Coalition building is not easy. If it were, we probably wouldn’t be facing some of the problems and challenges that we do today. We at CCA are working on this injunction around homelessness issues and have been the tip of the spear in terms of encouraging the city to challenge the lawsuit and stand up for the policies and the strategies that it has in place. Through this effort we’ve been really focused on building a broad-based coalition comprised not just of downtown property owners with business interests, but other business organizations who are geographically spread out and to social service providers, who are on the front lines of serving homeless individuals every day and night.
Homelessness is a very complex issue. It touches us all in a different way, and not everyone is coming to the problem with the same thesis as to why we are in this situation. Is it housing? shelters? Do we need to stop the pipeline of people from becoming homeless in the first place? What has been powerful for us is to focus on the two priorities that this coalition can agree on and to really knock it into the rest of the debates on this particular issue.
I am a Cuban refugee. My family left Cuba in 1961 right after the revolution and came to the United States. I was age eight. We moved a lot for increasingly better opportunities and the first town we went to was in rural Pennsylvania. I’m an only child and so it was just my parents and me and none of us had ever seen snow before. It was a very, very small community, with no Latinos except my mother, my father, and myself.
Those formative years really made an impact on my later life. I think that one of the reasons I think of myself as an internationalist is because I appreciate that you really have to transcend your own surroundings in order to make the best of your situation and your fellow human beings’ situation. I’ve chosen to do that through the arts.
Our thanks to the Central City Association of Los Angeles for hosting this City Impact Lab, and we look forward to seeing you all at our next monthly breakfast!