By Ray Richardson
LOS ANGELES — Nine Los Angeles communities will benefit from $8.5 million in a unique funding project called “LA REPAIR,” an initiative approved by the City Council that impacts neighborhoods most affected by unemployment, poverty, COVID-19 and environmental hazards.
Residents of the specific communities will be able to take advantage of a component in the project known as “participatory budgeting,” which gives residents an opportunity to help decide how the funds will be used.
“Anytime people are fully engaged in the process, it makes for better government,” said 10th District Councilman Herb Wesson, who represents residents in the West Adams-Baldwin Village-Leimert Park area, one of the nine “zones” targeted by LA REPAIR. “You get excited whenever there are additional resources that can be spent in the district you serve.”
In addition to the West Adams-Baldwin Village-Leimert Park area, the other eight zones include Arleta-Pacoima, in the San Fernando Valley, Boyle Heights on the Eastside, Mission Hills-Panorama City-North Hills also in the valley, Skid Row, South Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles, Westlake and Wilmington-Harbor Gateway.
LA REPAIR is an acronym for Reform for Equity and Public Acknowledgement of Institutional Racism. The project is a collaboration between the City Council and the Los Angeles Civil Rights Department.
“This is more than just $8.5 million,” Capri Maddox, executive director of the Los Angeles Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, said in a statement. “It’s empowerment for the neighborhoods of Los Angeles that have been most affected by poverty and systemic racism.”
The nine neighborhoods were chosen based on a study commissioned by the City Council. Results of the study revealed that people of color represent at least 87% of the population in each of the neighborhoods. Approximately 16% of the residents are living at or below the poverty line.
The unemployment rate in the selected communities is at 15% and nearly 30% of renters need to use half or more of their income to pay rent.
Funds from LA REPAIR will initially go to projects and programs in the Mission Hills-Panorama City-North Hills, Southeast Los Angeles and Boyle Heights zones. Resources for those communities are expected to launch later this year. The remaining six zones have been targeted for early 2023.
Steering committees in each of the nine communities will be formed to give input on the distribution of funds and development of programs. LA REPAIR guidelines require community participation before any funding decisions are made.
Steering committee assignments are expected to be finalized in mid-June.
Persons interested in being considered for steering committees in their area can apply online at repair.lacity.org.
“Our goal is to put decision-making power directly into the hands of L.A. citizens, so they can be partners in building a more just and equitable city,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “LA REPAIR gives communities deeply affected by the history of racial and economic injustices a direct say in investments that bring more resources to their neighborhoods and grow opportunities.”
Though pleased with Garcetti’s commitment to improving struggling neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Wesson expressed disappointment that the West Adams-Baldwin Village-Leimert Park area was not included in the first phase of funding in 2022.
Wesson, however, said he’s looking forward to seeing how LA REPAIR functions with the 2022 rollout for Mission Hills-Panorama City-North Hills, Southeast Los Angeles and Boyle Heights.
“The bright side is that we’ll get a chance to see what all the funds are and how the project will be operated,” Wesson said. “The main thing is we know our community will be involved in this process.”
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at email@example.com.