First building in South LA retrofitted

Listen to the audio story from Annenberg Radio News:

The first-ever large-scale retrofit program kicked off Monday in South Los Angeles. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilmember Herb Wesson joined community leaders for the unveiling of the Vineyard Recreation Center.

The Green Retrofit and Workforce Program is funded by the American recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program will retrofit 130 buildings in South Los Angeles.

While the unemployment rate for Los Angeles county is 13 percent, the jobless rate in South Los Angeles is a staggering 30 percent.

“For communities like South L.A., we are no strangers to unemployment and underemployment. This recession has had a devastating effect on black and brown families in my community,” community organizer and South L.A. native Virginia Franklin said.

The city council unanimously approved the program that will focus on green upgrades of libraries, recreation centers and fire stations.

“As we retrofit these buildings, they’ll be more energy efficient. They won’t cost the city as much. They’ll reduce their carbon footprint. They’ll continue to contribute to cleaning up our environment because you’re using less electricity and water,” Villaraigosa said.

And it already has generated jobs.

“I was one of the few who got laid off at a particular time…I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Los Angeles resident Paul Mills said. “But the program was offered to us. I met various people from all different backgrounds…and we went through the program and now we’re actually working for the city.”