Homeless Count Moves Into Metro and Southern LA County

January 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The three-day 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, which got underway Tuesday night with thousands of volunteers taking to the streets of San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys, will move to metropolitan Los Angeles and southern Los Angeles County tonight.

Volunteers will spread out across East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights. Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, downtown L.A. and cities in Southeast L.A. Many of the volunteers live in those neighborhoods and cities and are familiar with where the homeless congregate, according to county officials.

Volunteers will spend the night going from encampment to encampment, including in brush areas and riverbeds, under freeway passes and industrial areas where mobile homes and cars line the streets as part of the effort to get an accurate picture of the region’s homeless situation.

People living in homeless encampments like this one near El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument will be among those being counted by volunteers Thursday . (EGP Archive photo by Mike Alvarez)

For the last 12 years, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has utilized volunteers over 18 years of age who spend between three and four hours recording the number of transients to help determine the amount of federal and county funds needed for homeless programs.

About 7,500 volunteers participated in last year’s count, which found that homelessness in Los Angeles County increased 23 percent to 57,794.

Three members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors were among the volunteers on the first night – Kathryn Barger, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis.

“Our homeless population has a face and a name,” said Barger, who helped scan area in the San Gabriel Valley. “In addition to public safety and mental health, there is no greater emergency or mission than to protect those who are most vulnerable and in need.”

Ridley-Thomas who was among the volunteers in the San Fernando Valley, said he wanted to take part “because every night thousands of men, women, and families, with nowhere else to go, are sleeping on the streets of Los Angeles County. I count because each of us has a moral responsibility to help those in need.”

Solis joined volunteers in El Monte.

“By ensuring informed decisions and effective funding of programs and directed resources to the areas that need it most, the Homeless Count is the first step towards housing homeless individuals and families,” Solis said.


L.A. County Fights Plan to Add Citizenship Question to 2020 Census

January 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors pushed back Tuesday against a proposal to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, saying it would lead to inaccurate counts and unfair allocation of federal funding.

Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended sending a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the county’s congressional delegation expressing opposition to such a question, which was proposed by the Department of Justice, said it “will deter anyone afraid of disclosing immigration status” from filling out the census form.

“Communities that are uncounted will be underfunded and underrepresented,” Solis said.

She estimated that the county is home to at least 1 million undocumented immigrants and said even citizens and those with green cards might be afraid to fill out the census form if they have family members who are undocumented.

Supervisor Janice Hahn, who co-authored the motion, agreed.

“Whether unintentional or by design, including a citizenship question in the census will not only result in an inaccurate count, it would deny communities with immigrant populations — like L.A. County— their fair share of federal funding and resources,” Hahn said. “It’s our job to provide for all of the people who are living in L.A. County, regardless of whether they were born here.”

The census is used in setting the number of each state’s congressional representatives and to allocate millions of dollars in federal funding.

About $5 billion of the county’s $31 billion 2017-18 budget comes from federal sources.

“The census is a matter of just two little things: money and power,” said Rosalind Gold of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials Educational Fund.

The Department of Justice said in its request to the Census Bureau that it needed the citizenship data to enforce voting rights.

“The Department needs a reliable calculation of the citizen voting-age population in localities where voting rights violations are alleged or suspected” to protect against racial discrimination in voting, according to a Dec. 12 DOJ letter published by ProPublica.

The census is the first that will be managed primarily online, which Solis said would create an additional barrier for low-income families and communities of color.

A representative from the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., read a statement from the lawmaker calling the DOJ’s proposal “a deeply troubling request” that “threatens to undermine the accuracy of the census as a whole.”

Census Bureau field representatives are reporting unprecedented fear among test respondents, according to NALEO Educational Fund Director Arturo Vargas.

“With vigorous research and testing already completed and only three months to go before the agency must submit its final questions to Congress, now is not the time for our nation to devote precious resources towards this     misguided and unnecessary pursuit,” Vargas said.

The board’s vote was unanimous.

County Sups. Bash Cuts to Teen Pregnancy Prevention Funding

January 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday denounced cuts to federal funding to prevent teen pregnancies.

Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended sending a letter to the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the county’s representatives in Congress in opposition to ending a five-year, $10 million teen pregnancy prevention program two years early.

“The federal government found $1.4 trillion for a tax cut for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, but now they want to cut $4 million to end a successful health education program that helps underserved youth make responsible decisions with their lives,” Solis said.

In July, the Trump administration cut $213.6 million in funding for 80-plus organizations managing teen pregnancy prevention.

Asked to explain the changes, DHS ultimately issued a statement saying the “very weak evidence of positive impact of these programs stands in stark contrast to the promised results, jeopardizing the youth who were served.”

Some opponents of the cuts viewed them as a move by officials with a conservative political agenda to limit access to birth control for teens and rely on abstinence-only sex education. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy called the cuts “contrary to science, common sense, and to the realities of young people in our country.”

In November, DHHS announced a $10 million research project “to support and improve teen pregnancy prevention and sexual risk avoidance programs” by seeking “scientific and data-driven answers.”

Teen pregnancy rates are at record lows, with births down by nearly two-thirds since a peak in 1990, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, rebranded as Power to Decide.

Advocates of prevention programs said those numbers are low precisely because efforts to educate teens are working. If education comes to a halt, taxpayers will end up paying more, they say. A 2011 study by the Brookings Institution found that taxpayers spend roughly $12 billion annually on unintended pregnancies through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Locally, the “Keeping It Real Together” program is run by the county’s Department of Public Health and the University of Southern California. Solis said 23 to 55 middle schools in the Los Angeles and Compton unified school districts would be hurt by the cuts.

Organizations were given until June of this year to find other resources. Adjustments could still come as part of the federal budget.

DHS will report back in 60 days on other potential sources of funding for KIRT, which also aims to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, which are at an all-time high.

Supervisores Aprueban Tarjeta de Biblioteca Libre de Multas

December 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


(CNS) – La Junta de Supervisores del condado de Los Ángeles votó el martes para presentar una tarjeta de biblioteca libre de multas para estudiantes de 17 años o menos.

Los supervisores Janice Hahn e Hilda Solís fueron coautoras de la moción.

“Al deshacernos de las multas y cuotas, nuestras tarjetas de biblioteca para estudiantes finalmente son una forma segura para que los jóvenes accedan a las herramientas que necesitan para mejorar su educación”, dijo Hahn, señalando que las bibliotecas de todo el condado ofrecen acceso a computadoras impresoras, bases de datos de investigación y ayuda después de la escuela con la tarea, además de libros.

Los estudiantes podrán sacar tres artículos impresos a la vez por el tiempo que quieran, sin cargos ni multas.

Los de tercer grado serán los primeros en obtener las nuevas tarjetas. Esta es una edad critica para el desarrollo de la lectura y solo el 41 por ciento de los estudiantes de tercer grado en el condado de Los Ángeles actualmente están leyendo a nivel de grado, de acuerdo con una tarjeta de puntuación estatal publicado por el grupo de defensa sin fines de lucro, Children Now.

Passion Abounds In L.A. Phil’s Free Concert at ELAC

December 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The intensity  of Conductor Jonathan Heyward electrifies  the air as he leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic Saturday in a capacity-filled Ingalls Auditorium at East Los Angeles College.

(Photo by Mario Villegas)

(Photo by Mario Villegas)

The performance was part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association’s Free Neighborhood Concert program and was hosted by County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and was embraced by ELAC.

The orchestra performed a program of Russian masterpieces in Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919 Version).

Supervisores Aprueban Baños Portátiles para Detener Propagación de la Hepatitis A Entre las Personas Sin Hogar

November 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Con la esperanza de frenar la propagación de la hepatitis A, la Junta de Supervisores del Condado de Los Ángeles aprobó el martes un plan para instalar baños portátiles y estaciones para el lavado de manos cerca de campamentos de personas sin hogar densamente pobladas en cuatro áreas no incorporadas a lo largo de los cauces de San Gabriel y Los Ángeles.

La Supervisora Hilda Solís dijo que era una necesidad.

“Tener un área para lavarse las manos es un problema de derechos humanos, pero hoy nos estamos asegurando de que nuestras comunidades en riesgo tengan acceso a esta necesidad humana básica”, dijo Solís.

Los baños portátiles y estaciones para el lavado de manos estarán disponibles mientras dure el brote de hepatitis A, lo que probablemente será de al menos seis meses, dijo la directora de Salud Pública, Barbara Ferrer, a la junta.

El condado ha reportado 32 casos de virus relacionados con brotes, pero no casos nuevos en las últimas dos semanas, en comparación con los 561 casos y 20 muertes reportados en el condado de San Diego, donde el estado de emergencia se extendió el lunes.

La hepatitis A es una enfermedad hepática altamente contagiosa y el riesgo es particularmente grande entre las personas sin hogar, a los con frecuencia viven en condiciones insalubres, sufren otros problemas de salud y no tienen acceso inmediato al tratamiento.

Ferrer dijo que los equipos inspeccionaron las áreas sin hogar densamente pobladas, comenzando en Skid Row, cerca del centro de Los Ángeles y en Venice y Hollywood, y luego avanzando hacia campamentos en áreas no incorporadas a lo largo de los cauces.

Los empleados visitaron 222 sitios y finalmente identificaron 50 campamentos en todo el condado que albergan al menos a 30 personas, según documentos de la junta.

Ferrer reconoció que 30 era un número algo arbitrario, pero le dijo a la junta que tenía sentido priorizar las áreas más densamente pobladas donde el contagio se puede propagar rápidamente.

“Tenemos personas sin hogar que viven en uno o dos y tres (en todo el condado) …sería imposible pensar en colocar un baño portátil en cada lugar donde hay una persona sin hogar”, dijo Ferrer.

Los cuatro campamentos en áreas no incorporadas que tendrán instalaciones se encuentran en Lennox, West Athens, West Carson y Palmdale. Según los resultados de la encuesta, unas 190 personas sin hogar viven en West Carson, lo que la convierte en la más densamente poblada de las cuatro ubicaciones.

Pero muchos campamentos en las ciudades incorporadas – donde el condado no puede actuar solo – son mucho más grandes. Los defensores de personas sin hogar estiman que, por ejemplo, 1,800 personas duermen en Skid Row.

La supervisora Janice Hahn destacó la necesidad de compartir datos con los funcionarios de la ciudad y ayudarlos a comprender la amenaza de contagio, un esfuerzo que según Ferrer ya está en marcha.

“Algunas ciudades son muy serviciales, otras no”, dijo Hahn.

El Ayuntamiento de Los Ángeles votó unánimemente el mes pasado para crear un plan de baños portátiles y Ferrer le dijo a la junta que la ciudad “ha sido un gran socio”.

Los empleados del condado también explorarán la posibilidad de duchas móviles, que, según sus defensores, pueden marcar una gran diferencia para las personas que viven en la calle.

Hahn, quien se sorprendió de no ver ninguna instalación asignada en su Cuarto Distrito, dijo que no se trataba solo de propagar la hepatitis A, sino de la “dignidad humana básica para la gente”.

Los trabajadores de salud pública continuarán inspeccionando las áreas no incorporadas y presentar informes en 45 días.

L.A. County Has Highest and Lowest Levels of Wealth In U.S.

November 29, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

A report released Wednesday shows that some groups of Los Angeles County residents boast the highest levels of well-being in the United States, while others have some of the lowest.

“A Portrait of Los Angeles County,” commissioned by the county Office of Child Protection, reveals findings based on a formula that combines data on income, health and education.

“The Portrait provides us with critical information about the well-being of communities that is greatly needed to effectively target prevention supports to the families who need them most,” said Michael Nash, executive director of the office.

On the 10-point Human Development Index scale, the highest- and lowest-scoring communities are separated by seven points. In L.A. County, San Marino, Manhattan Beach, and Palos Verdes Estates top the list, all scoring over 9.3 on the index. Lennox, East Rancho Dominquez, and Florence-Graham each score lower than 2.7.

Source: Table 1 Human Development Index "Portrait of Los Angeles County 2017-2018

Source: Table 1 Human Development Index “Portrait of Los Angeles County 2017-2018

Within the city of Los Angeles, the gap is even larger. Bel Air- Beverly Crest and Brentwood-Pacific Palisades are on top with scores of 9.51 and 9.24, respectively. Southeast L.A. is at the bottom with 2.26.

The HD Index is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank areas into four tiers of human development.

“The county has been prioritizing data collection and analysis to enable us to make smarter decisions to support the well-being of our 10 million residents,” said county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This report provides us with a portrait that can begin to immediately inform county decision-making.”

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said the report offers an understanding of how income, health and education intersect “to contribute to whether you and your community experience well-being or live at a great disadvantage.”

“We knew there were grave disparities across the county, but now we have a more reliable way of geographically pinpointing the areas of greatest need,” she said.

Ready for Some Holiday Cheer? Head On Over to the Annual East L.A. Christmas Parade

November 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but that doesn’t matter to the thousands of people who will line up Sunday along iconic Whittier Boulevard to take in all the thrills and excitement of the Annual East Los Angeles Christmas Parade.

Parade celebrities will include: Boxing Champ and Golden Boys Promoter Oscar De La Hoya serving as Grand Marshal; Legendary Marshal, Radio DJ Art Laboe; Celebrity Marshal, Actor and Restaurateur Danny Trejo. From “Telemundo – Acceso Total,” host Stephanie Himonidis, Weather Anchor Michelle Trujillo and stars from the upcoming Telenovela “Sangre de mi Tierra.”

2016 East LA Christmas Parade on Whittier Boulevard attracted 70,000 spectators. (EGP Archive Photo)

2016 East LA Christmas Parade on Whittier Boulevard attracted 70,000 spectators. (EGP Archive Photo)

Joining the celebration from ABC7 are Co-anchor Ellen Leyva, Weathercaster Danny Romero and Reporter Coleen Sullivan; Mandril from Radio Centro 93.9 FM, J Cruz from Power 106, CeCe from 93.5 KDAY, Anthony Citric Campos, William Garza, Thee Midniters, Violeta Martin, Richard Yniguez, Thee Commons, Leyo and many others!

And of course, what would a Christmas Parade be without an appearance by the jolly old man himself, Santa Claus.

For 35 years, the storied East LA Christmas Parade was one of the largest and longest running Christmas parades that focused on the Latino community. Then, in 2009, to the dismay of the community –which we should point out included people from all over Los Angeles County and points beyond – financial woes and other issues shut the parade down for the next 6 years.

Oscar De La Hoya (EGP Archive Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Oscar De La Hoya (EGP Archive Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Not to be held down, in 2016 the East Los Angeles Christmas made a triumphant return thanks to the support of many local education, government, and business partners, according to organizers, who said 70,000 people took in the 2016 festivities.

“New life has been brought into a cherished event that celebrates the community and the holiday season,” say organizers, who add that a special thank you is owed to Los Angeles County Supervisor Supervisor Hilda L. Solis “for supporting the parade as its Presenting Partner, and making the return of the East LA Christmas Parade possible.”

This year the parade promises to be even more spectacular, with dozens of talented local bands, drill teams, singers, folklorico dancers, lowriders, equestrian units, floats, and dignitaries joining celebrities for the trip down the historic Whittier Boulevard Shopping District, and on through the heart of East L.A.

ABC7 Co-anchor Ellen Leyva, Reporter Coleen Sullivan and Weathercaster Danny Romero will be among the celebrities taking part in the 2017 East LA Christmas Parade.

ABC7 Co-anchor Ellen Leyva, Reporter Coleen Sullivan and Weathercaster Danny Romero will be among the celebrities taking part in the 2017 East LA Christmas Parade.

The parade starts at 12 p.m., for its approximately three-hour long march down Whittier Boulevard. You can catch the entire parade from any spot along the route from Eastern Avenue to Goodrich Boulevard. Festivities continue at the East LA Parade Festival at the end of the parade route. where live entertainment and vendors will be selling food until the festival closes at 5p.m

For more information, visit the East Los Angeles Christmas Parade on Facebook.

Remembering Vets With Monuments and Jobs

November 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In 1938 the U.S. Congress made November 11 a national holiday to honor veterans who fought in World War I. Formerly known as Armistice Day, veterans service organizations urged Congress to expand the honor to all veterans by replacing the word “armistice” with “veterans,” which they did in 1954.

In the 79 years since, the country has continued to honor men and women who have served in the military. It’s a tradition being played out again this week in neighborhoods and cities all across Los Angeles County.

At parades and carnivals, job fairs and somber memorials, people will celebrate the bravery and the sacrifice made by U.S. veterans as a community, including in Northeast Los Angeles where a World War II Medal of Honor recipient will have a memorial monument dedicated in his honor on a local high school campus.

For some veterans, the day is a time to reflect on their own service.

“The Marines made me the man I am today,” said Pedro Barajas, who grew up in the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Cypress Park and graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in Highland Park in 1986.

Now 50-years-old, Barajas told EGP that for him Veterans Day is a time to proudly remember his fours years as a Marine and the “brothers” with whom he served.

“Coming home, I had the resources and support to transition back to civilian life,” said Barajas, who served in the Marines from 1988 to 1992.

But not everyone had the same support, he said, telling EGP stories of veterans who struggled to find jobs and to overcome financial hardships.

A monument to recognize World War II Medal of Honor recipient Sadao S. Munemori will be placed on the campus of his alma mater, Lincoln High School in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Lincoln Heights. (Smithsonian archive photo)

A monument to recognize World War II Medal of Honor recipient Sadao S. Munemori will be placed on the campus of his alma mater, Lincoln High School in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Lincoln Heights. (Smithsonian archive photo)

Recognizing veterans for their service is an important cause for Vera Padilla, treasurer of the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council. She recalls meeting Vietnam veterans who felt they had received little support or recognition from their neighbors. Padilla told EGP that in 2011 she organized a meeting of local groups to discuss how they could honor veterans who live in Lincoln Heights. It was a very personal cause for her, said Padilla, whose brother and sister served in the U.S Marines and Navy respectively.

The groups decided to recognize the service of local vets with a plaque at Lincoln High School, said Padilla, who graduated from Lincoln in 1964. “The majority of the veterans are from the community,” Padilla points out. “We felt the high school was the best place to honor them.”

The plaque is prominently displayed in front of the school auditorium.

Today, the neighborhood council and community will honor Lincoln High Class of 1940 graduate Sadao S. Munemori who was killed in action in Seravezza, Italy in 1945 during WWII

The son of Japanese immigrants, Army Private First Class Munemori was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that is only awarded to members of the military who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor.

Munemori is credited with diving on a grenade that was “rolling toward his helpless comrades.” He “smothered its blast with his body,” saving “the lives of two of his men at the cost of his own life,” according to the record of his commendation.

“A monument is a way to properly honor him and instill pride and inspiration in students at Lincoln,” says Padilla.

On Wednesday, the current plight of veterans was acknowledged with the opening of a new job training and placement center not far from where thousands of veterans live on the streets in downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County opened a new job training and placement center for veterans Wednesday at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Office of Sup. Hilda Solis)

Los Angeles County opened a new job training and placement center for veterans Wednesday at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Office of Sup. Hilda Solis)

Located in the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, the Los Angeles County Veterans America’s Job Center (Veterans AJCC) provides employment and training services tailored to meet the needs of veterans and their families.

First District Supervisor Hilda Solis told EGP via email that the opening is in keeping with the County’s growing emphasis on workforce development for priority populations, like veterans.

There is nothing more important than ensuring that veterans are able to access the resources they need to transition their experience, interests, and skills to civilian life, Solis said.

“This is the County’s way of giving back to our Veterans, who have sacrificed so much for us.”

The dedication of the Sadao S. Munemori Memorial is open to the public and will take place from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Lincoln High School: 3510 N. Broadway, Los Angeles 90031.


Relatives Caring for Foster Children Need Help Making Ends Meet

November 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to try and find a way to offer longer-term funding to relatives caring for foster children and awaiting state approvals under a new system.

The county’s child welfare agency has pushed hard to find relatives to care for children removed from their parents’ homes after reports of abuse or neglect, aiming to minimize upset and maximize consistency for those kids.

But state reforms instituting new approvals for foster parents require hours of training and multiple interviews before families can receive foster care funding.

The Department of Children and Family Services provides a temporary $400 stipend to relative caregivers for up to three months to try and bridge that gap. But approvals are taking longer, leading Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl to ask staffers to look at whether monies could be provided beyond the 90-day period.

“In comparison to non-relative foster parents, relatives caring for foster children tend to be older, have lower incomes and be in poorer health,” Solis said. “With a shortage of foster homes, I hope today’s action will give families the financial support to help care for their relatives.”

Foster families — some of whom are asked to take in two or three siblings with little to no warning — praised the move.

“Two years ago, my wife and I decided to try to get custody of my siblings,” said Imrith Martinez, who said the stipend helped him pay for uniforms and school supplies for the three younger children. “The power that you have today to pass this motion can affect a lot of families.”

Susan Abrams of the Children’s Law Center said California’s Continuum of Care Reform had “very serious unintended consequences,” and described relatives calling her office crying and desperate about their inability to take care of their nieces, nephews and grandchildren.

The motion also directed staffers to review how state approvals might be expedited.

“Both are critical to make sure that families are not suffering,” said Elise Weinberg, a policy attorney with the Alliance for Children’s Rights.

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