Los Angeles, CA
United States

Best Start Region 1 Community Partnerships (Best Start East LA, Best Start Metro LA, Best Start South El Monte / El Monte, Best Start Southeast LA), LA Forward, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, and Sandra McNeill Consulting

Conducted listening sessions, a resident-led housing needs assessment, and data analysis sessions in Central and East Los Angeles County to mobilize residents for advocacy campaigns for housing justice.

Housing inequities and the health, employment, income, and education inequities they cause are deeply familiar to Para Los Niños and the Black and Brown, undocumented, and working-class communities it serves. To address those inequities, Para Los Niños sought to understand the root causes that contribute to racialized housing disparities. By engaging residents, community organizations, and city and county departments, Para Los Niños mobilized residents to address the inequities caused by gaps in affordable, quality, and stable housing. The organization partnered with residents in each of the four areas covered by their program: East LA, Metro LA, Southeast LA, and South El Monte/El Monte.

As part of the overall project, Para Los Niños partnered with LA Forward, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, and Sandra McNeill Consulting to strengthen residents’ capacity to engage in systems change around housing justice. The groups held a series of listening sessions to capture residents’ lived experiences and to educate them about laws and regulations to protect renters. In parallel, Para Los Ninos conducted a resident survey and analyzed secondary data to systematically understand current housing services and family stress caused by housing insecurity. Para Los Niños collaboratively interpreted the results in sessions with community members and network partners. One finding from the needs assessment was that a much larger share of residents is facing housing affordability challenges than is currently reported in national data sources. The team concluded the initiative by learning about four housing justice campaigns already being organized by area advocates, and helping each neighborhood select one of them to endorse and support. Specifically, the residents selected campaigns to advocate for a ballot initiative to fund a city Affordable Housing Solutions Agency, for additional fund for the San Gabriel Valley community land trust, and for stronger protections for Southeast Los Angeles tenants.

The group also presented the results to councilmembers, key funders, and service providers in Los Angeles County to make the case for systems change and funding for housing security. Institutions and organizations now have up-to-date information on the lived experiences of their constituents, which they can use to inform and strengthen policies for equitable housing.