The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) has been awarded a $3.7 million grant aimed at giving job training and supportive services to 250 residents of Watt’s Nickerson Gardens.
“Angelinos will benefit from the Jobs Plus program are going to take us to unimaginable places, places we never believed possible,” Mayor Eric Garcetti shared in the excitement of the new program that will change the community.
The Jobs Plus Initiative Grant was given by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will train and place residents for careers in healthcare and construction. Wednesday, September 4, residents and special guests celebrated the new opportunity and multiple centers set up for peak prosperity among the community.
“We see Watts rising, thanks to state dollars that are putting Watts at the front of the line,” Mayor Garcetti stated. “We know that we aren’t just turning around and transforming lives; we are saving lives.”
In attendance at Nickerson Gardens Sage Center alongside Mayor Garcetti were Congresswoman Nanette Barragan, Councilman Joe Buscaino, HACLA President & CEO Doug Guthrie, and HUD Field Office Representative Ray Brewer. A special testimony was also shared amongst attendees from a Nickerson Gardens resident, Julie Legardye.
“It takes a lot of people to make things like this happen, there is not one person, in particular, it’s everybody working together,” Congresswoman Nanette Barragan stated. “Partnership – it’s working together at all levels, local, state, and federal, that is what we need to do.”
Congresswoman Barragan shared her excitement surrounding the partnership between HACLA and the Department of Health and Human Services. A component of the Jobs Plus Program created to address the disparities in healthcare.
“What better than to hire from within, within our community to address these disparities and have people in these careers who not only understand those disparities but help close the gap,” congresswoman stated. “What’s exciting for me, is that it’s going to be happening right here in Nickerson Gardens,” she continues to say. This bond will allow residents to join the healthcare workforce through training and jobs.
“The work is just starting, and we must make sure we follow through. That the people need the opportunities, get the opportunity and we put people to work right here,” said Congresswoman Barragan who promised to fully commit to the community to produce positive results.
Another highlight to the event was a special moment shared by a beloved resident of 10-years, Julie Legardye who currently works for the Painters Union for the past seven years.
“I got started with job and housing fair. I always took advantage,” Legardye stated as she shared her journey with the crowd. “It was just a job to me, but now it is a career, and it pays well. I just encourage everybody to take advantage of the jobs that they have here because it pays off in the end.”
Following the press conference, a Community Resource, Health, and Employment Fair officially launched the four-year Jobs Plus Initiative. During this time residents were invited to tour the Job Plus Center, the Watts/LA AJCC Portal & Employment Tech Center, Youth Leadership Center, and more.
Danielle Smith, resident, and mother living in Nickerson Gardens shared her gratitude and enthusiasm, “I feel good about this event. It is a positive thing going on and we need all that they are bringing to the table.”
As an employed member of the community, Smith is hopeful she too can go further in her career with help of the Jobs Plus Program and looks forward to the positive benefits the youth center will bring about.
“I’m most excited about the Youth Center. We need to be more focused in on our youth, so that’s a good thing,” she shared. Among many other residents, Smith was joined by members of her family for food, fun, and celebration of a brighter future thanks to the Jobs Plus Program.