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

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.

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!

A Third Revolution in Health

Esperanza’s Executive Director, Nancy Halpern Ibrahim was recognized in the November 2012 edition of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Magazine for our work with  Magnolia Place and the third revolution in health. “The Magnolia Community Initiative, a collaboration among more than 70 government and private-sector partner organizations with significant participation from the Fielding School, embodies 3.0 with its holistic, community-integrated approach to health.”  

3.0 A New Operating System for Public Health 


Nuns on the Bus disembarks in the District

In 1989 Sister Diane Donoghue, then a community organizer for St. Vincent’s Church in South Central Los Angeles, was approached by a woman dying of cancer. For 30 years, the woman’s family had rented the same home. She wanted to die peacefully in the home where she had raised her children, but her family was facing the threat of eviction. Soon, other residents approached Sister Diane, concerned that their homes would also be destroyed for the construction of low-wage garment factories. Working with the community, Sister Diane founded Esperanza Community Housing Corporation so that low-income residents would have decent housing and the ability to shape the future of their neighborhood.

Sister Diane Donoghue, founder of Esperanza Community Housing Corp. in Los Angeles, and Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the Catholic social justice lobbying group NETWORK, greet supporters after wrapping up a nine-state bus tour and finishing a rally in Washington on Monday. They rallied at the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society to protest Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan. They say the plan favors wealthy U.S. citizens through tax breaks and neglects the needs of people struggling to survive. Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post.


L.A. Dodgers at Mercado La Paloma

Today, on their annual Dodgers Community Caravan, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a stop for lunch at Mercado La Paloma. This two-day tour involves community outreach events and stops at local establishments. This afternoon, current and past Dodger players, accompanied by numerous news reporters and Dodger’s television broadcasters were greeted at the doors by fans wearing Dodger hats and jackets and anxiously holding baseball cards and photos for the players to autograph. The event was announced an hour before the stop by the Dodgers’ Twitter account and Chichen Itza, a restaurant in the Mercado that serves delicious and authentic food from Southeast Mexico, spread the news on their Facebook page. During the hour-long visit, the Dodgers enjoyed a meal from the acclaimed restaurants of  Mercado La Paloma, and then took time to sign autographs and take pictures with their fans. Go Dodgers! ~ Katie Fugate


Olivia Mendez, Leader in Our Community

Olivia Mendez, graduated from Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training Program in the year 1998.  When she began the training, Olivia didn’t understand the meaning of a “Health Promoter”, but as the training progressed, she felt like she was studying for a career in health and was amazed by this training since she had always felt the need to help others.

After graduating from the training, she began an internship at the Los Angeles County Immunization Program under the supervision of Leticia Ibarra.  There she worked outreaching the community and this is where she discovered different types of community needs, and was glad that she was able to provide information and resources for them thanks to the training. 

After she completed her internship with the Los Angeles County Immunization Program, Olivia started working with South Los Angeles Health Projects (SLAHP) expanding her knowledge in immunizations.

Olivia is now a  Community Health Promoter and Project Manager for Rescatando Salud (Health Rescue Project); a project of Esperanza.  Rescatando Salud works to improve immunization rates of children in our  neighborhood through immunization promotion, working closely with the County Immunization Project, South Central Family Center.

From left to right: Elizabeth Guevara, Evelia Castañeda, Blanca Valdez-Nava, Olivia Mendez, Norma Perez, and Graciela Torres.

Para mi ha sido una bonita experiencia trabajar en lo que me gusta porque de esa manera todo se hace mejor y a la vez se disfruta.  Me llevo muy bien con mis compañeras y eso es muy importante cuando se trabaja en equipo.

Recently AARP magazine featured a piece on non-traditional jobs in health care and Community Health Promoter Olivia Mendez was highlighted. 

Link: AARP Bulletin Today