Los Angeles - South Los Angeles was not selected as a designated “Promise Zone” by the Housing and Urban Development Department this week during the second round of the Obama Administration’s signature anti-poverty program, but local leaders stressed their support for the the application that gained support from more than 100 community organizations and elected officials.
“While I am disappointed that our proposal was not chosen, I remain committed to implementing the goals we laid out in our plan, and equally proud of the historic coalition we built to bring this effort forward,” said Councilman Curren Price, who helped champion the proposal.
Led by Los Angeles Trade Tech College, more than 100 community partners came together last summer to collaborate on the competitive application, including representatives from Los Angeles Unified School District, the University of Southern California, UCLA, the LA Chamber of Commerce, Community Coalition, Brotherhood Crusade, LA’s Promise, the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, and CD Tech among others.
The result of the work was a thorough and detailed proposal to build and expand on the effective strategies already taking place in our South LA neighborhoods to increase educational opportunities for youth and build stronger pathways to careers in the community, said LATTC President Larry Frank.
“We will not be discouraged by this announcement and will continue to do everything we can to pursue other sources of funding to support the goals we laid out in this proposal, which could include applying for future rounds of the Promise Zone program,” Frank said.
The application received the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti and a host of South LA elected officials, including Congressional members Karen Bass and Lucille Roybal-Allard, who on Tuesday also expressed their disappointment with the decision to exclude the “superb” application but they reiterated their commitment to work together on behalf of the region.
“Our coalition represents South Los Angeles at its very best, and we are committed to continuing our work to improve South LA despite HUD’s decision today,” Roybal-Allard and Bass said in a written statement.
Launched in 2014 by the Obama Administration and modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, the Promise Zone initiative is considered the nation’s top anti-poverty effort, designed to saturate low-income communities with a proven track record of success with the resource they need to turn around their neighborhoods. The federal designation gives the selected community preference in competitive federal grant applications totaling up to $500 million. Organizations contributing to Promise Zone strategies will also receive technical assistance and other non-competitive support, subject to available funding and as permissible.
In the first round of the program, Los Angeles was selected for a Promise Zone designation that included East Hollywood, Pico-Union, Koreatown and Westlake, an area that has a combined poverty rate of 35 percent.
The proposed South Los Angeles Promise Zone has an aggregated poverty rate of 45 percent – three times the national average – and an unemployment rate of 12 percent while high school attainment rates continue at about 50 percent. As currently proposed, the South LA promise zone would have served Historic South-Central Los Angeles, including the communities of the Crenshaw Corridor, Leimert Park, Vernon-Central, South Park, Vermont Square, Exposition Park, the Alameda Corridor, and USC’s University Village.