Things That Matter

He Didn’t Make The Debate Stage But Julián Castro Was On The Streets Of LA Talking Homelessness And How To Fix It

Although rules and performance requirement prevented him from joining seven other Democratic candidates on the debate stage, Julian Castro was still out delivering his message. This time he was in Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood to discuss with residents how he, as President, could work to improve the nation’s housing crisis.

The homelessness crisis facing most California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, was once again a national story this week, with the Supreme Court agreeing to pass on hearing arguments in an appeal of Martin vs. Boise, a case concerned with the criminalization of the homeless. That decision leaves the ruling of the 9th Circuit of Appeals, which includes California, in place, which argues that cities can’t criminalize the homeless unless they provide adequate shelter

So it made sense for Castro to use the opportunity to introduce the groundwork for a housing plan that his administration would put forward should he win the 2020 election.

Julián Castro met with residents of LA’s Skid Row to discuss housing issues and the growing homelessness crisis.

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

Castro said he had visited previously as housing secretary, and believes that the Trump administration — which is considering using law enforcement to clear homeless encampments as part of a federal plan — has taken a hostile stance against the homeless population. As president, Castro said, he would work to reverse the administration’s decisions.

Castro is the third presidential candidate who has publicly toured skid row this year, said Lisa Marlow, communications coordinator of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a nonprofit that is tracking the candidates’ statements on housing. Vermont Sen. Sanders toured in August and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who dropped out of the presidential race last month, visited in September.

LA’s Skid Row neighborhood has one of the country’s highest concentrations of people experiencing homelessness.

While walking along the neighborhood, which has one of the largest homeless populations in the country, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary spoke with individuals about his housing plans.

One man, who recognized the candidate and yelled out “Castro,” asked him, “What are you going to do differently than anybody else?”

The Mexican-American contender replied, according to the Los Angeles Times: “I actually put out the boldest housing plan to try and end homelessness by 2028, by creating a lot more housing opportunities for everyone.”

The former San Antonio mayor’s plan, People First Housing, declares that housing is a human right and aims to end chronic homelessness.

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

His detailed plan addresses the following issues that are contributing to the growing homelessness crisis:

  • Making rents more affordable through a renter’s tax credit, increased rental vouchers for at-risk and low-income people, while increasing the availability of adorable housing through new land use and zoning policies.
  • Increase homeownership through additional government programs, increased federal lending and by holding Wall Street accountable in relation to responsible lending.

Through these two approaches, Castro hopes to put an end to the nation’s homelessness crisis by the year 2028. It’s an ambitious goal but one that many say is attainable with clear and concise tools.

Other candidates also have put out housing policy plans.

Amy Klobuchar’s “Housing First Plan” pledges a trillion dollars toward improving housing and poverty reduction. Klobuchar is calling to fund the Housing Trust Fund at a minimum of $40 billion per year. The money would go toward building, fixing and operating homes for low-income families. 

Additionally, Klobuchar calls for limiting wait times for housing assistance to three months, down from the nearly two to three years her campaign said Americans may wait on a list. The plan also calls for a new grant program for states to provide temporary support for those at risk of homelessness while they wait for housing assistance. 

The senator also proposes creating a federal grant program to help states increase outreach to low-income renters and make them aware of resources available to them. To ease issues connecting low-income renters to affordable housing, Klobuchar also calls for reducing associated fees and streamlining the application process. 

California, and Los Angeles in particular, are ground zero for the nation’s affordable housing crisis.

California’s housing crisis continues to swell, fueled by rising rents. This year, L.A. County saw a surge in the number of people sleeping on the streets, in shelters or in their cars, rising to nearly 59,000. More than 36,000 people are homeless in the city of Los Angeles. On skid row, tents and blue tarps line the sidewalks and shopping carts overflow with items.

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva Threatens To Cut Sexual Assault Investigation Unit Because Of Proposed Budget Cuts

Things That Matter

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva Threatens To Cut Sexual Assault Investigation Unit Because Of Proposed Budget Cuts

Josh Lefkowitz / Getty Images

Law enforcement in Los Angeles is facing budget cuts already because demonstrators are keeping up the pressure for police reform. COVID-19 has added pressure to Los Angeles County to make some additional cuts and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva is warning what the cuts mean to the department at large.

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva is warning residents about the impact of the proposed budget cuts.

Sheriff Villanueva issued a statement titled “DEFUNDING THE LASD BUDGET $145.4 M.” In the letter, Sheriff Villanueva warns that the budget cuts will lead to the elimination of the Special Victims Bureau. The bureau is responsible for investigating the physical or sexual abuse of children and women. The sheriff names other departments that will be eliminated in response to the upcoming budget cuts.

“It’s unconscionable,” Sheriff Villanueva told CBS Los Angeles. “These are the major detective units of the entire department. They serve the entire county of Los Angeles. Those four units…are the cream of the crop of investigative units throughout the entire nation, and as the largest county in the nation, I cannot see how we move forward without these four units,” he said.

The sheriff took the time to attack the “Defund the Police” movement.

“The CEO and the Board have embraced the “Defund the Police” movement and are cynically hiding behind accounting maneuvers, knowing well that loss of revenue in sales tax can be made up by equitable distributing more stable revenue streams like property taxes,” reads part of Sheriff Villanueva’s statement. “This is not acceptable and a willful abandonment of the top priorities of local government: keep people safe.”

Sheriff Villanueva is also refusing to enforce orders to close the beaches for the 4th of July weekend in Los Angeles County.

Sheriff Villanueva told the press that his department was not included in talks about the closure so the sheriff’s office will not enforce the order. Los Angeles County is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases as the rest of California deals with the same. The Los Angeles Health Department ordered the beaches, piers, and boardwalks closed for the holiday weekend to fight the sudden spike in cases.

“Closing the beaches and prohibiting fireworks displays during this important summer holiday weekend was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but it’s the responsible decision to protect public health and protect our residents from a deadly virus,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, said in a statement. “The Fourth of July holiday weekend typically means large crowds and gatherings to celebrate, a recipe for increased transmission of COVID-19.” 

Sheriff Villanueva’s actions as sheriff are making some Los Angeles County residents wanting him to leave the office.

At the beginning of his term as sheriff, Villanueva rehired a police officer who was fired for domestic violence allegations. The police officer who was rehired set off a legal battle that landed in court with a judge having to decide whether or not to let the police officer stay.

Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff handed down an injunction ordering rehired police officer Caren Carl Mandoyan to surrender his gun and badge. Additionally, the judge ordered, “Sheriff Alex Villanueva cease to recognize or hold Mandoyan out as a Deputy Sheriff or a County employee.”

READ: Family Of Andres Guardado Are Asking For The Autopsy Report Be Released

Tamales Elena Is About To Become LA’s First Afro-Mexican Restaurant

Culture

Tamales Elena Is About To Become LA’s First Afro-Mexican Restaurant

tamaleselenayantojitos / Instagram

The Los Angeles food truck Tamales Elena y Antojitos has been serving up authentic Guerrero food for 20 years. Tamales Elena y Antojitos is a staple at E 110th St. & Wilmington Ave. in LA’s Watts neighborhood offering up banana leaf-wrapped tamales. Now, Tamales Elena y Antojitos will become a restaurant.

Tamales Elena y Antojitos is opening up LA’s first Afro-Mexican restaurant.

Not even a pandemic will slow them down. The family behind the famous food truck in Watts will soon be welcoming guests (following COVID-19 guidelines) in Bell Gardens, California. The tamales, pozoles, and array of Afro-Mexican dishes will be served to everyone who has come to adore the Mexican establishment.

The restaurant will add another cuisine to the vast palate that is LA’s food scene.

Los Angeles is home to a diverse and inviting list of restaurants representing cultures from around the world. Some of the best Mexican food in the country can be found in Los Angeles and Tamales Elena y Antojitos is adding another level to that representation. Angelenos are celebrating the Afro-Mexican restaurant staffed and owned by Afro-Mexicans.

The restaurant has a special place in people’s lives.

The family has been offering up their unique food to residents of Watts for 20 years. In two weeks, Maria Elena Lorenzo will be offering up her family recipes in-store to more people as of July 15. The family has spent years in the food industry and have worked hard to make their mark on LA’s food scene.

Lorenzo’s daughters have been played a big role in getting the restaurant going.

According to LA Eater, Lorenzo’s daughters have spent years working in various restaurants around Los Angeles. Her daughters, Maria, Heidi, Judepth, Teresa, and Nayeli spent time working front-of-house and back-of-house at restaurants including Rivera, Petty Cash Taqueria, and Guerrilla Tacos. Heidi Irra worked at Mezcalero in downtown Los Angeles. Now, the daughters are bringing their experience to the family business and helping their mother start her restaurant.

Lorenzo, lovingly known as Mama, is clearly going to have a lot of guests are her restaurant.

Congratulations, Mama! This is one of those stories we love to see. Nothing makes you prouder than watching Latino families come together to chase the American Dream and succeed.

READ: Guelaguetza, One Of LA’s Most Iconic Mexican Restaurants, Is Sharing Some Of Their Recipes On Instagram