w.e.LA is a collaboration between two organizations working together with communities at opposite ends of Los Angeles: People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER) on the west and Union de Vecinos on the east. Both organizations believe that by working together, galvanizing westside and eastside into action around social justice causes, a movement can take shape that wrestles power back into the hands of the people that make up the city.
When considering community, you cannot escape the issue of housing and housing in Los Angeles is in crisis. w.e.LA is addressing the crisis on the west and east side by organizing residents, educating, and providing support through resources and training. Over the past few years the situation has only worsened for the poorest members of our communities. With over 44K people reported homeless in 2015, the need for resources to defend against eviction and policy changes are needed more than ever.
w.e.LA currently provides these services (through Union de Vecinos) on the east side. Displacement prevention has proven effective in Boyle Heights - after 11 years, our case workers have rarely lost a case. We are currently fundraising to provide these services on the west side. Our approach to evictions is simple, we avoid going to court where 98% cases without the defense of a lawyer lose. As part of displacement prevention, we inform tenants of their rights. We also respond to three day notices. We work with landlords, tenants, and the Housing and Community Investment Department to ensure that apartments are repaired. We address nuisance complaints, reduced services, illegal rent increases, and a variety of problems that face tenants.
On the eastside, w.e.LA (through the work of Union de Vecinos) is part of the Clean UP Green UP coalition to reduce pollution in toxic hotspot neighborhoods, prevent additional pollution and revitalize Clean Up Green UP neighborhoods by supporting economic development that uses green technologies and improve public spaces through community activism. In addition to this work, there are monthly clean-ups of the neighborhoods in Boyle Heights, which are coordinated with the office of Councilman Jose Huizar.
On the westside, w.e.LA (through the work of POWER) has come out against the firing of Dr. Charles Lester, former Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission (CCC). The CCC is the body that governs the entire coast of California. When developers, oil companies, and other private interests want to build projects along the coast, they must apply and receive clearnce from the CCC. Dr. Lester consistently put the mandate of the Coastal Act before the profits of corporations. He truly believed in the mandate of the Coastal Act: that the beach is a public resource that belongs to everyone and that is what must be preserved for future generations, available and accessible to each and every person now into the future. w.e.LA will be advocating for a replacement for Dr. Lester who will manage the CCC with the same Dr. Lester did.
On the eastside, w.e.LA (through the work of Union de Vecinos) has spent two decades working with communities in Boyle Heights and Maywood to make government work for its low income citizens. w.e.LA has fought to maintain the integrity of the neighborhoods by ensuring that appropriate housing and public space addresses the needs of the people.
On the westside, w.e.LA (through the work of POWER) brings together residents of low-income, people of color, women, senior citizens, and immigrants to work together for their collective benefit. In the communities we organize, we develop lifelong leaders who exceed their own expectation of themselves through direct action, build power through relationship-building, learn to negotiate from a place of power to win progressive changes that impact their community and help build an equitable city.