Boyle Heights -- It was last summer that the East L.A. Community Corp. was busy breaking ground on new affordable housing projects in East Los Angeles and El Sereno. Meanwhile, its community organizers were leading the charge to defend the rights of street vendors and slow the pace of gentrification.
But now the nonprofit developer and community advocate is struggling. On Friday, the nonprofit announced it had laid off 11 workers and revealed that it had uncovered a "structural misalignment" that left it with a financial shortfall, putting it "in a difficult position" to provide housing and services to low income people.
However, officials with the nonprofit, known as ELACC, said the shortfall "will not be any impact on our housing developments or their financing."
The announcement was made by the organization's president Manuel Bernal. He was appointed to the job in March following the resignation of Isela Gracian, a long-time employee who had headed ELACC for the past five years. She left to "focus her time on her daughter and family," said the developer.
Since 1995, the nonprofit has built more than 700 units of affordable housing in numerous projects across the Eastside, including former Boyle Hotel, a red-brick, Victorian-era landmark that towers over Mariachi Plaza. ELACC was also working on nearly 300 more units of housing, according to company press releases.
The staff that are being let go were members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents the workers at ELACC who voted to unionize earlier this year. In addition, the nonprofit is farming out its community organizing operations to Colectivo Poder Comunitario/Community Power Collective, an independent organization created by former members of ELACC staff.
The employees who were let go were involved primarily in community organizing and arts and cultural activities. Employees who were involved in overseeing the nonprofit's housing projects as well as staff working on projects in development were retained, said a company official in an email.
"Getting to this point was critical as it will allow us to begin the stabilization of ELACC, and to continue providing vital services to underserved communities," said Bernal in a statement. “This reduction in programmatic work is temporary. The intent of the ELACC Board and management team is to chart a strategic and financially-self-sustaining path for programmatic growth over the next 24 months.”