They will renovate the public housing complex in Nickerson Gardens
In the poor community that inhabits the Nickerson Gardens housing project in the Willowbrook area, there were moments of joy at the news they received: the deteriorated soccer field will be renovated with new grass and trees will be planted that would beautify the residential area plagued with garbage. , broken lamps, parking problems and public safety.
Until then, it was Congresswoman Nanette Barragán who voted in favor of approving a financing law to help middle-class families, create jobs and support the most vulnerable communities.
The funds total $7,535,000 for 10 local projects that will directly benefit the residents of District 44.
One such project includes funding $860,000 to the Housing Authority of Los Angeles (HACLA) in support of urban greening projects at multiple housing sites in Watts, including the Nickerson Gardens area.
Surrounded by Latino and African-American community leaders, mothers and children, Barragán made the symbolic delivery of the check.
"These funds from the federal government are important so that children have a park to play in," said the congresswoman for California's 44th District. “If you see, the park does not have enough grass and the quality of the field [para jugar fútbol] Is not suitable".
An unusable field
Indeed, the area that simulates being a soccer field has too many holes, it is uneven and the little grass that it has is completely dry; it also does not have any type of irrigation system.
"Hopefully, with this money, the necessary spaces can be created so that children can come to play and do healthier things," added the legislator.
Trees will also be planted around the future soccer field.
With approximately 42,000 residents, Nickerson Gardens is more than twice as dense as the rest of the city of Los Angeles.
In the 1940s, the neighborhood was predominantly African American. In the mid-1990s, Latinos were a slight majority. Watts is now 70% Latino and 27% African American, according to census data.
“We are going to make a difference,” said Jenny Scanlon, HACLA's director of development. “The funds we receive will go to other communities in Watts, including our public housing in Imperial Gardens and Jordan Downs. So the funds are an incredible investment in greening Watts, greening public housing, sustainability, and our future here in Watts communities.”
Security, an unfinished business
Over the years, both communities have suffered from systematic racism that has marginalized them from public investment, access to higher education, and a host of other problems.
Questioned by La Opinion as to why the first investment would be in beautifying the community, instead of responding to the needs of parking, garbage and public safety, Barragán said: "Money must be invested in these communities."
"The Nickerson Boys [Gardens] and Watts don't have the opportunity to have parks, green areas and recreation places like in Malibu or Beverly Hills,” he replied. "There are many needs and when we asked the community where they wanted the funds, they said green spaces."
But the seven men and one woman killed at Nickerson Gardens in 2021 and two so far in 2022 have residents concerned. 64% of homicide victims were African American and the remaining 36% were Latino.
“Right now things are regular. [respecto a la violencia]”, commented Eunice Martínez, 74 years old, who has lived in the housing project for 18 years. "There are many problems, but out there they are killing each other."
Her friend Alberta Contreras, who lives with her son who has mental problems and has lived in Nickerson Gardens for a year, expressed that her greatest wish is "that there is not so much violence."
"They don't do anything to us, but we live well," he said.
For his part, Isidoro Rivera, who owns I&R Recycling, on the corner of Compton Avenue and Imperial Highway, told La Opinion that, instead of working on the soccer field, the authorities should have fixed the public lighting first. .
Rivera showed that, through an alley that leads to Nickerson Gardens, the light bulbs do not work at night and walking through the area is "dangerous."
"I have lived in this area for 30 years and although in 1990 things were ugly with the violence, lately it has calmed down," said the man born in Durango, Mexico. "Here in my business everyone already knows me and since I don't mess with anyone, nobody messes with me or my family."
With 1,066 housing units, Nickerson Gardens was touted as an "ideal" project for all future public housing in America. The project was completed in 1955.
Architect Paul Revere Williams' original intent as the Housing Authority in designing and building Nickerson Gardens was to provide safe, affordable transitional housing for individuals and families.
In the mid-1970s, the housing complex had 95% African-American residents, but by 2004 it had dropped to 75%, and continued to decline as the years went by, with the units largely occupied by Latinos.
However, Nickerson Gardens was a place occasionally known as the birthplace of the Bounty Hunter Bloods gang.
"One of the cornerstones to create a safe environment is to create an environmental design that helps to have services for children and adults, the elderly and where everyone can have recreational spaces," said Captain Ryan C. Whiteman, to La Opinion .
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