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A Community Friend Expands

Benefactor of housing now aims for affordable medical care, too

July 08, 1996

The Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corp., well known for aiding affordable housing projects, is now helping four nonprofit community groups develop health care programs that will provide affordable medical care--and jobs.

This new support for health care services is a logical extension of LISC's approach to rebuilding disadvantaged communities block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. Funded by the Ford Foundation, LISC has attracted significant private investment to help neighborhood groups develop housing. Although the new housing improves the areas, residents also need jobs and services.

The Los Angeles LISC, which was established in 1987, started a $2.54-million health sector initiative just before the county health care crisis. The timing was perfect because the county--the health care provider of last resort for the poor and uninsured--was forced by budget pressures to cut services.

With LISC's help, New Economics for Women (NEW) will acquire a cancer detection facility just west of downtown. After renovations, NEW expects to lease it to a local hospital or a private physicians group so it can be operated as a primary care facility. The incentive is the higher Medicare and Medi-Cal fees allowed in medically undeserved areas. Residents of the nearby Pico-Union and Westlake areas also will benefit.

In the Watts-Willowbrook area, a primary care facility will be built on the campus of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Doctors and medical students associated with Drew will operate the facility, which will be built by the Drew Community Development Corp. It will provide an alternative to the emergency room at the county-run Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital.

Another new clinic will target the county's Asian-Pacific Islander communities. The location has not been determined, but the facility will be built by the Little Tokyo Service Center Community Development Corp. in collaboration with the Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment, the Korean Health Education In- formation Resource Center and the Southeast Asian Health Project. The group also plans to train home health aides to work with isolated Asian senior citizens.

The Esperanza Community Housing Corp. is already training 20 people to become community health care workers. After certification, they will provide information and direct people to appropriate medical care in the Hoover and Adams area of South-Central Los Angeles.

LISC has long been known for its commitment to better residential housing; the added focus of building health care facilities is a logical and welcome extension of its important work.

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