By Diana Peña

Affordable Housing, Education, and Councilman José Huizar were the three main topics of conversation at Boyle Heights Beat’s first community meeting of the year held on February 12th at the Boyle Heights Beat Youth Technology Center.  Nearly 50 residents attended the meeting, where youth reporters led conversations and asked community members questions at each of three tables.  Conversations took about 20 to 30 minutes, and then reporters rotated to other tables, so all residents would have a chance to weigh in on the different subjects.

At the table focusing on education, community members spoke about the lack of resources being offered to public schools in Boyle Heights, and many commented on how teachers have to fight for the type of support that should be guaranteed to students. The Los Angeles Unified Teachers Strike, it was almost unanimously agreed, was a good step forward, but the struggles that had plague teachers are far from being remedied.

Affordable housing was also a topic that nearly all residents had an opinion about. Community members spoke about the high rents in Boyle Heights and how it’s forced some residents to move as far out as Rancho Cucamonga. One community member cited rent for a three-bedroom apartment being offered for $2,600 in the neighborhood. Another spoke about how the problem of housing is connected with jobs. “If you cannot create good-paying jobs,” he remarked, “you’re never going to be able to build enough affordable housing because it’s the income that people require to make market-rate rents.”

City Councilman José Huizar dominated the conversation at another table. One resident emphasized the fact that Huizar has not been convicted or charged with anything, but it nevertheless “look[s] bad.” He also went on to say, “If they find nothing, they find nothing, but it doesn’t instill confidence in the people who want him in office to take care of business for you and not be distracted by doing all these other things.” “Where’s the trust?” asked another community member. “It was such a big disappointment that he let us down, not only me but the community.” Residents also were asked to fill out survey cards about stories they would like to see reported on by the Beat, and possible topics for future community meetings.

Photo by Jacqueline Ramirez.

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