Like most South Los Angeles residents, Councilman Curren Price was shocked when he heard that South Los Angeles neighborhoods, particularly those in the 9th District, were excluded from receiving Federal Promise Zone Funds. (Sentinel file photo)

Like most South Los Angeles residents, Councilman Curren Price was shocked when he heard that South Los Angeles neighborhoods, particularly those in the 9th District, were excluded from receiving Federal Promise Zone Funds.

“When you have a grant that is supposed to help and revitalize poor communities, how do you exclude the district with the highest unemployment in Los Angeles,” questioned Price.

Los Angeles, as a city, has the highest unemployment rate of all major city’s in the state (19%), but the 9th district’s unemployment rate is twice that (38%) of the city as a whole so how are we not specifically targeted as a promise zone neighborhood?

As the councilman sees it, having no part of South Los Angeles or Watts included in the promise zone proposal is a real tragedy, but he believes we cannot just simply cry about why South Los Angeles was not included.

“We have to ask, why were we not included/designated as a Promise Zone Neighborhood from the very beginning?  What are we going to do to insure that this does not happen again,” Price told the Sentinel.

Price says he has already met with Mayor Garcetti to find ways to get funding to programs in his district using Promise Zone money.  He says the mayor told him that the city “would find ways to make adjustments to promise zone funding to aid all of Los Angeles, but he wasn’t sure how this was going to occur at this time.” How much or when no-one knows, but the councilman is determined to make sure that his district and his constituents receive the funding and support of the city they so desperately deserve.

Beyond just the promise zone funding Price is relying on a soon to be released 20/20 report on the state of disparity, poverty, unemployment and other factors that he says are keeping the poorest parts of the city from gaining or receiving an equitable portion of the city’s resources.  Price says this report was requested by Council President Herb Wesson whose district includes parts of South Los Angeles, as well as parts of Korea town, which did received Promise Zone Neighborhood Designations and is eligible to receive direct Promise Zone funding.

Price indicated he has also met with key leaders and agencies in his district and encouraged them to be a part of the transformation and rejuvenation of the district. 

“I said to members of my district, ‘give me ideas on how to address these disparities; lets all work together to figure out ways to improve the quality of life in our community,” he said.

Curren Price is taking a very proactive approach to moving his district forward.  He has held Economic Development and Community Policy Initiative hearings in his district to mobilize resources and target specific areas.   During his campaign for city council, Price committed to providing job training, job creation, affordable housing and strong economic community support that keep resources flowing into the 9th District.

Price is also taking a close look at the mayor’s latest budget, which is currently being presented to the city council. “I want to see what resources he is allocating that will directly impact my district; I have a responsibility to insure that the 9th district gets its fair and adequate allocation.  I need to make sure that we receive resources that the 9th has not had access to previously, or when the city was not being responsive to our district’s needs.”

Moving forward Price wants to create a 9th district that operates under the kind of environment that people will enjoy living and working in.  He has brought a new focus to “clean green” environment, he has brought “bulky item trash removal” operations directly into the community.  He is working with community organizations and local schools to bring community gardens into the neighborhoods because “this encourages and supports our young people living a healthier and more active life style”.  Price also will be opening a new business resource center soon on Central Avenue.  He says this business resource center will be a “one stop shop” for summer employment resources, employment programs, and a local resource for community participation”.

Price envisions a very bright future for the 9th district. “This is an exciting time, I still believe collaboration makes sense,” he said.

“By working together with community partners, other businesses and city and state government, we can start closing the gap on the disparities which have existed in our communities for a long time.”