The Los Angeles City Council will consider backing an effort Fridayto designate the South Los Angeles area as one of President Barack Obama’s “Promise Zones,” which would give the area an edge when competing for federal assistance on anti-poverty programs.

A map of the designated Los Angeles area “Promise Zone,” selected in the first round of the initiative. Graphic courtesy U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A map of the designated Los Angeles area “Promise Zone,” selected in the first round of the initiative. Graphic courtesy U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A portion of Los Angeles was identified last year as a “Promise Zone,” which focuses federal resources on areas struggling with poverty, but the help was limited to East Hollywood, Pico-Union/Westlake and Koreatown.

The application that led to the designation was submitted by nonprofit Youth Policy Institute, and was announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti with much fanfare.

None of the help was aimed at South Los Angeles, prompting outcry from City Council and community members who complained the area in the city with the highest need was being ignored.

Dozens of South Los Angeles groups have since banded together to seek the federal help to fund anti-poverty programs in their community and to avoid getting passed over in the recently announced second round of the Promise Zone program.

The new effort is being pushed by a coalition of groups measuring in the dozens, led by Los Angeles Trade Technical College. It would form a South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone, or SLATE-Z, that would receive help under the president’s “Promise Zone” program.

The area has an aggregate poverty rate approaching 50 percent and a 12 percent unemployment rate. The coalition hopes to focus investment into transit centers, educational programs, business assistance and redevelopment.

If designated a promise zone, federal officials would visit the South Los Angeles zone to help identify and access federal assistance and resources.

The area also will get preference on some competitive federal grant applications, as well as technical assistance and other non-competitive support, according to the resolution.

Funding announced recently for Safe Passages, a program that protects students walking or bicycling to their Hollywood-area campus at Joseph Le Conte Middle School, was attributed to the area being designated as a Promise Zone.

City News Service

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