Esperanza serves the Figueroa Corridor, an economically distressed neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.* Seventy percent of local residents are Latino, with the remaining a mix of African-American, Asian and white.
The more than 132,000 people living in our four square mile neighborhood face interlocking problems of poverty, chronic health problems, low educational attainment, and sub-standard housing. Over 60% of children and youth live below the poverty line. The per capita income is $5,836 and government assistance rates are high. Many residents are working poor, laboring in garment factories and service jobs, for very low wages and in poor working conditions.
Very low educational attainment among residents impedes access to employment opportunities. Thirty nine percent of adults have less than a 9th grade education and two-thirds do not have a high school education. Limited English skills and illiteracy pose formidable barriers, and the local public schools are overcrowded and under-funded.
Our neighborhood is comparatively young, with 36% of the population under the age of 20. The public schools are overcrowded and under-funded. Due to lack of space, all of the local public schools operate on a year-round schedule. In this schedule, children rotate in and out of school at unusual times of the year when there are few or no resources to occupy their time.
Residents also experience chronic health problems. Prevalent health problems include asthma, heart disease, diabetes, tuberculosis, communicable diseases, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, depression, violence and homicide, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, substance abuse and lead poisoning. Over half of local residents have no health insurance or access to health care.
Housing conditions in the community also reveal the economic distress of the area. Particularly problematic are the multi-family residences that are severely overcrowded and in need of major physical repair. The poorest households commonly pay over 70 percent of their income to rent units that may be dilapidated, lack heating or air conditioning and have vermin problems.
Despite the adversity, our neighborhood is notably rich in community networks, diverse cultural and artistic traditions, community spirit and leadership, entrepreneurial aspirations, and the determination to improve conditions for all.
*Our service area is bounded by the Santa Monica Freeway to the north, Alameda Avenue to the east, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the south, Western Avenue to the west.