School of Public Policy receives grant
Federal aid program gives $549,000 to improve L.A. slums
By Gil Hopenstand
Daily Bruin Senior Staff
UCLA’s School of Public Policy and Social Research will
participate in a federal program aimed at improving Los Angeles
slums Â economically and environmentally.
The 4-month-old graduate school will receive a $549,000 federal
grant for the program today during a Washington, D.C. press
UCLA is one of 14 universities nationwide to receive a grant
from a new program at the United States Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD). The program funds HUD projects to help
revitalize and stabilize urban areas.
Faculty and staff will work on housing, environmental and
economic development issues in the Pico Union, Vernon Central and
Alameda Corridor areas of Los Angeles. The group also plans to work
with local community organizations already tackling the
"(This project) will allow us to deepen the relationship with
community groups in the (areas)," said Jacqueline Leavitt, the
principal investigator, who will speak at the conference today.
Allen Heskin, an urban planning professor, said he will work on
the housing aspect of the project.
"Money is going to be used on the slum problems and the single
family problems (in the Pico-Union area and in South-Central
L.A.)," Heskin said. "Seventy-five percent of homes are not rented
out, and we will look at how to reverse the trend toward declining
The HUD program emphasizes strengthening community-based
organizations, building job skills and career goals, along with
revitalizing and expanding local institutions and
Leavitt said the selection process for participating
universities was extremely competitive. UCLA is the only university
chosen from Southern California, and competitors included USC,
Occidental College and California State University at Los
"There was a rating system and lengthy application. Much of it
is also explaining your track record," she said, adding that UCLA
has long been active with local community groups.
The UCLA environmental study will be overseen by the Center for
Occupational and Environmental Health.
"The Alameda Corridor is the densest manufacturing corridor in
America. We’re going to be doing a survey among the residents to
see what their opinion of toxic problems in their area are Â
in respect to where they live and where they work," said Marianne
Brown, director of the labor occupational, safety and health
"We will then develop education materials and programs to the
topics they think need to be dealt with," Brown added.
The team will work with local unions to spur economic
development in the area. The group plans to continue coordinating
with community organizations already addressing those issues.
"(The grant was) an acknowledgment by HUD for our work in the
community and for the work by the Labor Center and by the
department of urban planning for the last 10 to 15 years," Leavitt
"We also see this as an important component of the new UCLA
School of Public Policy and Social Research," she added.
Brown said the broad investigation gives professors in various
specializations a chance to work together.
"This is going to be opportunity for different staff and faculty
to work together who generally don’t," she said. "(The project) is
a chance for an interchange of ideas and for more of an
Other attendees at the conference are Robin Cannon and Carlos
Porras, two community activists and graduates of UCLA’s Community
Scholars Program, an ongoing program acknowledging leaders in the