It looks like Echo Park’s El Centro Del Pueblo might end up a big loser as Villaraigosa shakes up the city’s anti-gang programs. The organization’s application to operate an anti-gang program in Cypress Park was passed over in favor of another group, according to a story in the Times today. The decision needs final city hall approval. Robert Aguayo, deputy director of El Centro, told the Times:
“They can bring someone else in, but I don’t think they’ll have the success and impact that we have.”
El Centro has become a large and influential institution in Echo Park and across the Eastside as it built up a wide range of youth and social service programs over the years. But it’s expansion, which included the purchase and renovation of its headquarters on Lemoyne Street near Sunset Boulevard, has coincided with criticism about the effectiveness of its anti-gang programs and staff. The agency was aligned with the city’s now defunct Bridges program, which was shut down after the city found no significant decline in the youth violence that Bridges was supposed to reduce.
Earlier this summer El Centro’s leader, Sandra Figueroa, hosted a fundraiser for Villaraigosa. But if anyone expected this to help their chances it looks like they are wrong.
Photo: El Centro del Pueblo.