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Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson 1st Term in Review
By Marqueece Harris-Dawson
Published February 6, 2020

Marqueece Harris-Dawson (Courtesy photo)

We exist during a critical time in the history of this city and country. I was voted into office in 2015 behind our beliefs and strategies to improve the quality of life for residents in the Eighth District. For decades, our people, neighborhoods, streets and businesses have seen systemic disinvestment and neglect. District Eight is home to hundreds of thousands of residents with diverse needs, however we are connected by shared opportunities and challenges. During my first term in office, I prioritized equitable and transparent service delivery, quality jobs, safe streets and sustainable solutions to homelessness. As we stand at the intersection of past and future, I am confident in the positive direction our communities are headed.

Black communities are under attack across the country and I proudly represent the largest Black community in Los Angeles. Gentrification, mass incarceration and underemployment besiege communities in South LA and we continue fighting for resources to increase homeownership and community policing to improve conditions for our residents.

Public Safety remains one of my top priorities and we have successfully launched community based safety solutions that decrease violence and increase accountability.  The Community Safety Partnership and Community Safety Initiative are holistic approaches geared towards keeping our residents safe. The Community Safety Partnership has successfully reduced violent crime in and around Harvard Park by engaging residents, the office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development and LAPD officers in community policing. The Community Safety Initiative has made an impact in the lives of hundreds of youth and adults by connecting survivors of trauma to mental health services, engaging community groups to conduct neighborhood patrols and exposing youth to new opportunities to prevent gang affiliation.

Decades of systemic disinvestment and neglect from policymakers left our district in dire need of basic city services. Shortly after taking office, I launched the Clean and Safe Streets Initiative to focus on educating and organizing residents to demand infrastructure repair and street beautification. The initiative has successfully increased and improved the quality of services delivered within the District. When I took office in 2015, City Council District 8 only submitted 23,000 requests for services. Since launching the Clean and Safe Streets Initiative, 311 requests have more than tripled. The success of Clean Streets demonstrates how a coordinated effort with residents, community-based organizations, block clubs, and neighborhood councils mobilize and empower residents to create solutions for our  shared challenges.

Marqueece Harris-Dawson (Courtesy photo)

Every area within the City of Los Angeles is affected by the homelessness crisis. Systemic racism in policies and service delivery have caused Black Angelinos to be disproportionately impacted by this epidemic. To combat this crisis, we needed to better understand the historical context and factors that led us to this point. We created the Homelessness in South Los Angeles Position Paper to share our findings and help others understand these factors. All HHH supportive developments help build independent living and address the root causes of homelessness. Permanent supportive housing allows us to bring people indoors as well as provide mental health services, addiction treatment and employment services to address the factors contributing to homelessness. I authored Proposition HHH in 2016 which allocated $1.2 billion for the City to build tens of thousands of units of supportive housing that include services to address the needs of chronically homeless people. Since then, I opened the first Bridge Home in South LA as well as the first HHH funded permanent supportive housing development. Many HHH funded projects are breaking ground across the city and dozens will begin serving residents this year beginning with the project at 88th and Vermont.

The public sector has historically been a tool to help Black communities build financial stability. However, Council District 8 is experiencing a jobs crisis due to decades of disinvestment. Right now, the Eighth District has the fewest employed people in the City and African Americans are at a lower employment rate in LA than before the Great Recession. At the same time, the City of Los Angeles needs more employees to respond to increased demands for city services. Civil service exams and a lack of outreach to our communities prevent CD8 residents from accessing these careers. Understanding these barriers led me to champion the Targeted Local Hire Program to address these realities and provide an alternative pathway for residents to access careers with the City of Los Angeles without needing to take a Civil Service Exam. This program brings jobs to communities that need them the most and has connected over 1,000 residents to new career opportunities with thousands more in the pipeline for jobs.

Destination Crenshaw is a community-based anti-displacement economic development and cultural celebration. The project is designed to facilitate economic security and entrepreneurship for residents while doubling as an open-air museum celebrating the history of Black activism in L.A through arts and culture. This tool will allow us to preserve our community’s cultural identity and catalyze construction careers for local residents. It will also be an opportunity to invest in local businesses and provide local artists a platform to launch their careers.

I am your voice at City Hall and as a lifelong organizer, I believe we can accomplish anything when residents are informed and civically engaged. Please contact my office to work together on solutions to address critical issues happening throughout our district and our city. I look forward to working with you to build a brighter future for South Los Angeles.

Categories: Crenshaw & Around | Local | Opinion | Political
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