Tag Archives: homelessness

Banking on Food

More than 1.5 million Los Angeles residents are suffering from food insecurities. Many of those residents cannot afford to buy food for themselves and their families.

Los Angeles County has one of the largest food insecure populations in the United States. Food insecurity affects not only those who are living below the poverty line. Even families who live above the poverty line deal with the expense of groceries. Hunger can cause people to lose their balance, not function appropriately and effectively, and experience emotional, physical and mental problems.

“Food is an important thing,” M.E.N.D (Meet Each Need with Dignity) Food Bank Director Richard Weinroth said. “[It’s] more than just dinner. When there is no food, life is a struggle. Food is a powerful thing.”

Hunger may threaten nearly 50 percent of college students, and many students report food insecurities. Hunger is a major problem at both two-year and four-year institutions. Nearly 60 percent of food insecure students reported having a job, and almost 40 percent of those students report that they work more than 20 hours or more per week. Researchers from the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness found that being enrolled in an on-campus meal plan does not eliminate food insecurity.

“You cannot be a successful student if you are hungry,” said Professor Shira Brown, Director of CSUN’s Women’s Research and Resource Center. “It’s really hard to concentrate on doing just about anything when you’re hungry.”

The WRRC’s Food Pantry is open to all students with an ID, and offers food, as well as basic necessities like shampoo and toothpaste. CSUN students also have access to the CSUN Food Pantry at no cost. And food pantries operate in many locations throughout the San Fernando Valley.  Los Angeles County has almost 200 food pantries: the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, World Harvest Food Bank, L.A Works and many more.

“Everybody at some point may need a food pantry,” said Manny Flores, the Community Liaison of North Valley Caring Services. “And in our neighborhood, it could be mostly at the end of the month, when people need to make ends meets. That’s when you see our pantry lines grow substantially. Through our pantry, you can get a well balanced meal. We’re putting about a hundred dollars of food in our baskets every week per household.”

“I’m really lucky,” Weinroth said. “M.E.N.D has been around for nearly 50 years, so we’ve got a lot of neighborhood recognition. We are a volunteer-driven organization. We have so many pans, and so many pots. We have medical, dental and vision. We have education and training on-site as well. We have the food department, we have homeless services, we have our clothing center. We have been collaborating with so many organizations throughout the community for a very long time. We help feed over 20,000 people a month. We all come together as a community, [because] it takes a village.”

Moderator: Trevor Edwards

Producer: Dana Lites

Anchor: Char’Tre Steward

Social Media Editors: Cynthia Marin and Noemi Salcedo

Reporters: Trevor Edwards, Dana Lites, Cynthia Marin, Noemi Salcedo, Char’Tre Steward and Flor Tolentino

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California Dreaming: Affordable Rent

It is becoming even more expensive to rent in Los Angeles, according to the new 2016 Affordability Report by the California Housing Partnership.

With over 4 million residents,  Los Angeles has more people living in it than ever before, and experts say there is just not enough room. It is no longer economically feasible for most to live in LA County.

On average, residents pay over $2,000 dollars a month in rent. The area has a high number of low-income tenants, and many are rent burdened.

“The common thinking is that you shouldn’t pay more than 30 percent of your income in rent,”said Elizabeth Blaney, the Co-Executive Director of the Boyle Heights community organization Union de Vecinos. “I think that should be a little bit lower, because 30 percent still is a lot for a lot of low income and extremely low income families,”

New data shows that on average, those who are considered low income are spending 71 percent of their paychecks on rent. They are left with only 29 percent to spend on food, transportation, health care, and other needs.

“What you have is an increase in demand, which means the economy is doing really well,”said CSUN Economics Professor Shirley Svorney, “so it’s kind of like when we have congestion on the freeways. It’s because people are buying houses; that’s what pushes up the prices. On the supply side, there’s a lot of restrictions on building, regulations, zoning, and other types of government requirements that make it more costly to build.”

Svorney said another factor driving up housing costs is that Los Angeles is an agglomeration economy. This means that more jobs are located closely within the area, making the real estate even more valuable.

“A lot of middle class people are leaving,” said CSUN Political Science Professor Tom Hogen-esch. “Teachers and firefighters, even people in the traditional professions, are facing this. They’re sort of middle class, housing poor, and so almost everybody is under at least some pressure in terms of the cost of housing here.”

The Ellis Act is a state law that says landlords can rightfully evict tenants in order to “go out of business.” The entire building can be cleared out. This is one of many tactics used by landlords to tear down affordable housing and turn it into high priced housing.

California is the number one state in poverty rates when housing is taken into accounted. The 2016 homeless count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that 46,874 homeless people are living in LA County. Experts say there are many reasons for homelessness, but lack of affordable housing is certainly one.

In order to rent “burden free” in this city, a household would need to make more than $40 an hour, four times the current minimum wage.

 

Moderator: Haley Kramer

Anchor: Ajo Adelaja

Producer: Valerie Hernandez

Social Media Editors: Ajo Adelaja and Valerie Hernandez

Reporters: Ajo Adelaja, Harry Bennett III, Jarvis Haren, Valerie Hernandez, Haley Kramer, Sofia Levin and Mariah Robinson

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New Leadership in the Third District

After 20 years on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Zev Yaroslavsky is leaving office.

That leaves his seat on the notoriously entrenched board open, and
candidates are vying to represent the third district, which stretches
from the West Valley to West L.A.

With issues like business development, homelessness and transportation on the
plate, whoever gets the seat will have a lot on his or her hands.

One candidate, former Santa Monica mayor Bobby Shriver, said that an
infusion of new political blood will allow for positive change.

“The current state of play needs significant reform,” he said. “It
keeps you up at night, but it also makes you pretty outraged.”

Former state legislator Sheila Kuehl, also vying for the seat, said
that reform can be significant because of how much the board oversees.

“The county has a lot of responsibilities that people don’t know
anything about,” she said. “Healthcare, mental health, foster kids,
transportation, environment. Just a whole panoply of issues.”

For candidate John Duran, one of the most important responsibilities
of the county is encouraging business.

“Government doesn’t create wealth,” the West Hollywood councilmember
said. “Government relies on other people creating wealth so we can tax
part of it and use that tax money to provide social services.”

Kuelh said that the county itself is a powerful tool for employment.

“We have 100,000 people working for the county,” she said. “That’s an
important workforce. That’s an important aspect for avoiding
unemployment.”

But Shriver said the recent relocation of Toyota’s headquarters from
Torrance to Texas was indicative of a greater problem.

“I think we should have competed to keep them here,” he said.

“I think we’ve lost 200,000 jobs here in L.A. In the last 20 years,”
he said. “That’s not the result of the recession; that’s the result of
capital, private capital, leaving the area.”

Kuelh said that developing county public transit could create jobs–and
improve transportation throughout the county.

“I think the light rail is essentially coming back to Los Angeles,”
she said. “It was very different when people could take public
transportation.”

Shriver said that, although an improved transit system would be a boon
for the county, it would be a long term solution.

“The subway to the airport is great, 10 or 15 years in the future,” he said.

A near term solution that worked in Santa Monica was giving Santa
Monica College students free rides on the Big Blue Bus system, Shriver
said.

“Although that hasn’t solved the traffic problem heading east at
night, it certainly has made a significant contribution to offloading
the roads there and decreasing the amount of the money being spent on
new parking structures,” he said.

Duran said that more Metro stops could be a solution, but the process of creating
them often gets bogged down by political red tape.

“To get from the city of Santa Monica to the 405 during rush hour
takes an hour. It is three miles,” he said. “There is no reason that
should exist. But it exists because of political compromise.”

Duran said the county should be doing more to encourage the arts.

“In some ways, we’ve been somewhat neglectful, waiting for students to come to the arts rather than taking arts out to the students,” he said.

“It should definitely be a priority,” Kuelh agreed.

More than that, it’s very possible because L.A. County owns and
operates its own theaters, symphonies, and museums, she said.

“The LAC in LACMA is L.A. County,” she added.

Shriver said that arts have always been an important part of Los
Angeles culture and economy.

“Someone once said that more people in Los Angeles make their living
off imagination than anywhere else in the country,” he said. “We want
to keep that energy here. We want to keep the imagination business
alive and strong. The county should be doing a lot to make that
happen.”

Election day for the third district seat is June 3. If a candidate
receives more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she will be elected
to the board of supervisors. If no candidate receives 50 percent of
the vote, a runoff will be held in November.

 

Moderator: Hannah Townsley

Producer: Colin Newton

Anchor: Nelssie Carillo

Reporters: Hannah Townsley, Nelssie Carillo, Judith Retana, Mahina Haina, Adam Schumes and Colin Newton

Social Media Editors: Mahina Haina, Judith Retana, Adam Schumes and Jamie Gonzaga

 

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Downtown Developments

When thinking about downtown Los Angeles, the Staples Center comes to mind, or maybe the numerous development projects happening right now. What may not come to mind is how the developments affect downtown’s homeless population, which is by far the biggest in the country.

The major changes occurring downtown include building enhancements, new modern-looking housing complexes, and more people.

But just how does the homeless population play in to the development in historic downtown L.A.? Since downtown streets have become a place for the homeless to live, any changes to those downtown streets affect where they will settle next.

A business collaborative task force called Home For Good is trying to resolve this issue in the city. Their focus is to “address homelessness by eliminating it,” said Jerry Neuman, an L.A. attorney and member of Home For Good’s Business Leaders Task Force.

Neuman said that eliminating homelessness would improve the business climate and create incentives for growth and expansion. He also said gentrification affects both the homeless and economic sector downtown. Gentrification is a shift in an urban community toward residents who are wealthier, as well as an increase in property values.

“The gentrification of downtown is having dramatic impacts on the accessibility of where homeless people have to live,” Neuman said. “If you think back about 12 years before the renaissance of downtown, we had about 70 percent affordability downtown, and that number is now reduced to about 30 percent affordability.”

Because of the many new housing developments, business has improved.

“Gentrification, I think, typically is a process,” said Dr. Robert Kent, Chair of CSUN’s Urban Studies and Planning Department. He said that gentrification can affect current downtown residents as well as the homeless.

“You get developers who will go in and rehab these buildings or tear them down and build buildings, build apartments and lofts, and these sort of things for people with the higher levels of income who work in the city and want to live close to the city,” Kent said. “And at the same time, many people who have been living in those buildings, paying relatively low rents, are displaced, have to move to other neighborhoods, or are simply forced out of their homes.”

Neuman said that when the development started in downtown L.A., it set a trend toward further development.

“The city created an adaptive re-use ordinance that allowed a lot of flexibility adapting old buildings into new residential buildings,” Neuman said. “And from that you saw a rush to create more housing downtown and create community development, you kind of have great infrastructure and people are starting to live there.”

Since new business is expanding downtown, Home For Good is working to help homeless people find a place to live without interrupting the new developments.

“What building should be preserved for the homeless, and what building should be part of the rebirth — that is discussed on  a daily basis,” Neuman said. “We keep trying to find opportunities where we can build better projects that permanently support those people who are homeless, and yet not get in the way of the progress that downtown is making.”

Moderator: Judith Retana

Anchor: Jamie Gonzaga

Reporters: Colin Newton, Nelssie Carillo, Hannah Townsley

Production Crew: Mahina Haina and Adam Schumes

 

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