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Natasha Reyes

2014, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Natasha Reyes

Natasha Reyes

Name of Host Organization: Public Counsel Law Center
City, State: Los Angeles, California
Issue area: Community Economic Development/Microfinance and Related Transactional Legal Projects, Housing/Homelessness
Sponsors: Arnold & Porter Foundation

The Project

Natasha worked to reform zoning ordinances to reduce barriers to affordable housing and green space in Southeast Los Angeles through community education, technical assistance, and policy advocacy.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
In the historically low-income Southeast Cities of Los Angeles (Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Maywood, Huntington Park and South Gate) poverty rates in all but one city reach over 25%, far above the state average. With Los Angeles as the nation’s homeless capital, and over 2,400 homeless individuals in the Southeast Cities alone, residents struggle to find decent, stable housing. Even families that find housing face a lack of green space, one of the most crucial parts of a healthy community. In the Southeast, where concrete is more common than green space, a small cramped apartment is the only playground many children have. As a result, each of the cities has a childhood obesity rate greater than 28%, among the highest in the County. Through education, technical assistance, and advocacy, Natasha’s project will use zoning reform in the Southeast Cities to remove these historic barriers to affordable housing and green space, fostering healthier and more stable communities.