Angélica María Recibe Estrella en el Paseo de la Fama en Hollywood

May 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

La actriz y cantante mexicana Angélica María recibió la estrella número 2,582 en el Paseo de la Fama de el miércoles, en honor a una carrera en cine, televisión, teatro y música.

“Esta estrella en el Paseo de la Fama de Hollywood la merecía hace mucho tiempo”, dijo el concejal José Huizar en la ceremonia frente al edificio de Live Nation en el bulevar Hollywood.

“Usted representan lo mejor de México. Para los que vivimos en este país, cuando nos fijamos en usted, usted nos recuerdan a nuestro país de origen – la belleza, la estrella, el cine – y por eso le damos las gracias”.

Angélica María recibió su estrella acompañada de su hija Angélica Vale y sus dos nietos. (Cortesía de concejal José Huizar)

Angélica María recibió su estrella acompañada de su hija Angélica Vale y sus dos nietos. (Cortesía de concejal José Huizar)

La estrella está cerca de la primera casa de Angélica María en Hollywood, que estaba en la avenida Formosa, Angélica Vale, hija de Angélica María y actriz, cantante y comediante.

“ Realmente no puedo imaginar la cantidad de veces que caminaste esta calle con mi abuela, sin saber tu nombre estaría escrito en la banqueta”, dijo Vale.

Angélica María nació en Nueva Orleans y se trasladó a México con su familia cuando tenía 4 años de edad. Ella comenzó su carrera en el cine cuando tenía 5 años y ganó el Ariel, premio de la Academia de cine de México, cuando tenía 8 años de en 1952 por “Mi esposa y la Otra”.

Angélica María ha aparecido en 61 películas, más de 25 telenovelas, 17 de producciones teatrales y ha grabado 63 álbumes.

Angélica María es protagonista con Sela Ward y Nick Nolte en la serie de comedia “Graves”, que pronto estará al aire en la red de cable premium EPIX.

‘Clean Up Green Up’ Measure Approved Benefits Boyle Heights

April 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council last week unanimously approved an anti-pollution measure that will benefit the communities of Boyle Heights, Pacoima/Sun Valley and Wilmington, currently known as “toxic hotspots.”

These neighborhoods experience cumulative environmental health impacts due to their close proximity to concentrated industrial and transportation pollution sources. The Clean Up Green Up initiative aims to reduce pollution and revitalize these neighborhoods, states the ordinance.

In Boyle Heights, for example, the community is dissected by at least six major freeways–Golden State (I-5), Hollywood (U.S. Route 101), Pomona (SR 60), San Bernardino (I-10), Santa Ana (I-5), and Santa Monica (I-10)–and pollution is a big concern.

Studies have shown that people living in toxic hotspots neighborhoods endure elevated risk of asthma, cancer, heart disease and other chronic afflictions, all related to living with high levels of local industrial emissions.

The Clean Up Green Up ordinance is a groundbreaking effort where the City of Los Angeles is saying “we want to do more to protect our most vulnerable communities from pollution while offering up green solutions for businesses,” said Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes Boyle Heights.

“I am particularly proud of our efforts to improve air filtration systems citywide, said Huizar who championed the program five years ago with former councilmembers Janice Hahn and Richard Alarcón and supporters at Breed Street Elementary School. “This will protect children and families who live near freeways for years to come,” he said.

Through the years, Huizar oversaw its implementation as the Chair of the Planning and Land Use Management.

Rick Coca, Huizar’s spokesperson, told EGP that Whittier and Olympic Boulevards as well as Clarence and Mission Road are clear examples of where residential, schools and parks co-exist with industrial companies.

Groups supporting the Clean Up Green Up measure gathered at Breed Street Elementary School before the City Council voting last week. (Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

Groups supporting the Clean Up Green Up measure gathered at Breed Street Elementary School before the City Council voting last week. (Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

The measure requires that new projects within 1,000 feet of a freeway to use air filtration systems strong enough to keep out harmful emissions.

The rule also applies to existing homes and businesses that are changing out heating and air conditioning systems.

The ordinance also calls for a 500-foot buffer between auto shops and homes, and also address landscaping, lighting, building height, the orientation of parking lots, fencing and enclosures for stored materials and pollutants like dust, smoke and fumes.

Elizabeth Blaney, member of Union de Vecinos in Boyle Heights, told EGP the group has supported the measure from day one and helped to get it passed.

She said that the measure only impacts specific priority industries that are listed in the ordinance. It does not directly affect all businesses.

“Clean Up Green Up will impact new businesses that want to come into Boyle Heights and existing businesses that want to expand,” she said.

Coca said the councilman is proud of his work because the policy represents a major shift in how the City plans for the future construction near freeways. “The benefits to that part of the policy are citywide,” he added.

Blaney said that the City set up an ombudsman office to streamline permitting, coordinate inspections by various government agencies, and assist businesses with accessing resources to use green technology or other mechanisms to reduce any pollution their business may cause.

“This is about partnering and working with businesses and not to shut them down,” she said.

The City’s Bureau of Sanitation will hire the full-time ombudsperson to act as a liaison to businesses, to connect them to existing programs and resources that include local, state and federal programs, Coca said.

“The ombudsperson will help coordinate with that enforcement staff and with others from across multiple jurisdictions such as LAFD, Watershed Protection Division, County Health Department, AQMD, and even CalEPA’s Environmental Justice Division,” he said.

Just in December, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced criminal charges against five Boyle Heights metal plating businesses, with allegations ranging from improperly disposing of hazardous materials to metal dust contamination outside of the business, which eventually affected the nearby residences.

Feuer said their office is “intensifying our focus on environmental justice, deepening our partnerships with state and local agencies and committing ourselves to rid underserved communities of pollution that no one should have to tolerate.”

The companies that received misdemeanor charges are; Nature’s Design, Bronze-Way Plating Corporation, Grana Industrial Finishers Inc., California Electroplating Inc. and Chromal Plating. Four of them, within two or three blocks form each other and less than a mile distance from the 5 Freeway.

Also, a report by the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center at USC found out that freeways and other busy roadways are a fact of life for many people in Southern California, with half of Los Angeles County, nearly 8 million people, living within a mile of a freeway, and a million within 100 meters.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement that Clean Up Green Up is a cutting edge policy that will help protect the public health of the residents of some the most polluted neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

“Thanks to this ordinance, residents in Pacoima, Boyle Heights and Wilmington will get the tools to reduce pollution, support economic development, and improve public spaces,” said Garcetti.

Coca said the ordinance is expected to take effect 45 days after the Mayor signs it.

“We expect him to sign it this week,” he told EGP.

York Park One Year Later

March 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s been one year since a small neighborhood park opened to the public in Highland Park.

Located on the corner of York Boulevard and Avenue 50, York Park was designed with input from the community.

There are not many parks or open spaces in the neighborhood, so people were excited when the park opened. At the grand opening, children could be seen running around, enjoying everything the park has to offer.

At just one-third of an acre in size, the park still attracts a lot of people. A year of use, however, has led some park-goers to now say there are issues with the design. They say there are things not needed in a child-friendly park, and believe it could be made better.

The park was designed as part of the York Vision Plan, a blueprint for improving York Boulevard for residents, businesses, walkers, bicyclists and commuters.

A committee of volunteers worked with Councilman Jose Huizar’s Office on the plan. They held meetings in the community to find out what people in the area wanted most, and a park made the list.

EGP recently sat down with some park-users to discuss their views on the final design and found opinions are split.
Gloria Hernandez, a mother of three young children, visited the park for the first time with her sister. She looked around and said she doesn’t “adore” its layout.

“This reminds me of the park at home except this one has fewer things, but more colorful” she said. “Where are the swings?”

Highland Park resident Maria Ramirez said she brings her two children to the park almost every day after school. She also wishes the park had swings.

“That exercise area is not needed, it’s a park, not a gym,” she complained. “Instead of that area being for machines it should’ve been swings,” she told EGP. “My children have gotten hurt using the machines,” she explained.

Father of three, Jose Sanchez, disagrees. “I like the exercise machines,” he said. “I get to exercise while watching my children,” he added. “This park is too small for swings.”

Several people said they believe the space for the park’ small amphitheater could have been put to better use.

Children swing from the playground at York Park. (EGP Photo by Gisela Jimenez)

Children swing from the playground at York Park. (EGP Photo by Gisela Jimenez)

Yolanda Nogueira’s family has owned the brick building across from the park since 1964. She was on the committee that helped design the park. According to Noguiera, city engineers took the committee’s ideas and came up with 8 possible designs for the community to vote on.

“We voted on the swings, we definitely wanted swings in this small park,” she told EGP, agreeing with current park-users who want to see them added.

“There was certain equipment we voted on that didn’t get put in,” but should have, said Noguiera.

EGP reached out to Councilman Huizar to ask if changes could be made at the park, such as adding swings.

The councilman told EGP he is not aware of any big concerns about the park design. He pointed out that several workshops were held to give the community a chance to share their ideas. “We also had the survey where people got to vote for their favorite design after we had an idea of what it would be like,” the councilman said.

“So, the community designed the park, it was for the community.”

Creating a park on the site of a former gas station was challenging and pricey, Huizar stressed.

“When I first heard the community wanted the park there at first I thought, ‘Wow, this may not be possible.’ I realized it was going to be pricey and we would have a long process to building everything,” the councilman told EGP.

The councilman donated money from his discretionary funds to hire a grant writer to apply for Proposition 84 state park funding, which was received.

“Yes, we are open to new ideas but we do have to keep in mind that it will cost.” Huizar said.
“We [would just] have to figure out where the money would come from.”

Gisela Jimenez is a senior at Academia Avance Charter School in Highland Park. She is interning at Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews as part of the school’s “Work Educational Experience Project.”

$5M Secured to Make Streets Safer Near Schools

March 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Walking or bicycling to school could get safer for eastside students under a street improvement plan outlined last week during an open house at Boyle Heights City Hall.

Speed humps, curb extensions, high visibility crosswalks and roundabouts are some of the improvements planned near Breed Street and Sheridan Street Elementary schools as part of the Safe Routes to Schools initiative.

Lea este artículo en Español: $5 Millones Asegurados para Arreglar Calles

The office of local Councilman Jose Huizar and the Los Angeles Dept. of Transportation (LADOT) hosted the public event, which included displays showing where and what types of changes are in the works for Breed and St. Louis Streets, from Sheridan Street to 6th Street, and along Soto Street from Wabash to 8th Street. The streets run parallel and are all within a one-quarter mile radius of the “High Injury Network (HIN)”, Los Angeles streets with the highest concentration of traffic collisions that result in injury or death with an emphasis on those involving pedestrians or cyclists.

The Safe Routes to Schools program is an effort between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the city’s transportation department to make travel safer for students going to and from schools. Over 500 LA Unified schools were looked at and the top 50 schools in need of improvement — based on such factors as the number of students living within walking or cycling distance of the school, number of traffic collisions in the area and “burdened with the poorest health outcomes and economic conditions” – were identified.

In Boyle Heights, Breed and Sheridan Elementary schools made the list.

Huizar worked with the transportation department to secure $5 million in funding from the California Dept. of Transportation Active Transportation Program to pay for improvements, which, according to Boyle Heights resident Veronica Bañuelos, are long overdue.

Bañuelos told EGP residents have been asking for safety improvements along St. Louis Street for years. “We live in a very dangerous area,” she said in Spanish, noting that she has witnessed multiple accidents on the street in the same week.

There are no stop signs on St. Louis Street between Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and 4th Street and cars speed through the area without stopping for pedestrians, she said. “We requested a stop sign but we did not get a response from the councilman,” until now, she said, happy to see the changes coming to the area.

Union de Vecinos members ask questions about the improvements in Boyle Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Union de Vecinos members ask questions about the improvements in Boyle Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Boyle Heights resident and Union de Vecinos (Union of Neighbors) member Maria Benitez said the community had grown frustrated by what she claims was Huizar’s lack of response and his failure to show up for scheduled meetings with the community group.

Huizar spokesman Rick Coca disputed the characterization of his boss as unresponsive. In an emailed statement, Coca said the councilman’s staff has met regularly with Union de Vecinos “to strategize and work on important issues in our community.” The councilman himself met with the group in the fall of 2015, Coca said, adding that the improvements outlined in the new initiative directly  “address the concerns outlined by Union de Vecinos and others.”

Another Union de Vecinos member, Juan Estrada, at the open house complained that the area is just to “overpopulated and cars don’t respect pedestrians.”

Taking in the proposed changes, Estrada said he would like to see the speed limit lowered through the area and more stop signs on other residential streets.

For some people, especially children and the disabled elderly, crossing some streets can be “suicidal,” Estrada said.

The intersection at Cesar Chavez and Soto Street is one of the most dangerous zones in the area, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

The HIN data show that collisions involving people walking or bicycling are 2.5 higher than the citywide average. There have been 44 collision-related injuries, including two fatalities involving pedestrians and bicyclists along Soto Street, between Wabash Avenue and 8th Street.

L.A.’s transportation department estimates about 60% of Breed and Sheridan students walk to school daily.

Margot R. Ocañas, pedestrian coordinator with LADOT, told EGP the goal of the program is to improve safety for people walking to school through enhanced street engineering, traffic enforcement and safety education.

“This neighborhood has a high density of students who do walk and bicycle so it is very imperative that we address concerns about traffic safety and put in what we call safety measures,” she said.

On Soto Street, for example, traffic signals will be installed at  Boulder Street and 3rd Street. Bike “safety zones” will be added on Breed Street and on St. Louis.

To slow traffic down, nine speed humps will be added on St. Louis Street and ten on Breed Street, between Sheridan Street and 6th Street.

Huizar said in a statement that he’s proud to be partnering with transportation officials in this much-needed project.

“Protecting our children is every parent’s biggest priority and these upgrades will help bring profound safety improvements to students and families in our community,” he said.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in January 2017 with completion set for late 2018.


Twitter @jackiereporter

Limpieza de Contaminación de Exide es el ‘Primer Paso’

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Durante años las comunidades que rodean a la actualmente cerrada planta Exide Technologies en Vernon han estado luchando para ser escuchadas; primero para forzar la clausura de la planta, después para asegurar una rápida limpieza a fondo de los barrios contaminados por las emisiones tóxicas—algo que muchos creen se estancó debido a la falta de financiación y un sentido de urgencia por parte de oficiales estatales.

Sin embargo, el miércoles el gobernador de California, Jerry Brown dio un paso histórico al abordar la contaminación de Exide proponiendo el gasto de $176,6 millones para acelerar y ampliar pruebas y la limpieza de viviendas, escuelas, guarderías y parques en un radio de 1,7 millas alrededor de la planta de reciclaje de baterías.

Read this article in English: Activists Call Funds for Exide Cleanup Just the ‘First Step’

El plan de gasto multimillonario se detalla en una carta al Senado del Estado de California y a los presidentes del Presupuesto de la Asamblea y del Comité de Asignaciones. Los fondos estarán bajo la forma de un préstamo del Fondo General, y California “vigorosamente perseguirá a Exide y otras partes responsables potenciales para recuperar los costos de esta limpieza”, según la carta del gobernador.

“Esta planta de reciclaje de baterías Exide ha sido un problema desde hace mucho tiempo”, dijo el gobernador Brown en su primera declaración pública sobre Exide. “Con este plan de financiación, estamos abriendo un nuevo capítulo que ayudará a proteger a la comunidad y hacer responsable a Exide”.

Bárbara Lee, directora del Departamento de Control de Sustancias Tóxicas (DTSC) del estado le dijo a reporteros el miércoles que la nueva financiación permitirá a DTSC a contratar a personal adicional para examinar las propiedades restantes en la zona de contaminación y remover el suelo contaminado de 2.500 propiedades marcadas como prioridad.

Actualmente, DTSC sólo tiene dos equipos asignados para la descontaminación a gran escala, pero Lee dijo el miércoles que ese numero podría aumentar hasta por 40 grupos limpiando una propiedad por semana cada uno.

Funcionarios electos y activistas se reunieron afuera de la iglesia de la Resurrección para celebrar la acción tomada por el gobernador sobre Exide. (EGP foto por Nancy Martínez)

Funcionarios electos y activistas se reunieron afuera de la iglesia de la Resurrección para celebrar la acción tomada por el gobernador sobre Exide. (EGP foto por Nancy Martínez)

El gobernador, junto a agencias estatales encargadas de velar por la limpieza de la contaminación generalizada, han sido criticados fuertemente por los residentes, activistas ambientales y funcionarios electos estatales y locales decepcionados con la reacción del Estado a una “epidemia” que ha contaminado hasta 10.000 hogares y expuesto hasta 2 millones de personas en el este y sureste de Los Ángeles a niveles tóxicos de plomo, arsénico y otros químicos.

Mientras algunos aplauden la propuesta del gobernador, la decisión es agridulce.

“Nuestras comunidades han estado luchado durante décadas contra Exide, y con el anuncio de hoy del gobernador Brown, está claro que ha escuchado nuestras llamadas para una limpieza rápida y completa”, dijo Mark López, director ejecutivo de East Yards Comunidades para la Justicia Ambiental.

López dijo que la financiación no es suficiente para completar la limpieza, sino que es el “siguiente paso hacia un largo camino a la justicia en este tema”, después de años de no proteger a la comunidad de Exide y enviar un mensaje claro de que la limpieza será ahora una prioridad para el estado.

El líder del Senado Kevin de León aplaudió al gobernador por el reconocimiento de la “necesidad urgente” de acción de emergencia. Conversaciones en curso con la oficina del gobernador llevaron a lo que ocurrió este día, dijo el senador. “La legislación Urgencia” para apropiar los fondos que se introducirán dentro de la próxima semana más o menos, De León le dijo a los reporteros.

Eso es una buena noticia para los residentes de Boyle Heights quienes el lunes le dijeron a EGP que se habían cansado de asistir a reuniones, y sintieron que era el momento de obtener el peso del gobierno federal detrás de ellos después de no ver ninguna acción real por años de parte de sus funcionarios elegidos.

“Necesitamos que el gobierno federal saque a DTSC fuera de la ecuación y manejen [el problema] ellos mismos”, dijo Terry Cano el lunes.

“Creo que ellos creen que si cierran los ojos y lo ignoran, nosotros nos cansaremos”, dijo Joe González, quien dice que tiene cáncer y tan sólo dos meses de vida.

La comunidad culpa a las agencias reguladoras estatales por permitir a Exide que operara durante 33 años bajo un permiso temporal, a la vez que violaba pese a las reiteradas violaciones de las emisiones contaminantes del aire y el manejo de los residuos o años peligrosos, arrojando niveles tóxicos de plomo, arsénico y otras sustancias químicas que pueden producir cáncer y enfermedades neurológicas en las comunidades de la clase trabajadora en su mayoría de Boyle Heights, Maywood, Commerce, Bell, Huntington Park y el Este de Los Ángeles.

El viernes pasado, diciendo que ya estaba impacientado con DTSC, el concejal de Los Ángeles José Huizar entrometió una resolución firmada por cinco de sus colegas instando al Estado a actuar con rapidez para asignar fondos. Huizar, quien representa y el mismo es un residente de Boyle Heights, también pidió que el abogado de la ciudad Mike Feuer explorara cualquiera de las opciones legales que tiene la ciudad.

Lee respondió a las críticas del gobernador el martes por la noche en una reunión del Comité de la Comunidad Asesor Independiente de Exide.

“Se ha pasado horas hablando de Exide, trabajando en lo que quiere proponer”, dijo, antes de aludir a un anuncio inminente.

Ayer, dijo a periodistas que la propuesta de Brown es un “gran peldaño” para el Estado y una indicación del grado de compromiso que el gobernador tiene con la limpieza.

De León dijo el miércoles que el estado trabajará en estrecha colaboración con el Procurador de EE.UU. para asegurar que Exide haga honor a su acuerdo para pagar la limpieza, o se enfrentan a cargos criminales federales.

La congresista Lucille Roybal-Allard imploró a legislaturas estatales que aprueben de inmediato los fondos para acelerar la limpieza.

“La salud y el bienestar de nuestras comunidades depende de una acción rápida y sostenida por el estado”, dijo. “Hasta la fecha, los esfuerzos del estado han sido peligrosamente lentos y con fondos insuficientes”.

La Ciudad de Commerce emitió un comunicado llamando a la contaminación un “desastre ambiental”, añadiendo que la pruebas y limpieza han sido un “proceso largo y arduo”. El martes, el Consejo pidió al personal que discuta con el estado expandir sus áreas de examen en Commerce.

La asambleísta Cristina García dijo que planea trabajar con sus colegas para crear una exención de CEQA necesarios para efectuar rápidamente las pruebas y limpieza de estas casas.

García y el asambleísta Miguel Santiago planean introducir una legislación proponiendo un impuesto de baterías.

“Esta medida crearía un programa de reciclaje de baterías de plomo-ácido (de carros) por el estado y tienen $1 de ese fondo para volver a pagar el programa de préstamo de $ 176,6 millones”, anunció.

Adicionalmente al examen y limpieza Lee explicó que parte de la financiación de los $176 millones también será utilizada para el desarrollo del personal y la capacitación para el empleo destinado a residentes locales y empresas para ayudar a revitalizar la comunidad. Lee también anunció que el estado está buscando la manera de mejorar la forma de gestionar los residuos y reducir la exposición de plomo, personal adicional está identificando actualmente cómo los fabricantes pueden hacer baterías más seguras para los seres humanos y el medio ambiente.

El anuncio de Brown se produjo después de que la Junta de Supervisores del condado de Los Ángeles votara para enviar una carta a Brown y a los líderes legislativos, pidiendo que se asignen más fondos para los esfuerzos de limpieza, diciendo que los $8.5 millones de dólares propuestos originalmente por el gobernador eran inadecuados.

“Durante mucho tiempo hemos visto dos Américas: una en la que los barrios ricos reciben ayuda inmediata y alivio. La otra América se compone de familias obreras pobres que sufren en silencio”, dijo Solís. “El anuncio de hoy del gobernador reconcilia estas dos Américas”.

La semana pasada por primera vez desde que asumió el cargo, el alcalde de Los Ángeles Eric Garcetti se reunió con algunos residentes de Boyle Heights decepcionados por la falta de acción en nombre de la ciudad.

Garcetti le dijo a EGP que ha dirigido a la Oficina de Saneamiento de LA a trabajar con líderes de la comunidad, Salud Pública del Condado y el DTSC para ayudar a las pruebas de avance y la limpieza y los planes para lanzar una campaña de educación pública para asegurar que más residentes sean analizados para determinar la contaminación por plomo.

“Nadie debería tener que vivir con el temor de riesgos graves para la salud en su propia casa y ningún niño debe ser despojado de la alegría de jugar en su propio patio”, Garcetti le dijo a EGP. “Los que viven en Boyle Heights y las comunidades de los alrededores merecen algo mejor”.

La directora adjunta de DTSC para la Justicia Ambiental y Asuntos Tribales Ana Mascareñas dijo que la agencia está considerando la realización de eventos a gran escala, tales como ferias de salud y centros abiertos de recursos para permitir que los residentes visiten y obtengan información sobre el proceso de limpieza.

Exide acordó en marzo cerrar su planta de reciclaje de baterías de plomo-ácido y pagar $50 millones para la limpieza del sitio y los barrios aledaños.

De esa cantidad, $26 de millones es para ser combinado con $11 millones que en la actualidad están en fideicomiso para cerrar con seguridad la planta, de acuerdo con el DTSC. En agosto, Exide, que se declaró en quiebra en 2013, había pagado $ 9 millones de dólares en un fideicomiso y otros $5 millones se deben pagar en marzo de 2020, según los funcionarios del Estado.

El residente de Boyle Heights Frank Villalobos le dijo a EGP que él estaba eufórico por el anuncio, pero señaló que los fondos sólo abordarán el impacto a la propiedad no a los permanentes daños que residentes enfrentan con las enfermedades causadas por la contaminación.

Por ahora, “nuestras oraciones han sido contestadas”, dijo. “El estado está ahora comenzando a mostrar preocupación”.


Twitter @nancyreporting

Exide: State to Fund $176M to Speed Up Testing, Cleanup

February 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For years, communities surrounding the now-shuttered Exide Technologies plant in Vernon have fought to be heard: first to force the closure of the facility and then to ensure a thorough, swift cleanup of neighborhoods contaminated by toxic emissions — something many believe was stalled due to a lack of funding and sense of urgency on the part of state officials.

On Wednesday, Gov. Brown at long last took a major step to address Exide’s contamination by proposing the state spend $176.6 million to expedite and expand testing and cleanup of residential properties, schools, daycare centers and parks in the 1.7-mile radius surrounding the battery recycling plant.

The multi-million dollar spending plan is detailed in a letter to the California State Senate and Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee chairs. The funds will be in the form of a loan from the General Fund, and California will “vigorously pursue Exide and other potential responsible parties to recover the costs of this cleanup,” according the governor’s office.

The now-closed Exide Technologies plant is located at 2700 South Indiana St. in Vernon. (Department of Toxic Substances Control)

The now-closed Exide Technologies plant is located at 2700 South Indiana St. in Vernon. (Department of Toxic Substances Control)

“This Exide battery recycling facility has been a problem for a very long time,” said Brown in his first public statement on Exide. “With this funding plan, we’re opening a new chapter that will help protect the community and hold Exide responsible.”

Barbara Lee, director of the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control told reporters Wednesday the new funding will allow DTSC to hire more staff to test the remaining properties in the contamination zone and to remove lead-tainted soil from 2,500 properties labeled highest priority.

So far, close to 200 homes in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Commerce, Maywood and Huntington Park have been cleaned since the plant was forced to close in April 2015, according to DTSC. Currently, DTSC only has two crews assigned to the large-scale decontamination, but Lee said that number could go up to as many as 40 crews cleaning at least one property each per week.

Senate leader Kevin de Leon applauded the governor for recognizing the “urgent need” for emergency action. Ongoing talks with the governor’s office led to this day, the senator said. “Urgency legislation” to appropriate the funding will be introduced within the next week or so, de Leon told reporters.

While the governor’s proposal is widely welcomed, it’s also bittersweet.

Especially for residents and environmental activists who for years heavily criticized Brown and state agencies overseeing the cleanup for their slow response to the Exide “epidemic,” which may have contaminated 10,000 homes and exposed as many as 2 million people in East and Southeast Los Angeles communities to toxic levels of lead, arsenic and other chemicals.

Brown’s long silence on Exide irked eastside residents who saw his rapid response to the SoCal Gas Co. gas leak in more affluent Porter Ranch and emergency declaration to marshal state resources to deal with the catastrophe as confirmation that there’s a double standard when it comes to the treatment of poor people and communities of color.

“Our communities have been fighting Exide for decades, and with today’s announcement from Governor Brown, it is clear he has heard our calls for swift and comprehensive cleanup,” said Mark Lopez, executive director of East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice.

Lopez, however, pointed out that the funding is not enough to complete the entire cleanup, but called it the “next step in the long road to justice on this issue” after the state failing for years protect the community from Exide. It sends a clear message that the cleanup will now be a priority for the state, Lopez said.

Brown’s proposal comes just two days after a group of Boyle Heights residents told EGP they had grown tired of attending meetings and hearings, and felt it was time to get the weight of the federal government behind them after seeing no real action for years from their elected officials.

“We need the federal government to take DTSC out of the equation and handle it themselves,” Terry Cano said Monday.

“I think they believe if they close their eyes and ignore it, we’ll just die out,” said Joe Gonzalez, who says he has cancer and just two months to live.

They blame state regulatory agencies for allowing Exide to operate for 33 years on a temporary permit, all the while spewing toxic levels of lead, arsenic and other chemicals known to cause cancer and neurological diseases and learning disabilities in the mostly working-class communities.

Last Friday, saying he too had grown impatient with DTSC, Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar intruded a resolution signed by five of his colleagues urging the state to move quickly to allocate funding. Huizar, who represents and is himself a resident of Boyle Heights, also asked that City Atty. Mike Feuer explore what if any legal options the city has.

Huizar said Wednesday the much-needed funds “do right by communities that for so long suffered undue harm because of Exide’s negligence and a complicit state agency that failed to regulate the battery recycling company,” He’s looking forward to seeing a timeline that spells out when testing and remediation will start and how long it will take.

Lee responded to criticism of the governor Tuesday night at a meeting of the Independent Exide Community Advisory Committee.

“He’s spent hours talking about Exide, working on what he wants to propose,” she said before alluding to an impending announcement.

Yesterday she told reporters Brown’s proposal is a “big milestone” for the state and an indication of how committed the governor is to the cleanup.

DTSC workers clean a Boyle Heights home. (DTSC)

DTSC workers clean a Boyle Heights home. (DTSC)

De Leon said Wednesday that the state would work closely with the U.S. Attorney to ensure Exide lives up to its agreement to pay for the cleanup, or face federal criminal charges.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard implored state legislatures to immediately approve funding to expedite the cleanup.

“The health and well-being of our communities depends on swift and sustained action by the state,” she said. “To date, the state’s effort has been dangerously slow and underfunded.”

The city of Commerce released a statement calling the contamination an “environmental disaster,” adding the testing and cleanup has been a “long and arduous process.” On Tuesday, the council asked staff to discuss with the state expanding its targeted areas in Commerce.

“This long-fought victory is a result of Assembly, Senate and local officials working together to raise the fierce urgency of this issue to the Governor,” said Assembly Speaker-Elect Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) said in response the Brown’s proposal.

Rendon also singled out Assemblymembers “Miguel Santiago and Cristina Garcia for their relentless devotion to restoring justice to East and Southeast L.A. residents victimized by the illegal behavior of Exide management.”

Garcia said Wednesday she plans to work with her colleagues to create a necessary CEQA exemption to expedite the testing and cleanup of these homes.

Garcia and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago also plan to introduce legislation to mandate a fee on car batteries sold in California.

“This measure would create a state mandated Lead-Acid (Car) Battery Recycling program, and have $1 from that fund go to re-pay the $176.6 million loan program,” she announced.

In addition to testing and cleanup, Lee said some of the $176 million would go toward workforce development and job skills training for local residents and businesses to help revitalize the community. Lee also announced the state is looking at ways to improve how they manage waste and reduce the exposure of lead, adding staff is currently identifying how manufacturers can make batteries safer for humans and the environment.

Brown’s announcement came after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to send a letter to the governor and legislative leaders, calling for them to allocate more funding for the cleanup effort, saying the $8.5 million originally proposed by the governor was inadequate.

“For too long we have seen two Americas: one in which affluent neighborhoods get immediate help and relief. The other America is made up of poor working-class families who silently suffer,” Solis said. “Today’s announcement from the Governor reconciles these two Americas.”

Last week for the first time since taking office, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti met with Boyle Heights residents disappointed by the city’s lack of action on their behalf.

Garcetti told EGP he has directed the L.A. Bureau of Sanitation to work with community leaders, County Public Health and DTSC to help advance testing and cleanup and plans to launch a public education effort to ensure that more residents are tested for lead contamination.

“No one should have to live in fear of serious health risks from their own home and no child should be robbed of the joy of playing in their own backyard,” Garcetti told EGP. “Those who live in Boyle Heights and the surrounding communities deserve better.”

DTSC’s Assistant Director for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs Ana Mascareñas said the agency is considering holding large-scale events such as health fairs and opening resource centers to allow residents to drop in and get information about the cleanup process.

Exide agreed in March 2015 to close its lead-acid battery recycling plant and pay $50 million for cleanup of the site and surrounding neighborhoods.

Of that amount, $26 million is to be combined with $11 million currently in trust to safely close the plant, according to DTSC. As of August, Exide, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013, had paid $9 million into a trust and another $5 million is due to be paid in by March 2020, according to state officials.

Longtime Boyle Heights resident Frank Villalobos told EGP he was elated by the announcement but pointed out the funds will only address the impact to property and not the permanent damage residents face with illnesses caused by the contamination.

For now, “our prayers have been answered,” he said. “The state is now starting to show concern.”

Exide: L.A. Councilman Makes Move to Step In

February 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Saying he’s lost confidence in the state agency overseeing the cleanup of toxic lead contamination from the now closed Exide plant in Vernon, Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar today introduced legislation to urge Gov. Brown and the State Legislature to move quickly to protect the health and safety of families in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles and Southeast cities.

Huizar, who represents and is himself a resident of Boyle Heights, said he’s grown impatient with the California Department of Toxic Substances Controls’ “snails pace” in handling of testing and cleanup of the estimated 10,000 homes in the contamination zone.

“We are tired of asking for assistance,” Huizar said during a news conference at City Hall. “We cannot leave this responsibility to DTSC anymore.”

Boyle Heights residents join L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar, center, as he announces a resolution urging the governor and DTSC to expedite the Exide cleanup. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Boyle Heights residents join L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar, center, as he announces a resolution urging the governor and DTSC to expedite the Exide cleanup. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Huizar today introduced a resolution, also signed by several other members of the Council, that calls on the governor or Legislature to make sure DTSC has an adequate plan and funds to execute a full cleanup of lead and arsenic at homes surrounding the Exide plant.

The agency is currently taking public comments on the plan the decontaminate and dismantle the battery-recycling plant in Vernon, but has no complete plan for residential cleanup.

Huizar called the state’s lack of  urgency “astonishing,” given that this “is causing deaths and future harm to our children, and quite frankly a lot of fear and a lot of questions that go unanswered.”

Huizar also introduced a motion at City Council asking City Atty. Mike Feuer to explore what legal options the city has to force the state to act, including the possibility of a lawsuit.

The motion also calls for the appropriate city departments to prepare and submit comment on DTSC’s Draft Environmental Impact Report on Exide’s proposed closure and decontamination plan before the March 28 deadline.

As many 100,000 residents from East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, Bell and Huntington Park are at higher-risk for neurological diseases, learning disabilities and cancer due to repeated exposure to levels of lead so high they can cause birth defects, learning disabilities, cancer, and other chronic health issues.

Huizar said he is especially concerned with the public right of ways and parks where thousands of families and children gather.

“The city should not be at odds with the state agency responsible for protecting the environmental well-being of the citizens of California,” Huizar said. “Unfortunately, it has come to that point.”

DTSC allowed Exide to operate for over 30 years on a temporary permit despite repeated violations of toxic chemical standards, Huizar said. Exide chose to permanently close the Vernon site after the company struck a deal with the U.S. Attorney’s office to avoid criminal prosecution.

“Governor Brown didn’t get us in this mess…but today we need the governor’s leadership to bring support and get us out of this mess,” he said.

“We need state agencies to treat this like the emergency it is,” he urged.

The councilman said he has little confidence Exide will pay for the cleanup given its bankruptcy status, so it’s going to be up to the State to allocate funding to expedite the cleanup process.

The hefty price tag to fully test and clean every property, which some estimates put as high as $400 million, is keeping DTSC from moving quickly, residents believe.

Exide had so far put up $9 million, the state $7 million and the County of Los Angeles has said it’s allocating $2 million to speed up testing.

According to DTSC, 496 properties have been sampled and a total of 752 access agreements have been signed by property owners. Only 193 homes have been cleaned so far.

Boyle Heights resident Terry Cano was at Huizar’s side when he introduced the resolution. She said a vast majority of people in her neighborhood are dying or living with cancer. She said high levels of lead where found in her home a year ago, but DTSC has yet to clean up the contamination.

“Don’t us as minorities matter, don’t our lives matter,” she asked. “We are victims of Exide and a failed state.”

DTSC Spokesman Sandy Nax told EGP the agency currently only has two crews working on cleanup. Each property takes about a week to be cleaned, limiting the cleanup to two homes per week.

Nax told EGP DTSC is committed to ensuring both the closure and cleanup are conducted in a safe and protective manner.

Cano said the state agency is “dragging their feet” to cleanup contamination that is killing people left and right and could “wipe out a whole minority of people,” she said, struggling to hold back tears.

“How can this be happening in the United States? In Los Angeles?”

As EGP first reported, eastside residents have been frustrated with what they say is a double standard in the state’s swift response to the gas leak in more affluent Porter Ranch. Whereas they’ve been waiting for years for the governor, Legislature and city to act to protect them, it only took Gov. Brown two months to issue a state of emergency in Porter Ranch.

Now that the Southern California Gas Co. gas leak has been temporarily controlled, Huizar said he hopes to see the same type of prompt response from the state in Boyle Heights, no matter how much the cleanup costs. He pointed to the state’s surplus as a source for funding.

“Yes we need to put some away for a rainy day,” said Huizar “But it’s a rainy day here.”

Update: 2-13-16 to remove repeated paragraph.

Street Improvement Projects in Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights Earmarked

February 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Street improvement projects in Eagle Rock and the Boyle Heights area were recently earmarked for almost $18 million in state and other funds, City Councilman Jose Huizar announced.

The funds will go toward “complete street” initiatives “that prioritize pedestrians and bicyclists as   much as automobiles, while also helping drive foot traffic to our main corridors,” Huizar said.

“I am extremely happy about the nearly $18 million we’ve recently secured,” he said. “I look forward to pursuing other funds to bring even more improvements to Council District 14.”

Eagle Rock is getting about $12 million, including a $9.8 million grant from the California Transportation Commission for a number of upgrades along Colorado Boulevard: pedestrian lighting between College View Avenue and Eagle Vista Avenue; curb extensions at 21 sites, including Townsend, Argus and Maywood; a flashing crosswalk at Eagle Rock Boulevard and Merton Avenue; a new sidewalk next to College View Avenue; street furniture; and bicycle striping.

A $2 million grant from the state’s Active Transportation Program was awarded to the Eagle Rock area, and will pay for medial islands on the westside of Eagle Rock Boulevard, a pair of new traffic signals at La Roda Avenue and Hermosa Avenue, and bus stop lighting.

Boyle Heights is receiving $6 million, including $5 million in Active Transportation Program grants for sidewalk work, pedestrian lighting between Pico Gardens housing and Sixth Street Bridge East Park, and a new signal at Fourth and Clarence streets.

Whittier Boulevard also will get $1 million in redevelopment funds for sidewalk repairs, though more funding is being identified.

In addition to the funding announced today, Boyle Heights had already received $2.55 million last year to build new sidewalks and bicycle amenities along Mission Road, from the Sixth Street Bridge to Seventh Street, and a roundabout.

These projects are set to begin construction early next year.

La Comunidad se Despide del Icónico Puente de la Calle Sexta

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

El puente de la Calle Sexta, un punto de enlace de Los Ángeles a Boyle Heights y famoso por sus apariciones en películas como “Grease”, “Fast and Furios” y “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, fue cerrado al tráfico el miércoles en preparación para su demolición la próxima semana.

Ingenieros de la ciudad están preparando el puente para el trabajo de demolición que está a punto de empezar el 5 de febrero y requerirá un cierre de 40 horas de la autopista Hollywood 101 este fin de semana.

Read this article in English: Sixth Street Bridge Closes Ahead of Demolition

El concejal José Huizar, cuyo distrito incluye el puente, tomó un “recorrido final” a lo largo del puente el miércoles por la mañana con el Ingeniero de la Ciudad Gary Lee Moore y el diseñador de su reemplazo, Michael Maltzan.

Para los residentes del Este de Los Ángeles que lo utilizaban para ir al trabajo al centro de Los Ángeles, el puente “representaba oportunidad”, Huizar le dijo a City News Service.

Huizar agregó que al igual que muchos de los residentes, esta “un poco triste, nostálgico, pero

al mismo tiempo optimista sobre el nuevo puente”.

El puente esta siendo reemplazado debido al deterioro causado por una reacción química en el concreto.

El nuevo diseño del puente incluye “hermosos miradores”, así como una plaza comunitaria debajo del puente que hará que sea “un punto de destino, no sólo un medio para atravesar el río”, dijo.

El concejal José Huizar junto al ingeniero Gary Lee Moore y el arquitencto Michael Malzan caminan por última vez el puente antes de su demolición. (Raymond Kwan, Ciudad de Los Ángeles)

El concejal José Huizar junto al ingeniero Gary Lee Moore y el arquitencto Michael Malzan caminan por última vez el puente antes de su demolición. (Raymond Kwan, Ciudad de Los Ángeles)

Un arco del puente viejo se conservará durante la demolición y será utilizado en el nuevo espacio abajo el puente, según Rick Coca, portavoz de Huizar.

El martes por la noche una multitud de unas 100 personas se reunieron en el puente para tomar fotos y ver un club de autos antiguos reunirse antes del cierre del puente. La reunión espontánea se dispersó después de que agentes de la policía de Los Ángeles forzaron a la gente a retirarse para que las cuadrillas de la ciudad pudieran comenzar la colocación de cercas para mantener la extensión libre.

Al menos una persona fue arrestada, pero la mayoría de la gente que visitó el puente estuvieron pacíficos y sólo querían conseguir fotos, dijo la policía.

Se espera que los trabajos de demolición duren unos nueve meses, continuando con un proyecto de $449 millones para construir un puente nuevo que es previsto a completarse tan pronto como en 2019.

El diseño de Maltzan del nuevo puente incluye referencias al puente actual, incluyendo 10 pares de arcos.

El puente fue construido en 1932 y se ha visto en docenas de películas, y una serie de músicos han grabado vídeos en o alrededor del puente, incluyendo Madonna, Chris Brown, Kanye West, Avril Lavigne y Foo Fighters.

Refugio de Invierno Abre sus Puertas en Highland Park

December 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Cuando tres hermanas indigentes escucharon que una iglesia en Highland Park pronto abriría un refugio por las noches, rápidamente fueron a comprobarlo. Después de todo, su única opción era continuar durmiendo en el piso de un baño público del parque Sycamore Grove.

Las bancas de la Iglesia All Saints Episcopal les dio la bienvenida con un saco de dormir, una almohada y algunos artículos de aseo.

La pequeña cocina improvisada les ofrece comida caliente mientras que ven películas en el proyector de la iglesia.

Read this article in English: Winter Shelter Opens in NELA

Han pasado más de dos semanas desde que las hermanas comenzaron su ritual nocturno para conseguir una banca en la iglesia—una mejora ante el aire libre y el piso de un baño.

“Es mucho mejor que dormir en el frío”, dice Hope, quien no quiso dar su apellido, de 56 años de edad. Las hermanas fueron de las primeras seis personas en obtener la admisión al refugio de la iglesia cuando se abrió el primero de diciembre.

En pocos días, el Centro de Acceso de Invierno estaba completamente lleno y algunas personas han sido rechazadas, dijo Rebecca Prine, directora voluntaria de Recycled Resources for the Homeless una organización sin fines de lucro de beneficencia pública en el noreste de Los Ángeles.

“Todo ha ido muy bien y nuestra pequeña comunidad está prosperando”, Prine le dijo a EGP. “Confiamos en la generosidad de otros en la comunidad”.

En septiembre, el alcalde Garcetti y los miembros del consejo de la ciudad declararon “estado de emergencia en la falta de vivienda” y comprometieron $100 millones para proporcionar vivienda permanente y transitoria a los necesitados.

Han pasado meses y activistas a favor de los indigentes se han impacientado ante la lenta respuesta de la ciudad.

Las temperaturas están bajando y las tormentas de El Niño están en camino, dijo Prine, explicando que Recycled Resources tuvo que intervenir después de no ver ninguna acción por parte del Consejo de la Ciudad.

El refugio de la iglesia en Highland Park abrió sus puertas el primero de diciembre. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El refugio de la iglesia en Highland Park abrió sus puertas el primero de diciembre. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Los consejos vecinales locales, negocios y voluntarios colaboraron para encontrar un lugar para sus vecinos indigentes. El  reverendo W. Clarke Prescott de la Iglesia All Saints Episcopal aceptó abrir la iglesia como un refugio temporal de invierno.

La iglesia cuenta con espacio para 30 personas por noche. Hay un pequeño espacio en el segundo piso para las personas con niños. Las mascotas también son bienvenidas.

Pero se necesita más ayuda, dijo Prine, criticando a las autoridades municipales por no actuar.

Representantes de la Agencia de Servicios para Desamparados de Los Ángeles (LAHSA) visitaron el refugio para evaluar su elegibilidad para fondos financieros.

En el conteo del 2015, LAHSA identificó más de 25.000 indigentes en la ciudad de Los Ángeles. En todo el Condado, la indigencia ha aumentado un 12% desde el conteo de 2013, de 39.461 a 44.359.

El lunes, la portavoz de LAHSA Kelli Pezzelle le dijo a EGP que la iglesia no cumple con los requisitos de las normas de seguridad de la agencia. Entre los problemas, las bancas son demasiado estrechas para ser utilizadas como camas y no hay extinguidores, dijo Pezzelle.

La agencia rechazó esta semana la solicitud de financiamiento para el Centro de Acceso del invierno, pero revirtió su decision el miércoles.

Según el portavoz del concejal Cedillo Fredy Ceja, su jefe envió una carta a LAHSA instando a la agencia a que reconsidere su decisión “dada la urgente necesidad de un refugio inmediato”.

La carta de Cedillo señaló que la iglesia “es el único refugio actualmente disponible para los indigentes del noreste de LA y el apoyo de LAHSA en este sitio ampliará el alcance de los servicios disponibles en la zona”.

Despues de la reversión de LAHSA, Cedillo dijo que “inmediatamente presentó una moción para poner el centro en la lista de refugios de invierno, asegurando protecciones bajo la crisis de refugios. Esto les permitirá obtener fondos de LAHSA y operar durante la temporada de invierno”, dijo el concejal en un comunicado de prensa.

El concejal José Huizar también intervino para apoyar el centro, obteniendo la aprobación del consejo que le permite transferir $20.000 en fondos discrecionales de su oficina para el refugio.

El miércoles el consejo de la ciudad también aprobó la moción que Cedillo introdujo el martes pidiendo al Departamento de Recreación y Parques que abra inmediatamente la Armería Bridewell en Highland Park—que se encuentra vacante—para servir como un refugio de invierno.

La petición de Cedillo se produce después de la aprobación del consejo de la moción del concejal José Huizar para asignar $12.5 millones de “ayuda inmediata para los indigentes, rápido realojamiento y refugios de invierno” en toda la ciudad.

El financiamiento incluye $10 millones para subsidios de “Realojamiento Rápido” para casi 1.000 indigentes para ayudarles con el alquiler o los costos de la mudanza. Los fondos restantes incrementarán camas en albergues en este invierno en más de un 50%—a un total de 1.300. Estas camas se destinarán a los que viven a orillas del río de Los Ángeles en Tujunga y Arroyo Seco.

“Mientras que parte de este dinero ayuda a preparar la infraestructura a largo plazo para hacer frente a la falta de vivienda, la mayor parte del dinero es para acciones inmediatas para ayudar a la gente a que no estén en las calles”, dijo Huizar.

El refugio se ha mantenido abierto con el apoyo de la comunidad. Los Consejos Vecinales de Highland Park y Eagle Rock han aprobado fondos para el centro: $1.000 y $4.000, respectivamente.

Aunque todo el mundo en el noreste de Los Ángeles está hablando de la falta de vivienda, nadie está haciendo nada al respecto, explicó el presidente del Consejo Vecinal de Eagle Rock, David Greene.

“Las Juntas Vecinales pueden y se deben ir a la vanguardia en temas que son demasiado políticos o demasiado locales para que el ayuntamiento y el alcalde los enfrenten de una manera oportuna”, le dijo a EGP. “Entonces, mientras que la ciudad de Los Ángeles busca cómo encontrar y gastar los millones de dólares en su ‘guerra contra la falta de vivienda’, el ERNC vio una manera de hacer algo acerca de la situación inmediatamente en el noreste de LA”.

Las personas donan comida caliente, ropa, libros y alimentos para mascotas; voluntarios manejan el refugio que esta abierto de 7pm a 8am.

Nereida Vazquez (der.) junto a su mamá y a su hija en la apertura del refugio en la iglesia de Highland Park. Vazquez se enorgullece que su hija sea voluntaria en algunas ocasiones. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Nereida Vazquez (der.) junto a su mamá y a su hija en la apertura del refugio en la iglesia de Highland Park. Vazquez se enorgullece que su hija sea voluntaria en algunas ocasiones. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Para los afortunados en conseguir un sitio para pasar la noche en la iglesia, este se convierte en un refugio seguro y cálido del frío invierno.

Cada noche, la voluntaria Nereida Vázquez da la bienvenida a los residentes del refugio y a veces pasa la noche como auxiliar. Como ex drogadicta y víctima de violencia doméstica, Vásquez dice que sabe de primera mano el valor de tener un lugar para dormir, ya que ella fue indigente y el departamento de servicios a  familias le quito a sus hijos para dárselos a su madre.

Se siente muy bien estar ahora en un lugar donde se ayuda a los necesitados, le dijo a EGP.

Recycled Resources espera vincular a los participantes a los servicios de apoyo que necesitan para mejorar su situación antes de que el refugio temporal cierre en marzo.

Mónica Alcaraz, voluntaria con Recycled Resources y presidente de la junta vecinal de Highland Park, le dijo a EGP que evalúan la situación de cada visitante al refugio y le recomiendan la asistencia adecuada.

“Los casos son diferentes, algunos de ellos quieren solicitar una vivienda, otros necesitan documentación básica como una [identificación] o la tarjeta del seguro social”, dijo.

“Estoy orgullosa del trabajo que hemos sido capaces de hacer como comunidad y para nuestra comunidad”, dijo Prine.

Según Hope, Recycled Resources la ha ayudado a ella y a sus hermanas a solicitar para la vivienda de Sección 8 y esperan ser aceptadas antes del cierre del refugio.

“No somos malas personas, simplemente vivimos en las calles y necesitamos ayuda”, dijo con sentimiento de tristeza.

“Pero sé que pronto voy a salir de esta situación”.

Para saber más acerca del refugio y como ayudar visite


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