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Hahn Funding Plan Unfair to Valley, Council Members Say

Two officials criticize the mayor's allocation of federal anti-poverty money.

January 18, 2003|Karima A. Haynes | Times Staff Writer

Two Los Angeles City Council members on Friday openly criticized Mayor James K. Hahn's plan to spend $112 million in federal anti-poverty funds, saying the San Fernando Valley won't get its fair share.

Despite U.S. census figures indicating that 25% of the city's poorest families live in the Valley, only $430,000 has been set aside specifically for programs in the area, said council President Alex Padilla and Councilwoman Wendy Greuel.

Padilla and Greuel, whose districts cover parts of the northeast Valley, raised their concerns at a joint session of the Economic Development Committee and the Housing and Community Development Committee at City Hall.

The committees are expected to review the mayor's 2003-04 Housing and Community Development consolidated plan before sending it to the full council for a vote next month.

In a rare display of public disagreement with the mayor, Padilla and Greuel said they would reject the plan unless more money was directed to the Valley.

"There is a misperception that poverty ends at Mulholland Drive, but that is not the case," Padilla said, noting that in the community of Pacoima, the unemployment rate is 19%, half of all households earn less than $15,000 a year and there is only one full-service bank.

"The consolidated plan is an important source to address the needs of low- and moderate-income communities because it can revitalize, save and turn communities around," he said. "There has to be a more equitable distribution of the funds. The Valley deserves its fair share."

The spending plan fails to acknowledge an estimated 7% increase in the number of families living below the poverty level in the city of Los Angeles, Greuel said. Poor families made up 18% of the city's population in 1990 and 25% in 2000, she said.

"There are individuals in poverty who feel that they have not received their fair share," she said. "I am not ready to adopt [this plan] without further dialogue and some changes."

Deputy Mayor Eric Brown, who presented the plan to the joint committee, said that Hahn is "strongly committed to putting dollars in the Valley," adding that the mayor's plan includes new funds and increases in existing allocations for Valley programs.

The consolidated plan outlines how the city would spend four federal entitlement grants for community development, home ownership, emergency shelter and housing for people living with AIDS.

The council must present its plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by Feb. 15.

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