by Crystal Shaw on January 27, 2017

The year 2016 was not without its struggles for Liberty Hill Foundation supported grassroots organizations, but it was also not without its victories. Here are ten advances from the past 12 months that make L.A. fairer, cleaner, more prosperous, more peaceful and in the face of adversity, stronger!


  1. BILINGUAL EDUCATION RETURNS TO CALIFORNIA. Bilingual education is allowed back into Los Angeles public schools again thanks to the hard work of grassroots organizations like Liberty Hill supported Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).  After years of restrictions requiring Spanish-speaking children learning English to be in English-only immersion classes because of rules from 1998, voters have spoken.  Now, in 2017 after the passage of Proposition 58, the law allows schools to create bilingual education programs.  


  1. HOUSING CRISIS SCORES A SIGNIFICANT WIN.  Thanks to the diligent work from Liberty Hill organizing partners Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA)Pacoima BeautifulAlliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)T.R.U.S.T. South L.A., and other members of the ACT-LA Coalition who supported Measure JJJ, more affordable housing is on the way in Los Angeles. Now housing developers receiving city exemptions must also provide affordable housing in their developments.  Los Angeles is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.  It’s costing many Angelenos more than half their salaries in housing alone, and the affordable housing crisis is the major driver of homelessness.



  1. AMPLIFIED COMMUNITY VOICE INSIDE THE L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT.  For the first time ever, a civilian oversight commission is actively overseeing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The nine-member commission finally has the opportunity to address the sheriff’s department’s “excessive force, lethal force and abuse of civil and human rights,” according to Mark-Anthony Johnson of the Liberty Hill supported community activist group Dignity and Power Now.  The commission includes Rabbi Heather Miller, a 2013 Liberty Hill Leader to Watch.


  1. THE BOX GETS BANNED.  The Fair Chance Initiative passed! The ordinance removes questions about criminal history from most job applications. The ordinance applies to all city contractors and private employers with ten or more employees. Liberty Hill supported organizations A New Way of LifeAll of Us or None and L.A. Voice each played a role in passing the law, which they argue will serve as a major deterrent against prison recidivism.


  1. OVERTIME PAY IS PROTECTED BY LAW.  The battle against wage theft scores another big win. The law now protects overtime pay for domestic workers.  It’s built upon existing legislation that Liberty Hill supported Pilipino Workers Center campaigned for, which was approved in 2013 known as the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights It mandated overtime pay for domestic employees who work more than nine hours a day or more than 45 hours per week. That measure, however, included a sunset clause that would have led overtime protection that would have expired in January 2017. 


  1. A HUGE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE WIN IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR.  After nearly a decade of grassroots research, organizing and advocacy by a Liberty Hill supported coalition, the environmental justice initiative called Clean Up Green Up was signed to law as a new L.A. City policy! Clean Up Green Up establishes pilot Green Zones in Pacoima, Boyle Heights and Wilmington, reducing air pollution and helping businesses become more environmentally friendly.


  1. FIGHT TO TACKLE HOMELESSNESS GETS MAJOR FUNDING. Last year it was on the docket, this year it’s a reality.  Liberty Hill supported grassroots organizing by LA Voice and Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), among others, successfully organized to get a measure passed authorizing $1.2 billion in bonds to pay for the construction of 10,000 units of housing for homeless people. The measure also requires that a citizen’s oversight committee be established to weigh in on projects in Los Angeles, which reported the largest number of chronically homeless people in the nation — nearly 13,000 — of whom 95% live outdoors in cars, tents and encampments.


  1. ENVIRONMENTAL BLOW AGAINST PLASTIC BAG POLLUTION. Again, California is leading the nation as our state is the first to enact a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.  The law was not without pushback from the out-of-state plastic bag industry but California stood strong and their bark wasn’t as big as our collective community bite.  It’s a huge environmental victory that has led to immediate elimination of the 25 million plastic bags that are polluting California every day.


  1. BIG STRIDE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE. It’s no secret that our country’s infatuation with mass incarceration is out of control but California is making strides in dismantling it, blow by blow.  The latest strike was in the passing of Proposition 57, supported by Liberty Hill partner Khmer Girls in Action (KGA) and other community groups.  KGA's focus on youth voter outreach had huge impacts on passing the prop, which increases parole and good behavior opportunities for non-violent offenders.  It also gives judges, not prosecutors, the authority to try juveniles as adults in court.


  1. A COLLECTIVE COMMUNITY FORCE AND THE BIRTH OF THE RESISTANCE. Communities across Los Angeles have joined forces this time in record numbers.  Setting the tone for what has now become a tooth and nail fight to dismantle racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia was the L.A. Women’s March.  Liberty Hill supported organizations came out in droves—as did Liberty Hill's CEO, Shane Murphy Goldsmith, who was a kick-off speaker. They marched with messages, signs and chants that can be summed up with one mighty battle cry: Resist! This is only the beginning of what will be four years of fighting from the bottom up.  L.A. is ready.  Liberty Hill is ready.  We always have been. 

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