People Not Pozos – Health & Environmental Justice Workshop Series


Join us on Thursday, July 23, July 27, & August 6, 2015 at Senderos: 2141 Estrella Avenue in South Los Angeles to learn more about the presence of urban oil & natural gas extraction within our communities and the potential short/long-term effects that we may experience in the near future.

Be sure to register by calling (213) 748-7285.

Register by Calling (213) 748-7285

Semillas de Esperanza (Seeds of Hope)

Semillas de Esperanza by Esperanza Intern, Grecia Reyes

“To change a community, you have to change the composition of the soil…we are the soil”— (Ron Finley,urban farmer in South LA)

Residents and Volunteers at Villa Esperanza first planting session.

Residents and Volunteers at Villa Esperanza’s first planting session.

Walking through the streets of South Los Angeles, one comes across an overabundance of food chains and liquor stores, offering men, women, and children unhealthy foods. The food is often fried and overcooked, in addition to products carrying high levels of fat, sugar, salts, carbohydrates, and oil. In South Los Angeles, the inaccessibility to healthy nutritious food and access to supermarkets are a constant problem for the working class. Residents often shop at convenience stores, where fresh foods selection is limited or overpriced.

Eating can be a spiritual act that connects people to the earth and to those that cultivate and produce the food we eat. It can also send out an invitation for community engagement and social change. The act of eating conscientiously can call for the breaking of geographic lines that result from economic vulnerability and systems of power that control the food industry. The families within our affordable housing communities have voiced their desire to grow and sustain their own foods. At Esperanza, we understand that eating justly has to do with the active practice of eating responsibly and creating a sustainable food system that serves all communities, disregarding location and social-economic status.

Semillas de Esperanza is a community driven gardening project bringing fresh food to our families! 

garden photo 2 habanero

Semillas de Esperanza (Seeds of Hope), led by Esperanza’s Gardening Project Coordinator, Sandy Navarro is an  initiative  to increase community access to fresh fruits and vegetables by means of planting edible gardens in South Central Los Angeles. Over the past few months, Sandy has been working on mobilizing community residents to discuss the development of the gardens and connecting them with the necessary resources to ensure project sustainability. The first garden has already been initiated at Villa Esperanza (Villa) as a communal garden in addition to assigned garden boxes.

"El Abuelo"

“El Abuelo”

Gregorio Puga is also known as El Abuelo (the grandfather) of the community, has been a resident at Villa for over 20 years. Throughout the day, you can find him either amending soils or watering and nurturing his plants. He has used all of the spaces available in Villa to create small edible gardens. Abuelo is originally from Yucatan, Mexico. Here he worked as a jardinero (gardener) for many years in the wealthy neighborhoods of Los Angeles and southern California communities. For him, gardening is about living a healthier life style, saving money, learning to appreciate what the land produces in order to re-distribute it to the community.

Abuelo reminds us that gardening is about our relationship with the land, acknowledging that, “God created the land and put humans into a garden.” Abuelo sees this as a lesson on how to be working stewards; because the land produces life and sustains us, but we must be willing in turn to cultivate and sustain the land. It is for this reason that gardening calls for thoughtfulness, gentleness, and justice

Be a part of our Semillas Project by volunteering in our next planting or workshop session. For more information on how you can get involved in our Semillas Project, please contact our Project coordinator:

Sandy Navarro, Gardening Project Coordinator Email: Sandy@esperanzacommunityhousing,org.
You can also support the garden project by making a donation of plants, trees and gardening supplies or funding to sustain our gardens, donations welcome.

May is Asthma Awareness Month

Did you know: The highest rate of ED visits for asthma in LA County is in the 0-4 yr old age group. Or that Hispanic children are less likely to receive an asthma action plan upon discharge from an asthma hospitalization?

Join us on Tuesday May 20, 2014 at 801 West 23rd Street in South Los Angeles to learn more about the environmental hazards that are causing asthma in our community! Speakers will include Dr. Richard Jackson, Professor and Chair of Environmental Health at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Jim Mangia, CEO of St. John’s Family Medical Clinic, Nancy Halpern Ibrahim Executive Director of Esperanza Community Housing and 3 community members representing communities affected by Allenco, Murphy, West Adams and Baldwin Hills drilling sites. The event will also include asthma screenings by the Breathmobile and free refreshments!

To learn more about asthma and how you can get involved in asthma awareness contact Loretta Worthington at 213-639-6459

WAD flyer 2014 FINAL


People Not Pozos

September 7th was a hot Saturday morning filled with excitement and vigor as the Esperanza Community gathered across the street from an active oil extraction-well to stand up against oil well owner AllenCo Energy Inc. to demand an end to their toxic emissions. People came to share their stories and symptoms that they experience as a direct result of living steps away from an active oil well. One by one, residents of the neighborhood spoke of the harm they have either felt or witnessed in their own families including constant dizziness, nausea, headaches, and respiratory ailments. One mother spoke of her son’s nightly nosebleeds; another described her fear of opening the windows and exposing her children that much more to harmful chemicals. These fears and stories are common in the University Park community. The AllenCo oil extraction site is surrounded by schools, homes, and apartments and within the last three years they have increased production by more than 400%. Neighbors feel, see and smell this increase in production and know that it is increasingly detrimental to their health.

With the support of SAJE and InnerCity Struggle, Esperanza dropped the colorful “People Not Pozos” banner demanding that AllenCo prioritize the community’s health over production and profits. Songwriter, Luí Donis performed an original song describing the ailments and struggle of this community. In a real-time Spanish to English bilingual translation, speakers and translators helped all participants understand the messages of each speaker. Poignantly 12 year-old Nalleli Cobo shared her experience of headaches and almost daily nosebleeds over the last three years aligned with the increased production. The young resident said, “This is making me sick but it is also making my friends sick. We need to know why.” The community voices ended with local resident and activist, Monic Uriarte reminding the community and hopefully AllenCo that their growing profits are mirrored by the growing harm to community and most especially the children.

IMG_1787LA Times recently covered the event in an article, which led to a follow up piece ignited by Senator Boxer asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to “immediately address these unacceptable situations using all available and appropriate authorities.”


For more information on how you can join Esperanza in standing up for the People Not Pozo’s Campaign contact  or call us at 213-748-7285 to get involved in our work!

Exciting Announcement from Esperanza’s Executive Director

Dear Friends,       

I am writing to announce a momentous change that Esperanza Community Housing will undertake in just a few short months:  the relocation of our organization to Mercado La Paloma!

Our new location will be on the second floor of Mercado La Paloma. This will afford us significant advantages:  a larger office space to strengthen our organizational capacity and the opportunity to consolidate all of our programs under a new, single brand.  Moreover, as Mercado La Paloma has increased its importance as an economic development and cultural hub for South Los Angeles, this consolidation will make it possible for Esperanza to convene a dynamic partnership among the seven vital community-serving non-profit agencies that already call the Mercado home.  Mercado_Blog_Image

     This move will unite all of Esperanza’s operations and programs under one roof for the first time since our agency grew out of a garage on the grounds of St. Vincent Church.  From these humble beginnings Esperanza has always worked to create enduring and positive change with our community through:

  • Our bricks-and-mortar contributions including nine affordable housing developments;
  • Our programmatic institutions such as our renowned Promotores de Salud program, which has had an indelible impact on the health of our community while developing a powerful new workforce to meet the challenges and opportunities of health care reform;
  • The rise of the Mercado La Paloma as a cultural hub rich with culinary choices and remarkable cultural events; and
  • Building vigorous grassroots leadership that organizes for justice in land use within a section of Los Angeles that is beset by large-scale commercial development interests.

We could never have accomplished so much without your support as an ally and/or as a financial contributor.   In all of our work, Esperanza has functioned on an extremely lean administrative budget, always prioritizing resources for our programs within the community. Today I write to ask for your support in briefly putting our organizational need first by making a donation to help us move smoothly to our new space. No amount is too small or too large and all will help us successfully enter this new chapter of Esperanza history. Giving is simple: you can mail a check to Esperanza at 2337 South Figueroa Street, LA, CA, 90007 or donate online by clicking on the “Donate” button at to make a one-time donation or set up a monthly contribution to support Esperanza.


Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, MPH

Executive Director

Celebrating Thai Culture at Mercado la Paloma

CC_Thai_ImagePlease join us for lovely Thai Culture Celebrations as part of our Cultural Continuum Series at the Mercado La Paloma! We will feature workshops in dance, music and art exhibits celebrating the beautiful Thai Culture. Follow us on facebook for more details and updates.

On April 28 we will have a large festival closing our Thai Culture celebrations – mark your calendars for all of our free, fun, family friendly events!

Connecting City Planning through El Chavo del Ocho


The popular Mexican comedy show starring “El Chavo” first aired in the 1970’s and has continued to be an international hit among families today – 40 years later.  The comedy follows El Chavo del Ocho / Chavo from Apartment 8, and is set in an apartment complex, a vecindad.  The characters are friends, neighbors and the landlord.  Most of the shows take place in the courtyard of the apartment complex. The show and characters were the perfect setting for an adaptation skit for The People’s Planning School.

el_chavo_del_ochoThe People’s Planning School is a series of bi-lingual, popular education workshops where community leaders, organizers and community health promoters teach community members about the City planning process. The workshop engages residents around community needs and identify how to get involved in the planning process to create healthier communities.  Esperanza and SAJE have collaboratively hosted the People’s Planning School over the last four Friday evenings for more than 65 local residents and community leaders. This series included discussions about Slum Housing and Housing Rights, Transit Oriented Development, Fracking and the impact of community planning on community health. The skit was a great opportunity to connect community-planning issues by using familiar characters to address local community concerns in South LA.  The workshops provide local residents with resources and the knowledge needed to get involved in planning their community.  The People’s Planning School is a tool in the larger framework of the Same Neighbors, Better Neighborhoods Coalition including Esperanza, SAJE and St. Johns Well Child and Family Center and the South LA Health and Human Rights Declaration.

PPS_SkitTo find out how you can get involved in the next People’s Planning School series follow our blog and facebook page (www. facebook/  for upcoming workshops.

Cultural Continuum Events Celebrate African American Heritage

Our most recent ArtPlace project Culturual Continuum partnered with Native Thinghood to present “CineSound: A Music Video Experience” at Mercado La Paloma’s conference room last Sunday.  At CineSound multiple music videos were showcased highlighting African American filmmakers who are working together to explore new ways of storytelling.

After the screening the filmmakers participated in an audience question and answer session.  The artists and filmmakers included: Luis “Ponch” Perez, Wendy Morgan, John Mazyck, Chris Black, DJ ON Deck: SC the WebSlinger, and Tyler the Creator.  Several questions were asked about inspiration, motivation, themes, and advice in following one’s creative dreams.  CineSound was a part of the Cultural Continuum Series, African American Heritage.

CineSound Audience @ Mercado La Paloma

The next Cultural Continuum and the final African American Heritage Event will take place this Sunday February 24. Please join us for a celebration of the late, great Gil Scott-Heron.

Mercado La Paloma is thrilled to present another spectacular FREE evening for music and culture lovers of ALL AGES as it hosts two incredible events in one night on February 24 from 7pm-11pm. Check it out!

The African Influences in Latin America- Music & Dance Workshop

Ever wonder where the steps in the famous Latin Salsa dance came from? Those dance moves came from African roots!

As part of our Art program, Mercado La Paloma was rocking the house the past two Saturdays with drums, singing, and dancing! Imodoye Shabazz, director of the Aladunn New African Performing Arts Group, gave a workshop in exploring the African roots of popular Latin, specifically Cuban, music.

History of the music and dances were taught as well as hands on learning! Check out this video! This is one of many events Mercado La Paloma has hosted as part of our ArtPlace project – Cultural Continuum.

Visit Mercado La Paloma’s Facebook page to stay up to date with more cultural experiences!