Los Angeles, CA – Like many large cities, gangs, poverty and crime continue to plague the city of Los Angeles, and to shed light on the problem, District 7 Councilman Richard Alarcon held a two-panel ad hoc committee Tuesday at Los Angeles City Hall to discuss ways to combat the problems. This was the seventh in a series of meetings. Committee participants brought to light that crime, gang activity and poverty are interrelated. Alarcon originally introduced a motion to create the Ad Hoc Committee on Ending Poverty in Los Angeles in the spring of 2007. Since then, he has been presented a draft of “The Master Plan to End Poverty in Los Angeles” and is working with a coalition of activists, service providers, academics and staff to explore solutions to the problems. Some of the suggestions include increasing funding for prevention measures that target education and youth development; redistributing some of the current funding for public safety intervention programs to prevention programs; and including prevention goals within existing public safety department mission statements. “Problem services need to be expanded in terms of their usefulness,” said Alarcon. “We need to change poverty guidelines so that we can change the federal dollars. We not only need micro solutions, but long-term solutions to the problems,” he pointed out. The first panel discussion covered the pervasive impact of gangs on neighborhoods in Los Angeles and how gangs contribute to poverty. The second panel discussed the cost of crime, the effects of crime on a community and on poverty, and what communities can do to stop crime in their neighborhoods. Panelists included Alarcon, Michael de la Rocha, legislative deputy for Councilmember Alex Cardenas; Alex Sanchez, executive director, Homies Unidos; and Brad Carson, deputy probation officer, county of Los Angeles Probation. Representing the second panel were Charlie Beck, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department; Alex Alonso, gang historian; Professor John Hipp, University of California Irvine; and Paul Heaton, associate economist, RAND. “I think that jobs and education can break the cycle of criminal offenders,” said Carson. “We can close that cycle of gang activity and poverty by creating an environment for employment opportunities for at-risk youth.” “The fundamental purpose of these problems cannot be met because we don’t have the resources,” Alarcon pointed out. “Probation services need to be expanded in terms of their usefulness. We need to change the poverty guidelines so that we can solicit the federal dollars.” Beck pointed out that gang violence reduction plans, intervention, case management, suppression and reentry are all important when combating gangs and poverty. Alonso also indicated that gangs are a byproduct of poverty. “If you look at the geographic analysis, you will see that gang territories fall on top of the poorest communities. Other factors contributing to poverty and crime are the number of single parent households and the lack of economic opportunities.” Panel recommendations included increasing funding for education, increasing after-school and youth development programs, and increasing vocational training and job preparedness programs. Citing the fact that gang activity remains an intrinsic problem in Los Angeles, Carson cautioned, “We’re not going to change the gang culture in a snap. It would be like moving the Titanic with a tugboat.”