Charisse Bremond Weaver, President & CEO, Brotherhood Crusade, (screen shot)

The voice of South L.A. was amplified by community leaders on March 10, at the “Making Los Angeles Whole” round table discussion. They spoke candidly about the means of a financial arrangement for the anticipated $1 billion dollars coming from federal assistance. Public leadership from diversified organizations dissected the needs of each community and presented an investment plan to address issues impacting impoverished and working-class families.

The conversation was geared towards re-imagining life in the wake of a global pandemic, and the opportunities in growing a more connected Los Angeles. Southern and Eastern parts of L.A. have seen an extremely disproportionate impact due to COVID-19; as the viral pandemic changed the way Los Angeles operates, many who were below the poverty fell deeper in harsher conditions.

According to the Making Los Angeles Whole press release, they conducted a study through Advancement Project CA that concluded, “African Americans and Latinos, who are the primary demographic of South L.A., East San Fernando Valley, and East L.A.–have among the highest COVID-19 death rates, and East L.A. ZIP codes rank among the highest in the state for risks of infection, deaths, and a longer economic recovery.”

Making Los Angeles Whole is a radical recovery plan for all Angelinos, looking to resolve pre-existing problems that are now exasperated. The most vulnerable residents are feeling the hardships and trauma in various ways; Angelinos have been leaning on each other to survive.

The community organizations that connected on March 10, included Community Coalition, Brotherhood Crusade, Innercity Struggle (ICS), and SEIU local 2015. In unity, these organizations “demand that Los Angeles leaders adopt an equitable funding plan that is reflective of our communities and core values one year after COVID-19.”

COVID-19 has provided a moment of clarity; it has created a clear view of what class brackets have been heavily affected by this global pandemic.  Members of multiple organizations represented the severely impacted residents in South Los Angeles. They formed the multi-layered directive, allocating a well calculated budget to aid the South Los Angeles community.

The mission of the meeting was to provide a clear understanding of an equitable spending plan. Making Los Angeles Whole believes “the City must be intentional in directing this investment towards poor communities and working-class families across the city, which have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Alberto Retana, the president & CEO of Community Coalition, was joined by Charisse Bremond-Weaver, president & CEO, Brotherhood Crusade, Maria Brenes, executive director, Innercity Struggle and April Verrett, president, SEIU Local 2015 to discuss the history of inequality found within Black and Brown communities. They dissected discriminatory encryption found within current zoning and planning decisions.

Maria Brenes, Executive Director, Innercity Struggle

South Los Angeles leaders spoke with sincerity as they outlined the funding needed for different issues. Making Los Angeles Whole covered a variety of issues stemming from diverse demographics. They are looking for the City to allocate appropriate funding to assist residents who are barely surviving the COVID-19 outbreak.

The benefit of non-profit organizations collaborating is that each taking a magnified look in various issues; to promote better quality of life for all Angelenos. The Innercity struggle (ICS) mission is to create an influential movement among the Eastside of L.A.; they look to build up neighborhoods such as Boyle Heights, unincorporated East Los Angeles, El Sereno, and Lincoln Heights.

ICS plans to create its own “stimulus” aid for over 200 families to account for the exclusion found in undocumented immigrants from prior federal aid. They have supported over 480 low-income, majority Latinx and immigrant families in East Los Angeles. ICS has given away $370,000 in cash assistance to local families, assisting with rent and utilities.

The Brotherhood crusade looks to assist individuals to surmount barriers and provide resources that facilitates better quality of life. The Brotherhood crusade and the ICS are familiar with one another; they worked together with Community Coalition (CoCo) and raised $400,000 to support virtual learning in South and East Los Angeles.

CoCo assists with bringing awareness around the economic conditions in South L.A.; they look to build up the region and influence inclusivity within public policy.  CoCo has been engaging with its members since the dawn of this pandemic.  Dating back to March 16, the organization has been on the frontlines, providing water, personal protective gear, and toiletries directly with the community.

The SEIU local 2015 represented California’s Long Term Care workers; it’s an organization that harnesses the power of collective support and technology to bring on long-standing transformational change for a more just society. During the pandemic, SEIU local 2015 donated over $500,000 to organizations throughout California.

Initiated through the Biden American Rescue Act, the City could receive a direct infusion of $1.3 billion. Making Los Angeles Whole addressed the budget gaps across various impacted communities in L.A. The conversation was an “official call for help, for the families and communities.”  The non-profit organization leaders are presented budgets that would cover a resident for two years.

Collectively, the non-profit organizations are asking for $1 billion to be invested into working-class families that have been hit the hardest; the formula developed is targeting the aide to improve resources for those most vulnerable.

The funds are looking to be distributed through family care, creating a budget of $250 million for child and elderly assistance. Adjusted within the plan is to encourage more community engagement as the result of increased funds.

The second part of the requested budget plan is tethered to resources that would increase equity for women.  The unified groups requested, “no less than $100 million to support women for training, finding employment, and supporting women-owned small businesses and women-led non-profit organizations.” Bremond-Weaver, representing the presence of the Brotherhood Crusade organization, stated, “As a Black woman, Brotherhood Crusade has been working this entire time through this pandemic. We were fortunate to get PPE support but we know in our city, that we cannot move forward unless women get back to work.”

Alberto Retana, President & CEO, Community Coalition was joined by Charisse Bremond Weaver, President & CEO, Brotherhood Crusade, Maria Brenes, Executive Director, Innercity Struggle and April Verrett, President, SEIU Local 2015 to discuss the history of inequality found within Black and Brown communities, the event was hosted by Marsha Mitchell, Community Coalition Comms Director

Another major angle of the budget plan is allocating $250 million to launch a comprehensive “local housing stability program” that looks to cancel rent debt, suspend rent payments for qualifying families, and strengthen mortgage protections, in addition to providing support to vulnerable landlords.

Brenes, from ICS stated, “The impact of the pandemic has exasperated the housing burden on low-income families in the most impacted communities.” She continued, “The new funding we are stating should be used to establish a local fund to provide financial relief to certain qualifying households.”

Los Angeles has worked as an example for progressive thinking; the unified non-profit organizations are looking to keep the City accountable to create refuge for all Angeleno residents during this state of crisis. The strategy they propose insinuates bold solutions and provides a space for severe levels of inequity to be addressed.