Esperanza serves South Central Los Angeles and additional areas of greater South Los Angeles, an economically distressed region whose local residents are 70% Latino/Hispanic, 15% Black/African American, and with the remaining a mix of Asian/Asian American, Caucasian, and other ethnicities.
The people in our neighborhoods 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.
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.