Natasha Reyes

  • Hosted by Public Counsel
  • Sponsored by The Arnold & Porter Foundation
  • Service location Los Angeles, California
  • Law school Columbia Law School
  • Issue area Community Economic Development/Microfinance and Related Transactional Legal Projects, Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2014
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

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.

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.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Natasha has:

  • Successfully advocated for zoning ordinances addressing state mandates on emergency shelters, supportive housing and transitional housing in three cities
  • Successfully advocated for zoning ordinance reflecting recently enacted affordable housing statute in one target city
  • Successfully advocated for a countywide strategy to facilitate local implementation of state mandates requiring cities to remove zoning barriers to emergency shelter, transitional housing, and supportive housing development
  • Partnered with local organizations to create a professionally engraved painted play space for toddlers in a Southeast park

Next Steps

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Natasha plans to continue in the field of community economic development to advocate for institutional change in under-resourced communities

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