Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles (CCSCLA) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 public benefit community-based organization whose mission is to work for social justice and economic and environmental change within the South Central community. CCSCLA was formed in 1985 to help organize against the development of a mass waste incinerator (LANCER) which was planned for construction in our neighborhood. After defeating the LANCER Project, CCSCLA stayed together to work on other issues impacting our community such as affordable housing, banking, planning and land use, and recycling. Our 501(c)3 area of concentration is bounded by the Santa Monica Freeway to the North, the Harbor Freeway to the West, Slauson Avenue to the South and Alameda to the East. This area includes both the Vernon-Central neighborhood and the Central Avenue Corridor. Since its founding, CCSCLA has expanded its work into other low-income neighborhoods including Watts and Compton.
The target area for CCSCLA is bounded by the I-10 Santa Monica Freeway to the north, the I-110 Harbor Freeway to the west, Slauson Avenue to the south and Alameda Street to the east. This area includes the Vernon-Central neighborhood and the Central Avenue Corridor. At the time of its founding, this target area had one of the highest populations of African-Americans in Los Angeles. In order for CCSCLA to make substantial change in the community, we needed to develop a base. In 1990, CCSCLA began to organize block clubs throughout the Vernon-Central Area. We recognized that if we are going to change the way institutions make decisions concerning South Central than we must develop sufficient power to confront the institutions making the decisions. In community organizing there are two kinds of power- money and people. CCSCLA’s ability to organize large numbers of trained leaders to address specific issues is what constitutes our power base. To date CCSCLA has been able to organize 57 block clubs that has improved the appearance and safety. The primary issue common to all the block clubs we have directly organized and those already established has been the condition of the streets in the community. The alleys in our target area were considered to be the worst in the City of Los Angeles. Alleys are used for illegal trash dumping, drug traffic and crime, and have little or no lighting. There was a petition to the City among the block club participants demanding that the alleys be cleaned, closed to traffic and fenced off with access only to residents. This petition resulted in alley clean ups and closures that prevent crime and illegal dumping. CCSCLA also entered into a pilot program with the City of Los Angeles to train community residents, including formerly incarcerated, to do alley clean up and pot hole repair. Fifteen community residents were ultimately given full-time, permanent employment through this pilot program. CCSCLA is continuing to develop new block clubs and to build self-sufficient skills for more establish block clubs. We firmly believe that all of the block clubs we work with must be self-sufficient. CCSCLA provides training on conducting meetings, producing and distributing flyers and other technical assistance. The general response to the block-by-block organizing by residents has been well received. The block clubs vary in size but usually consist of eight to twelve persons. Monthly meetings are held each month at various sites to give the community members a forum to discuss their concerns.