By Dorany Pineda
While economic development can bring new life to older communities, it also can bring much risk.
In Inglewood’s case, news that the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers were moving into a new stadium being built in town brought the risk of residents being priced out of their homes.
Knowing that residents needed a strong community network to voice concerns about their neighborhoods, Woodrow Curry created the Uplift Inglewood Coalition in 2015 to provide a united voice to address collective worries.
With a coalition of close to 3,000 residents, students, businesses, faith groups and community organizations, they identified five priority areas that would ensure more equitable community investment. They narrowed it down to housing, education, governance, jobs and economics, and health and environment.
“In many ways, we started off as a coalition that wanted to work with bringing our residents together to bring a forum for those conversations,” said D’artagnan Scorza, a coalition organization member and a member of the Inglewood school board.
“Uplift Inglewood helps folks come together. It creates a space so that they can use their voice. And in many ways, it comes to focus the priorities of residents in these policy conversations and these decision-making conversations,” Scorza said.
Ultimately, the coalition is about helping residents translate their voices into action, he said, and one way they have done that is through its work in housing.
One of its most successful campaigns to date is its Homes Before Arenas, which was created to oppose Senate Bill 789.
The measure, proposed in September 2017, would have bypassed the state’s environmental law to fast-track the construction of a proposed arena for the Los Angeles Clippers in Inglewood. But due to much opposition from coalition members, critics, activists and more, they stopped the measure from passing.
Their fight also resulted in the city removing the use of eminent domain from the development of the arena, a move that Scorza called “a major victory.”
“In many ways, we’re fighting for our local government to focus on developing and bringing in affordable housing,” Scorza said. “We’ve been able to organize people, [have them] attend public meetings, and become more deeply involved and civically engaged” locally and across the state. Together, he continued, they identify policy mechanisms that help residents and stakeholders “improve their own lives.”
But informing Inglewood’s residents also plays a crucial role. The coalition has put together tenant’s rights workshops, pop-up legal clinics, home ownership workshops and often provides housing assistance resources to tenants facing eviction.
In education, coalition members have gone to local schools to advocate on behalf of Inglewood’s students.
Although the Uplift Inglewood Coalition has done a lot for the area’s residents in the few years it has existed, its members know there’s more work to be done.
“We want to grow and expand … and focus on police and public safety issues, and on supporting stronger educational opportunities here in the city,” Scorza said, all in an effort to better the lives of Inglewood’s residents.
Founder: Woodrow Curry
Years in operation: 3
Number of organizations: 10
Annual budget: N/A