The funds likely will be used toward increasing access to affordable housing; education, college and career preparation programs; transportation and getting rid of "wasteful and duplicative government programs," according to the mayor's office.

As a promise zone city, Los Angeles also will get special preference when applying for other federal grants, access to assistance in applying to those grants and potentially tax incentives for businesses in the zone.

The other promise zones announced by President Barack Obama today are in San Antonio, Philadelphia, southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Obama first discussed his Promise Zone Initiative in last year's State of the Union address. Today's announcement will coincide with the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty."     The event comes a day after a 13-member panel called the Los Angeles 2020 Commission released a set of findings that focused on poverty as one of the persistent threats facing the city.

The report points to the 40 percent of Angelenos living in "what can only be called misery," with 28 percent earning poverty wages and the rest unemployed. It also points to "chronic budget deficits" preventing city government from providing quality public services and paying the salaries and benefits of its city employees.

"L.A. is treading water and there is a serious prospect of decline," former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor -- who chairs the panel -- said at a downtown news conference Wednesday.


ruth January 10, 2014 at 01:52 PM
"This is a historic victory for Los Angeles," Garcetti said. This is a historic victory for Garcetti getting more funds for East Hollywood where his boss Millennium's Hollywood Cap Park is. Add all the money he got out of City Council for it..our money..and he is doing great for his Millennium boss. Maybe Curren Price, who stood up and endorsed Millennium projects, so beholdin was he to The Millennium funded Hollywood Chamber that supported him, will now regret his speech on the floor of City Hall...also pushing for the approval of Millennium projects.. Did Garcetti even pull the wool over Councilmember's eyes?? Maybe since he is so new to City Council Price does not realize that if Millennium's Hollywood Cap Park was in Price's and Park's areas, those areas would be on the list of needy areas to receive Promise funds. Maybe he is learning how Garcetti operates. It's all for the developer's who Price endorsed.
Scott Zwartz January 10, 2014 at 03:27 PM
I heard Obama speaking on this morning news and he said that this area where the Promise $ will go "lost 13,000 people in the prior decade and therefore, they need to construct more Affordable Housing." ?? What the F?? 13,000 less people and the idiots want to build MORE affordable housing! It was the CRA projects which drove people out of Hollywood so that Garcetti's CD 13 ceased to qualify as a legal council district. So, Obama wants more Affordable Housing. What for, to drive out 26,000 people? It's all corruptionism. If Mary and Joe need a place to live, don't give Philip Aaarons and his cohorts hundreds of millions of dollars.
Al Sanchez January 14, 2014 at 06:00 PM
LET ME TELL YOU WHAT THE BIGGEST SCANDAL HERE IS . . . THE PICO UNION AREA IS MOSTLY ILLEGAL ALIENS!!!!! SO, HE MAKES THAT A SO CALLED "PROMISE ZONE"? SO THAT TAXPAYER MONEY GOES TO HELP THAT POOR AREA OF MOSTLY ILLEGAL ALIENS? THEN, HE FORGETS AREAS LIKE EAST HOLLYWOOD, SOUTH CENTRAL, EVEN POOR PARTS OF THE INLAND EMPIRE? THAT IS THE TRAVESTY PEOPLE. ALSO, WITH ALL THE POOR WHITE PEOPLE STRUGGLING IN STATES LIKE WEST VIRGINIA, WHY WOULD HE DIVERT MONEY TO AN ILLEGAL ALIEN REFUGE? I AM VOTING OUT THE DEMOCRATS NEXT ELECTION! AND I'M A LATINO AND A LIBERAL. A. SANCHEZ

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