Paying for the right to affordable housing with health


Selene Rivera | Hoy LA

Soudi Jiménez | Hoy LA

This story is also available in Spanish.

This article was produced for Watts Revisited, a multimedia project launched by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism that explores challenges facing South L.A. as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Watts Riots. Learn more at

Juana Lopez had to move because her son Anthony was sick from asthma and the administrator of the building where she lived did not pay attention to her complaints.

Juana Lopez had to move because her son Anthony was sick from asthma and the administrator of the building where she lived did not pay attention to her complaints.

The dust on the tables and carpet never worries Juana López, nor the condition of the paint on the walls of her home, even though her seven-year-old son Anthony Perez has suffered from asthma and allergies since 2013.

It was in a medical consultation where the doctor made it clear that there was a connection between the diseases and the environment around her child. “I did not know how to clean, or what products to use,” said Lopez, originally from Guerrero, Mexico.

The medical center referred López to the organization, Esperanza Community Housing. A health promoter said they urgently needed to change the carpet and repair areas where paint was falling off.

[Read more…]

Q&A: SAJE’s South LA loteria


What images come to mind when you think of South L.A.? That’s the question Strategic Actions for a Just Economy took on for its “SAJE Loteria South LA Style” project – a creation of 55 hand-drawn images assembled as a game set to sell as a fundraiser for the South L.A.-based organization.

Some of the artworks are on display at Nature’s Brew Café in West Adams through the end of May. SAJE is hosting a reception to celebrate the project on Sunday from 7 to 10 p.m.

We spoke with Teresa Eilers from SAJE to learn about the inspiration behind the project. [Read more…]

Nonprofit Spotlight: Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)

Rally Hosted by SAJE | Photo Courtesy of SAJE Flickr

Rally Hosted by SAJE | Photo Courtesy of SAJE Flickr

Intersection’s Nonprofit Spotlight series profiles South L.A. organizations that are propelling positive change in South L.A.


[Read more…]

South LA Democratic Space: Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)

Gabriela Garcia, UNIDAD Community Organizer for Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)

Open, inviting, and with a strong ethos of progressive thinking and action, SAJE is home of the UNIDAD Coalition which is comprised of more than 15 organizations working in South LA and is the meeting and training ground of local residents committed to living in a just and equitable community.

A once oppressive and exploitative sweatshop building, SAJE would later take over this building and convert it to a poignant space that fosters social and political agendas around issues of displacement, community development and social justice.

Gabriela, who has worked in South LA for 7 years feels “the SAJE building itself transcends to so many different spaces in the neighborhood. SAJE is a platform where movements are built. It’s an equitable place and in fact was formerly a garment factory that was converted to something more just for our neighborhood.”

En el pasado, el edificio de SAJE era una maquiladora opresiva. Ahora, este mismo edificio es un espacio conmovedor que cultiva agendas sociales y políticas sobre temas de desplazamiento, desarrollo comunitario y justicia social.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

“Free the Streets” promotes bicycle culture in South LA

imageIn the shady gated courtyard in front of Mercado La Paloma on Grand Avenue, handfuls of low-rider and fixed-gear bicycles plus a booming DJ sound system set the stage for the “Free the Streets” bicycle and community activism event last Saturday, November 5th.

Despite sparse attendance throughout the afternoon, the event — also known as the Cycle Music Arts Festival —included screen-printing demonstrations, freehand graffiti painting on the Mobile Mural Lab truck, live DJs and a Pabst Blue Ribbon-sponsored bar.

imageHalf of the $10 admission fee will help campaigns for safer streets in South L.A. that urge for more bike lanes and green areas, better street crossings and narrower roads. The other half will benefit CicLAvia, a semiannual event that blocks off 7.5 miles of downtown streets to cars and gives bicyclists and pedestrians full reign, and their plan extend the route into South L.A.

“We want to bring Angelenos together and show them each other, show them the city, and make our streets more alive,” CicLAvia board member Joe Linton said. “After the first CicLAvia, we got calls from people from South L.A. saying, ‘Hey, when are you going to come to South L.A.? We love it!’”

After hearing requests from many community groups to bring CicLAvia further south, Linton said he recognized the need for it in the neighborhood.

“There’s a lot of risk of obesity, there’s a lack of park space, there’s a lack of places where communities gather,” he said. “We think CicLAvia can play a role in that.”

imageOrganizers are tentatively planning for the new route, for the next ride on April 15, 2012, to shoot south on Central Avenue from Downtown Los Angeles and head west on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Exposition Park and Leimert Park. In the future, they hope to extend it all the way to Watts Towers. But closing down so many streets to car traffic requires money for the proper permits.

With events like “Free the Streets,” organizers and activists hope to raise the funds for the route extension as well as awareness of South L.A. as a vibrant and bikeable destination.

image“South L.A. gets a really bad rep from media sometimes,” said Andres Ramirez, a Strategic Actions for a Just Economy tenant organizer. “CicLAvia gets people to explore different parts of the city that they wouldn’t normally explore. That’s what we’re envisioning, bringing it to South Central. South L.A. has a lot of history, has a lot of culture, has a lot of people period.”

Ramirez gave Mercado La Paloma as an example: a collective marketplace with gourmet Central and South American restaurants, local artwork on display and a kids’ play area that is a “gem” in the community but largely ignored by the rest of the city.

“Free the Streets” and future CicLAvia routes could introduce more people to independent businesses like the Mercado and an improved view of South L.A.