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Funding secured for Watts revitalization

Amber Williams | 2/1/2018, midnight

Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced that Los Angeles has been awarded $35 million in state Cap-and-Trade funding for affordable housing and environmental initiatives in Watts. 

“Watts has a special place in L.A. history, and this investment sets our eyes on what tomorrow should look like in a community of hardworking Angelenos with big dreams for the future,” Garcetti said. “This grant funding is a big step toward making those dreams come true — with improved quality of life, a renewed focus on public health, and better access to affordable housing.”

The grant comes from California’s Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) program — which is overseen by the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC), a committee formed by the state legislature to advance local community revitalization efforts. 

L.A.’s grant will help fund redevelopment of the Jordan Downs public housing development — which includes rebuilding distressed units, creating new recreational centers and programs, opening nine acres of green space, and about 165,000 square feet for retail. It will also fund several urban greening projects across Watts — including energy efficient retrofits, solar installations, and a food waste prevention program, along with 10 new electric buses and an electric vehicle car sharing and shuttle program for local residents. 

“This historic investment by the state of California into Watts wouldn’t have been possible without thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears poured in the well-being of this community by hundreds of community members, volunteers, and city and non-profit staff,” said Councilman Joe Buscaino. “The TCC grant will rapidly accelerate the current grassroots efforts and hard work already being done by our community members to improve the environment and quality of life for everyone who lives and works in Watts for generations to come.”

The new programs will be supported by a workforce development plan, to connect Watts residents with new jobs created by TCC projects; and a displacement avoidance plan, which includes resources to educate residents about their housing rights. 

Los Angeles was able to secure the $35 million grant largely through the efforts of the Watts Rising Collaborative, which consists of the Watts Community Leadership Council (WCLC), an advisory body convened by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) and the City of Los Angeles. WCLA members include: Michaels Development Company, Green Commuter, Restore Neighborhoods Los Angeles, Grant Housing and Economic Development Corporation, From Lot to Spot, Los Angeles Unified School District, TreePeople, LA Cleantech Incubator, Bridge Housing Corporation, Watts Labor Community Action Committee, North East Trees, the Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Street Services, and the Department of Cultural Affairs.

“The Housing Authority is proud to be leading this transformational initiative to build a healthier Watts,” said HACLA President and CEO Douglas Guthrie. “The Watts Rising Collaborative’s vision will now be realized as a result of this $35 million grant. This group of community members, non-profit organizations, and city departments believe that Watts can be a model 21st century urban community that focuses on greenhouse gas reduction strategies to impact quality of life for the 40,000 residents. The future of this 2.12 mile historic neighborhood is now forever changed as a result of the California Strategic Growth Council’s decision to invest in Watts.”