Our Stories

South L.A. Community Groups Win Health Care Victory

Healthcare Comes to South LA Because We Stood With the Community

Public Counsel - Jim Mangia and Shashi HanumanIn 2011, the UNIDAD coalition won an important victory: a promise to build a community health clinic, create good jobs and set aside affordable residences in a $250 million luxury apartment development in South Los Angeles. Public Counsel represented the coalition in negotiating the community benefits agreement that guaranteed it. 

On March 5, 2015, community groups, clergy and elected leaders applauded the opening of the Rev. Warner Traynham Community Center, a full-service clinic for residents with low income and students at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, located across the street from the clinic.  

Margarita Madero has lived in the community for 29 years. "This was an organizing effort by people living in this neighborhood," she said. UNIDAD stands for United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement, and local groups came together to make sure the new development included 

"Public Counsel is incredibly privileged to be able to partner with the dedicated community organizations who achieved this victory," said Shashi Hanuman, director of Public Counsel's Community Development Project. "As a result, local resident priorities including health, housing and jobs have tangibly resulted from this project. We applaud UNIDAD in this victory."

Former Public Counsel attorney Serena Lin negotiated the agreement on behalf of UNIDAD with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. "This time, the people of South L.A. were heard loud and clear," she told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. 

St. John's Well Child & Family Center will operate the new clinic. "This is a state of the art health center," said St. John's CEO Jim Mangia. "We are honored that the UNIDAD coalition fought so hard to have this community resource." 

Los Angeles County Supervisors Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas and City Councilman Curren Price applauded the organizing effort that led to the clinic. 

"We continue to fight to make sure that healthcare is not just for those who afford it, but it is an inalienable right," said Solis, whose district includes the new clinic. "We cannot afford for individuals to take our community lightly."

"Having a clinic in our community that's going to be serving our clinic is a big deal," said Councilman Curren Price.

Neighbors were shocked in 2010 when the Orthopaedic Hospital -- a home for children with disabilities for generations -- was razed to make way for luxury housing with little community input. 

Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, executive director of Esperanza Community Housing, said "this is a dream years in the making to restore healthcare to this area. Today we are celebrating the return of quality health services." 

Larry Frank, president of Los Angeles Trade Technical College, said it was great to have a healthcare facility across the street that serves his campus. "You align yourself with the community, look what happens," he said.

The new clinic is located on the new Expo light rail line in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be accessible to families from around the area who use transit. Public Counsel and groups in the Alliance for Community Transit have called on the city of Los Angeles to create a citywide strategy to increase affordable housing, healthcare and quality jobs near mass transit. 

PHOTO: We see more healthcare in LA! St. John's Well Child and Family Center CEO Jim Mangia with Public Counsel's Shashi Hanuman.

Click here to read our white paper "Transit for All."

Read more about the Rev. Warner Traynham Community Center at SAJE.net, the website of Strategic Actions for a Just Environment.